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Another brick in the wall

Faith in Democracy

According to an Axios poll released shortly before the 2018 midterm elections, only half of Americans report that they have faith in U.S. democracy.

It’s possible that some Americans mostly feel disillusioned with the U.S. political system because of the election of Donald Trump, either because of his lack of government knowledge, his history of controversial public statements, or the ongoing investigation into his presidential campaign for alleged collusion with the Russian government.

For Americans unhappy with Trump and conservative policies, perhaps their faith in democracy was restored after the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives. However, Democratic control of the House hasn’t prevented a government shutdown that has now lasted for more than a month. Over 400,000 federal employees have been working without pay, over 300,000 are furloughed, and millions of other Americans are having trouble accessing essential government services.

Outside of controversies surrounding President Trump, there are other reasons to feel disheartened. Many states have laws that make registering to vote more difficult in addition to stringent voter ID laws. Partisan gerrymandering has given many legislative districts around the country a one-party majority with elections so uncompetitive that residents don’t bother to vote.

Additionally, the role of big political donors and SuperPACs has given the average voter less influence over elections. According to an estimate from opensecrets.org, campaign spending on congressional races in 2018 reached a record $5 billion. Aside from making Americans rightfully suspicious that a small group of wealthy donors are dominating our political system, people are also tired of constantly being bombarded with political ads.

This semester, I’ve decided to use this column to examine political stories, both national and local, and see if they make the average American continue to lose faith in the political system or if they make Americans hopeful. Whether or not Americans continue to feel optimistic about our political system, it’s safe to say with older millennials now reaching their late 30s and Generation Z reaching adulthood, increasingly more Americans will demand changes to outdated political norms.

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