Libertarian poll: Millennials are … pretty liberal, actually

posted at 6:41 pm on July 10, 2014 by Allahpundit

The good folks at Reason did their best to frame the data here as proof that young adults are skeptics of government at heart, but skim through the major findings and decide for yourself. Millennials do have some right-wing leanings, of course — they’re open in principle to cutting taxes and spending, prefer to see wealth distributed according to achievement, and, most importantly, heavily favor privatized Social Security accounts. (They’re also basically libertarian on issues like gay marriage, marijuana, and banning Big Gulps.) That’s a sign of growing awareness of the entitlement crisis among the generation that’s going to suffer the most from it. Dare we hope that they might be serious about balancing America’s books?

Actually, no. We daren’t.

74 percent of millennials say government has a responsibility to guarantee every citizen has a place to sleep and enough to eat..

69 percent say it is government’s responsibility to guarantee everyone access to health care and 51 percent have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act

68 percent say government should ensure everyone makes a living wage

66 percent say raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy…

58 percent say the government should spend more on assistance to the poor even it means higher taxes

Not so libertarianish. One interesting question, which cuts both ways, was whether they favor a larger government that provides more services or a smaller government that provides fewer services. When you ask the question that way, they prefer larger government; Millennials like the idea of Uncle Sam lending a helping hand. When, however, you tweak the question to emphasize that larger government also means higher taxes, the results flip. Suddenly, a majority prefers smaller government to a large one. The good news there, of course, is that the more young adults come to grips with the cost of Great Society II, the less eager they are for it. The bad news is that they’re starting from a preference for bigger government, and even when you mention higher taxes, there’s still a sizable 41 percent in favor. If all of this seems hopelessly muddled to you — they prefer smaller government if it means higher taxes, but they support raising taxes to spend more on the poor? — that’s okay. It’s classically American to be small-government in principle and big-government in practice, a point Kevin Williamson emphasized a few months ago in arguing that Rand Paul’s 2016 candidacy is doomed:

When it comes to balancing the budget, Paul is more likely to cut off aid to your mom. That’s where the money is. We spend almost all of the federal budget on a handful of programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and defense. So any plausible, politically sustainable campaign to impose some sanity on America’s national finances is going to mean reforming—i.e., cutting—all of those. How unpopular is that? Solid majorities of Americans oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits and raising taxes to pay for them, even though a larger majority also believes that the cost of those programs will create economic problems. The number of people who think we spend too much on the military hasn’t topped the 50-percent mark since the Vietnam War. Think about George W. Bush’s attempt at Social Security reform, which left him the loneliest man in Washington. Or consider that in 2012, fiscal conservative wonk-emperor Paul Ryan ran for the vice presidency on a campaign that blasted the Obama administration for making Medicare cuts. Which is to say, even the man in Washington most associated with the words “fiscal conservative” knows better than to run as one. Fiscal conservatives might applaud Rand Paul when he talks about getting Afghan President Hamid Karzai off of welfare, but they’ll scream if he comes within five miles of their Social Security checks. Any candidate who’s serious about fiscal reform is going to be a hard sell in 2016—or any other year.

Like I say, the most hopeful spin you can put on the Reason poll is that Millennials might be more receptive to entitlement reform than the average voter, if only because they’re less convinced that entitlements will be there for them than other generations are. To get them to play ball, though, you need to overcome their big-government sympathies, all of which will be stoked endlessly by lefties bleating about the “social safety net” if/when reform gathers any momentum. How lucky do you feel?

