American Youth Not Interested In Politics

The May 16, 2015, Economist article "Not Running, But Fleeing" reported the millennials aged 18 to 34 seem to be losing faith in electoral politics as a way of tackling society's problems, which raises some interesting questions.

Now researchers have started pondering a related question: if young people cannot be bothered to vote, will they see any point in running for political office? Early findings are triggering some alarm. Earlier this month two political scientists, Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox, published "Running From Office: Why Young Americans Are Turned Off To Politics," a book analyzing the political ambitions of more than 4,000 high-school and university students. Overall, only about one in nine young people in their study could seriously imagine running for office. Youth disdain was sharpest when contemplating Congress and the federal government. But local, non-party offices were not immune. Asked to pick three possible jobs from a list of 20, students ranked 'mayor of a city or town' 17th: above 'member of congress' but below even such despised trades as journalism. No democracy thrives on apathy. But America is usually dependent on citizen-legislators. Counting school boards, parks commissions and so on, the country is home to almost 520,000 elected officials. Professors Lawless and Fox worry about the 25% of students who have no opinions about politics. They fret about the roughly 60% who have negative views of it, and so try to avoid the subject. Unfamiliarity breeds contempt, the professors discover: those who tune out politics are most likely to think politicians are all awful (people in politics are 'squirrelly,' a Texan student told them, flatly).

The young voters are up for grabs, and we conservatives need to be relevant to them.


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