Every generation seems to require a nickname and today’s group of youngsters is no different- the millennials. Technically defined as those age 18-35, the Reason Foundation recently released a study of those age 18-29- a subset of the millennial group- the “super millennials” one supposes.
Suffice to say, a reading of that study indicates one very important truth- they are a muddled mix of people when it comes to politics and economics. To wit, they approve of big government except when they support smaller government. They favor lower taxes except when they favor higher taxes to fund pet programs, or that target some group- usually one to which they do not belong. They seem to support socialism, but cannot define “socialism.” They clamor for a free college education for all, yet if this is what a college education produces, we are in bigger trouble than we originally believed.
Politically, they do not necessarily identify with either major party. To the extent they do, it can be described as “leaning Democrat,” or what used to be called a Blue Dog Democrat- fiscally conservative, but socially liberal or agnostic. If “Republican,” they skew towards the libertarian fringes. Somewhere, Ron Paul is smiling.
They have generally lost faith in political parties. As such, when it comes to politics they are, according to this study, the “unclaimed generation.” That i a gross misnomer. A moniker closer to the truth is that they are a politically confused generation.
There are, I believe, two root causes for this state of affairs. First, there is a dearth of foundational moral principle evident guiding their mindsets thus creating this state of confusion. At one time, religion was the primary source of one’s moral principles. It should come as no surprise that as religion has been banned from public discourse and the ranks of organized religions have decreased, moral confusion rushed in to fill the void.
The second factor is academia itself which churns out way too many social justice warriors worried about bathrooms and such and too few professions in need. You know- people like teachers, doctors and engineers. Ironically, these are the very people who argue for and often demand a free college education for all. If anything, the results obtained thus far are a great argument against a free college education for all. If this is what academia is graduating and offering up, perhaps democracy in America is in it’s end stages.
Maybe I am being too hard on this generation. After all, the study also shows one very interesting and time-honored trend holds true with millennials. As one makes money, becomes secure in an occupation and owns property- that is, become a functional member of capitalist society- one’s attitudes tend to shift more to the right. Please! Somebody give these people a job.
But, the study says that millennials “speak a language distant from older Americans that leads to confusion understanding their values.” Translation: it is not the millennials who are confused; the rest of the population is confused. Is it they or everyone else who are confused when 65% of millennials want to cut government spending, but 62% want that same government to increase spending on job creation and infrastructure? Or when 58% say they want to cut taxes overall and another 66% say they want to raise taxes on the wealthy? Or when 67% believe that government programs are wasteful and inefficient, but 67% also believe that same wasteful/inefficient government should guarantee food, shelter and a “livable wage” for all?
All of this suggests two things: economic ignorance and abject incoherence. Put them together and you get confusion lacking in moral principle. Math can be hard- especially under Common Core where the wheel is being unnecessarily reinvented- and economics even harder, but really?
But then again when 42% of a generation prefer socialism over capitalism while only 16% of that generation can accurately define “socialism,” should we expect any better? There is a one word answer to that mindset: Venezuela.