Billie Eilish is the voice of Generation Z, and at age 18, she — along with much of her young and politically savvy fan base — will be voting in her first presidential election this November. Before performing her new single “My Future” for the first time this Wednesday during the Democratic National Convention, the Grammy-winning singer made it abundantly clear who will get her vote, and she urged her fans to follow her lead.
“You don’t need me to tell you things are a mess. Donald Trump is destroying our country and everything we care about,” Eilish said as she solemnly, directly addressed the camera. “We need leaders who will solve problems like climate change and COVID, not deny them. Leaders who will fight against systemic racism and inequality. And that starts by voting for someone who understands how much is at stake. Someone who’s building a team that shares our values.
“It starts with voting against Donald Trump and for Joe Biden. Silence is not an option, and we cannot sit this one out. We all have to vote like our lives and the world depend on it — because they do. The only way to be certain of the future is to make it ourselves. Please register. Please vote.”
Eilish’s speech and performance came on a night dominated by the crucial issue of climate change, a cause near and dear to the artist’s heart. As Wednesday’s DNC host Kerry Washington noted, Eilish was known for her activism and environmentalism long before she was even old enough to vote, working to ensure that her most recent tour was green and sustainable and holding registration drives before her concerts to sign up thousands of young new voters.
Another issue that was a major focus during Wednesday’s DNC broadcast was gun control, addressed by another voice of Generation Z, Parkland school shooting survivor and activist Emma González.
“People affected by everyday gun violence have to walk by the street corner where their best friend, their brother, their mother, their nephew, where they themselves were shot, and life goes on and on as if we all haven’t just watched a loved one die and get put in the grave,” González stated Wednesday. “The whole point of what I’m saying here is until one of us or all of us stand up and say, ‘I can’t do this anymore, I can’t sit by and watch the news treat these shootings like acts of God,’ gun violence isn’t just going to stop until there’s a force fighting harder against it. And I’m going to do something to prevent it.. …What we’re fighting for will happen because we’re fighting so strongly for it. We’re going to make this change.”
Also courting the youth vote, as well as the Latinx vote, on Wednesday evening was another musical performer, Dominican-American singer-songwriter Prince Royce, who sang a unifying, Spanish-language version of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” which had been his debut hit single in 2010. “Mi gente, let’s stand by each other and don’t forget to vote this November,” he said at the end of the song. “Together, we can make a change.”
The third day of the Democratic National Convention also featured a performance by Jennifer Hudson and speeches by former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, senator and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama.