Increase Concern of Government-Related and Political Issues Among Teenagers

Connor Pollina, Staff Writer

Government, we are taught, is a necessary institution to maintain social order and provide public goods including a common defense. In Western tradition, much thought has been given to limit the government’s power so it serves the people rather than controls them. Throughout history, the Federal Government has made the American public confident in its ability to overcome adversity. Today concerns such as inequality, global warming and large scale conflicts are at the forefront of America’s future and success. Public views on these topics, as well as providing affordable healthcare and reducing the national debt are top policy priorities for the future. The truth is that the U.S is not a perfect union, but rather constant work in progress in effort to ensure domestic tranquility and liberty to all. The American public looks to positions of authority, like the Federal Government, to tackle these concerns head on to promise order, security and protection.

Reaching solutions to public concerns in the U.S is not a new topic; the U.S is always in a constant tug or war between right and wrong, or moral and immoral; look how far we have come in the past 200 years. Although the systemic structure of our Government is strong and stable, some currently question the legitimacy and transparency of the current state. Those who question its accountability are noticeably younger Americans. The interest and concern of government and politics has gained popularity by highschoolers. As teens enter adulthood more issues are prevalent in their lives and now more than ever those concerns can be vocalized through social media.

At Wheaton Warrenville South Highschool, roughly 60 percent of students surveyed are either interested, or very interested in keeping up with news about the federal government. More impressively, 85 percent of students surveyed believe that the federal government plays either an important or a very important role in society. It is evident that teenagers not only care about the government, but also care about what the government does. Students are understanding that “government rests on public opinion” as Abraham Lincoln said. 

Additionally, of those surveyed, roughly 75 percent of students trust the integrity of the government. Fundamentally, the U.S federal government is a strong system with many checks and balances. Those who do not support its integrity often are concerned with the politicians’ character. According to Pew Research, 43 percent of adults say they are concerned for American’s future moral values. Senior, Theo Struthers says, “I don’t feel comfortable with the moral and ethical standards some of the members of government hold when it comes to certain things.” Teenagers are more concerned with the people running the government and their integrity, rather than the system itself. Students understand that America needs smart, compassionate and strong leaders in government positions. 

46.3 percent of students said “National defense, veteran and forign affairs’ ‘, is the most important service the government provides. It can be inferred that students surveyed think that our military and connection with other countries will solve most of the problems Americans face. It is a logical approach. Pew Research concludes that most Americans think a strong national defense is important as well. 

According to the “American Government Textbook”, “Families are generally the first, and often the most enduring influence on young people’s developing political opinions.” At WWS, students were asked what factor influences their political preference the most. It was roughly an even split (50/50) of “News and media” compared to “Parent and family prefered political party.” As political parties today are extremely polarized the younger generation has the potential to reverse this polarization and restore more unity. It seems students are starting to form opinions for themselves and question their own morals and ideals. Perhaps an increase of independence can be attributed to this behavior. 

This trend of an increased concern with government and politics among teenagers is beneficial to the future of America. Learning about problems in society at a young age and being exposed to more political and governmental issues can make future adults more educated and willing to vote. With intellectual conversations being had and people voicing their opinions, the future looks bright.