Saturday, June 25, 2016

Millennial Politics

On the whole Millennials are the most liberal generation in American history, but when you wade into the specifics you see certain differences in what counts as liberal for them:

I immediately copied this graph for re-blogging because it exactly matches my experience. The young people I know, like those surveyed by Pew, leaven their liberalism with a strong dose of libertarianism. This especially comes up on the subject of guns; for reasons I don't really get, millions of young Americans are liberal except that they love their militarized arsenals. One young man I know told me that he doesn't vote because "the Republicans all work for Wall Street and the Democrats want to take your guns."

Attitudes toward big business are also interesting. Anti-Wall Street sentiments are common, but on the other hand Millennials' lives revolve around things made by their favorite corporations – phones, video games, social media platforms – and many idolize entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. The comparatively low support for abortion relates to the common ambivalence about "feminism," which for many evokes "women's libbers" of the 70s rather than anything in the contemporary world. I have been very much struck that hardly any young people think having Hillary become president would be some sort of historical event.

Attitudes toward the poor are also worth considering in depth. Much of the economic politics of the past decade has been about the increasing divide between the 1% and the 99%. When that is your frame of reference, you can end up thinking that all non-rich people face grim obstacles, which makes you wonder why middle class people manage nonetheless to take care of their families while poor people can't. The overall culture of many young people, especially in college, emphasizes how hard everyone has to work to get ahead, and people who feel crushed by their own struggles are not likely to think poor people have it that much worse. There is also a fair amount of scorn for poor folks (especially poor white folks) who are anti-gay, anti-trans, pro-Trump or what have you. This doesn't mean that Millennials are as a group anti-poor, just that even though they proclaim themselves very liberal their support for programs focused specifically on poor people is around the national average.

2 comments:

G. Verloren said...

"I have been very much struck that hardly any young people think having Hillary become president would be some sort of historical event."

Well we've been beaten to the punch by quite a number of other countries.

Major western powers like France, Germany, and the UK...

...middle western powers like Norway, Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Poland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand...

...minor western powers like Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Moldova, Cyprus, and Greece...

...various eastern powers like India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand, Burma, Mongolia, Ukraine, and Bangladesh...

...African powers like Namibia, Mali, Central African Republic, Senegal, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Rwanda, and Burundi...

...Latin and Carribean powers like Dominica, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Peru...

...even Transnistria, a tiny post-soviet country virtually no one has ever heard of that doesn't even exist as an internationally recognized state, has had not just one, but two different female prime ministers thus far...

At this point, electing a woman to be president in America is less of a "historic event" and more "showing up to the party two days late with a hangover and crashing on the host's couch".

David said...

I wonder if there isn't room for putting down to youthful grandiosity and inexperience the fantasy many millenials seem to have that they're all going to work really, really hard, hop from gig to gig, have their brilliant idea, build their own business, buy their own island and defend it with SAMS, screw the sheeple, and just generally disrupt and Elon Muskify the shit out of life?

Here's an idea for a new superhero: Guild Man, who sneaks onto the evil Thiel-like genius' fortified island and unionizes all the goons, forcing the genius to give his goons limited work hours, time and a half for overtime, generous health and disability insurance benefits ("when you've been crushed in the gears of your evil master's death-device and can no longer work, who will take care of you? Goon local 635, that's who!"), paid parental leave, dense and rigid seniority-based rules for promotion, hiring, and firing, abolition of merit pay, etc., etc.