Young people increasingly look down on politics as useless and think only losers choose a life of government work, a pessimistic new poll found.
The study, which was conducted by USA Today, concluded that only 39 percent of the under-29 crowd thought government service was a worthwhile life commitment. In contrast, 53 percent of people 30 and older said participating in the political process was important.
Still, 66 percent of all respondents agreed that the best way to make a positive change in the world was to eschew government and work for a non-profit charity.
Illinois Rep. Aaron Shock, a Republican and the U.S.’s youngest congressman, said he thinks young people are more jaded than ever about government.
“There’s a skepticism of government,” said Shock in a statement to USA Today. “Young people say, if I want to feed the hungry or make a difference for cancer patients, it’s easier to do that through a non-profit and see the tangible results up close than, say, trying to push for federal funding to do the same.”
Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University, said the results were unsurprising given that so many of his students take an extremely negative view of government.
“[There is] a general sense that politics is for losers, for ne’er-do-wells, for the corrupt and for the under-motivated and greedy,” he said.
Ironically, distrust of government was a motivating factor among respondents who indicated that they would like to run for office. People who said they never trust the government to do the right thing were twice as likely to express a desire to run for office than people who trust government most of the time.
Of course, many young people may have good reason to be angry with government, given the economy they face when they graduate college — and the collective $1 trillion they owe in student loan debt.
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