Feeling stressed about politics? You're not alone. Political anxiety is real -- and it’s affecting millions of young voters. Luckily, it can be combated.
Everyone’s got an opinion about politics these days, and no matter what your opinion is, stress tends to go along with it. Americans are feeling more and more helpless in the political process, and that especially goes for young Americans. A recent study from the American Psychological Association showed that Gen-Z is feeling particularly stressed about the state of our nation as fifty-five percent of those surveyed identified the current political climate as a significant source of stress in their day-to-day lives. An even larger number said that the events that they read in the news cause them to worry about our country’s future. Compare that to the only 47% percent of adult Americans who feel concern when watching the news and we’ve got a seriously stressed out younger generation. Gen-Z’s political anxiety is spiraling out of control.
The report also shows that, despite their feelings of anxiety surrounding politics, Gen-Z doesn’t intend to vote in upcoming elections -- or at least not as much as their older peers. While seven in ten adults responded that they intend to vote, only fifty-four percent of Gen-Z respondents expressed an intention to vote when they are of age (or even if they already are)! Put it all together and we’ve got a recipe for a disengaged generation who feels helpless in the face of increasingly stress-inducing news cycles.
So, why are America’s young people so on edge, but also so disengaged from the civic process? The report doesn’t go into specifics on this question, but we’ve got a few ideas. Feeling isolated from the process by age or community is hard, and many, many young would-be voters seem to be feeling that way. But hopelessness can be combated… and it’s easier than you think. Time and time again, it’s been shown that the best way to combat political hopelessness is channeling it into tangible action.
We’re sure you’re thinking “But I’m only 16! There’s no way for me to get involved.” But that’s not entirely true. There are plenty of ways for teens to get involved in politics. If you want to make a change in your community and the way your peers think about politics, it’s actually quite simple. You can engage with the political process in a number of ways: working the polls, writing a blog, showing up to protests, calling your officials, and organizing petitions are all great options for getting involved.
That said, we’re a little biased on this one thing: We think that the best way to make a difference is to get out there and register your classmates to vote. Teens voting or pledging to vote when they are eligible can light a fire in your community, and it can help sway politics in a direction that alleviates your stress rather than adds to it. By spreading the word and keeping election awareness up you can make a difference in your community -- and who knows! Maybe your action will encourage even more action in your peers.
If you are interested in getting involved by registering your peers, let Inspire know! We might be able to help. Fill out our application to become an Inspired Leader for the upcoming school year and make a difference in your school and our government.