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‘Old Enough’: First Gen Z House Representative Encourages Youth Politicians at IOP Forum

U.S. Rep. Maxwell A. Frost (D-Fl.) spoke about youth political engagement at an Institute of Politics forum Friday.
U.S. Rep. Maxwell A. Frost (D-Fl.) spoke about youth political engagement at an Institute of Politics forum Friday. By Zadoc I.N. Gee

U.S. Rep. Maxwell A. Frost (D-Fl.) — the first Generation Z politician to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives — encouraged young politicians to run for office and urged voters to think long term at a Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics forum on Friday.

During a discussion moderated by NPR reporter Elena Moore and Keren N. Elmore ’26, Frost also spoke about his gun violence prevention efforts and the state of politics in Florida.

Frost said that during his campaign, he didn’t put much emphasis on being the first Gen Z representative.

“I wasn’t running to be the first anything,” he said. “I was running because I wanted to end gun violence, fight the climate crisis, and issues I care about.”

Frost also encouraged potential future Gen Z politicians to center their campaigns around the changes they want to make.

“My best advice would be to understand your heart and articulate why you want to run,” he said. “Make sure you’re not running because of ambition, but you’re running because you are passionate about things you want to do.”

Gen Z is a “politically active, badass generation with a lot of entrepreneurial spirit,” Frost said.

In an interview with The Crimson after the event, Frost said that “if we have good, progressive, forward-thinking young people,” there will be improvement in not only “vote margins, but also the type of legislation that we vote on.”

Having people with different experiences “lets us craft legislation that handles more problems, fills more gaps,” he added.

Jack W.H. Tueting ’27, a member of the IOP, voiced concerns about apathy among young voters in an interview with The Crimson following the forum.

“We’re on all these social media platforms that make it very easy for us to comprehend and easily digest world events,” Tueting said.

As a result, Gen Z has “internalized a lot of the things that are going on” and “adopted somewhat of a worldview that ‘Maybe, it’s not possible to make lasting change,’” he added.

During the event, Frost also touched on the disconnect between policies and politicians in his home state of Florida.

“Florida is a progressive state in terms of policy but not in terms of politics,” Frost said.

“We passed the $15 minimum wage; over 60 percent of Floridians said yes to that — that’s the law in Florida,” he added. “We passed medical marijuana; over 60 percent said yes.”

“So you look at that, and then you look at the last election results,” he added, in reference to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has passed a number of conservative laws, including a six-week abortion ban and the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — a law placing strict limits on education about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida schools.

“That’s why in the same polls where someone will say ‘Yes’ to abortion rights and ‘Yes’ to adult use of marijuana and then they’ll say ‘Would you vote for Ron DeSantis or a generic Democrat,’ Ron DeSantis would still win,” he said.

According to Frost, voters should consider long-term goals when they head to the polls.

“I view voting more as a tactical decision,” he said. “Who will I be, working with or working against?”

In particular, Frost referenced his extensive background in gun violence prevention advocacy.

“If Donald Trump were to win this election, the office would be completely disbanded on day one,” Frost added, in reference to the gun violence prevention office he helped to establish. “We would take several steps back.”

Overall, Frost said he is hopeful about future Gen Z representation in Congress.

“I’m the first in the halls of Congress, which I think is important, and I obviously won’t be the last,” he said.

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