Don’t Get Discouraged, Get Even!

May 4, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

Bob Bitterman

The recently released results of a poll by the Institute of Politics (IoP) at Harvard University suggest that political dysfunction in Washington, D.C., is negatively impacting the youngest generation of voting-age U.S. citizens. Only one in four Millennials (ages 18 to 29) thinks the country is headed in the right direction, and 48% think their vote will not make a real difference—up dramatically from 29% in 2012. This cynical attitude portends lower participation in future elections and less civic involvement by Millennials.

Take Heart

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Senate rejected a compromise plan that would have expanded background checks for firearm sales. Polls showed 90% public support for such gun control regulations. With that level of backing, one would assume that passage of the measure was a foregone conclusion. But Congress balked, leaving President Obama wondering, "Who are we here to represent?"

Under these circumstances, it’s easy to get discouraged. "Even young people who are politically active believe their votes won’t make a difference," Alex Wirth, a Harvard sophomore and one of the IoP polling project’s student committee members, told The Christian Science Monitor.

Psychologists have a term that might be applied to this situation: learned helplessness. The expression describes a condition under which one has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond—even though there are opportunities for improvement—by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards. In short, the condition is the result of a perceived lack of control over one’s situation. A perceived lack of control.

Take Action

You can take action immediately by contacting your elected representatives and expressing your opinions about upcoming legislation. Call them. Write them. E-mail them. Let them know what you think and what sort of action you want. When the only voices lawmakers hear are those of lobbyists, it’s no wonder the lobbyists get their way. If you want things to go your way, you have to voice your opinions. Remember to be respectful and constructive. And remember that you won’t always get what you want—but expressing your thoughts might increase your odds significantly.

The other thing you can do is…vote! You might feel as if it doesn’t matter, but the old cliché is always true: Every vote counts. And if you band together with like-minded voters, you can effect significant change. Voting the bums out for their failure to respect your wishes is the ultimate revenge.

The 2014 mid-term elections will be here before you know it, and it’s never too early to start educating yourself about the candidates and the issues. So…what are you doing still reading this blog? Get reading, get writing, and get voting. Go make a difference!

Be sure to leave a comment and let us know how you plan to make a difference. Sharing your thoughts might even inspire others to join you.

Filed in: General | Tags: ,

About the Author (Author Profile)

Leave a Reply

Trackback URL | RSS Feed for This Entry