Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Millennial Generation

Andrew Sullivan

Something is indeed afoot with the under-40s and the massive generation gap in this election only brings it home. I'm not sure what to make of all their conclusions, but the analysis of Hais/Winograd certainly stimulates:

Millennials’ reliance on the Internet (technology that the Democrats have learned to exploit more quickly than their Republican opponents) and their passion for texting and instant messaging have political implications as well. In placing a heavy value on the opinion of friends and peers, the authors of this book suggest, Millennials are inclined to favor conclusions reached by decentralized decision making, and multilateral rather than unilateral policy making.

Their proclivity for sharing their lives with thousands of others through MySpace and Facebook also makes them “the generation least perturbed by any potential restrictions on civil rights or invasions of privacy that might have occurred in fighting the war on terrorism.” As a more socially tolerant and less divisive Millennial generation becomes a larger part of the electorate, Mr. Winograd and Mr. Hais predict, “the power of social issues to drive our political debate will wane”: wedge issues will lose their effectiveness, and ideological divisions will give way to an emphasis on “successful governmental activism.” “Majorities,” they argue, “will coalesce around ideas that involve the entire group in the solution and downplay the right of individuals to opt out of the process.”

Some find it confusing that the young have shown their highest levels of enthusiasm in this campaign for Ron Paul and Barack Obama. But when you look at politics away from a right-left perspective [cf] and more from a decentralized/authoritarian angle [ed: or a signal/noise angle, or a reality/fantasy angle, or a justice/injustice angle, or a constitutional/anti-constitutional angle], their similarities trump their obvious differences. What we're seeing is a socially inclusive pragmatism in the next generation. It isn't McCain's bag; and it isn't Clinton's. But one day it will be the dominant mode of discourse. The question in this election is whether the older generation has one last spasm of influence. We'll see.

* * * *

See also NY Times review of Millennial Makeover by Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais

& Glenn Loury 4.18.2008

& Andrew Sullivan 4.24.2008

No comments: