Political efficacy is defined as, “a citizens' faith and trust in government and their belief that they can understand and influence political affairs.” American National Election Studies has trended external political efficacy since 1952. Results show an obvious decrease in political efficacy over time. The last survey happened in 2012, showing only 36% of Americans held trust in their own government. When ANES conducts this same survey after the 2016 election, will the trend still hold true?
It's no doubt that this election is one of the most negatively perceived in American history. Any person could tell you negative things about each candidate, but could they tell you where Hillary stands on immigration reform? Could they tell you about Trump’s views on reproductive rights? My guess is no. This is because both candidates are so focused on pointing out the flaws in each other, that the average person doesn't even know their agenda. It's no secret that social media influence is in its prime, the 2012 election is even known as the “twitter election”. What will we call this election? The “subtweet election”? The founding fathers probably rolled over when Hillary quoted a tweet from Trump and said, “delete your account”. Of course, I laughed, as well as the one million people who interacted with this tweet. But, how can you place trust in your government, when the next president of the United States is behaving like a high school student?
I place a majority of lack of political efficacy on the media. Not just twitter, but all forms of media. It's no coincidence that as political efficacy decreases, media representation is inversely increasing. The day to day coverage focuses on who Trump insulted this time, and what Hillary is hiding now. This is partially our fault, we continue to watch despite shaking our heads and laughing at the utter stupidity. This election seems like something off of a reality TV show; a race for attention. I argue that if we stop buying into this sort of satirical race, and place significance back on qualities such as, diplomacy, intelligence, patriotism and even simply being qualified to run the country- then will the media and candidates will respond to our desires for the future. Only then we can put an end to the lack of political efficacy, and ACTUALLY make America great again.