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The Downfall of Democracy?
"The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter." — Dwight D. Eisenhower
The statement above, made by the 34thPresident of the United States, paints a dismalpicture when one considers the trendsof the American youth. Those under the age05of 35, in general, do not vote, do not participatein politics, and frankly, have no interestor trust in the government itself. The retreatof youngsters from the political realms canbe seen in election turnouts surely, but it10can also be noted in the miniscule numbersof young Americans who identify as eitherDemocrats or Republicans. It is not onlydisinterest but also distaste that keep thenext generation of representatives far from15the poll booths and even further from office.In fact, a recently published book RunningFrom Office: Why Young Americans AreTurned Off to Politics found that only aboutten percent of high school and university20students would even consider running forpublic office, with disdain for federal positionsat the highest.It might be easy to chalk up the youngergeneration as careless and unconcerned25and altogether misdirected, but that's theeasy way out, and it is flawed. Students arelargely civic-minded; they volunteer, worryabout public policies, and even congregatedebate solutions to everything from environmental30issues to human rights to healthcare.Significant events like the war in Iraq orBarack Obama running for President or gaymarriage rights may generate an influx inyouth participation, but overall, young voters35are disengaged from American democracyand looking at other ways of tackling society'sproblems. It is not that they are merely apathetic,but instead that they have lost faith inelectoral politics and are highly suspicious of40party labels.If it is distrust and suspicion that keepyoungsters away, the U.S. must ask what haschanged to trigger this worrying trend. Onedoesn't have to prepare extensive research45methods to find that today's millennialsview themselves as in an altogether worsesituation than that of their parents or grandparents.Widespread opinion has them in abitter, unrewarding job market bankrupted50by the university and crushed underneath astifling national debt. Their path is difficultand uncertain at best; behind these obstacleslies an inefficient and wasteful governmentthat they are less than anticipatory to inherit.55The aforementioned book found that 25%of student-aged Americans showed absoluteindifference to politics. More worryingwere the 60% who held negative views ofpolitics, avoided the subject at all costs, and60thought of all politicians as devious anduntrustworthy. More and more Americansare shunning away from the loaded labels of"conservative" and "liberal," instead findingthemselves somewhere in the middle,65socially liberal but fiscally conservative.Alienated by the two-party system, youngAmericans would rather not be included ineither disagreeable side.Disinterested in a bleak future of more70debt and less freedom, and wary of aligningthemselves within partisanship, today'syouth are doubtful of a government thatpromises few of the assurances it oncepledged. Naturally, this trend is disquieting75for a nation that depends on its voters andan interest in representation, both of whichare in a state of deterioration. Yet, somemay applaud the veer from partisanship—a phenomena that has left more undone80than accomplished. Still, if democracy is tosurvive, something must be done to alignthe cynical millennials with a system thatdesperately needs their interference.
Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections by AgeSource: 2012 U.S. Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p20-573.pdf.
1. What is the overall point of the essay?
2. The tone of the essay is best described as
3. As used in line 23, the phrase "chalk up" most closely means
4. The author most strongly suggests that those Americans under age 35 are most likely to take what approach to solving societal problems?
5. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
6. As used in line 36, the word "tackling" most closely means
7. The primary purpose of the paragraph in lines 55-68 is to
8. What is the purpose of the sentence in lines 77-80 ("Yet . . . accomplished.")?
9. According to the information in the graph, during what year were the voter turnout rates of Americans ages 65 and older and Americans ages 18-24 closest to one another?
10. The variation in the ages 18-24 voter turnout can most directly be accounted for by what selection from the passage?
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