Speaking of Paul, one more interesting finding from the Reason poll via Andrew Kirell. Apparently, at least among Millennials, the great conservative/libertarian alliance ain’t so great:

libs

Millennials who think of themselves as “liberals” are far more open to voting for a libertarian-ish candidate like Paul than self-identified “conservatives” from the same age group is. But that makes sense, right? On college campuses, it’s rarely fiscal issues that animate the most passionate activism. It’s social and cultural issues, probably because they’re usually more accessible and because many (most?) young adults are focused more on building their identities than on pocketbook matters. (Although, post-recession, that might be changing.) Fiscal concerns are something you tend to pick up as you age and start paying attention to your paycheck. Go figure that the age demographic that’s closest to its college years might still be more interested in a candidate’s social agenda than his fiscal one, which explains why young liberals might take a hard look at someone who’s socially liberal and fiscally conservative whereas young conservatives are less inclined. Is that good news or bad news for Rand, who’s eager to reach out to Democratic Millennials but has to survive a primary with Republican Millennials first?


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The people at Reason has long since stopped being real Libertarians. They switched sides twenty years ago when they adopted the personal autonomy agenda over the liberty agenda. They went from following Hayek and von Mises to Rand and Rothbard. Of course the Millennials sound Libertarian to the faux Libertarians at Reason. Sex rights and drug rights are at the pinnacle of their agenda and that is why they see these non existant “libertarian” impulses in Generation Null.

Personal autonomy is the enemy of liberty because a true libertarian society has strong private social institutions. These social institutions place far more constraints on autonomy that does government. Faux Libertarians are just as much at war with civil society as are Progressives. There is something that these faux Libertarians have forgotten. You can’t have functioning markets and political liberty without a strong civil society. Autonomy is a myth. Unless you are a hermit your personal autonomy will always be severely constrained.

jerryofva on July 10, 2014 at 7:27 PM

You are 100% correct. The current crop of young libertarians have committed themselves to fighting all of the left’s isms and phobes (racism, sexism, xenophobe, homophobe, etc) and really doesn’t offer anything with regards to reducing or eliminating the state. I heard an interview with Cathy Reisenwitz and she went on and on about racism and the need to eliminate hierarchy and patriarchy. The new libertarians don’t understand, as you have mentioned, that if you want a minimal state to exists, there must be strong social institutions to take its place. The best example of a minarchist libertarian society are (drum roll please) the Amish. They don’t vote, they don’t volunteer to serve in the military, they don’t participate the welfare state (they don’t pay SS, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment taxes or receive benefits) they don’t lobby for government privileges, they don’t send their children to government schools, and they don’t accept government jobs. They are, for the most part, divorced from the government. Yet, they are religious, pious, and peaceful people who are capable of governing themselves. They have hierarchy and are a patriarchal society. It’s their morals and hierarchical and patriarchal that allows them to live without the government.

antifederalist on July 10, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Still Romney won the White young voters (18-29) by 51 to Obama 44…

mnjg on July 10, 2014 at 11:11 PM

No worries.

Almost every child is a liberal until he/she learns what Fed, State, and FICA mean on his/her pay-stub.

WryTrvllr on July 11, 2014 at 12:39 AM

Goes to show that steady propaganda through the media really does work.

But, there is no such thing as Communists in America, McCarthy was a meanie and the 45 Goals of the Communist Party was just a hoax.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 11, 2014 at 7:01 AM

They have hierarchy and are a patriarchal society. It’s their morals and hierarchical and patriarchal that allows them to live without the government.

antifederalist on July 10, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Thanks for this. I never looked at it from this perspective, but it makes a few somewhat disjointed personal observations click together a little better. I think I’ll bring the Amish to AJs attention. We are within driving distance of several Amish communities; it would be worth a trip.

AJsDaddie on July 11, 2014 at 8:07 AM

My husband and I are ashamed to be in this generation.

Anna on July 11, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Although interestingly enough, we don’t fall into the age range of this study (I’m 31 and my husband turns 32 this month). Is there any consensus as to when the Millennial generation officially starts? I thought it was 1980 or so.

