“I was too young to remember the last impeachment inquiry,” writes Jonathan Compo, “Trump’s impeachment inquiry scares me.”

The President of the United States is going to be impeached. Or, at least, an impeachment inquiry has been launched against him. The President of the United States asked the President of Ukraine to investigate the family of Vice President Joe Biden. This has been confirmed by the White House, which released a record of the call. A report containing further suggestions as to the nature and context of the call was released by a whistleblower on Thursday.

The report from the whistleblower suggests that, before the call, President Zelenskiy of Ukraine was briefed by an intermediary that the possibility of a conversation with the President of the United States was dependent on whether “whether Zelenskiy showed a willingness to ‘play ball’” with Trump. 

It isn’t yet clear what ‘play ball’ means. Those in the pro-impeachment camp believe it was an implicit reference to U.S. military aid to Ukraine. U.S. military aid was withheld this summer. The claim of those who are pro-impeachment is that this suspension of aid was an attempt to bully Ukraine into giving Trump information on his political rival, Biden. Those who oppose impeachment have argued that nothing in the White House record of the call suggests a proposed quid pro quo from the President of the United States. Deal or no deal?

Too young to remember Watergate

I have had a tough week. When I have a tough week, I go walking. If you go walking from Georgetown’s campus, the best route is to head down to the Potomac waterfront and travel up the river towards the Lincoln Memorial. On the way, you will pass the Watergate Hotel. I always stop there, to look at the fountains. 

I am too young, of course, to remember Watergate. To me, it is just a nice hotel with nice fountains. But for those who were my age in 1972, Watergate was generation-defining. The cohort for whom that scandal represented an induction into political consciousness would forever be defined by that hotel. The characteristic Generation X cynicism and nihilism was fertilized by Watergate.

Will my generation be similarly defined? That’s what I worry about today, as I wander down by the Potomac. Beyond the immediate partisan fallout of this scandal, beyond the very real implications it has for the US in the world, what mark will Trump’s telephone call leave on the consciousness of Generation Z? 

My generation, us zoomers, are already prone to anxiety and depression. I worry that these past four years will bake these predispositions into our minds permanently. We will be forever the generation of fear. They’ll name the collective nouns for negative emotions after us, a zoomer of anxieties, an iGen of fears.

Maybe this focus on my peers is the wrong one, given the situation. There are those who stand to lose a lot more than their mental wellbeing from this impeachment inquiry. Focusing on the partisan fallout of this scandal, or on the very real implications it has for the US in the world would perhaps be the focus of this article were it in the hands of another journalist. 

I am a Voices of Generation Z correspondent. Consequently, my role is to provide a voice from generation Z. The better journalists will focus on the more substantive issues. Nancy Pelosi will focus on the impeachment proceedings, and Donald Trump will focus on himself, and all is in order in history. 

Generational problems may call for individual solutions

Generations are the slaves of history. People seem to have less agency than a person. The hopelessness of my age, about which I am so concerned, feels so out of my control, imposed from the outside. Trump-Ukraine is a wound on my generation we did not inflict. Though there are pro-impeachment zoomers and anti-impeachment zoomers, for the generation as a whole, this feels like a loss. 

How we deal with this loss is going to be personal. Generational problems may call for individual solutions. I find some solace in these fountains I’m looking at. Watergate was so influential a scandal that the appending of its suffix, -gate, to any affair brands that new event with the gravity of the earlier impropriety. One something is a gate, you know: oh no, thing bad. I think, though, that -the gate is the wrong part of Watergate to focus on. There will always be gates, always be scandals; evil will perennially respawn. What remains is water. Time continues to flow, and grief subsides to acceptance. This sounds silly as I am saying it. I mean what I said about personal solutions. I’m not preaching here. This is just what gets me through each week. Time continues to flow. Grief subsides. Given the current geopolitical situation, given the current climate situation, my generation will have to contend with a zoomer of anxieties, an iGen of fears. There will be much worse coming to us, and if we don’t want to be the Generation of fear then each of us must find ways to face terror calmly. I must keep walking, keep looking at the fountains. 

Jonathan Compo

Jonathan is a Generation Z voice at the Pavlovic Today. He is studying Theatre and Biology at Georgetown University. His interests include healthcare, arts, culture and the environment.