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What Millennials Think About Politics


Millennials: Who are they? What do they believe? Why do we care?

Armed with data from the recent Reason-Rupe poll on the same subject, Reason TV explored these questions on the campus of University of California, Irvine by asking students in the 18-29 age group to talk about their political philosophies, their attitudes towards Democrats and Republicans, their reactions to the word “socialism,” and their perspectives on entrepreneurship.

milenials_2“Right now, I think of [socialism] as more of a postive, because I think our country could use it a little bit more,” said one student who typifies attitude represented in the Reason-Rupe poll, which found that 42 percent of millennials favor socialism over capitalism.

However, as Reason polling director Emily Ekins explains, this may be because millennials simply have a different understanding of socialism than prior generations who came of age during the Cold War.

“If they were to understand that ‘socialism’ meant government running Facebook, Amazon, Uber… they would not like that,” says Ekins, who found that only 32 percent of millennials favor a “government-managed economy” over a “free market economy.”

Millennials also have a distrust of the two-party system and increasingly identify as independents, with 34 percent declining to indentify with a political party even when asked if they lean one way or another, a rate three times higher than that of Americans over 30 years old.

Ekins says that Millennials speak a different political language than older generations, a language shaped in no small part by major world events like 9/11, the financial crisis, and two wars in the Middle East, all of which occured as this generation came of an age where politics began to matter to them.

“We need to be more concrete and specific with the words we use when we talk to young people,” says Ekins. “Words like capitalism and socialism, language from the Cold War, post-World War II era is just not going to work, because those words have lost meaning.”

Approximately 7 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Paul Detrick.


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