Quora Question: Why Are Millennials Usually Progressive?

62_Clinton Millennials
Hillary Clinton takes a photo with two young men after speaking at the UFCW Union Local 324 in Buena Park, California, on May 25. Clinton unveiled a new conservation agenda this week to woo California voters. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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Answer from Khalid Elhassan:

Conservatism, by definition, is about maintaining the status quo. For a typical millennial, though, the status quo isn't that good, so their interests are best served by change, which is a left wing thing. They came of age during the right wing George W. Bush era, with its war mongering, governmental incompetence, crony capitalism, growing economic inequalities, and to cap it all off, a severe economic downturn that has left the employment and financial prospects of millennials in dire straits compared to prior generations.

And they came of age during the internet era, so unlike prior generations who had to rely on the mostly establishment supporting media gatekeepers of TV and newspapers for information, millennials grew up with ready access to information that directly contradicts shibboleths that prior generations took for granted. So they are far more inclined to question things and challenge the status quo.

E.g.; I'm a Generation Xer, and I'm left wing. But until my late 20s and early 30s, having grown up relying on establishment mainstream media as my main sources of information until the internet became widespread and its content exploded, I took it for granted that coming out of college and grad school loaded with massive student debt is normal—the way it is and should be. I believed as an article of faith, because I heard it so often on cable talk shows and read it so often on the Opinion pages of the Washington Post and New York Times, that the U.S. healthcare system is the best in the world and that the "socialized medicine" of Canada and Europe is a disaster. Like most people, back in the 1990s I bought hook, line and sinker, that "Hillarycare" was at best a well-intentioned but cockamamie idea that would lead to perdition—assuming it was not not outright nefarious and maliciously conceived. And I believed, because it was hammered home repeatedly through most mainstream media sources I relied on, that our economic system was the most equitable in the world, that "trickle down economics" probably had some merit to it, and that repeatedly cutting taxes for the rich, lowering estate taxes for millionaires and billionaires, would somehow benefit me and most Americans.

It wasn't until the wealth of information available on the internet became readily available that I discovered what I sucker I'd been.

Millennials didn't have to wait that long. They grew up with ready access to knowledge like: students in our peer nations in the developed world get free quality education, and graduate and start their lives without a millstone of massive student debt around their necks like we do.

They grew up with access to knowledge that our current model of U.S. capitalism has produced a severely imbalanced system that is basically Gilded Age 2.0, where a privileged few feast, while the overwhelming majority of the rest of us scrabble around beneath the table for the crumbs—a country where the top 1 percent own almost half of the national wealth, while the bottom 80% have to make do divvying up 5 percent of the nation's bounty.

Millennials grew up with access to information that contradicts the cheerleading of establishment pundits and Op-Ed trendsetters that the economy is doing great. Today, unlike just 15 or 20 years ago, people have access to information that the gatekeepers of the past withheld, and so can go beyond the superficial and ask "the economy is doing well—but for who?," and expect to find an answer. So millennials who are interested in knowing, could find out that we're a country where our media acts like we're supposed to be happy with an economic "recovery," even though 95 percent of that recovery's benefit is captured by the richest 1 percent, while the rest of us tread water or sink (The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2012) (United States Is Now the Most Unequal of All Advanced Economies), or with corporate profits being at record highs and CEO pay exploding, while working stiff wages are stagnant or shrinking (The Greatest Recovery, Part I).

They grew up with access to knowledge that, far from having the best healthcare system on earth, Americans pay more for healthcare than anybody else in the world—double or triple what others in the developed world do. And, to add insult to injury, we get far less protection and coverage than our developed world peers do, even though we pay a whole lot more than them. And that while hardly anybody in Europe ever goes bankrupt because of medical bills, more than 600,000 Americans do just that every single year. (CNBC: Biggest Cause of Personal Bankruptcies? Medical Bills) (Why Americans Are Drowning in Medical Debt) (The Economist: Cancer, health insurance, bankruptcy).

The right wing's only response to millennials' concerns is basically to tell them to toughen up and pull themselves up by the bootstraps; concerning student loan debt, they're told that they should work their way to pay for college. This notwithstanding that the costs of college have exploded since back in the day, when a part-time job in the 1970s might have paid for tuition at Yale, while today even working a full-time job plus a part time one on top of that at typical wages wouldn't pay for tuition at a typical college.

And that's just economics, without even going into the jarring contrast between the socially conservative and exclusionary outlook of the right wing, and the more inclusive and multicultural reality millennials grow up in.

And for a generation that grew up with access to such a wealth of knowledge, it's understandable that they wouldn't mesh well with today's right wing, with its anti-intellectual and increasingly irrational tendencies. Right wing leaders even take pride in their anti-intellectualism and ignorance, as if knowledge and intellect and "facts" are wussy things that only fruity liberals bother with. The fact that the right wing party's presidential nominee in 2016 is Donald Trump says it all.

Churchill was right about the Nazis, but was wrong about so much else, including the bit to the effect that liberalism is for the young and foolish, while conservatism is for the mature and wise. He was a warleader with a good turn of phrase, not a fount of reliable political wisdom or insights into the human condition. There's a reason why a man of his talents wasn't entrusted with power until a dire emergency called for a stubborn fighter, then got unceremoniously booted out of office by the voters as soon as the guns fell silent in Europe.

Millennials are left wing not because they're young, but because the left wing better serves their interests and addresses their concerns.

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Quora Question: Why Are Millennials Usually Progressive? | U.S.