[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary aired on 15 July 2015.]
You’ve all heard of generational groupings like the so-called Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, and Gen Xers. Well, the latest are the Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1997. This cohort is now in their young adult years, and they have arrived on the scene with a markedly different worldview and priorities than their predecessors. For openers, none of them lived through or understood the Cold War.
Their view of the United States is not so much tempered by our exceptionalism, patriotism, capitalism, or even our beneficent role serving as the world’s sheriff. They do not see Russia, China, and even Iran as geo-strategic competitors or possible foes of America, but as peer nations on the global scene doing pretty much normal stuff to serve their national interests without seeking hegemony over their neighbors. And for the first time the new demographic cohort contains more self-declared liberals than conservatives – 30% to 28%. Given the recorded sentiments of the so-called Moderates at 40%, I would conclude that during the last decade the country has swung markedly toward the Left.
The Cato Institute has published an informative compendium of recent polls and studies of the Millennials which concludes they are “more liberal, more ethnically and racially diverse, more technology centered, more supportive of government action to solve problems, and the best-educated generation in US history.” - the latter at least when counting the number of issued high school diplomas and college degrees.
Millenials see the US and the world heading toward a global order. While not quite trusting human nature and individualism, Millennials hold that bigger and more comprehensive governments will be able to calm and control man’s animal spirits. In such an environment Millennials see the world as a less threatening place than do their predecessors. And without perceiving sharp outlines of global threats, Millennials don’t see the need for America to project power. Today only 2% of Millenials have served in the military, and to them talk of the Cold War and how the world was then is a turn-off. Their schooling has given them a distinctly counter-image of what it was like when the US and the USSR maintained peace through the threat of mutual assured destruction. But that was then, and this is now.