The New Conservatism: GenX & Millennials

I just watched most of this following video.  It’s a good video about the data on the various generations.  But if you’re already familiar with generations theory, then you probably won’t learn anything new.

The video just reminded me of the changing nature of politics.  Liberal and conservative are labels that, as they’ve been used in the past, don’t apply to what politics is becoming.

Both GenXers and Millennials are more conservative in certain ways than the Boomers, but in less obvious (read: less loud and divisive) ways.

GenXers aren’t politically active in a direct fashion because they mistrust big government and politics in general.  Instead, GenXers prefer influencing society through volunteering and the private sector.  GenXers have had massive influence on society considering their small size, but this influence has primarily been through the technological industry and in particular through creating new social media.

Millennials are even more conservative in their lifestyles despite being very liberal in their political beliefs.  On the level of personal choices, rates of such things as sex an pregnancy are down.  They accept the idea of sacrificing individual needs for the collective good.  They want a government to build and support community.  They value family and they value cooperation.  They are politically opposite of GenXers libertarianism.

What is going to change in the liberal direction is that government will play more of a role.  The reason for this is because only government can ensure a fair egalitarian society and only government can guarantee civil rights.  The GenXers may agree with the good intentions, but many GenXers fear such a potentially oppressive nanny state.  Certain freedoms may be sacrificed in the name of equality… and safety.

The ironic thing is that on the social level this future possible society may be more conservative than what we’ve seen in recent decades with the rise of the Evangelical right.  The Millennials, unlike the Evangelicals, won’t simply be a loud minority.  The Millennials don’t need to be loud because they shall change society through sheer force of numbers.

What is clearly ending is the GOP vision of the invisible hand of the market (which never existed anyways) and trickle-down economics.  Some will consider this to be a redistribution of wealth, but Millennials will see it as fair redistribution of opportunities.  Millennials refuse to believe the Republican propaganda that government fails because the Millennnials have observed how the government has particularly failed when Republicans were in power.  Of course, a party that preaches failure will fail.  Quite different from GenXers, Millennials are optimistic.  They know they’re inheriting large problems and so far that reason they know that large solutions are demanded.

The question now will be whether Millennial optimism will pay off and whether GenXer cynicism will help balance it.

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