Not So Optimistic About the Future

As a country we have held out hope that the racists and conservatives were aging out and would be replaced by millenials and younger people who will be more liberal and socially driven towards liberty.  But, according to this post at the Wonk Blog, we are more likely in for something else entirely:

It’s tempting to explain these findings away. For example, it seems likely that younger citizens are less sanguine about democracy in part because they lack the direct experience of living under, or fighting against, authoritarian regimes like fascism or communism. But that need not be a comforting explanation. After all, the very same reasons may lead younger people to vote for extreme candidates who would erode key elements of liberal democracy.

In fact, there is reasonably strong evidence that younger citizens are not only more skeptical of democracy than they once were but also more drawn to political extremes than in the past. Since the early 1990s, the proportion of young respondents (with “young” defined as age 14-35) who self-identify as either radical left (“1” on a 10-point left-right political spectrum) or radical right (“10” on the left-right scale) has increased in many countries, and at both ends of the scale.

By Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa

 

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