LIVE VIDEO: Live Newscast    Watch
 

Students re-evaluate government majors during shutdown

3:51 PM, Oct 5, 2013   |    comments
President Obama and Congressional members wrestle over budget matters.
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
  • FILED UNDER

 


 


For Stephen Henninger, the government shutdown reaffirms his decision not to pursue a career in politics.

The current gridlock in Congress is further proof to him that a government career is not a viable way to make a difference.

The Michigan State University senior's jaded view of politics may be representative of many Millennials' opinions about government.

"They say the government shutdown is how [government] works, and they don't really understand the implications of it," Henninger says. "It makes the Millennial generation more apathetic about government."

According to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, the voter turnout rate of young people ages 18 to 29 declined 6% from the 2008 to the 2012 elections.

Henninger, a political theory student, says Millennials think the political system is broken, which makes them look for ways to be civically engaged besides voting or working on campaigns.

"What we're seeing at Michigan State is a lot of students getting involved in civic duty but don't see the government as a viable option," Henninger says. "You see a lot of students going to community service events and wanting to make a difference, but don't see the government as a viable option for that."

Connie Flanagan, professor of human ecology at the University of Wisconsin, has studied how high school and college students get involved in their communities for 25 years.

Flanagan attributes the decline in voter turnout in 2012 to Millennials' view that electoral politics are an ineffective way to change the status quo.

The government shutdown reinforces this attitude, according to Flanagan.

"The belief in the efficacy of Congress is at an all-time low," Flanagan says. "When Millennials are active and engaged, it's in things they believe can do something."

Henninger agrees the stalemate in Washington, D.C. continues to push Millennials away from the current system. He has peers who want to create change but do not think solutions can be made when politicians are pointing fingers at each other instead of compromising.

"If adults aren't willing to sit down and act mature and say we're going to figure out what's best for everyone, then what faith can we have when we try to advocate for stuff?" Henninger says. "It alienates more people from wanting to get involved in politics."

Appalachian State University student Caroline Hartman does think the shutdown underlines Millennials' pessimistic views of government. However, she plans to pursue politics despite the political climate because she wants to get the country back on track.

"The current state of political gridlock does not really surprise me. It has been this way for as long as I have been active in politics," Hartman wrote in an e-mail. "The current state of politics does not affect my plans. The thing that may affect me is the job market. Will I be able to get a job if the economy does not improve?"

Like Hartman, University of Florida student Brandon Scott has not been deterred from a political career following the government shutdown. In fact, he says, if anything, the current situation makes him more motivated to get into politics and change it.

"The connotation of politics has taken a nose dive," Scott says. "My goal is more of governing rather than being in politics. I don't want to be a politician. I want to help govern."

Scott says it is difficult for people to see the effect of the shutdown when it is not directly impacting them, but he hopes it encourages Millennials to learn more about the government and each side's opinions.

"The Millennial generation has become very displeased with government in general, and I'm hoping this and all the media attention it's getting ... will bring out a groundswell of Millennials to start getting more interested and wanting to vote in 2014," Scott says. "Nobody I know is happy with what's going on right now."

Allison Hammond is a junior at the University of Kansas.

Most Watched Videos