"Corrupt, Fucked, and Broken." What Young People Really Think of the Political System.
America's next leaders think the government is fucked. Pure and simple, young adults are disillusioned with the current political system. The people who will be the future leaders of America say politics today are corrupt, inefficient and messy — words that only begin to underline the disgust many young people feel.
That's what a recent Mic survey of 666 people under the age of 34 from every state said when asked to describe today's American political environment. When asked to use one word to describe it, nearly all respondents included negative terms. Shit. Messy. Ineffective. Oligarchy. These are the damning terms respondents turned to when describing American politics.
The Mic survey results echo the findings of another recent poll completed by Reason-Rup, which found that millennials overwhelmingly think government is inefficient, corrupt and supportive of cronyism. This sweeping report cites that 66% of young people believe the government is inefficient and wasteful — a sharp jump since 2009 when just 42% of young people described the government as the same.
Vox's Dylan Matthews called millennials' views "totally incoherent." The Atlantics' Derek Thompson added, "Millennials' political views don't make any sense."
But it's not that young people don't make any sense — their cynicism is very much rooted in very real problems.
How did we get here? A generation that spent their childhood in the economic boom and prosperity of the 1990s has spent the last decade imbued in two grueling wars and an economic meltdown. Jobs are hard to come by; America's global reputation has sunk; the political system is gridlocked when it comes to creating the simplest policy solutions.
But what's sad about millennials is that we can remember the good times and can compare them to today's America. And when millennials reflect on the last decade, it's not hard to see why we use words like "shit" and "dysfunctional." It's irony that seems like it's straight out of a Hollywood screenplay.
Still, this group is immersed in politics. We understand it and work within its framework to enact meaningful change:
... and we continue to be involved ...
Chart credits: Mic
Young Americans may have lost faith, but they haven't turned away like a mob of anarchists. They want government to solve problems surrounding health insurance, the living wage and economic stagnation. The Reason poll found millennials also support more government action and higher spending. This demographic believes in the fundamental principles of the American system, but finds that the system has strayed.
Flash points: It's difficult to point to a single reason young people are disgusted by government.
Millennials believe the government wastes money on foreign adventurism when it could be solving a critical problem at home ...
Image credit: Imgur
... and spends billions trying to solve a made-up crisis. Since 1970, the government has spent $1.5 trillion on "drug control," though addiction rates remain constant.
Meanwhile, young people are burdened with debt, which makes it difficult for to achieve the same levels of financial success our parents had. The government made $41.3 billion in student loan profits in 2013, USA Today reports. Over 40 million Americans hold student debt, Huffington Post reports. The unemployment rate for young people is high: 13.5% for those ages 15-24 and 12% for 20 to 24-year-olds.
Image credit: Imgur
The government is run by monied interests. Corporate lobbying groups don't care about the broad welfare of America, and prioritize policy that benefits only their bottom-line. Some of the biggest corporations in America — GE, Verizon, Boeing, Honeywell and Wells Fargo — spend more on lobbying than they do on federal income taxes, Mic's Tom Mckay reports. Washington has been bought.
Image credit: Questionist
The rich keep getting richer. As of September 2013, the top 1% of earners had captured 95% of all income gains since the Great Recession ended, the New York Times reports. The other 99% saw a net drop of 12% to their income.
This is a startling portrait of America's youngest adult generation. The leaders of tomorrow find fault in the very foundation of the political system. The coming years will see this generation begin to take the reigns of power, and reshape the American political landscape. It's clear they don't think business as usual is working.