Saturday, December 16, 2017

Millennial Trends: Independents, Third Parties, and a Time for Change

As most of my readers know, I enjoy the study political trend analysis. I am intrigued by the development and evolution of various political trends, such as their evolution out of social and/or economic issues. Occasionally, certain trends come to the forefront after being submerged under a society's social norms for years, decades, or even centuries. Some develop as part of "unfinished business" started generations prior such as equality of genders, race or the creation of safe workplaces and livable wages. Some develop as a reaffirmation of certain ideals such as the restriction or limitation of certain laws or governments which have again pushed its boundaries.

One of my favorite topics has been how specific demographic groups view government or various social issues. In particular, I've been interested in how Millennials view government and other related issues. The reason is partly out of my own curiosity, and also because Millennials are the largest single demographic now that the influence of us "Babyboomers" is starting to fade as we begin to leave the world's stage. Millennials (or Generation Y) are mostly the children or younger siblings of Generation X, and the grandchildren of Babyboomers, who at one point were the largest (and wealthiest in terms of disposable income) demographic . Millennials are the first generation to be born in a completely digital age. Never did they not have computers, cell phones, or the Internet. They are the most technologically connected demographic group out there.

Because of their age and population size, Millennials will quickly come to dominate society, especially politically, which started with the election of Barack Obama, and will continue over the next 30 or so years. Like almost every generation, they tend to identify the most with their parent's parents, which, in this case, are the Babyboomers; many of whom were known as Beatniks, Flower children, Hippies and Yippies. We were the "Flower Power" and Vietnam War generation; the generation of the Weathermen, Black Panthers, Gray Panthers, the SLA, love-ins, sit-ins, and yes, even Disco and polyester suits with pointy collars (I sincerely apologize for that). That's the generation that many of today's Millennials look back to, though not necessary with glazed-over eyes filled with nostalgia.

There is much that Millennials blame us for, particularly when it comes to the greed of the "Go-G0" 80's and what some perceived as our wanton disregard for a crippling economic debt that they and their children (and possibly grandchildren) are now inheriting. Many think we had, at least one point, the perfect opportunity to change our political and economic system into something more practical and fair, but we blinked; we dropped the ball. I think that there may be some truth to that. There was much we, as a generation, could have done had our idealism held.

However, there was also much that our idealism got wrong too. We created a national safety net, but at the same time discouraged self-motivation. It was better to live off of government hand-outs than find a job, and because of how these programs worked, it discouraged the family unit. It created a system which essentially forced the adult male out of the house ostensibly for the betterment of his family. What was intended to be a helping hand became a career option. In order to improve graduation numbers, they needed to dumb down the academic curriculum. Even Urban renewal, which was intended to provide people with a better living environment destroyed community pillars just as much as abandoned houses. The new developments quickly became trashed out and dangerous because people had no vested interest their upkeep.

Meanwhile, established neighborhoods and businesses---jobs---moved out to safer and quieter pasture. As the jobs left, many saw hope go with it and others saw an opportunity for crime; praying on those left behind. Yes, there was much that our generation failed to do when it had the chance. Now, it seems that the Millennials are going to try and correct our mistakes. I wish them well in their endeavors, which brings me to the central topic of this article. What direction do Millennials believe that we, as a nation, should go?

If you're a regular reader (and if so, thank you), then you should know Independents ("Indies") are the largest political bloc in the US (though you wouldn't know it listening to the corporate media). Democrats trail in second place and Republicans are a distant third (according to November 2017 Gallup Poll, those numbers are, respectively, 42%, 30%, and 25%). Third parties have picked up steam, especially the Libertarian and Green parties. Much of this is due to Millennials moving away from the traditional corporate owned duopoly. Also, as I've reported, Millennials have a large minority which favors "socialism" (though not usually defined, I presume this is the "democratic socialism" variety). Libertarianism is also pretty popular among Millennials too.

A 2016 Harvard Poll showed that 51% of Millennials don't support capitalism while 42% do. However, only 33% said they wanted to live in a "socialist" country. So, what do the rest want? Hard to say since the survey didn't really specify other choices, however, when asked to explain their reasoning, many of the respondents felt that almost any other political system other than what we have would be preferable. A 22 year old Harvard senior, Zach Lustbader, who helped with conducting the survey said for those of who went through the Cold War (that would be us Babyboomers), capitalism meant freedom from the Soviets. But for his fellow Millennials, capitalism means something different. To them, according to Lustbader, capitalism means a never ending financial crisis; essentially economic uncertainty. In a follow-up survey which includes a larger age demographic didn't find much more for capitalism.

