Commencement Conservatism

May 16, 2014

This graduation season, seniors will sit through what seem like endless speeches full of life advice. Many will hear from politicians – at least a dozen Senate and House members, a majority of the members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Colin Powell, among others, are scheduled to speak – but this won’t be an easy crowd for those politicians.

According to the most recent data released in April from Harvard’s Institute of Politics’ “Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service,” 62 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds agree with the statement that “elected officials seem to be motivated by selfish reasons,” and 58 percent agree with the statement that “elected officials don’t seem to have the same priorities I have.” Even Obama doesn’t have a majority of support of this demographic. While his approval rating has increased 6 percentage points, from 41 percent to 47 percent, since the November survey, it is down 9 points from the first survey conducted, during the 2010 midterm election cycle. And more than twice as many young Americans believe things are on the wrong track rather than the right one.