Share This Page

American disengagement: At our own peril

| Monday, July 7, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A new Pew Research Center report that “sorts voters into cohesive groups based on their attitudes and values” finds a worrisome number of Americans are — surprise, surprise — disaffected from government and disengaged from the political process.

Based on a nationwide survey of 10,013 adults, Pew says three of eight “political typology” groups make up 36 percent of the population but account for 43 percent of registered voters and 57 percent of “politically engaged” Americans “who regularly vote and routinely follow government and public affairs.”

“Steadfast Conservatives” and “Business Conservatives” constitute the Republicans' base; “Solid Liberals” form the Democrats' base.

“Young Outsiders,” “Hard-Pressed Skeptics,” “Next Generation Left” and “Faith and Family Left” groups combined represent 54 percent of the population but just 43 percent of the “politically engaged.” And fully 10 percent of Americans are “Bystanders” who “are not registered to vote and pay very little attention to politics.”

Government is only as good as voters demand that it be. Yet two-thirds of Americans are so fed up that they allow one-third to dominate — and let vote-hungry politicians get away with ignoring them, reinforcing a vicious cycle of apathy and low voter turnout.

The “politically disengaged” might get the government they deserve. But government will get better only if more Americans demand that it does — via the ballot box, especially this November and in 2016.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.