Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Tweet from David Frum:

That seems odd, because when you start reading what Frum has to say about the new Pew survey of millennials, it seems obvious that the millennial generation is poised to break conservatism's stranglehold on American politics. Frum:
The generation born since 1981 is the age group most likely to vote Democratic. The eldest of them are in their 30s now, and they continue to be much more liberal than previous-age cohorts at the same point in their lives....

The warning for conservatives is: Millennial attachment to the Democratic Party is not a phase. Millennials are far less likely to be religiously affiliated than their elders. They are more likely to have children outside marriage (47% of their children are born outside marriage, compared with only 35% of Generation X children in 1996)....

Here's a generation detached from religious institutions and only weakly attached to the country: Only 49% of millennials describe themselves as patriotic, compared with 64% of the next older cohort and 75% of baby boomers.
But the flip side is this, according to Frum:
Among the young as among the old, political preferences are cleaved by race and ethnicity. One obvious example: Non-white millennials approve of President Obama's job performance by a 2-1 ratio. White millennials disapprove by almost the same margin.

By a margin of 52% to 39%, white millennials prefer a smaller government that offers fewer services to a bigger government that offers more. Non-white millennials say the opposite by a margin of 71% to 21%. These numbers show a racial gap about the same as among the older cohorts.

However, since non-whites make up a bigger portion of the millennials than in older generations, their overwhelming preference for a more activist government will sway future elections even more than recent ones.
So according to Frum's analysis, the political attitudes of millennial white people are basically just like those of older white people. White people never change, I guess. The only reason the millennial generation is less conservative is that it's less white.

Frum concludes:
The millennial generation will be a generation characterized by high levels of inter-ethnic political conflict.
I could see that. I worry that it's much more likely than the other possibility, which is that genuine economic progressivism will finally find its voice and reach a younger cohort, who will ignore any commie-baiting of progressives because they don't have fearful memories of communism.

I'd love to think the latter is possible -- but I suppose I agree that a permanently impoverished generation will eventually respond to a political message that scapegoats The Other (non-whites, immigrants, maybe even gay people). I've stopped being able to imagine the third possibility, which is that the normal swings of politics will eventually get us back to prosperity and genuine health as a nation.

What do you think?


Victor said...

"I've stopped being able to imagine the third possibility, which is that the normal swings of politics will eventually get us back to prosperity and genuine health as a nation."

I don't imagine seeing that either.

Back in the halcyon bipartisan days - which never really existed - at least both parties cared about the country as a whole.
Or, they faked it better.
Both parties made some concessions.

Now, the Democrats are willing to make concessions, but the Republicans want Manichean purity - their way or off the highway and the cliff.

It's party over people!
Party over country!!

I want to have a Republican Party that's at least partially, if not mostly, sane.
Unfortunately, I don't see that happening until more of their rabid Old White Guard dies out.

Greg said...

There's another "other" that can be scapegoated, you know: People who are labeled haters or malcontents. Millennials will have to wade through the continuing propaganda to make prudent distinctions between who's offering constructive critique, and who's just offering impotent whininess. Do you think this generation is overall smart enough to make those distinctions? I'm afraid I'm not as confident about that as I was a few years ago. Millennials, bright and full of potential as many may be, may also be more wired for sellout than any other generation of our time.