Article 171 – Fixing America – Guest Writers – Brody S. Borgen and Sofia Castillo

By August 21st, 2023

Blog No. 171 

August 22, 2023

 Fixing America – Idea 32

By Mack W. Borgen
2023 Listee – Who’s Who in America, University of California at Berkeley (Honors, Economics); Harvard Law School; National Award-Winning Author.

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“Fixing America” Series of Articles

Over the last three years, I have presented a wide range of ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This blog presents Idea 32 in this his “Fixing America” series of articles.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In this blog, for the first time ever, I am offering an article written by others. The co-authors are two Dean’s List college students – my son, Brody S. Borgen, who is attending the University of Montana, and Sofia Castillo, who is attending Oregon State University. Their article is included because it is my humble opinion that our society, and especially our aged leaders, are not listening often enough or carefully enough to these younger Generation Z Americans. Many of these young Americans will be voting in next year’s Presidential Election, but even more importantly, they, for the proverbial better or worse, will soon be picking up where we leave off. For these reasons, it is both appropriate and critical that we know now “their issues” — those issues which they deem to be the most critical to our nation.

The American Rift 

The Growing Divide in Our Nation Between Generations 

Co-Authored by

Brody S. Borgen (Dean’s List Student, University of Montana)


Sofia Castillo (Dean’s List Student, Oregon State University)

Throughout American history, people’s views and ideas of what this nation stands for have changed. As young people begin to mature and emerge with their own political views, a rift often exists between young and old generations as they struggle to see eye to eye on many issues. Despite this rift and the many differences of opinions, it is important for all of us to attempt to understand each other. After all, our democracy relies upon us coming together – not coming apart – to formulate and implement ideas that will help build a better nation for all Americans, young and old.

Listed below are ten issues that we believe our peers, our fellow younger Americans, see as the biggest threats both to our nation and to our individual lives. These issues are not listed below in any particular order, and again, this list is based solely upon our perception of those issues which we believe our generation, Generation Z, sees as America’s biggest problems. These issues certainly may differ greatly from what older generations tend to see as important to the survival of the nation. However, to a degree, that is exactly the point of this essay. We hope that this listing may help, in some small measure, to bridge the gap between our generations so we can all come to a better understanding about the future direction of our nation.

Black Lives Matter Movement: Younger generations are continuing to recognize how forms of racism in the past have evolved and become so institutionalized that they remain almost unnoticed. Police brutality against unarmed Black people is the main injustice that has shaped and created the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. This movement started in 2013 with the killings of Trayvon Martin, Micheal Brown, Eric Garner, and Rekia Boyd, among others. As more innocent African Americans were killed, the movement grew. Unsurprisingly, Black Americans and young Americans are among the demographics most likely to support this movement. The growing support from younger generations could itself be a reflection of the changing racial demographics in the United States. As far back as the 1990s, the white population proportion in the United States has been steadily declining, increasing the ethnic and racial diversity of American society. For reference, the population percentage of Non-Hispanic White Americans has shrunk from 55.8% in the millennial generation to 51% in Gen Z. The rest of the population includes a mix of other ethnic groups, namely Hispanic, Black, Asian, mixed race (have two or more races), and American Indian. Over the last couple of decades, the younger generation of BLM activists were also able to effectively bring in more supporters by utilizing digital tools. Video footage of George Floyd’s death in 2020 was spread throughout a variety of media platforms including news programs, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. After Floyd’s death, hundreds of protests were held all over the nation. While most of these protests were peaceful, some turned into violent riots. After the initial protests against George Floyd’s death concluded, the number of supporters of the BLM movement has been declining. However, despite the declining numbers, the BLM movement has made young American population realize the powerful political influence of social media in modern day America.

Climate Control: I do not think anyone will be surprised that climate change is included in this list. Climate change tends to worry younger generations because many of them fear that they will have to live with the consequences in the many coming years. There are so many different factors that people worry about from waste to CO2 and shrinking polar ice caps. All of these components of climate change lead many members of Generation Z to be more conscientious of their impact on the world around them. Many previous generations have not had to think about this problem as the science surrounding it has only emerged in the past few decades. Regardless, many young Americans make it their priority to fight for what they believe to be an issue of human survival on Earth. Whether that be from the high school students in Montana who have sued their state government for damaging the ecosystem to the simple act of Greta Thurnberg skipping school to protest climate change. For many young people, this is the issue of our time. It should be noted that the big focus and perspective separation between young generations and older generations is because climate change is such a slow-moving process. Many members of the older generations are not worried about it since they do not believe they will ever live to see the full consequences of it. The issue is thus kicked down the proverbial road to future Americans, but many members of the younger generation believe that we can no longer afford to push off the inevitable. However, with the truly massive scale of this problem, there continues to be a struggle to find viable solutions that would not have massive negative impacts on other parts of human life across the world.

Abortion/Women’s Health: When Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022 it upset many people across the United State. Since 1973, Roe v. Wade protected a person’s choice to get an abortion up until the fetus could survive outside the womb. However, after Roe v Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dobbs case, many states introduced laws that restrict individuals access to abortions or banned them entirely. So far twenty-one (21) states have banned abortions or placed restrictions on them. These states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Contraceptives and emergency contraceptives, such as Plan B (the “morning after” pill) are still legal in all 50 states so far. Nevertheless, more than 90 million women now live in areas that do not provide a full range of reproductive health care. Some states have expressed intents to restrict emergency contraceptives or general contraceptives in the future. In response to abortion restrictions and the possibility of restricting contraceptives many people around the United States are gathering in groups to protest. Younger generations generally are more supportive of abortion rights. Around 72% of people that are 18-29 years old, which combine Gen Z with young Millennials, believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. While men and women of most generations typically hold similar opinions on abortion rights. Gen Z is the only generation where men and women have significantly differing beliefs about abortion. 71 percent (71%) of Gen Z women believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases while only 59 percent (59%) of Gen Z men hold this belief.

Student Loan Debt: A challenge facing the young generation that threatens our future is massive amounts of student loan debt. More young adults pour into colleges year after year, and they take on thousands of dollars of debt to pay for an education which may itself have diminishing returns. Over the past 40 years, the cost of college tuition has increased an exorbitant 1200% while the average change in prices over this time period was only 250%. This has led the American student population to owe over $1.75 trillion dollars or an average of $36,500 per person. The change in pricing is well exemplified by private universities that now routinely charge well over $50,000 a year. This student loan debt crisis is not helped by the fact that many young adults fall into college as the default without any other options and end up spending thousands of dollars for “experiences” that colleges claim to provide. Unlike former generations, college is not the one road to prosperity because there are many other career-oriented educations (e.g., trade schools) that can provide valuable work experience while costing a fraction of the amount demanded for the traditional college education. Nevertheless, many members of the public still feel that a college education is the only way despite the ever-increasing costs. This continued lack of understanding about the impact of this debt leaves young Americans vulnerable to falling into a financial hole just as they begin their professional careers. College is still a very viable option, however, but it needs to be approached more carefully than in the past. Although there is still great value to be gained, the costs of college need to be measured against the debts that one must incur to obtain such a higher education.

Cost of Living: This section is, to a degree, a continuance of the student loan debt issue addressed immediately above because, in a similar vein, young Americans have a darker outlook on their own personal financial future. Housing prices have increased at rates well above CPI such that, for example, the median home price in America has quadrupled over the past 30 years to nearly $400,000. Almost 70% of Millennials have no belief that they will ever own their own home. A key part of the American Dream is no longer a reality for most young Americans. Similarly, there is no longer a way for young Americans to work a normal job and to support a family on a single income like in previous generations. In those previous generations, honorable and simple store managers could support their families and own their own home. But that is now something that younger generations could only dream of because inflation has so outpaced wage growth. More and more young Americans rely on interest heavy debt like credit cards and payday loans to be able to pay bills. More and more Americans have to live with roommates or live at home well into their late 20’s early 30’s just to be able to pay their bills. This not only hurts younger generations but also it places personal and financial pressure on older generations who are thus forced to financially support their children for more years. Looking down the proverbial road, younger generations will also struggle to put money away for their own retirement as older generations have. More and more Americans are now planning to work well into their 70’s in order to financially survive. In sum, through a combination of increased home prices, slow wage growth, and a lack of financial literacy, many young Americans worry about their financial future.

