If the state of things has gotten you down, this may pick you up.
(Iraq war hawk Peter Beinart has been far from my favorite pundit over the years, but he's written two extraordinarily excellent pieces lately, so I guess redemption is never off the table. The other piece is here.)
Millennials, he says, are going to upend the established political spectrum entirely over the next two decades, including the Democrats' current "pro-capitalist, anti-bureaucratic, Reaganized liberalism."
A political generation is more than the rough categories of 20-year blocks given names like Baby Boomers, Generation X, or Millennials. It's one forged by major disruptive events during the years of people's young adulthood.
For the past two decades, American politics has been largely a contest between Reaganism and Clintonism. In 1981, Ronald Reagan shattered decades of New Deal consensus by seeking to radically scale back government’s role in the economy. In 1993, Bill Clinton brought the Democrats back to power by accepting that they must live in the world Reagan had made. Located somewhere between Reagan’s anti-government conservatism and the pro-government liberalism that preceded it, Clinton articulated an ideological “third way”: Inclined toward market solutions, not government bureaucracy, focused on economic growth, not economic redistribution, and dedicated to equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.The current political generation - including both the Tea Party Republicans like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Democrats like Barack Obama and Cory Booker - is playing on that ideologically defined field.
People are disproportionately influenced by events that occur between their late teens and mid-twenties. During that period—between the time they leave their parents’ home and the time they create a stable home of their own—individuals are most prone to change cities, religions, political parties, brands of toothpaste....The Millennials (early 1980s to 2000), on the other hand, have experienced a radically different world and are unlikely to remain within the ideological goalposts of the current status quo. Their generational argument will be different from the one now being played out, and for good reason.
The men and women who today dominate American politics constitute a political generation because during their plastic years they experienced some part of the Reagan-Clinton era. That era lasted a long time. If you are in your late 50s, you are probably too young to remember the high tide of Kennedy-Johnson big government liberalism. You came of age during its collapse, a collapse that culminated with the defeat of Jimmy Carter. Then you watched Reagan rewrite America’s political rules. If you are in your early ‘40s, you may have caught the tail end of Reagan.
But even if you didn’t, you were shaped by Clinton, who maneuvered within the constraints Reagan had built. To pollsters, a late 50-something is a Baby Boomer and an early 40-something is a Gen-Xer. But in Mannheim’s terms, they constitute a single generation because no great disruption in American politics divides them. They came of age as Reagan defined a new political era and Clinton ratified it. And as a rule, they play out their political struggles between the ideological poles that Reagan and Clinton set out.
Compared to their Reagan-Clinton generation elders, Millennials are entering adulthood in an America where government provides much less economic security. And their economic experience in this newly deregulated America has been horrendous...Hard times have frequently let the Right woo disaffected voters with calls to racial, ethnic, and religious populism, but research shows that Millennials will be far less susceptible to those old tricks. For one thing, they are far less white, Christian, straight, and native-born than previous generations. Perhaps after growing up in the bath of lies that is PR- and advertising-mediated capitalist culture, they are much better equipped than their elders with highly attuned BS detectors.
In 2001, just as the first Millennials were entering the workforce, the United States fell into recession. By 2007 the unemployment rate had still not returned to its pre-recession level. Then the financial crisis hit..... Between 1989 and 2000, when younger members of the Reagan-Clinton generation were entering the job market, inflation-adjusted wages for recent college graduates rose almost 11 percent, and wages for recent high school graduates rose 12 percent. Between 2000 and 2012, it was the reverse. Inflation-adjusted wages dropped 13 percent among recent high school graduates and 8 percent among recent graduates of college.
But it was worse than that. If Millennials were victims of a 21st-century downward slide in wages, they were also victims of a longer-term downward slide in benefits. The percentage of recent college graduates with employer-provided health care, for instance, dropped by half between 1989 and 2011....
Millennials have come of age at a time when the government safety net is far more threadbare for the young than for the middle-aged and old.
As the Economic Policy Institute has pointed out, younger Americans are less likely than their elders to qualify for unemployment insurance, food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or the Earned Income Tax Credit. (Not to mention Medicare and Social Security.)
They are more liberal, less supportive of war, less likely to accept trampling of their civil liberties, more pro-labor, and more in favor of expanded government services.
Oh, and they favor socialism over capitalism by a significant margin.
I can't wait until they're of an age to take the reins of power from the Third Way Democrats we've been forced to support for lack of a better alternative.
The only thing I'd like to change about them is their views on privacy. I don't think they understand it or its value. Perhaps it's impossible to appreciate privacy if you've grown up with the perniciousness of Facebook. They'll need to get a handle on that if they're going to get the NSA's damn Panopticon off our necks.