Millennials are More Libertarian than the Political Duopoly Wants to Believe


As far as the David Frums and Paul Krugmans of the world are concerned, talk about a "libertarian moment" in

jonny goldstein / Foter / Creative Commons

America is baloney. Why? Because beyond legalizing pot, young Americans don't care about government intervention in the economy.

But this represents a serious misreading of the millennials based on cherry picked poll data, I note in my morning column at The Week. A careful reading of the Reason-Rupe polls shows that millennials are not some 1960s-style hippies who want to move to a commune, toke up, and read Das Kapital. "Indeed, they are aspiring entrepreneurs who want worldly success — along with legal pot," I note.

Millennials are children of the twin wars on drugs and terrorism. Hence, it makes sense that they care more about their personal freedoms and the growth of the surveillance state.

At the same time, the rise of the internet economy has shielded them from the worst excesses of government economic interventionism, making similar resistance unnecessary for now.

But that doesn't mean that they'll stay quiet forever as the government runs rough shod over their economic liberties. Their fight for legal pot might have only primed them for a future fight to keep the Internet economy free.

Go here to read the whole thing.

NEXT: Obama is 'the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation,' says Targeted New York Times Reporter

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  1. These articles always strike me as “Keep telling yourself that and you might start to believe it yourself”.

    1. Honestly, I just think the millennials answering these poll questions don’t understand what they’re answering. I’m pretty sure if you got specific like “should we raise taxes on the rich to pay for government projects?” Or “should the FDA have the power to stop drug production?” You would have 5% libertarians among the millennials.

  2. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  3. And yet Shikha, they constantly find a way to vote for the most progressive, big government programs and politicians every single time…imagine that!

    1. So Gary Johnson and Bob Barr were not to their liking?

      The two-party system is not giving them a real choice.

      1. One of the issues probably is the two party system, but even when it comes down to local projects, ballot initiatives where the individuals have a choice and all of the decision making power, we constantly (at least here in Cincinnati) see young people voting for higher taxes, more government regulations, etc. Every single time.

        1. OK, but that’s young people in every generation. If the young people of this generation do it less than those of previous generations did, that’s a plus. If they do it only as much as young people of previous generations did, that’s not bad.

      2. Let’s see how many of them vote for Rand in primaries, and then how many of them vote for White Squaw in primaries.

        Given the fact that Rand’s rhetoric is at least somewhat libertarian, and the Squaw’s rhetoric is decidedly leftist, that might shed some light on the subject.

        1. Just to be clear here, young people are almost always very much part of the ‘naive’ left. Even minor support of some of these issues indicates a shift in the right direction.

        2. An insignificant percentage will vote in the primaries, period. Thankfully the vast majority of young people don’t vote.

  4. Wait just a minute here… didn’t we just have this discussion? So because no one agrees, we have to have it again until someone agrees?

    1. It also helps if you keep repeating it inside your head.

    2. It’s just Shikha’s requisite poorly written poorly reasoned article of the week. You have to let her get one out there every so often so we can remember what bad writing is like. There is not hot without cold, no happy without sad, and no good writing without Shikha Dalmia.

      1. Shikha’s writing isn’t bad. Although this desperate attempt by Reason to paint millenials as being libertarian-ish needs to stop. For what it’s worth go read some of the crap on; Andrew Heller in particular is awful.

  5. Ok, there are a few libertarian millenials. But most of them are left leaning as they were programmed to be since age 4=6, or they are just apolitical, apolitical being well, typical of younger folks because iPads and iPhones are fun, politics not so much. Nothing to see here, let’s move along now.

    1. I had a friend who was 23 during the last election. She was all up on Obama until she heard about Gary Johnson and changed her vote to him. If you can be excited about Obama and Gary Johnson, you have absolutely no understanding of what you are voting for.

      1. What’s wrong with Gary Johnson, I voted for him.

        1. Nothing. I think black blood’s point is that Johnson and Obama’s views are completely at odds. So anyone who can get excited about both has no understanding of what one or both of them actually believe.

          1. Ah, makes sense, I’m slow this morning, time for another coffee…

          2. Either that, or we have no understanding. How do you know their analysis (which may rest on factors you’re unaware of or undervaluing) is the wrong one, and yours the right one?

            1. Either that, or we have no understanding. How do you know their analysis (which may rest on factors you’re unaware of or undervaluing) is the wrong one, and yours the right one?

              Not sure if serious…

    2. I’m 22, so I guess I’m a millennial. I grew up team red and gravitated over towards libertarianism because it just made more sense. I also have an iPhone, which is *indeed* pretty fun.

      1. I too am a millennial! Dodgers suck!

      2. Ok, you’ve learned more about politics than you have phones. You are a truly rare millenial, Los Doyers.

        1. I burned through three shitty Droids before I finally ran out of patience using taskkillers and memory managers. I’m still a Linux/Windows proponent in most computing, but iPhones are the best phones there are.

          1. Meh, I hate Apple OS in any shape or form. You should have bought a good Android phone.

              1. Ok, you Apple fan boys, ok…

        2. Blue crabs were delicious, btw. Although we did get stuck on that stupid separated area of the 95. Ended up in some tunnel and at a toll booth. But the nice toll lady let us make a u-turn free of charge.

          1. If you’re coming in from the south on 95, get off on 295 instead of continuing east, that will take you straight to downtown, no tolls.

  6. If all there is to being a “libertarian” is believing in pot, internet porn and Mexican ass sex, sure they are. I am not sure that fact is very reassuring though.

    1. Um – let’s not forget teh gai marruj, too, John.

      Pot, pr0n, Messicans and marruj – Quadralicious!

