Teens More Engaged in Political Discourse

by Christopher Sung ‘17

President Trump’s election has sent shockwaves throughout our nation. On Capitol Hill, Republican member of Congress have become placed in precarious positions, trying to hold on to their control of the legislative branch of the government, while Democratic members of Congress have been forced to recover lost ground from the political Right. Even across America’s “meatloaf lines”—the borders that separate red and blue counties—working families, who may have never followed politics closely, are becoming increasingly divided along conservative and liberal identities.

Such increase in political engagement among Americans following the election has become dubbed as the “Trump Effect.” According to numerous news outlets, the Trump Effect has led to substantial percentage-increases in the number of Americans watching the news or participating in political affairs from previous years. Wanting to see whether the Trump Effect applied to students at Sherwood, The Warrior conducted a survey of four classrooms to understand students’ levels of political engagement.

Out of 80 responses, 52 students indicated that they are more politically active due to the results of the 2016 presidential election. Additionally, when asked to indicate on a scale of one to five—one being politically apathetic and five being politically engaged—how politically active they felt, more than 76 percent of students responded with a three or higher.

While The Warrior did not test students’ knowledge of current events in its survey, students self-reported how knowledgeable they felt about political issues and where they received their news.

On a scale of one to five— one indicating that a student does not follow current events and five indicating that a student follows current events closely—The Warrior found that 89 percent of respondents marked a three or higher. In addition, on the question of where students receive their news, 84 percent of all respondents stated that they obtained their news from social media, while only 24 percent of all respondents said that they received news from print publications.

Towards the end of our survey, The Warrior asked whether students approve of the Trump presidency. A majority of respondents indicated that they are worried for the future of the United States under Trump’s administration. Senior Ana Cruz, a current member of Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution political action organization, stated in an interview that she felt uncertain about the future of the nation. “I’m worried that Trump is going to ignore many Americans,” said Cruz.