This sort of information is really encouraging (via). I think one of the country’s last hopes is that my generation turns out to be more open-minded and liberal than previous ones. My personal experience is that the vast majority of people I meet that’re my age are liberal. Of course, that’s primarily a product of growing up in the decadent leftist enclave that is Massachusetts and then attending college here, but it’s hard for me not be influenced at least a bit by personal experience. Demographically, I know that millenials are much more progressive on certain issues, gay marriage being the foremost. I hope this generational progressive worldview translates into success for other ‘liberal’ initiatives, such as reducing income inequality, a more sane policy on illegal immigration and fewer foreign policy adventures.
The problem, though, is that I’m not ready to believe this change will happen. Not because people get more conservative as they get older, although that may be true. What worries me is that people are so susceptible to bullshit. This doesn’t necessarily mean that people are stupid, because I really don’t believe that they are; the problem is that people are uninformed. In one of my COM classes, if you asked anyone to explain a ‘sunset provision,’ I’d bet both my arms that you get blank stares from nearly every person in the room. Maybe there’s one or two exceptions. If you ask those kids to describe Grover Norquist and explain the influence he’s had on this country’s recent political history, you’ll get the same reaction.
And those kids in my classes are some of the smartest people in my generation, at least if you’re willing to grant that attendance to certain universities is a decent barometer of intelligence. But if you don’t know what a sunset is, you can’t fully understand the towering, deceitful theft of the Bush tax cuts. If you don’t know Grover Norquist, the Club for Growth and the K Street Project, there’s no way that you can comprehend what’s gone on politically in the U.S. during the past twenty years.
I dunno, maybe I’m not giving my peers enough credit. They are, as I said, smart kids. Very few of them, though, read ‘alternative’ news sources, which I think are crucial to becoming more politically aware. People may not like Glenn Greenwald, and I often find his perspective wanting in practical terms, but if you made every kid my age read his good stuff (security state, double standards in foreign policy, incestuous nature of our elites, etc) for a month, I think it’d do a huge amount of good.
So, I desperately want to believe my generation will be more liberal. For sure I think they’ll be less manipulated by the avalanche of petrified, culturally nostalgic bullshit that FNC and the carnival barkers churn out on a daily basis. But I don’t yet dare to count on this. The millenials, from my experience, are no more politically engaged and, consequently, are no better informed than any other demographic.
Our institutional ‘press’ organs are another obstacle to informing my generation, because so much of the best reporting now comes from less-known organizations like ThinkProgress, ProPublica, McClatchy and the Guardian. I think that many people in my generation think that if they read the NYT, they’re informed, which is really dangerous. Reading the NYT gives you information from one perspective, a perspective that during some of the most important issues of my life has been magnificently, prodigiously, repulsively wrong (see Iraq, 2003 invasion of).
I hope my doubts are wrong. But I don’t think I’ll know for quite some time.
I briefly considered ‘Youth of the Nation’ for the title of this post, but I’d never forgive myself for a P.O.D. reference. And this is just a whole lot better, anyway…