President Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis was revealed by POTUS himself via Twitter, but the almost-inevitable news of former counsellor Kellyanne Conway testing positive came from a different, unexpected source: her 15-year-old daughter, Claudia, who posted about it on TikTok. Not long after that reveal, Claudia announced that she, too, tested positive for the coronavirus. Awful — if not surprising — as it is that any parent would put their child's health at risk so as to better fit in with the death cult that is the GOP, what really seems to have sparked Twitter's interest is the way in which Claudia has been making numerous comments about Trump's symptoms, including calling him out for being much sicker than he appears. And as a result, the teenager is being lauded as a Trump administration whistleblower — the Gen Z saviour that America needs right now. Ok.
So much about the president's current health condition is confusing. After Trump left Walter Reed, videos showed him visibly struggling to breathe and not wearing a mask, despite the fact that he said he was doing better. His statements about feeling better are also seemingly contradicted by the battery of medicines he's taking, which doctors say are only given when a COVID patient's symptoms are severe. There's seemingly no clarity. And this is where Claudia Conway comes in: On Tiktok, Conway began commenting on videos of Trump, writing, “guys lmao he’s not doing ‘better’” insinuating that President Trump is suffering from more severe COVID-19 symptoms than he or his doctors are letting on. “He is so ridiculous. Apparently he is doing badly lol and they are doing what they can to stabilise him,” she clarified.
Almost instantly, Claudia's comments began being called out on Twitter, as people began offering thanks, and calling her a "hero" and "saviour" for us all. “Who knew that a 15 year old on TikTok would be the one to save us from this nightmare,” read one Tweet. A Twitter employee also reposted one of Claudia’s TikTok videos and said, “Is Claudia Conway an American hero? Who can be sure.” Many began referring to her as the only trustworthy news source on the White House COVID-19 outbreak, even comparing her to teen girls in YA novels who lead revolutions.
Eventually, Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter to tell people to back off. “My daughter, Claudia, is beautiful & brilliant. She has access to top doctors & health care & lives comfortably. Like all of you, she speculates on social media. Yet she’s 15. You are adults. We have COVID, but it’s clear who’s really sick.”
While Kellyanne may only be trying to save her own reputation by dismissing the frenzy around her daughter, she is right about one thing: Claudia is only 15, and to label her a "hero" or the only "hope" during a world-wide pandemic that has killed over 210,000 Americans, grossly implies that it's the job of a kid to clean up the current mess. Unfortunately, that kind of generational projection is not anything new.
Teenagers — which now means members of Gen Z — have long been asked to bail out America. Those putting Claudia on a pedestal as a hero who will save us from the Trump administration's lies are fetishising her in the same way they did with the Parkland teens, or climate activist Greta Thunberg — the supposed "voices of a generation" who have demanded justice where adults have failed to.
After facing an unspeakable tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, a group of students ignited a nation-wide conversation about school shootings, taking political leaders to task on implementing new gun control laws in the US. David Hogg and his friends asked Congress to “please take action.” And they quickly became known as the faces fighting back against mass shootings in American schools.
Now-17-year-old Thunberg was no different: Her school walkouts were the largest global climate strike in history, making her some sort of "hero" among fellow activists. But when Greta Thunberg addressed the United Nations in September 2019, she said something unexpected: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us for hope? How dare you.”
Thunberg's point is unmistakable: Teens are not here to "save" anyone, and this isn't their battle to fight. Claudia Conway is only the latest in the conversation around how "Gen Z will save us." Much like Thunberg, the Parkland teens, and many other youth activists, Claudia is just a kid who is trying to do better than she thinks the generation before her did. But making her — or any other kids — a saviour is not the solution. “I’m afraid we’re always reading too much into every action of this generation,” Michelle Ciccone, a K-12 curriculum specialist told The New York Times in June.
It's unclear how Claudia even accessed so much information about Trump. We can assume that she is privy to certain truths that the greater public is not because of her parents' level of access. But what is clear is that we should not be relying on Claudia to share this information and be some kind of hero. It's understandable that so many people are craving any kind of information that they can get. We are all scared and we all want answers. But we just shouldn't be asking a teenager to deliver them.