Image Credits: AFP
By James Han, Managing Editor
Armenians recently saw their entire political paradigm shift. Thousands of Armenians protested and eventually ousted Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan who tried to serve a de facto third term. He served as president since 2008, but presidential term limits forced him out of office in March. The Armenian parliament, lead by a Republican-no relation to the GOP- majority, installed him as Prime Minister and transferred most of the presidential powers to the prime minister. That move sparked cries of corruption and injustice, which spread across Armenia and started a massive grassroots movement.
While the success of such protests under a corrupt government like Armenia is laudable alone, the makeup of these protests is even more interesting.
Many of the protestors were high school and university students rallying under Nikol Pashinyan, a 43-year-old member of parliament that is now Armenia’s prime minister.
Protests and social movements do tend to have large youth membership, particularly due to a lot of youth subscription to progressive values, but this massive success comes at a critical time for US politics.
In the wake of shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, its victims are leading the #NeverAgain movement, a nationwide push to end the rampant mass shootings across the United States. Those student leaders, in particular Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, came under fire by conservative media not just for their platform-which is perfectly acceptable but for who they were. The ad hominem attacks on the Never Again movement centered on the idea that youth could not possible create monumental change and lacked the wisdom to craft smart policy. The fact of the matter is that youth are already the engine of change across the world. The Never Again movement has gained enormous traction and managed to stay relevant and active by organizing walkouts and rallies across the country. Likewise, they have pushed for clear gun reform policy- a far cry from the disorganized bunch of children that they have been made out to be.
Armenia’s example shows us that youth are clearly a significant force in today’s age of political turmoil. The attacks on a growing population of politically engaged youth cannot focus on age. It’s clear that in the modern-day youth are and will continue to be a part of the conversation. Today’s pundits need to focus less on how old politicians and activists are and scrutinize policy with solid argumentation, a move that will certainly increase the quality of our political discourse.
Nikol Pashinyan was certainly older than the many youth he led, but he still represents a new generation of leaders that seek to redefine the political paradigm across the world. Youth leaders of Gen Z need to take note and have faith that the age of their supporters and themselves does not define the validity of their arguments or the strength of their leadership. Now, more so than ever before, it is time for Gen Z to take a stand and show the world what we are capable of.