My friend Peter Levine, who is one of the deepest and most engaging thinkers I know on trends involving youth and civic participation, is coauthor of an important new paper that was released on Wednesday at a New America Foundation event. I had the opportunity to attend and found it well worth my time.
Titled “The Millennial Pendulum: A New Generation of Voters and the Prospects for a Political Realignment” and written by Peter Levine, Constance Flanagan, and Les Gallay, the report is an important report how a particular generation is changing over time.
That’s important, because while it is certainly true that young people are by and large more liberal than their elders, conventional wisdom has it that they move rightward as they age. This study examine the Millennial Generation in those terms, trying to see just how liberal (or conservative) the Gen-Y is and what the prospects are for movement.
The report’s summary:
Today’s young people have considerably more progressive opinions about economic issues than do their elders. Under-30s voted very strongly for Barack Obama in 2008 and expressed liberal views about the economy (and about other issues) in pre-election polls. Observers and strategists are now asking whether we will see a lasting change in American politics as a result of the Millennials’ arrival. It is possible that they are liberal because they are young, and they will move to the right as they grow older. But analyses of the trajectories across time of several recent generations, summarized in this paper, suggest that the Millennials have a more progressive identity than did previous generations at their age and are likely to move the country leftward on economic and social issues for decades to come.
This is important reading from a significant thinker. I recommend it.