Won’t Someone Think of the Children!
Why young voters won’t save us.
You’ve heard it before. Young people came out in droves for Bernie in the primary and young voters largely supported Hillary in the election. You’ve seen the maps showing Hillary crushing Trump amongst 18 to 25 year olds. SO things are dark but we’re ok right? The future will be progressive and liberal right?? Despite the horrific panic inducing outcome of this election, there is still hope for the future. Right?? Young people and their open minds and cornucopia of genders will save us. Right? Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news (no I don’t), especially since all the news is bad but…no. No they won’t save us. Sorry.
As evidenced by the Baby Boomers, the ones who largely turned this election over to Trump, people change as they get older and in general people get more conservative as they age. Just look at the 1960’s. Over and over again pundits, politicians and activists on the left sought hope in the fact that someday young people, with their more progressive views, would grasp the reigns of power out of the old gnarled, veiny hands of the geriatric leaders of the “system.” They would banish outdated ideals and lead us to a more peaceful and just future. Sadly when their time came many of the Boomers became complacent with the status quo. They were lulled into moderation, and often conservatism, by consumerism, an assualtive corporate media and the fear of global terrorism. Sure there were the hardcore leftys who never gave up the cause (yeah you Hippie Ed!) and yes there was progress in some arenas BUT there was no massive step forward into a progressive future. There were two terms of Reagan, two terms of Bush and now there is The Trump and a government completely in the hands of the most conservative, reactionary party in a century of American politics.
So no. Young people won’t save us just by being progressive or liberal in their youth. As the old maxim goes “any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.” Views and political leanings are not static. They will evolve and change and the youth of toady may well grow more conservative as other generations have in recent decades. Moreover, there seems to be evidence that Millennials are already more conservative than Baby Boomers or GenXers were when they were young!
But maybe young people aren’t doomed to grow into crotchety Fox News viewers (plot twist!!). Maybe they can escape the trend. Maybe confronted with massive debt, amazingly ineffective and corrupt governments and a global climate crisis that will threaten the stability of human civilization, maybe just maybe, they will be pushed into a permanent leftist stance. Maybe they will search for solidarity, sustainability and justice. Maybe they will pave the way for an American system that moves beyond ravenous corporate capitalism.
BUT MAYBE THEY WON’T (double twist)!! Lost Millennials, and whatever comes next, could be easy prey for hypernationalism, marching orders and the unifying force of war. Maybe the instability and scarcity of our collective future will push them into the arms the strongman or the authoritarian who makes them feel safe. I don’t know a single person under 30 who couldn’t use some structure and something to believe in. Or maybe young people will just become so despondent that they can’t even care enough to be anything (not exactly unlikely if the idiotic pageantry of our electoral shit show keeps coughing up terrible candidates and crushing real voices like Bernie Sanders).
So nothing is guaranteed and the future is wide open. Young people won’t save us and it is up to leftists and progressives of all ages to work to cultivate revolutionary thinking, to educate, to listen and support the young people in our lives. We must give them a narrative and a purpose that can overcome hate, war and flags waving in the bullshit wind.