Everyone wants to shape the future in their image, especially regarding politics. It’s reassuring to think no matter how a political debate unfolds, your side will be the one that will inevitably win. Some on the left have such as John Judis and Ruy Teixeira have made this argument in their book “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” in which they argue a racially diverse, young and secular coalition will become the permanent leftist majority.
Looking at what has long been considered the youngest generation of voters, Millennials, this conclusion is a tempting one to make. The Millennial Generation has tended to be one of the most liberal generations so far, with a majority of them identifying as moderate or liberal democrats, according to the Pew Research Center. Millennials are also very diverse in terms of race according to the Brookings Institution, and very secular, according the the New York Times.
As a result, some in the media have predicted those with right leaning views could become completely irrelevant. But this line of thinking is deeply flawed and proven wrong by a new, younger and even more diverse generation. Millennials, meet Generation Z.
Born roughly after 1998, Generation Z leans a lot more to the right than the Millennial coalition. According to Business Insider, Generation Z is more racially diverse than millennials, more technologically integrated than millennials and much more conservative than millennials, specifically in regards to fiscal policy.
A Fiscally Conservative Generation
Unlike Millennials who grew up in the prosperous 90s and early 00s, Generation Z largely grew up during the Great Recession. Jeff Brauer, a political science professor at Keystone College, said to CBS News Generation Z is much more fiscally conservative than Millennials as a result.
“(Gen. Z) grew up… at a time of perpetual war, at a time of budget cuts, at a time of the great recession, at a time of terrorism and terrorist threats…They’re definitely much more moderate to conservative when it comes to fiscal issues and to security issues.” Brauer said.
Additionally, Generation Z is looking to be a generation of go-getters, business leaders and entrepreneurs. According to Harvard Business Review, a whopping 70 percent of Generation Z-ers have been self-employed, compared to only 12 percent of Millennials. A Gallup poll also found 77 percent of grade school Gen Z-ers wanted to be their own boss in the workforce, while 45 percent wanted to start their own business.
This is great news for the right who has huge opportunity to sell supply-side economics to new a generation who couldn’t be more different than Millennials when it comes to money.
A Socially Liberal Generation
Generation Z leans left on social issues, although this is not true for every issue. Corey Seemiler is an assistant professor at Wright State University and author of the book “Generation Z Goes to College.” According to Seemiler, Generation Z tends to be highly supportive of LGBT rights, skeptical of U.S. involvement in wars and concerned about government limitation on personal freedom.
“They believe that people have the right to their own choices until they encroach on or harm others, especially those who belong to underrepresented groups,” Seemiler writes. “Thus, they may advocate for gun ownership while at the same time support workplace protections for transgender employees.”
Much of Generation Z’s views are also formulated online. This may have given liberals an advantage in the past when Obama was the master of digital campaigning, but conservatives have recently established an online presence. For instance, The New York Times reported YouTube has become the home for a new generation of right leaning media, and how the “Youtube Right” has become a dominant political community. This means the internet is a much more politically diverse place for Generation Z than it was for Millennials.
A Generation of Young Outsiders
Of course not every individual will fit into this generalization. There will undoubtedly be solidly liberal, solidly conservative or neutral members of Gen Z. However, statistically Generation Z looks to be a generation of money-minded individuals who are skeptical of government power, yet socially liberal on a variety of issues. This categorizes many Gen. Z-ers as “Young Outsiders,” a group which according to the Pew Research Center, leans libertarian in its views. While this group isn’t solidly in one political party, they tend to lean Republican in their voting habits.
It might have been easy for some to proclaim a solidly liberal future for the U.S. while looking at Millennials. But now Generation Z is set to prove how quickly the public can change its worldviews in just one generation.
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