Why Students Have Low Faith in the Government


Elijah Hoch, Reporter

   Sedro-Woolley High School Students, and broader America, have low faith in government

   After midterm elections where Republicans ran on “Saving America,” and Democrats ran on “Saving Democracy,” Americans have low hope that Democrats and Republicans are capable of working together in a divided House of Representatives.

   On election day, Nov 8, FiveThirtyEight, a polling website, projected a 55% chance of Republicans flipping the Senate, and an 84% chance of them flipping the House of Representatives, but after a week of counting, and a Georgia runoff election, Democrats actually gained a seat in the Senate which strengthened their majority. Republicans were able to flip the House of Representatives by a narrow margin of 9 seats. 

   The results from election day echo the 2018 Midterms where Republicans held the Senate, but lost the House. Those two years of mixed government were filled with constant gridlock, and two government shutdowns where hundreds of thousands of government employees worked without pay for weeks. 

   During 2020, Democrats and Republicans feuded for weeks on minute details of  Covid relief, which was desperately needed by working Americans. Since 2010, Gallup News has polled approval of congress at above 30% only twice. Approval of Congress has hovered around 25% for more than 10 years. A major reason for the low approval ratings is how slow policy gets passed.

   “Nothing can get done,” said Jonah Hoch, a Sedro-Woolley High School sophomore, when asked how he felt about a return to mixed government. Hoch’s opinion falls into the majority opinion of his own class. In a poll conducted by The Cub, 38% of sophomores said that Democrats and Republicans were not capable of working together. Only 6% answered yes. 

    A lack of faith in bipartisanship is not just common among Sedro-Woolley High School students. In a Pew Research study, 65% of Americans noted that they believe President Joe Biden and Republican leaders in Congress will be unsuccessful in getting their policies passed. 

   Since the 2020 election, Republicans have heavily questioned election integrity. FiveThirtyEight reported that 199 Republican candidates completely denied the 2020 election results. 

  Some Sedro-Woolley High School students question the integrity of the elections in their own state. Students of all grades were polled on if they trust the vote in Washington. While the majority of students said that they don’t pay attention to the vote, 37% of seniors, the class that will all be able to vote by 2024, said that they don’t trust the vote in Washington; only 20.5% of seniors said that they do trust it.

   American politics are always divisive, but the integrity of elections have never been so highly questioned. The same Pew Research study found that 33% of Americans believe that mail-in  ballots are not being counted correctly. 

   All of this division has led Americans to have low faith for a return to bipartisan relations. The same study showed that only 8% of Americans expect bipartisan relations to improve, and 38% expect them to get worse. 

   “In my tenure of teaching, this is the most divisive time in politics,” said Aimee Gustafson, a social studies teacher at Sedro-Woolley High School. Gustafson mentioned that social media and the corrupting power of money in politics play a major role in the division we see both among the populace and in government. 

   The 2022 midterms broke previous records for midterms campaign spending, Bloomberg, a news site, reported on Nov 3 that election spending was expected to go above 16.7 billion dollars, which was up from the previous record of 13 billion. It is expected that the presidential elections in 2024 will be the most expensive in American history. 

   “There’s so many better places to spend that money,” said Miles Christiansen, a senior at Sedro-Woolley High School. Christiansen, like many other Americans, feels like politicians in government are not working for him. Christiansen feels like the U.S is run by money, rather than voters.

   Christiansen’s pessimism on government reflects the opinions of students at Sedro Woolley High School. Not a single class had more than 12% of students who think Democrats and Republicans are capable of working together. Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors all had under 10% belief in bipartisanship working.