By Matt Rooney
We’ve all seen the intended-to-shock poll results revealing that younger Americans favor socialism or at least feel a lot less hostile towards it than their parents and grandparents.
The phenomenon/trend itself gets a fair amount of attention, Save Jerseyans, but there’s precious little discussion drilling down on WHY it’s happening.
Wonder no more.
The greatest challenge of our time isn’t Russia, North Korea, terrorism, global warming, illegal immigration or gluten.
What is: a nation that no longer understands HOW its incredible, historic bounty came to be.
What follows is my concise take on the subject (speaking as a 34-year old, which apparently qualifies me as an “older” millennial). Each of these causations deserves its own post and maybe we’ll do just that soon. For now:
1. Millennials are conditioned for socialism.
We have Leftist ideals beat into our skulls throughout our time in the public school system and, at the end of the academic road, in college and graduate school. The culture and media reinforce these ideas. Ignorance is encouraged. It’s #wokeness that matters, not historical or economic literacy. All of this should be obvious to anyone paying any attention whatsoever.
But then there’s the less obvious stuff. One huge example: student loans!
At relatively young ages, we’re advised by our parents and authority figures to go to college, study whatever our hearts desire, assume MASSIVE loads of debt, subsidized or not, and you’ll somehow make it work for you in America. Many a women’s studies major with a master’s in social work AND $50,000 in debt is presently finding out that that’s bull—t. Is it any wonder that these newly-minted adults are sympathetic to the idea that there’s no way to buy a home? Move out of mom and dad’s basement? Purchase a car that actually runs? And LIVE? Without a government Santa Claus like Bernie Sanders? Whose proposals boil down to taking money from rich guys to subsidize a never-ending pile of debt which starts to feel like play money?
Like I said: millennials and the next generation coming up are CONDITIONED for big government socialism.
2. The Great Recession had an impact.
Outside events intervened, too. The economic downturn of the late 2000’s accelerated the problems highlighted above and rocked the new generations’ faith in capitalism, markets, and the idea that a system predicated on individuals’ authoring their own respective destinies is the true path to continued progress.
Post-9/11 socio-economic nihilism? Maybe.
Of course, you and I know that the true story is obviously much more complicated; government intervention in the housing market (helping people buy things they couldn’t afford on their own, even in strong economic conditions) was the primary culprit, not the free market. Sadly ironic. That important nuance was lost in the experience and isn’t being taught.
3. There’s a pedagogical downside to communism’s demise.
America won World War II. We won the Cold War. With the exception of a handful of hermit kingdoms and distant, relatively ‘minor’ countries on different continents? Leftist economics isn’t prominent globally. China has been gradually liberalizing its own economy (if not its political system) for years. Even the “democratic socialist” countries of Europe, whose defense budgets are heavily subsidized by the U.S., are immersed in the markets and globalism.
Soviet Communism with its colorfully intimidating leaders, nuclear capability, and global ambition made the threat to our way of life tangible. The Millennial generation was born at or AFTER the moment when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. They don’t know. They weren’t there.
They also take for granted that the Internet, smart phones, Whole Foods, Amazon, cheap giant flat screen televisions and most of the valued trappings of modern life constitute the direct inheritance of a people whose forerunners fought communists and socialists to usher in a golden age of global free markets. If the ideological equivalents of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came to power after World War II? “Twitter” would probably be nothing more than a slang term for hungry conversation held in a breadline.
4. Godlessness is the statist’s greatest ally.
This is a majorly under-discussed angle to the problem: the collapse of organized religion and widespread belief in God.
Millennials prefer to live in cities but they’re more isolated for having done so than ever before. Communities are transitory. Families (siblings, parents, grandparents, nieces and nephews) aren’t nearby for Sunday dinners. The traditional building blocks which anchor us and perpetuate our values are eroding quicker than anything positive can take their place.
What remains? Hashtags. Trends. Fads. Consumerism. “Reality” entertainment. Cults of personality (see Obama, Beto, Bernie, etc). Idols of a different age but no different than a golden calf in a desert halfway around the world millennia ago. Young parents are supplanted by amateur selfie artists, vegan instagram models, and ‘dog parents’ in this bizarre, less-than-brave new world. They innately desire belonging but are finding it in less-than-satisfying places.
In this void where Americans live for the now, and don’t think there’s anything above? It’s not hard to see how big government’s promises of a utopia here on earth are attractive or at least not offensive or scary.
5. Republicans never make an argument FOR capitalism.
Last but totally not least: who is out there actually standing up for our free market system??
Some Republicans are attacking socialism’s vices head-on (mainly by invoking the Venezuelan crisis). Others are accepting one bad premise after another, hoping to co-opt big government’s less-obviously offensive overtures (e.g. preexisting conditions health care legislation) to… buy a little time? No one is explaining/talking about/debating the stuff we’ve highlighted in this post. That includes the Trumpster.
Social media actually makes it EASIER for pseudo intellectuals to gather partial information, compounding a weak economic/historic education, and come to all the wrong conclusions in this vacuum. The anti-vaccination fad stands as a prime example of what’s happening out there.
Ultimately: why should anyone admire or revere a system that’s “defenders” seem incapable or unwilling to defend?
MATT ROONEY is a practicing New Jersey attorney, regular panelist on ‘Chasing News’ with Bill Spadea, and the founder and blogger-in-chief of Save Jersey.