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More Americans Are Disillusioned with Politics
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Marion Charatan

Jan 31, 2024

The majority of Americans are discouraged with the current political climate. How will this impact the November presidential election?

One thing I hate about politics is the divisiveness between the major political parties and candidates. Why can't Democrats and Republicans 'agree to disagree' in a more civilized way? The drama is frustrating, wearing, time-consuming and unproductive. How can positive change be negotiated from such out-of-control behavior?

According to a poll from the Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans feel exhausted, and over half, 55%, feel angry about the political landscape. I'm one of them. Only 10% feel hopeful, and just 4% are excited about the current political system. A CNN poll pretty much echoed a similar sentiment, highlighting 'voter burnout.' The polarization has turned me off from getting more involved. Do I believe in causes? You bet I do. But I try to make a difference more quietly by advocating organizations and causes I believe in.

As tired as people are with the current system, almost 6 out of 10 in the Pew survey believe it's important to vote. The consensus was that voting makes more of a significant difference than running for office, donating to a political campaign, or volunteering for an organization or a political group. I challenge the result of volunteering. Volunteers are a vehicle for change and have an impact on bettering society.

Even though voter turnout was at an all-time high in the 2020 presidential election, pitting Joe Biden against Donald Trump, one-third of registered voters did not vote. Of those 80 million people, 16% felt their vote would not make a significant difference, according to a survey in Ipsos commissioned by the Medill School of Journalism and NPR Radio.

The Pew Research poll also revealed a whopping 79% of US residents have a negative word to describe politics--"divisive" followed by 'corrupt' were the most frequent terms. I would add "dishonest" and "chaotic" to the list.

On a positive note, I am encouraged by the hopefulness and resilience I witness in many young people--who have had to navigate a pandemic that discouraged all of us, irrespective of our age group.

Yet political engagement seems to up to the anger in participants, especially in the older demographic. Pew Research said that the threshold is slightly higher in Republican or Republican-leaning than Democrats.

It's important to know what's going on in the world, of course. But over the past couple of years, I have found myself steering away from political debates and focusing more on brief headlines to keep informed. Other people I know in the media have a similar reaction. It is tiring to get bombarded with divisiveness. I prefer to read a story about a student with an innovative idea, an elder volunteering for Meals on Wheels, or an opening at an art gallery. My avoidance of the news is in line with many other people who choose to eliminate news from their day

Back in the day, when I was on the Forensics team at The City University of New York, Queens College, students could debate a topic--not spew insults and anger. I am tired of the lack of class some politicians who represent us exhibit--this sort of representation is not a productive way to support the values of 'We the people."

What does this translate to for me? I will still be involved in causes I believe in, and I'll cast my ballot in the upcoming presidential election.

Histrionics detract from messages that could instigate changes. I'd love to see a survey on people who could have made viable contributions but shied away from political careers--because they could not stomach how some public servants conduct their business. At least most voters say they will exercise their right to vote.

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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