  7. Instead of “Millenials”, try that headline with “Demographic cohort that broke for Obama 2:1 in 2012”, as in

    Demographic Cohort That Broke for Obama 2:1 in 2012 are More Libertarian than the Political Duopoly Wants to Believe

    Or, if you want a little punchier headline:

    Voters who Re-Elected Obama are More Libertarian than the Political Duopoly Wants to Believe

    Revealed preference trumps stated preference. Every. Single. Time.…..83510.html

    1. This article published right before an article saying that “Obama is ‘the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation'”.

      Messaging problem, much?

  8. Let’s just make the wild speculation that in 2016, we will see a Rand vs. White Squaw in the general POTUS election.

    I truly believe that the one who gets the majority of the votes from millenials, the ones of them that actually vote, and that will almost certainly be a low number compared to the boomers, will vote for the one whom they perceive as the ‘coolest’. Seriously, we are talking about more physically mature tweeners here, that’s about it. Their brains really have not changed that much in the last decade, just keep that in mind.

  9. Just a thought, but maybe — just maybe — millenials (like any random assemblage of young people) are idiots with half-baked and undeveloped political views, and maybe you shouldn’t read too much into those views?

    (Arguably also a reason for why young people shouldn’t vote, but that’s another issue.)

    1. I was thinking that one thing that makes it hard to label a generation (which seems a mite collectivist for a libertarian publication, when you think about it, though trends and ALL SPEAK AS ONE are two different things) is that the young are rarely, as a group, very wise or thoughtful about things like politics and economics. That’s true of most generations. Equally true is that there are exceptions to that rule.

    2. “like a random assemblage of young people”


      1. That’s fair, but all else being equal people with life experience will be wiser about such things than people with no life experience.

  10. “But that doesn’t mean that they’ll stay quiet forever as the government runs rough shod over their economic liberties.”

    No, i’m sure there will be a hashtag campaign and selfies of people holding placards.

    1. “But that doesn’t mean that they’ll stay quiet forever as the government runs rough shod over their economic liberties.”

      This bothers me because there is no reason to believe they believe in economic liberty. Most people don’t.

    2. *holds up placard reading ‘#hashtagcampaign’*

  11. Why would anyone who posts their personal lives on Facebook, their hour-by-hour whereabouts on Foursquare and their personal information in cloud storage care about privacy issues?

    1. Yeah, what’s the difference between voluntarily sharing your information with friends and having it forcibly extracted from your e-mail without your consent?

      You may as well ask, “Why would someone who has lots of sex care about being raped?”

      1. What I’m saying is that the idea of personal space is being eroded voluntarily. Why rape someone who’ll put out without effort?

        1. That’s actually not what you said.

  12. So the 2 major parties believe that Libertarian Millennials are 0.5 percent of the population, and it turns out the real number is closer to 1 percent?

    1. Engineering rounding rules get you there…

  13. here’s my wishful thinking take on what people are missing: millennials are like all voters in that they’re incoherent overall and conditioned to view statist solutions as “good.” Unlike other voters, their living experience with politics is Bush and Obama. They’ve never really been given a good option on the right, but they’re susceptible to persuasion. The case can be made to them, if the right candidate is there. We all believe Rand is the guy who can “make the case” in the sense that no prominent candidate since Goldwater has really made libertarian arguments, and even Goldwater didn’t know how to make them palatable.

    The internet and the economy and the hilarious train-wreck of broken promises by Obama has not gone unnoticed by the millennial sycophants with the “fading ‘hope’ posters,” and they’re certainly going to be open to a dynamic candidate like Rand. Or at least open to listening to him.

    They’ll still largely vote prog, but enough will come over.

    The hard part is getting Rand the nomination first. If he can pull that off, then the libertarian quest to really change and influence one of the two major parties gets its biggest step in the right direction since… Coolidge I s’pose.

    1. and they’re certainly going to be open to a dynamic candidate like Rand

      They’re also going to be open to the insane leftist rantings of the White Squaw, the true coming savior of the progressive left. Obama failed them, but the White Squaw is the true one who was to come!

      Let’s see how this turns out…

      1. Hard to argue with you there.

        I just know (even though I was born in ’80) that the conventional wisdom in the 70’s, left, right, center, was that Reagan had no chance and no one would vote for the crazy cowboy “Ronnie Raygun.”

        But he just kept on smiling and making the case, and lo…

        Not saying Rand is Reagan, but they do share some things in temperament, which matters to voters. I believe Rand can charm millennials and persuade at least a good segment of them.

        1. That sounded like I like Reagan more than Paul. Far from it.

  14. Millennials want the government to ensure that everyone has a decent standard of living. Just like their parents and grandparents.

    1. Needy/proggy Millenials would be curled up in a corner if they had the standard of living of their grandparents.

  15. So what age/birth year range is exactly a millennial?

    While being born in the 90’s and onward definitely qualifies, what about earlier?

    I though I was Gen-X until I read varying definitions. Some early 80’s, some late 80’s, and apparently Pew research revised their definition to include the late 70’s.

    1. It’s funny how nobody ever talks much about we Gen-Xers. Maybe that’s because we’re a bubble of sanity between the two lunatics….the hippies and the hipsters.

      1. +1 Slacker

    2. There is no exact range. IMO, It’s pretty much bullshit invented by journalists.

      You can generalize about people at a given age, but any difference between young people now and young people 20 years ago is superficial at best.

      1. Upon further reflection, I wonder if “Millenials” isn’t just a way for baby-boomers to avoid feeling like cranky old men talking about the young whippersnappers with their hula hoops and mp3s.

  16. What is it with Reason and millenials?

    1. Because thinking that they have The Yutes on their side in a key part of the “libertarian moment.”

  17. They still have no problem voting for Democrats and Republicans though.

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