Generational Experiences Transcend the Partisan Divide?

The political divide in US politics does not affect younger generations of Americans, namely the Millennials and Generation Z, as much as older generations. From a Hamiltonian Federalist perspective, it is reassuring to know that young people in these United States still share a socio-cultural consensus that can be readily converted into political engagement in the future. I recently read the latest Harvard Youth Poll conducted by Harvard University from December 2021. Based on the sample studied in this statistical poll, “more than half of young Americans” are concerned about the ecological future and political destiny of the Union, with a “third of them fearing the prospect of another civil war.” Even more promising is the fact that the same poll cited young people (aged 18-29) from various political affiliations who consistently maintained that the Federal government is “not doing enough” to address contemporary social problems because the Democratic-Republican Party continues to demonstrates neither a plan nor a vision that accounts for their futures.  

The poll itself states the following conclusions in unambiguous terms:

“Only 7% of young Americans view the United States as a ‘healthy democracy’; 27% described the nation as a ‘somewhat functioning democracy,’ 39% as a ‘democracy in trouble,’ and 13% went so far as to declare the nation a ‘failed democracy.’

While Democrats are divided (44% healthy/somewhat functioning and 45% in trouble/failed) about the health of our democracy, 70% of Republicans believe that we are either a democracy in trouble (47%) or failed (23%). A majority (51%) of independent and unaffiliated young Americans also say we are in trouble or failed.

Overall, 57% of all 18-to-29-year-olds say that it is ‘very important’ that America is a democracy while another 21% say it’s ‘somewhat important.’ Seven percent (7%) say either ‘not very’ or ‘not at all important,’ while 13% don’t know. Seventy-one percent (71%) of college graduates agree that it is ‘very important’ that America is a democracy, but only 51% of those not currently in college, or without a college degree say the same.”

“Nearly half (46%) of young Republicans place the chances of a second civil war at 50% or higher, compared to 32% of Democrats, and 38% of independent and unaffiliated voters. Level of education (27% among college students and those with degrees compared to 47% for others) and whether young people live in urban (33%), suburban (33%), rural (48%) or small town (51%) environments are all significant predictors.

Similar patterns hold for those who think secession is likely. Overall, 25% rate the chances at 50% or greater.”

“Among young Democrats, President Biden’s job approval stands at 75% (-10 since Spring 2021), and it is 39% among independents (-14), and 9% among Republicans (-13).

President Biden receives the highest approval rating for his handling of the Coronavirus (51% approve), his lowest rating comes from his handling of gun violence (34%).

Still, 78% of those who voted for Biden in 2020 say they are satisfied with their vote.

Forty-six percent (46%) also view President Biden favorably and 44% unfavorably; the favorability ratings of others included in the survey are: Bernie Sanders at 46% favorable / 34% unfavorable; Kamala Harris 38% favorable / 41% unfavorable; Nancy Pelosi 26% favorable / 48% unfavorable; Donald Trump, 30% favorable / 63% unfavorable.”

The implications of the statistical data indicates that the shared experiences of younger generations do not necessarily reflect those of older generations. From the way I interpret the data, I am convinced that a new political consensus could be created whose legacy can and will be different from the one which defined the previous century. I know for a fact that my generation of Americans and the Millennials are more open to other ideas and different proposals. What has yet to be seen, however, is the overcoming of the apathy and disillusionment that prevents young people from being politically engaged. As I had learned from the historical experiences of the Federalist Party, political engagement should never be restricted to casting a ballot or running for office. Other forms should include proactive involvement in our country’s cultural and religious groups, in the civil service and in the armed forces. The Union has yet to build a professional corps of dedicated civil servants whose talents and experience can eventually form the new leadership which must lead the Federal government into the rest of this New 20th Century.  

Even more promising is the growing realization among Americans of my generation that the “Democrats” (Madisonian Faction) and “Republicans” (Monroean Faction) are not two parties but one party, which is the topic of a Pew Research Poll that was also taken in December. While there is still a sizeable majority of people who do recognize the differences of those two Factions, that same majority is also convinced that neither Faction actually caters to their interests, let alone their futures.

“Across all age groups, majorities of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the GOP represents the interests of people like them very or somewhat well. However, older Republicans are more likely than younger Republicans to say this: 84% of Republicans ages 65 and older say the GOP represents the interests of people like them at least somewhat well, compared with 59% of Republican adults under 30.

The pattern is similar among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Nearly nine-in-ten Democrats 65 and older (89%) say the Democratic Party represents the interests of people like them at least somewhat well. Democrats ages 18 to 29 are 24 percentage points less likely to say this.

Overall, younger adults in the United States are less likely than older adults to identify with a party – and more likely to identify as independents who lean toward one of the two major parties. Still, even among those who identify with a party, younger Republicans are less likely than older Republicans to say the GOP represents the interests of people like them well, and younger Democrats are less likely than older Democrats to say this about the Democratic Party.”

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