On many Objectivist and liberty blogs, it’s almost as if Charlie Sheen has been writing the narrative: individualism is decisively #winning. To those for whom hope truly does spring eternal, Obama and his evildoers are perpetually one scandal away from impeachment (surely the VA scandal will be the one to topple his house of cards). The American people, meanwhile, are just one election cycle shy from taking back their government in a Fifth Great Awakening for liberty.
Stark reality, however, tells a different story in a new report from the Brookings Institute. Based on surveys of thousands of individuals, the report concludes that millenials will bring to the workplace and political scene a major shift in attitudes and voting behavior toward progressive values. Millenials (born 1982-2003), if you believe the data, might very well be the most anti-liberty generation in American history. Reading their responses to questions on America’s culture, politics, and economy, one gets the distinct impression that the culture war has not only been long won by progressivism – it wasn’t even a close contest.
Particularly striking is the growing hostility toward business and for-profit activity generally:
“About two-thirds of the Millennials surveyed in 2012 also agreed that “businesses make too much profit,” which was the highest level of agreement among all generations. At the same time, less than half of Millennials thought “unions had too much power”; by contrast, a majority within all other generations agreed with that statement. Even more telling from a generation noted for its general lack of trust in institutions, 72 percent of Millennials, compared to only 61 percent of Xers and Boomers, agreed with the statement that “labor unions were necessary to protect the working person,” a level statistically significantly higher than that of older generations.”
Millenials are the generation most comfortable with regulation of private market activity, with roughly three quarters agreeing that the marketplace needs government regulation. Telling also is where millenials say they want to work: the CIA, FBI, and NSA were high-ranked across multiple surveys, with the State Department coming in second on one survey and government agencies placing second after high-tech companies like Google and Facebook.
Most troubling is the degradation of societal trust that has occurred across the generations:
In its latest study of the Millennial Generation, Millennials in Adulthood, the Pew Research Center found that America’s youngest adults were the least trusting of any generation. Only 19 percent of Millennials agreed with the statement that “most people can be trusted,” a percentage that was about half of all other older generations.
This is the millenial voter in a mutshell. You make too much profit, you can’t be trusted, and you need to be watched. Liberty has its work cut out for it.