Another poll, this one from YouGov, also done in 2016, showed that 43% of those under 30 years of age (Millennials) favored socialism with less than 1/3 favoring capitalism. In this poll, the saving grace was that this percentage did not hold across all demographics. Those 65 and older (some Babyboomers and their parent's generation which is known a Silent Generation) strongly favored capitalism with an approval percentage of 63%. This shouldn't be too surprising since the "Silents", who parent's were part of "The Greatest Generation" of WWII, Korea, and early Vietnam; who had experienced the Great Depression as children or young adults. They also had experienced firsthand Capitalistic Democracy versus Communism or Fascism. Those in the midrange, the Babyboomers, still favored capitalism over socialism as well.

An interesting aside from this poll is that while Democrats slightly favor capitalism over some form of Socialism, Libertarians and Conservatives have sent billions through various think tanks and organizations to sell their version of capitalism, yet they've failed to make any inroads with Millennials, who will be the ones that will ultimately decide the direction of our country. Of course, while some may say that the only perspective Millennials have on Socialism is from the history books aren't exactly correct. Much of Europe, especially Scandinavia, has functioned under democratic socialism. While some, mostly conservative types, will claim that this form of socialism was unsuccessful, the exact opposite was the case.

Democratic socialism, which burst forth following the end of World War II, proved to be highly successful. Citizens were provided with numerous forms of subsidized, from cars to housing to food and other essentials. Education and healthcare was free. There was an emphasis on prevention rather than treatment, and as such, individuals were encouraged to take two week "mental health breaks", often at government provided dachas (in a few countries, individuals were encouraged to work part time, which would also increase employment numbers). Of course, the downside (there's always at least one) was the high taxes needed to pay for this. However, roads and highways were always repaired and utilities were updated, police and other government services were effective and efficient.

What changed, however, was the influx of migrants (legal and illegal). These individuals were (apparently) promised free housing and just about everything else in the native countries. They didn't have to do anything but show up. The government would support them simply for existing (some claim to have been told that they could apply Sharia law whenever they liked). Of course, none of this was true. Nevertheless, these individuals weren't skilled and were mostly uneducated. They lacked not just knowledge of the language, they completely lacked any of the work ethics or native values. They did not contribute into the system. They simply drew from it, which has caused a serious drain on the economic systems of these countries. However, as a viable economic system, it worked and worked well provided everyone participated by contributing to the system. This then appears to be the model that most Millennials are looking at.

Meanwhile, the "Leader of the Free World", the United States, has become an Oligarchy, which is rule by an elite few. Some prefer to call it a plutocracy, rule by the wealthy, which may be just as accurate. Regardless, we are no longer a Constitutional Republic, at least not in the sense that our Founding Fathers had in mind. We've become something a neo-Fascist nation (Fascism is a merger or partnership between big business and the government). It's no secret that key corporations and the government work in tandem; one serving the needs of the other.

Many of those running for office previously worked for these corporations (that's why Congress is called "The Millionaires Club"). Their lobbyists help to write or interpret bills, recommending which ones to support and which ones not to. These corporations underwrite their political campaigns which are often in the tens of millions of dollars, well outside the range possibility of ordinary Americans, regardless of their political party. Gerrymandering makes it nearly impossible to evict them from office even if someone wants to, and without term limits, they usually keep the office until they---not you the voter---decide it's time to go (or they become ineffective, and their corporate masters replaced them). In fact these same corporations finance both parties while we just get the illusion of choice). Did you know that 96% of all media is owned by just six corporations? They control what you watch, read, or listen to. They determine what is and isn't "news", and how any story will be spun. They will decide for you what issues are important and what they want you to ignore. Sadly, most people simply follow along without ever realizing it.

So, what these Millennials hope to do is change much of this...presumably. Approximately 73% of Millennials would support term limits if given the chance, while 77% of Babyboomers would and 74% of the older Boomers and the Silents. Interesting, among parties, 79% of Independents support term limits compared to 82% of Republicans and 62% of Democrats. Personally, I agree. I think we need mandatory term limits. an end to gerrymandering, serious campaign finance reform, and we need a level playing field between the corporate owned political parties, Independents, and third parties; no more two signatures for a Democrat or Republican to get on a ballot but 300 or 3000 for an Indie or third party (as an aside, polls consistently show that between 55% and 60% of American voters want a viable third party) . We need equal media access and equal participation in political debates. But as long as the Oligarchy rules, none of these will likely happen, at least not willingly on their part.

While I personally don't favor a "socialist" form of government (whatever that would be like), Millennials (and most Babyboomers) would agree that the present political system is broken beyond repair and the economic system is in need of some serious adjustment; No amount of band-aid "reforms" are going to put Uncle "Humpty Dumpty" Sam back together again. With America being the only industrial nation (outside any totalitarian governments) without a working class political party; a Labor Party. Perhaps it's finally time.

A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows

Poll: Millennials Pick Socialism Over Capitalism

Gallup Poll: Americans Call for Term Limits, End to Electoral College

Gallup Poll: Party Affiliation

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