Bernie Sanders greets supporters after speaking at Valley High School. Young voters have backed Sanders since his 2016 campaign. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Crescenta Valley High School

Opinion: Why are young people so disinterested in voting?

Most people are really quick to call Gen Z the “lazy” or “self-obsessed” generation. That same mentality that plagues people’s thought process allows for the justification of assuming that most people part of the Gen Z generation are disinterested in politics.

However, the World Values Survey shows that political activity has stayed the same since 1981. More Americans are active in new forms of political action such as political consumerism, buying or not buying a product for political reasons, and online activity. In fact, the same study showed that Gen Z is even more politically active than most generations when you include the data on our generation’s involvement in political protests/rallies.

According to Gallup, 82% of people age 65 and up have an interest in voting, whereas only 26% of those under 30 do. Looking at the research, it’s clear that people have been asking the wrong question for too long. We’ve been asking ourselves why are young people so disinterested in politics, but the reality is that the question we should be analyzing is why are young people so disinterested in voting.

A study done by Tufts University showed that an overwhelming majority of the people polled who were between the ages of 18-29 didn’t vote because of conflicting work. While 17.2% of those polled felt as though their vote would not count, 5.8% of those polled didn’t like the candidates.

For too long young people have been told that they were being inconsiderate for not voting, yet the real issue is that they never felt like the candidates were speaking to their needs.

It would be imprudent to explain Gen Z’s disinterest in voting without mentioning the popularity of Presidential Candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders, particularly with the younger generation.

According to the Washington Post, in the 2016 campaign, Sanders won more votes among those under the age of 30 than the two presumptive major-party presidential nominees combined. Senator Sanders even won more than 80% of their votes in some states against the eventual Democratic nominee.

To completely understand how Senator Sanders overwhelmingly gained the support of the younger generation, it’s essential that you understand that even as the price of a college diploma has risen high-exponentially, (forcing the rising generation of college graduates to live with arduous debts), the value of such diplomas on the U.S. job market has rapidly depreciated. In fact, the overeducated, precariously employed college graduate is the modal millennial socialist, as noted by The Intelligencer.

Furthermore, it is incredibly ironic that the world’s hyper-connected millennials seem to feel so completely disconnected from those in power, which was noted by the World Government Summit. While the younger generation isn’t as likely to vote as older generations, they certainly are finding new ways to remain engaged by being politically active.