The surge of generational change continues in this country, altering the cultural landscape with a speed and intensity that has rarely — if ever — been seen before.. So begins Charles M. Blow in a New York Times column titled The Young are the Restlessnew Pew Poll released Thursday notes that for the first time a majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, by a 52-45 margin. Note the following changes in percentages favoring by generation, with the latter figure the new poll
Silents from 17 in 2002 to 32
Boomers from 24 in 1994 to 50
Generation X from 28 in 1994 to 54
Millennials from 36 in 1994 to 65
The millennial generation is the generation of change. Millennials’ views on a broad range of policy issues are so different from older Americans’ perspectives that they are likely to reshape the political dialogue faster than the political class can catch up.
Blow looked at the last 6 months of Gallup and Pew polls.
ON GAY MARRIAGE Much has been made of the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage in this country, but a Pew poll last month found that that the change is driven mainly by millennials. Theirs was the only generation in which a majority (70 percent) supported same-sex marriage; theirs was also the only generation even more likely to be in favor of it in 2013 than in 2012, as support in the other generations ticked down. The longer-term picture is even more telling. Support for same sex-marriage among Generation X is the same in 2013 as it was in 2001 (49 percent). But among millennials, support is up 40 percent since 2003, the first year they were included in the survey.An examination of the linked Pew Poll shows a slight down-turn in approval of gay marriage among the other generations, with Xers at 49%, Boomers at 38, and Silents at 31. Blow addresses that by noting that Millennials were twice as likely to be openly identified as LGBT as the other generations, meaning Millennials have had far more exposure to those who are open about different sexuality. I saw that clearly changing over the 14 years from when I began teaching at Eleanor Roosevelt High School until I retired last June.
ON GUN CONTROL According to a February Gallup report, Americans ages 18 to 29 are the least likely to own guns, with just 20 percent saying that they do. That is well under the national average of 30 percent of Americans who own guns.In a Pew poll from shortly after the Newtown, Conn., shootings,
younger Americans were the most likely to say that gun control was a bigger concern in this country than protecting the right to own a gun.Gallup indicates a doubling between January 2012 an one year later of those 18-34 wanting stricter gun laws.
And in truly bad news for a Republican party that is increasingly driven by the Religious Right, Blow's penultimate paragraph should remind regular readers of Daily Kos what Markos has been saying for some time:
Young people also are the least religious (more than a quarter specify no religion when asked), and they are an increasingly diverse group of voters. Fifty-eight percent of voters under 30 were white non-Hispanic in 2012, down from 74 percent in 2000. Like it or not, younger Americans are thirsty for change that lines up with their more liberal cultural worldview.Blow concludes with two words:
Advantage Democrats.Yes, but . . . .
That will be true only if the Democrats address issues in a fashion that is in synch with how the younger generation feels and believes, otherwise, as in 2010, they may simply decide not to turn out. They are also far more open to a political movement independent of the current two-party structure, which in fact could undermine Democrats in the future, if some of those in the establishment and party structure do not understand how different these young people are.
There actually is a real potential for a generational conflict within the Democratic party. Things like the President having backed Secretary Sebelius's decision on the morning after pill - now fortunately overturned by a District Court Judge - probably play very differently among Millenials than with Boomers. The lag in addressing equal rights for LGBT, in the military as well as in marriage equality, has exposed some of the fault lines. Fortunately as of yesterday all but two of the Democratic Senators are on record as having recognized this.
I might suggest that those of us who are Boomers would do well to remember words that we through at our parents, those of the Silent Generation and earlier. Allow me to quote the middle two stanzas from one who is himself an aging silent, about to turn 72 on May 24, one Robert Zimmerman, born in Duluth, but who exploded on the world in the 1960s as Bob Dylan. I am sure you will recognize the words. The first stanza I offer is directed at the political class, the second at parents:
Come senators, congressmenPeace.
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.