Millennials May Say They're Socialists, But They Act Like Capitalists
Millennials often garner praise from the left and denunciation from the right when it comes to their naive economic worldview -- especially when it comes to socialism.
It is true that 51% of Americans 18-29 view socialism favorably, while 45% view capitalism favorably. This is a troubling trend, but hardly speaks to overwhelming support for ushering in an American socialist revolution.
But while millennials’ rhetoric may comfortably sit within the confines of socialist discourse, they behave and even think quite to the contrary.
Gallup reported that regardless of age, every single American viewsconcrete ideas like “small business” and “entrepreneur” with near universal favorability, while abstract concepts like “free enterprise” and “capitalism” have a mixed reaction.
When one thinks of a human fixture of capitalism, such as an entrepreneur, a human element is brought to the table, and the discussion is easier to have than one simply had using abstract terms. Simply speaking to the concept of free enterprise is not enough -- not for someone of any age.
98% of Americans 18-29 have a favorable view of small business, which is higher than any other generation. The same goes for entrepreneurs, with 90% of Americans aged 18-29 holding a positive view, three points higher than their parents and seven points higher than their grandparents.
It is also true that young Americans have a slightly less favorable view of “free enterprise” and “capitalism” than their predecessors do. When you dig deeper, you will see that people 65 and older only polled six percentage points higher in their views on capitalism than those 18-29 did. America’s formative population even view “big business” in a more positive light than any other demographic.
On the whole, young people are too busy building startup companies, attempting the newest investment strategy, working, meeting friends, dating, and enjoying the American way of life to muster up the will to do much more than voice outrage on social media, let alone to vote. Although society has changed, the essence of youth in America, and indeed much of the western world, has remained mostly constant.
The vocal mega-minority of socialist protesters gets all of the media’s finite attention. It is far more lucrative for cable news channels to air footage of socialist protesters rioting in the streets that invokes a strong reaction in viewers than it is to share the stories of the millions of young entrepreneurs who have revolutionized industry, and who will continue to do so.
These people are working and do not have time to protest the system. They want to build upon our foundation, not burn it to the ground and begin anew. Because they continue to work the long hours, build businesses, create opportunities, experiment, and take risks, they are the ones who will rise in our society above the rest. While some protest, others persevere and achieve in spite of whatever societal hardships are supposedly preventing them from doing so.
There is more hope on the horizon for the future of America’s young people. The NY Post’s Salena Zito put it bluntly, with a headline arguing, “why the generation after millennials will vote Republican.” “Generation Z,” those born between 1996 and 2010, are overwhelmingly diverse, have healthy parental relationships, value entrepreneurship over corporate jobs, and are more religious. At the same time, Zito reported, they are more moderate on social issues, but value national security very highly.
If the socialist tendencies of America’s youth were dooming America, we would know it by know. Even if our current population of young people is more open to the rhetoric of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we are far from giving in to their socialist pipe dream.
2016 was the first election in which Generation Z was able to vote, so it is too early to tell the impact they will have on fighting the perception of socialism among young people in America.
The beauty of our Republic is that we are insulated from mob rule, much of which we see every time we turn on our television. If we fail to pay attention, socialism will become more of a creeping threat than it is already, with each passing year.
If the ‘60’s are any indication, the protesters you see on the news will be long gone before this generation’s titans of industry are finished making their impact.