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Good for Us? Younger Voters Lose Trust in Institutions

by Robert W. Hunnicutt   |  April 30th, 2014 3

The very basis of Second Amendment activism is a jaundiced eye toward state power. Our core belief is that the right to keep and bear arms is the one that protects all the other items in the Bill of Rights from the forces of tyranny who seem never to disappear from human history.

Our opponents like to sneer that we’re just a bunch of angry old heterosexual white guys who fear that a robust government will chip away at our unearned privileges for the benefit of various more deserving ethnic, sexual and economic groups. They like to comfort themselves with the notion we are going the way of the wooly mammoth and that activist government will soon be leading younger, better people to the sunny uplands of human happiness. Young people, they think, aren’t burdened by our mania for individual rights, and will count on a beneficent state to deliver a secure and joyful existence.

Not so fast, parlor Bolshies. A recent survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics showed that younger people between 18 and 29 have rapidly lost faith in government.

“Compared to one year ago, the level of trust that young Americans between 18- and 29-years-old have in most American institutions tested in our survey has dissipated compared even to last year’s historically low numbers. For example, in the last 12 months, trust in the President has decreased from 39 percent to 32 percent, the U.S. military has decreased from 54 percent to 47 percent (the first time below a majority) and the Supreme Court from 40 to 36 percent.”

Since the youth vote was one of the keys to both the 2008 and 2012 elections, that news has to chill any advocate of big government. I would suspect few SGN readers will be shocked to hear the news about the President’s trust ratings:

“The growing lack of trust in the President comes from Democrats (64% trusted the President to do the right thing all or most of the time in 2013, today the number is 53%) and Independents (31% in 2013, 23% today)—and not from Republicans whose opinion has not changed in the last year. Thirteen percent (13%) of Republicans trust the President to do the right thing all or most of the time.”

That 13 percent of Republicans trust the President indicates that 13 percent didn’t understand the question.

Not trusting the government is a healthy attitude and should better incline these future voters toward the right to bear arms. What is more disturbing is their increasing alienation toward politics in general:

Do you agree or disagree with each statement?
( % who agree strongly or somewhat )

Elected officials seem to be motivated by selfish reasons
54% – Feb. 2010
55% – Feb. 2011
59% – Mar. 2012
59% – Apr. 2013
62% – Apr. 2014

Elected officials don’t seem to have the same priorities I have
51% – Feb. 2010
–       – Feb. 2011
55% – Mar. 2012
56% – Apr. 2013
58% – Apr. 2014

Politics has become too partisan
46% – Feb. 2010
44% – Feb. 2011
49% – Mar. 2012
48% – Apr. 2013
49% – Apr. 2014

People like me do not have any say about what the government does
36% – Feb. 2010
35% – Feb. 2011
37% – Mar. 2012
37% – Apr. 2013
41% – Apr. 2014

Running for office is an honorable thing to do
35% – Feb. 2010
36% – Feb. 2011
35% – Mar. 2012
35% – Apr. 2013
32% – Apr. 2014

Political involvement rarely has any tangible results
23% – Feb. 2010
24% – Feb. 2011
29% – Mar. 2012
28% – Apr. 2013
29% – Apr. 2014

The idea of working in some form of public service is appealing to me
33% – Feb. 2010
33% – Feb. 2011
31% – Mar. 2012
31% – Apr. 2013
29% – Apr. 2014

Now, given gerrymandering and other vote manipulation by polls, the infusion of cash from meddling billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, the cheerleading by the mainstream media for the increasingly unpopular current occupant of the White House and mudslinging campaign tactics that now extend right down to your local dogcatcher race, it’s hard to fault the youngsters for cynicism.

But staying engaged with politics is how we hang onto, and preferably expand, our rights. We didn’t get right-to-carry laws throughout the country by muttering into our beer. They were earned by continuous, painstaking effort over more than 20 years. Let’s hope the young people on our side are the ones who haven’t given up on the political process.

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