Anna on July 11, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Axe on July 10, 2014 at 10:52 PM

I had wrote out and I guess deleted what I thought your problem was. That it was about paying for it to give access to others. I do not see that as a valid argument. In a free society, and on a libertarian thread specifically, the idea that anyone has claims on other people’s labor should be out the window. That anyone has the right to something that requires others to provide should automatically be discarded.
You are basically allowing the left to frame the issue. I think the term you should be using is available. Access indicates the already determined ability to use. Availability indicates that it is there for you to gain access to.
There are thousands of houses available for you to own. There are not thousands of houses that you have access to. There are millions of available women for you to date. There are not millions of women that you have access to date. The VA is available for a veteran to use, but that does not mean that the veteran really has access to the healthcare they provide.

astonerii on July 11, 2014 at 9:26 AM

antifederalist on July 10, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Excellently put. If you can’t govern yourself (and your family and your community), then someone else will have to. And that someone else will be government. And they will end up governing you for their benefit.

GWB on July 11, 2014 at 9:50 AM

The people at Reason has long since stopped being real Libertarians. They switched sides twenty years ago when they adopted the personal autonomy agenda over the liberty agenda. They went from following Hayek and von Mises to Rand and Rothbard. Of course the Millennials sound Libertarian to the faux Libertarians at Reason. Sex rights and drug rights are at the pinnacle of their agenda and that is why they see these non existant “libertarian” impulses in Generation Null.

Personal autonomy is the enemy of liberty because a true libertarian society has strong private social institutions. These social institutions place far more constraints on autonomy that does government. Faux Libertarians are just as much at war with civil society as are Progressives. There is something that these faux Libertarians have forgotten. You can’t have functioning markets and political liberty without a strong civil society. Autonomy is a myth. Unless you are a hermit your personal autonomy will always be severely constrained.

jerryofva on July 10, 2014 at 7:27 PM

You are 100% correct. The current crop of young libertarians have committed themselves to fighting all of the left’s isms and phobes (racism, sexism, xenophobe, homophobe, etc) and really doesn’t offer anything with regards to reducing or eliminating the state. I heard an interview with Cathy Reisenwitz and she went on and on about racism and the need to eliminate hierarchy and patriarchy. The new libertarians don’t understand, as you have mentioned, that if you want a minimal state to exists, there must be strong social institutions to take its place. The best example of a minarchist libertarian society are (drum roll please) the Amish. They don’t vote, they don’t volunteer to serve in the military, they don’t participate the welfare state (they don’t pay SS, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment taxes or receive benefits) they don’t lobby for government privileges, they don’t send their children to government schools, and they don’t accept government jobs. They are, for the most part, divorced from the government. Yet, they are religious, pious, and peaceful people who are capable of governing themselves. They have hierarchy and are a patriarchal society. It’s their morals and hierarchical and patriarchal that allows them to live without the government.

antifederalist on July 10, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Well, good luck selling that to the Millenials. They think that way because they value tolerance, open-mindedness, civil non-conformity (why do you think Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are still wildly popular?) and not imposing stifling constraints on others. And I, as a Gen-Xer and a father of two, agree wholeheartedly with them. If you want to emulate the Amish so bad, start your own little private community. Just don’t violate any laws that’ll get the Feds on your back, like the guys running YFZ did.

My view of libertarianism is more of a “time-and-a-place” philosophy. For the most part, in most places, one is expected to behave in a certain civil manner, one which will not offend the general populace or shock the children. But there should still be pockets of hedonistic paradise, where – apart from the usual basic laws against killing, kidnapping, raping or stealing – you should be able to do and ingest whatever you desire. We all want to break free from our mundane soul-killing 9-to-5 lives and let off steam to varying degrees. And my optimal version of libertarian America would let that happen.

TMOverbeck on July 11, 2014 at 9:52 AM

They have hierarchy and are a patriarchal society. It’s their morals and hierarchical and patriarchal that allows them to live without the government.

antifederalist on July 10, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Don’t forget, they exile those who do not want to conform. Just like they did in the early ‘wild’ west.
Libertarians, real ones, understand that society still needs the tools to reign in degeneracy in order to retain a functioning society.

astonerii on July 11, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Not so libertarianish.

