If the polls are correct, the so-called “millennials”, those born from about 1984-1996, currently in the 18-30 age group, hold beliefs about politics and government so hopelessly inconsistent you’d have to wonder what they’ve been smoking. A clear majority of them say that government is corrupt and incompetent, but they want more of it. See, The Chaotic Belief System of Mellennials and/or the Reason-Rupe Survey of Millennials’ Attitudes Towards Government.
A clear majority of millennials tell pollsters they favor:
- private accounts for Social Security
- cutting government spending
- cutting taxes
- a smaller government providing fewer services with low taxes
- a society where wealth is distributed according to achievement
- reducing regulations
- reducing the size of government
But in the same breath they say:
- government has a responsibility to guarantee every citizen has a place to sleep and enough to eat
- the federal minimum wage should be raised to $10.10 an hour
- it is government’s responsibility to guarantee everyone access to health care
- government should ensure everyone makes a living wage
- raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy
- spending more on job training would help the economy
- government should spend more on assistance to the poor even it means higher taxes
- more money should be spent (by the government presumably) on infrastructure
- government should provide more services, when taxes are not mentioned
- government should guarantee everyone a college education
Either pollsters are wording questions in a confusing way or millennials are barking crazy. Perhaps a little of both.
If one assumes the poll questions are straightforward the one thing for sure is that millennials are low-hanging fruit for Democrats and liberalism. Democrats are already getting the majority of the millennial vote although the percentage seems to be declining. This highlights the problem with the GOP in not sufficiently distinguishing itself from Democrats. Many political commentators have pointed out, with empirical data to back it up, that Republicans do much better on election day when they have clearly contrasted themselves as being different from Democrats. When they try to position the GOP as wanting the same things as Democrats only being better managers, they do poorly. Full bore liberalism beats liberalism light every time. The full bore conservatism of Ronald Reagan gave the GOP two landslide victories in 1980 and 1984, but for some reason the GOP establishment has forgotten it.
The GOP, if it were smarter, would see this flat out inconsistent thinking of millennials as an opportunity to win them over by educating them that they cannot get any of the things they say they want from a big government. The GOP needs to show them that the list of things they say they favor will ever be realized only if we have a federal government restricted to its limited and prescribed powers as defined by the U.S. Constitution. The sort of big government that will result from trying to provide the other list of things they want government to do will be so dysfunctional and corrupt as to fail in all of those things while also negating the first list of things millennials favor.
The millennials may have a crazy belief system, but the GOP establishment is just as crazy if it doesn’t see how imperative it is for the future of their children and grandchildren to do all they can to show the millennials that the GOP is their best and only hope for them to get what they say they want. They way to do that is to do what Ronald Reagan did; proudly and articulately explain the principles of conservatism.
Unfortunately, the GOP establishment is presently in the process of doing the opposite, by trying to purge conservatism out of the Republican party. If they continue on that course, they will be handing the millennials to the Democrats forever.