Young Americans Turned Apathetic by Washington Squabbling, Bad Economy
Every weekday at the crack of dawn, David Simms wakes up in his childhood bedroom. If he can find an empty seat in the dim, yellow lighting of the crowded Metro car he rides to work, he skims his textbook. He gets to his desk at Reznick Think Energy in Bethesda, Md., at 8:40 a.m., where he cranks out reports on the state of the solar and biomass industries until 5 p.m., for intern’s wages. Every evening, he takes the Metro to White Flint, then drives to Gaithersburg for three hours of classes that will count toward the master’s degrees that Simms hopes will catch the eye of a full-time employer.
By the time the 26-year-old returns to his parents’ house in Rockville, Md., it is almost 10 p.m. But before he can crawl into bed and sleep off the day, he must eat dinner with his parents, study, and walk Skooby, the family dog. And no matter what time he finishes his chores and homework, he always calls his girlfriend, Jennifer, who lives in Florida.
“I can count on one hand the nights I haven’t talked to her,” Simms, a wiry young man with a neatly trimmed brown beard, says of the woman he has been with for over three years. “I can’t wait to be with her. It is really a constant dream to live with her.”
That dream still seems far off, and Simms—who graduated from Emory University in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession—is growing more and more frustrated. He is frustrated that he has been living with his parents for the past year so he can get a handle on his student debt and work his way through graduate school. He is frustrated that although the internship at Reznick was supposed to turn into a full-time consulting job, the company doesn’t have enough money to take him on.
Simms is frustrated that the federal government is doing very little to help him and his fellow young workers who graduated into the worst job market in decades. He is discouraged by the ever-increasing cost of education, the lack of jobs for young people, and the sacrifices he has been forced to make to pursue his career. When he looks at Washington, he doesn’t see problem-solving, just agenda-pushing, political posturing, and a lack of forward thinking on issues that are critical to young people, such as student-loan rates.
The frustration has built to this: Simms might not bother to vote this year—and the same may be true for millions of his generational peers.