Lack of Trust in Government: Younger generations are increasingly pessimistic about the ability of the government to protect the American people and to build a better society for us to live in. In past generations, the government was seen as a stable force for good in the world. It was not until the truth about Vietnam came out and how the government lied to its citizens that more people began to doubt the true honesty, intentions, and nature of the government. Over the past 50 years, faith in the government has further slipped away as our politicians are continuously rocked by scandal after scandal. Younger generations were never raised in a time where the government was seen as “the good guys.” Instead, we look at our government with more of an apprehensive fear of their choices, and we ponder the extent to which governmental decisions may have been influenced by corruption or bribery. This leads us to have to try and figure out different avenues to try to solve problems in our society because we do not have faith that our leaders will help us. That is why many young people join non-profits or other independent organizations in an attempt to try to solve societal issues with as little governmental actions as possible. I believe older generations are beginning to agree with younger generations that as more and more corruption on both sides of the aisle is exposed. All we can hope for is that we may come together to build a better and more representative government going forward — one that accurately reflects our beliefs and one that does merely serve to divide us – even further. 

LGBTIQA: LGBTIQA+ rights should be expected to make this list, especially considering that younger generations in the United States are more likely to identify with these communities. For instance, 19.7% of the adult population of Gen Z identify as LGBTIQA+ whereas only 11.2% of millennials and 3.3% or less of older generations do. This is significant for many reasons including the fact that people who are part of these community’s experience significantly higher rates of discrimination in healthcare, employment, education, and public spaces than heterosexual individuals. These disparities lead to adverse effects on economic, physical, and mental well-being among LGBTIQA+ individuals. As younger generations take a stand against these issues, they also incorporate their newfound political power within social media to reach a larger audience. In a parallel manner, today, more and more film companies are incorporating gay, trans, and bisexual characters into their new movies and series. However, even despite increased representation in films, cartoons, and series, the stigma surrounding LGBTIQA+ communities persists. In a similar manner, drag shows are believed by some to be dangerous, especially when children are exposed to them. This ideology has led to some states to pass legislation that bans or censors’ performances such performances. Unsurprisingly, protests against drag performances are becoming increasingly common and all over the nation threats and violence are being made against drag performers. Another concern among parents with younger children is the notion of allowing gender affirming care in schools. Gender affirming care is roughly defined as a range of psychological, social, medical, and behavioral interventions intending to assist and affirm an individual’s gender identity when it varies from the gender they were assigned at birth. The concern that exposing children to this type of care too early can have negative consequences to their mental health has led to states banning or restricting minors’ exposure to gender affirming care. As members of the Gen Z generation are more likely to identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, asexual, intersex, or queer/questioning it is of little surprise that they are also more likely to support gender affirming care.

