Joel Kotkin at the Daily Beast has a new article up about Millennials: The Screwed Generation Turns Socialist. And they appear to be the most leftward since the Great Generation.
In this past election, those over 45 strongly favored Trump, while those younger than that cast their ballots for Clinton. Trump’s improbable victory, and the more significant GOP sweep across the country, demonstrated that the much-ballyhooed Millennials simply are not yet sufficiently numerous or united enough to overcome the votes of the older generations.
Yet over time, the millennials —arguably the most progressive generation since the ’30s—could drive our politics not only leftward, but towards an increasingly socialist reality, overturning many of the very things that long have defined American life. This could presage a war of generations over everything from social mores to economics and could well define our politics for the next decade.
And some broad political generalizations ensue about the voting patterns of the existing generations. For the sake of brevity we will skip this and get right to the meat of the article:
Millennials’ defining political trait is their embrace of activist government. Some 54 percent of millennials, notes Pew, favor a larger government, compared to only 39 percent of older generations. One reason: Millennials face the worst economic circumstances of any generation since the Depression, including daunting challenges to home ownership. More than other generations, they have less reason to be enamored with capitalism.
These economic realities, along with the progressive social views, has affected their voting behavior. Millennials have voted decisively Democratic since they started going to the polls, with 60 percent leaning that direction in 2012 and 55 percent last year. They helped push President Obama over the top, and Hillary Clinton got the bulk of their votes last year. But their clear favorite last year was self-described socialist Bernie Sanders, who drew more far millennial votes in the primaries than Clinton and Trump combined.
And Socialism – everyone’s favorite zombie ideology lives on:
Roughly half of Millennials have positive feelings about socialist, twice the rate of the previous generation. Indeed, despite talk about a dictatorial Trump and his deplorables, the Democratic-leaning Millennials are more likely to embrace limits on free speech and are far less committed to constitutional democracy than their elders. Some 40 percent, notes Pew, favor limiting speech deemed offensive to minorities, well above the 27 percent among the Xers, 24 among the boomers, and only 12 percent among silents. They are also far more likely to be dismissive about basic constitutional civil rights, and are even more accepting of a military coup than previous generations.
But fear not there is some hope:
Other factors could slow the lurch to the left. There is a growing interest in third party politics, not so much Green but libertarian; 8 percent of Millennials voted for Third Party candidates, twice the overall rate. Overall, Tufts finds that moderates slightly outpace liberals, although conservatives remain well behind. Millennials, note Winograd and Hais, also dislike “top down” solutions and may favor radical action primarily at the local level and more akin to Scandinavia than Stalinism.
As Millennials grow up, start families, look to buy houses, and, worst of all, start paying taxes, they may shift to the center, much as the Boomers did before them. Redistribution, notes a recent Reason survey, becomes less attractive as incomes grow to $60,000 annually and beyond. This process could push them somewhat right-ward, particularly as they move from the leftist hothouses of the urban core to the more contestable suburbs.
As the old saying goes, read the article for yourself to get all of the details. There is also a warning to the Republican Party, suggesting they abandon socially conservative ideas that offend Millennials.
My analysis: Political generalization are often broad, and many writers assume that the parties are static and will only become fossilized as the next generational wave comes roaring in. And maybe there is a lag in time before the voters trust an ostracized party again, one that I believe the Democrats are going through now, and the Republicans went through after Bush the Second. Of course, Trump’s election may be a political outlier; we shall see how much he upsets the DC apple cart. Based on past history I don’t give him much chance against the Bureaucratic State.
Regarding Millennials – I see some of them drifting rightward as time and their incomes rise. Some may keep their idealism, but reality has a funny way of destroying that. Perhaps this is a chance for libertarians or even the Big-L Libertarian Party? I have little trust in the latter, but some distant hope for the former. We have to find ways to educate, and dare I say, gain some political leverage during this strange Trump intermezzo. It remains to be seen whether that means the slow take-over of the Republican Party, or splitting off on our own. Based on the current two-party dynamic, I’m guessing the first. But if that brand image is forever tainted, then maybe a strong Libertarian party is the way to go.