A new poll, conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, has put into writing what many Americans have felt for a long time: young Americans don’t trust Congress to get the job done.
The poll, which surveyed 18-29 year olds, gathered attitudes towards politics and public service, asking questions ranging from political affiliation, to voting, to attitudes towards our nation’s institutions.
Of all the data reported, two questions in particular set the depressing tone for the rest of the study. First, when asked about the general direction of the nation, 53% of those participating said we are “off on the wrong track.” When asked how often they trust Congress to do the right thing, 79% of responses indicated mistrust.
The bad news for Congress is that it didn’t stop there, however. Only two institutions, The Media and Wall Street received a lesser vote of confidence from Americans, with 16% and 12%, respectively, compared to Congress’ 17% confidence level.
Young Americans depend on Congress in a way that few others do. Young people today face a crossroads in their lives, whether it is attending college for the first time, leaving home, or living on their own. These young Americans need Congress to ensure they have access to a quality education, manageable student debt, and an economy that allows for job and wage growth as they get their start in adult life.
In Congress’ current state, the people it represents, including these young Americans, are being underserved.
Rather than becoming a voice for those in need or passing meaningful legislation, Congress is instead focused on obstructionism, partisan gamesmanship, and putting down the other side of the aisle.
If we want to repair Congress’ poor reputation among young Americans, we must support efforts to examine the root of the problems it faces. A thorough investigation is needed, to search for solutions to make Congress work better for all Americans.