Body Positivity: Body positivity and acceptance started as a movement in the late 1960s. Since then, it has evolved and gained popularity. Initially, the Fat Acceptance Movement’s main goal was to end fat-shaming of white people. As more issues arose through the years the movement was expanded to address each such new issue. Now, the body positivity movement aims to change how society and individuals view weight, size, and appearance. The movement’s intent is to encourage more acceptance of all types of people including people of color and other minority groups. Mainstream fashion has been majorly impacted by this movement. For example, fashion companies used skinny white women for decades to model their new clothes in magazines, runways, and commercials.  Now, the fashion industry is becoming more accepting of different ethnicities and body types. Many popular clothing brands such as Aerie, Old Navy, Target, and Abercrombie & Fitch are incorporating more diversity in their clothes by providing sizes up to 4X and even creating mannequins to showcase their bigger sizes. Models in ad campaigns and magazines are becoming more representative and presenting curvier people, plus sized people, and people of different ethnicities. Some critique this movement as encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle by praising obesity, however unrealistic beauty standards themselves can lead to extremely unhealthy lifestyles as well. Eating disorders have been increasing in the United States, especially among younger people. According to the National Library of Medicine, nearly one in seven males and one in five females will experience an eating disorder by the age of 40. Teenagers and people in their early to mid-20s are most likely to suffer from an eating disorder. In addition, LGBTIAQ+ people, females, victims of bullying, and athletes are most at risk of developing some form of eating disorder. To a real, but regrettably unmeasurable degree, the increasing prevalence of eating disorders may also be from negative mental impacts of COVID 19 and social media.

Mental Health: Mental health is another huge concern for younger generations in the United States because teenagers and young adults are being diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities at alarmingly high rates Tragically, roughly 42% of Generation Z’s population has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The most common disorders are anxiety followed by depression, ADHD, and PTSD. Some factors that may be influencing Gen Z mental health include school shootings, financial stress with student debt, politics, and joblessness. Certainly, the use and abuse of social media is also recognized by many as something that can worsen one’s mental health. On a positive note, and despite social media’s negative influence, Gen Z has also used social media to raise awareness and destigmatize mental disabilities. In the past both social and intellectual disabilities were dealt with in a very private manner because of the stigma surrounding the subjects. It was believed that if one had a mental illness, it reflected poorly on their mental state. It was also believed that people with intellectual disabilities could be a danger to society and themselves. For instance, if one was diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, they were more likely to be seen as dangerous to themselves and others than someone with ADHD. These ideologies have persisted through the years, but younger generations like Gen Z are making efforts to change people’s misconceptions about the implications of mental health issues. Instead of isolating intellectually disabled people in private shame, Gen Z tends to be open and actively attempt to connect people who are struggling. Therapy is now viewed in a more positive light than before, and in some cases, accommodations now exist as well as extra help for those who need it. For example, many elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and universities offer various forms of support for intellectually or emotionally disabled students. Similarly, as a result of growing empathy and understanding and in some cases legislation, there is also more awareness and some provisions and protections for people with psychiatric disabilities in the workplace.

Gun Control: Gun control and gun rights continue to be a hotly contested issue across America, and in many cases young Americans tend to be at the center of that conversation. Many young people have strong feelings surrounding gun control as school shootings have become more prevalent over the past 20 years than ever before. Growing up in a time where shootings were on television everyday has led many young Americans to believe gun control to be a valid solution to the plethora of gun violence. However, over the past two decades very little has changed in the way of America’s gun laws. For this reason alone, many younger Americans put gun control at the forefront of how they cast their vote. There are many examples. This change has been seen by many young Americans become supportive of gun control organizations such as March for Our Lives and Moms Demand Action. These organizations attempt to turn all the young voices into one coherent voice that can be heard by legislatures. However, many other young Americans still view gun rights as an essential part of American life. With trust in the government at all-time low and especially with the arrival of more advanced technologies, more people, including young Americans, believe that having firearms to protect yourself against the government is both a valid and a necessary idea. These opposing viewpoints are both spearheaded by discussion on future generations and how pervasive gun violence may impact their lives going forward. Regardless of one’s view on these issues, it is deeply on the minds of many members of Generation Z.


America is always changing, and we change our beliefs. However, if we wish to come to a resolution on any issue, it is important for us to see other’s perspectives and attempt to reach a mutual agreement on them. Hopefully, this article helps to bridge the gap between the old and the young so we can all come to a better understanding as we try to move forward in our ever-changing world.

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Copyright 2023 by Mack W. Borgen. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews, without prior written permission by the author.



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