Columbia University Journalism Professor Thomas Edsall’s column in Wednesday’s NY Times should be required reading for every Daily Kos community member; and, for that matter, for everyone in this country that’s in any way, shape or form following the historical metamorphosis of the Democratic Party over the past three decades.
For someone who’s been a huge fan of Edsall’s work over the years, four words sum up my initial reaction to today's NYT op-ed: it’s both “fascinating” and, in many ways, it clearly explains the “philosophical/political contradictions” of Gen Y'ers/Millennials, if for no other reason than the fact that Edsall’s analysis of Pew’s polling (and many other sources) underscores how the status quo’s center-right, economic leadership of the Democratic Party has affected this country’s latest generation of voters.
As you’ll read it in the Times’ piece, today’s younger Democrats are socially liberal, but, while they’re somewhat more comfortable than their parents with some of the politically taboo philosophical tenets of socialism, they contradict those sentiments by endorsing many trickle-down, laissez faire and Libertarian economic policies.
Edsall’s column--both comprehensively and concisely--explains the self-evident, center-right economic (yes, the word “corporatist” does apply here, too) trajectory of the Democratic Party, today.
Ironically, my second, shoot-from-the-hip sentiment, after giving Edsall’s column a once-over, is that my gut response to it would pretty much echo a piece I featured in my last post here, on Monday, by Austin Chronicle columnist Michael Ventura: “Letters at 3AM: That Word 'Oligarchy.'”
Edsall’s column is an absolute must-read…
Edsall interrupts his analysis of the Pew data to reference a “a July 10 YouGov poll of young adults (aged 18 to 29), sponsored by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian research organization – ‘Millennials: The Politically Unclaimed Generation’ — did not directly compare younger and older voters but does shed light on the views of younger voters generally. ‘Social and cultural issues are currently more central to millennials’ political judgments than economic policy,’ the report says. ‘When asked to explain the reasons for their ideological identifications, social and cultural concerns largely defined their labels.’”
The Coming Democratic Schism
New York Times
JULY 15, 2014
There is a striking generational split in the Democratic electorate.
This deepening division is apparent in a June Pew Research Center survey of more than 10,000 people, “Beyond Red vs. Blue.” The Pew survey points up the emergence of a cohort of younger voters who are loyal to the Democratic Party, but much less focused on economic redistribution than on issues of personal and sexual autonomy.
Back in April, Pew researchers wrote that “huge generation gaps have opened up in our political and social values, our economic well-being, our family structure, our racial and ethnic identity, our gender norms, our religious affiliation, and our technology use.” These trends, Pew noted, point “toward a future marked by the most striking social, racial, and economic shifts the country has seen in a century.”
I asked Andrew Kohut, the founding director of the Pew Center, what he made of these results. He emailed me his thoughts: “There is a libertarian streak that is apparent among these left-of-center young people. Socially liberal but very wary of government. Why? They came of age in an anti- government era when government doesn’t work. They are very liberal on interpersonal racial dimension, but reject classic liberal notions about ways of achieving social progress for minorities.”
One reflection of the confused state of generational politics today is that an earlier Pew poll, which I wrote about during the last presidential election, revealed that younger voters were less hostile to socialism than their elders.
Two other studies document the broad trends that the most recent Pew survey identified. A research paper, “Generational Difference in Perception of Tax Equity and Attitudes Towards Compliance,” by three professors of accounting — Susan Jurney, Tim Rupert and Martha Wartick — found that “the Millennial generation was less likely to recommend progressive taxation than” older generations…
Returning to the Pew stats, Edsall notes with obvious hope: “…even though younger Democrats are less committed to the central tenets of traditional economic liberalism, there is a strong body of evidence suggesting that the partisan commitment these voters made to the Democratic Party when they first came of political age will endure.””
Edsall then documents, via reference to a “paper published last month, ‘The Great Society, Reagan’s Revolution, and Generations of Presidential Voting’ by Yair Ghitza, a doctoral candidate at Columbia, and Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia,” which explains how “long-term partisan preferences are formed” during a “voter’s teenage and early adult years.”
He then points readers to a NY Times’ interactive graphic which accompanies his column, produced over at the Upshot, which demonstrates “…the lasting power of the partisan loyalties that men and women establish in their late teens and early twenties.”
…Although a majority of younger voters today are reliably Democratic, there are key issues on which they differ notably from their elders within the center-left coalition. The July Pew survey identifies two predominately white core Democratic constituencies: the “solid liberals” of the traditional left, which is 69 percent white, with an average age of 46, who exhibit deep progressive commitments on both economic and social issues; and younger voters, 68 percent white, with an average age of 38, which Pew calls the “next generation left.”I’m going to stop here, in terms of conveying today’s analysis from Thomas Edsall to readers, and strongly reiterate that you should checkout the balance of his much lengthier piece. Again, HERE’S THE LINK.
The two groups were asked to choose whether “most people can get ahead if they’re willing to work hard” or whether “hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most people.” A decisive majority of the older “solid liberal” group, 67 percent, responded that hard work is no guarantee of success, while an even larger majority, 77 percent, of the younger “next generation left” believes that you can get ahead if you are willing to work hard.
According to Pew, the older group believes, 73-20, that “government should do more to solve problems.” Only 44 percent of the younger group agrees — and of younger respondents, 50 percent believe that “government is trying to do too much.”…
It’s an education unto itself!
One last sentiment from yours truly, and it’s the obvious reality that “The Coming Democratic Schism” that Edsall describes in great detail in today’s Times has been vividly on display in this community for many years.
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UPDATE (7/16/14 3:45PM EDT): I would STRONGLY recommend that any people with questions regarding the age breakouts of the variously labelled groups in this Pew study from June take a look at THE FOLLOWING AGE BREAKOUTS provided with their latest report. Furthermore, I would concur with some of the comments, down below, in that some of the basic premises regarding age are belied by the fact that the various, labelled segment names utilized by the Pew folks are, indeed, a bit confusing (if not outright misleading).
That being said, there's much to be gleaned from the Pew study. And, the overall premises concerning the "younger" skewed categories/"typologies"/labels--while not really all that "young"--are, in fact, technically accurate.
As another reminder of the semi-obvious, with an average age of 38 for the youngest group categorized, this means they've only been voting since 1994. (FYI: The very definition of a "millennial voter" is someone who reached the age of 18 on or after 2000. [i.e.: Those <33 years of age; born in 1982 and later.])
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