While the media frequently laments that millennials are killing mayonnaise, the Boomers can be credited with banding together to hand Trump the presidency. After all, older wealthy whites already have their universal health care (Medicare) and their universal basic income (Social Security). Climate change will never have a chance touch them. And the low-income folks who might be voting for progressives have already been killed by capitalism. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that most senior citizens are no fans of the radical progressive policies which will be necessary to revitalize America once we’ve wrested power away from the ghouls who currently control our destiny.
There is a glimmer of hope -- and it comes from young people. We recently ask the American public what they thought of an unabashedly progressive agenda and found that not only is there a generational divide around issues of racial and economic justice, but that the rising generations Americans are committed across the board to these issues.
Over several projects focused on identifying the public’s openness to a progressive agenda, we have consistently found that young people are committed to the type ambitious, maximalist policies which have been absent in American politics for our living memory.
In our national poll on progressive priorities with YouGov Blue, we found net support for four radical policy proposals among young voters. Reparations, a 90% millionaires tax, and universal basic income and wealth all had net support among Americans under 45. In none of these were Americans over 45 even close to supporting the policies.
Of course, not all progressive policies are only popular among the young. Our New Progressive Progressive Agenda Project, with polling of likely 2018 voters from Civis Analytics, includes data on a wide variety of progressive issues and found that there are progressive policies that see broad support across demographics. However, even in these instances, young people are more strongly in favor than their elders.
Employee governance was the sole policy among those surveyed where the youngest demographic did not also have the highest support for the policy -- chalk that up to the 35-64s having enough time in corporate life to realize the wisdom of worker control. On issues like public housing (50 percent in favor, 28 percent opposed) and free tuition (54 percent in favor, 27 percent opposed) that were modestly underwater among the oldest voters, young people showed consistent and strong support.
We all know how this story ends. The writing is on the wall and a true left flank in American politics is emerging. But the question of when it emerges is not a trivial one and voting patterns tell a disturbing story. Every day that goes by under the ruthless oligarchical regime of the Trump administration or even the bloodless centrism of the right wing of the Democratic Party is another day closer to ecological collapse, another day of state sponsored ethnic cleansing, of pharma executives making millions while people die of preventable diseases.
Jason Ganz (@jasnonaz) is a senior adviser at Data for Progress.
Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee) is a co-founder of Data for Progress.