And many, though they want to use the GOP infrastructure to put in their candidates, are against everything socially conservative that you think you want. They often call themselves “liberty” candidates and they have one agenda: freedom to use drugs and not be prosecuted. Sometimes they call themselves Tea Partiers or Grassroots or Pauliacs, Grass Roots, (weed) but they only register as republicans if there is something to gain in a particular election year when they can hijack the kitty that good people who don’t want social liberalism put in there.

There is a lesson here, if you are a Tea Partier that likes Sarah Palin more than Ron Paul (the dad) you need to register republican and start participating. You are not counted, you are just an outsider criticizing, and these libertarians will seem like they intend to fix it for you, but they are fine with a democrat winning if it means they can have freedom to do drugs, sell drugs, and open the prisons of people who steal and use weapons to do drugs.

Are there people out there trying to humiliate you so you don’t register as a republican? bully you? do you think some of them are libertarians? When you and your friends register as a republican and participate, are you led to believe that makes you corrupt? There is a war on taking a stand, and it is ruled by “Cool.” Social conservatives out there…need to let their numbers be shown. You can’t complain about the republican candidate, if you did not show up to support a candidate in the primary as a registerd republican. Why should local republicans take you seriously trying to tell them what to do when you have not joined? When you HIDE. You can call Boehner names all day, but don’t call ME a name, stop painting all of us with the same brush.

You are doing the work of the libertarians.

Fleuries on July 11, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Fleuries on July 11, 2014 at 11:02 AM

I am not registering as a Republican and it has nothing to do with the libertarians. It has everything to do with the fact that the party does not contain any semblance anywhere in it of conservatism. My presence will not change that one iota. I do not consent to the Republican party and I do not consent to the Democratic party. Neither party even remotely represents me and had not represented me for well over a decade before I decided enough was enough and left. Romney was the final straw. Is he a libertarian? McCain was a huge boulder, is he a libertarian? Failure to follow through on cuts post 2010 election… Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the lame duck session, along with many other progressive wet dreams despite the fact that up to that point the Republicans held the line on those before the election and after being rewarded with historic victories they chose to stab us in the back on them. Then go back to TARP, before that the failure to reign in the housing bubble that was blatantly obvious, the massive push for amnesty, the derogatory names we were called, the huge increase in government power through the patriot act, medicare part D, no child left behind, the failure to open our energy resources while they had total power to do it, going back a little bit earlier, the witch hunt and ouster of Newt Gingrich, the last Republican leader worth anything to conservatives…

Nope, time for conservatives to leave the fold and let the Republican party become first a permanent minority party and finally a party much like the one they replaced, extinct. Rebuild a new coalition of people whose goals build upon each other and leave the regressives of the party to go find their own home.

astonerii on July 11, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Here is the problem with the libertarian body today. It is not able to actually convince enough people that they are right, so they do the next thing in order to get some of what they want. They open their tent flaps and get rid of the doormen. They let anyone into the tent to make it bigger. Of course, none of these people are actually libertarians and many want exactly the opposite of what true libertarians wants.

It is also the problem with the Republican party. Conservatives, and there is only one group who is really conservative and that is the social conservatives, allowed the party to open up to everyone who had a single issue they agreed with them on. The final culmination of this was when the CPAC decided it was a good idea to host the GoProud gay identity group. You know that CPAC is no longer conservative now. The gay lifestyle does not lead to fiscal restraint. The gay lifestyle comes with it a huge opportunity for disease transmission that has life time consequences at half a million dollars per person to several million dollars per person as well as many times taking them out of the workforce, adding those losses to the cost. That there is not a fiscal conservative no matter what they tell you in your face. Just like Obama is not a Christian. He might even believe he is one, but his life and the results of his policies are everything but Christian.

astonerii on July 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

You know… Gerald Celente’ years ago called for a new party in America and he called it the “Progressive Libertarian” party. It about made my head explode when he said this. To me, that makes little sense. You can’t be both progressive and libertarian! But somehow, just somehow, these millennials appear to almost pull it off.

fatlibertarianinokc on July 11, 2014 at 2:04 PM

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