52% of young Americans think democracy is “in trouble” or worse

The Donlon Report

(NewsNation Now) — A majority of young Americans believe they live in a democracy in trouble — or worse, according to a new Harvard University poll.

The university’s politics institute found 13% of respondents believe the democracy has failed, while 39% believe it’s in trouble. Only 7% said they believed it was healthy, and 27% said it was “somewhat functioning.”

All of the people polled are between 18 and 29 years old.

The numbers mostly break down evenly when split along party lines, though more Republicans (23%) than Democrats (8%) said the democracy had failed.

One-third of the respondents said there was more than a 50% chance they would live to see a second civil war.

Their responses could be considered bleak, but those who study young people, particularly the ones born in this century, say it should not be a surprise.

“Folks are just not feeling it,” said Quentin Wathum-Ocama, the president of the Young Democrats of America. “They’re not feeling the things that make this country great, and the democratic institutions that are supposed to provide for us.”

On Friday’s “The Donlon Report,” Wathum-Ocama said young people don’t see themselves involved in today’s politics.

“We look at what’s happening in Washington, or even our own state capitals, we see older politicians, talking, discussing and making decisions, where young people really aren’t just at the table,” he said.

Emily Jashinsky, culture editor at The Federalist, said growing up in the shadow of the 9/11 attacks exposed the up-and-coming generation to dysfunctional politics, not to mention crippling debt.

“Their families were hit with a great recession,” Jashinsky said. “They’re being pushed into a system where they’re filtered through higher education almost unanimously, and that involves taking out tens of thousands of dollars of student loans.”

Wathum-Ocama and Jashinsky agreed it’s hard not to be pessimistic, but progress could still be made.

“I always have hope,” Jashinsky said.

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