And Now…The Other Side of the Story?

Yesterday, I posted about the newest crop of crazy running for what used to be a serious Congress. That post unleashed a lot of angst, doom and gloom in the comments. But now–as Paul Harvey might have said–for the rest of the story.

Because there are glimmers of hope.

From Pew:

But in addition to the generation’s Democratic tendency, Millennials who identify with the GOP are also less conservative than Republicans in other generations: Among the roughly one-third of Millennials who affiliate with or lean Republican, just 31% have a mix of political values that are right-of-center, while about half (51%) take a mix of liberal and conservative positions and 18% have consistently or mostly liberal views. Among all Republicans and Republican leaners, 53% have conservative views; in the two oldest generations, Silents and Boomers, about two-thirds are consistently or mostly conservative.

In short, not only are Millennials less likely than older generations to identify as Republicans, but even those who do express significantly less conservative values than do their elders.

The generational divisions among Republicans span different dimensions of political values. Some of the most striking generational differences within Republicans concern social issues like homosexuality and immigration, but younger Republicans are also less conservative when it comes to values related to the environment, role of government, the social safety net and the marketplace.

It isn’t simply changing attitudes. From The Guardian:

Two high schools in Colorado canceled classes Monday after dozens of teachers called in sick in protest of a conservative school board’s proposal to change the history curriculum.

This is the second such teacher sick-out in two weeks and comes on the heels of student walk-outs over the issue. At the two high schools where sick-outs were staged, Golden and Jefferson high school in Jefferson County, 73% and 81% of teachers called out, respectively.

Add in the spread of “Moral Mondays,” the efforts of moderate and liberal Christians to take back their religion from the kooks and theocrats, the successes of the “Flush Rush” campaign, the frustrations expressed by the Occupy participants, and hundreds of other indicators, small as they still are, and we do have evidence that the pendulum is about to swing.

The question, as several commenters noted yesterday, is whether that swing will be soon enough to save the nation from irrelevancy and decline, and strong enough to overcome the structural barriers that have been erected by the plutocrats.

Pete often ends his comments here by saying “I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

Me either.


  1. Two questions about these Millenials who allegedly “identify with the GOP”: (1) do they vote, particularly in primaries? And (2) is there a difference between today’s “less conservative” Millenial-GOP’ers and their predecessors … In other words, are today’s liberal Millenials who claim GOP affiliation any different than today’s older kooks/ultra right-wingers were when they were younger? Are today’s GOP crazies yesterday’s more liberal/hopeful youth (who nonetheless moved to the right as they got older)?

  2. I fear the glimmer of hope may remain just that—a glimmer. As long as big moneyed interests continue their grip on our politicians, we’re hosed.

  3. I guess other questions are how do they act in the voting booth, and do they ever get there? My gross impression of millenials is one of a 20-something slowing traffic while they chat or text. May not be relevant to his discussion, but I’m not sure.

  4. It’s a slow motion race. The damage done by conservatism vs the recovery process of the national pysche. Or perhaps there is an Ebola analogy. The Ebola virus’s will to multiply vs the CDCs army of technology trying to create a world decidedly hostile to them.

    My surely not unbiased opinion is that freedom will win in the end but the damage before then will be extensive. (It already is.)

    A measure of that progress is in the growing recognition that the conservative denial of climate science is not just another opinion to which those who choose are entitled, but pure, simple ignorance, undefendable by any rational process. As the seas rise around us, as our infrastructure relocation bill rises, as our insurance spreading risk from extreme weather recovery goes from expensive to outlandish, as fossil fuels become more unaffordable due to both high demand and shrinking supply and accounting for the real cost of carbon, people who claimed “no problema” will be increasingly revealed as the problem, not the solution.

    The cross that we will have to bear though is the cost of ignorance. Avoidable trillions of dollars and millions of lives lost to allowing others to think for us.

    We can only hope that this expensive lesson prevents some recurrence.


    “Given the diverse sources of news now available in the U.S., partisans can easily choose news sources that align with their political attitudes. Does the rise of partisan news—on cable, talk radio, and the Internet—allow Americans to insulate themselves in “echo chambers” where they are exposed only to content consistent with their opinions, while shielded from dissenting views? If so, this may reinforce partisans’ existing attitudes, making it increasingly difficult for policymakers and the public to achieve mutual understanding and compromise on the most pressing issues of the day, including climate change.”

    “Do the media influence audience beliefs, or are audiences simply drawn to outlets that support their pre-existing views? Recently, communication scholars (e.g., Slater 2007) have proposed the “reinforcing spirals framework” to describe a dynamic, mutually reinforcing spiral of influence between media sources and their audiences. Our study applies this framework to examine Americans’ responses to global warming. Specifically, we test the relationships between media use (conservative and non-conservative), global warming beliefs, and support for climate change policy over time.”

    “We find that partisan media sources do influence individuals’ beliefs about global warming. Specifically, use of conservative media sources such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh is associated with the belief that global warming is not happening and greater opposition to climate policies, whereas use of non-conservative media such as network TV news, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR is associated with the belief that climate change is happening and greater policy support. In turn, audiences’ beliefs about global warming drive them to select media outlets that support their perspectives, which further strengthens these views over time in an ongoing, reinforcing cycle. We also find relatively stronger reinforcing effects for conservative media than for non-conservative media.”

    “The findings demonstrate an “echo-chamber” effect by which partisan media outlets, especially conservative sources, maintain their audiences. They provide consistent political messaging, which influences political beliefs, and these beliefs in turn drive people back to supportive news sources and away from opinion challenging media, in a repeating cycle. This may be further exacerbated by conservative media’s attempts to insulate their audiences from opposing views—in part, by denouncing the mainstream media (i.e., other news sources) as liberal, biased, and not to be trusted.”

    – See more at:

  6. I would like to be hopeful about the younger generation, but I am not. My generation of boomers started out with more liberal views and an interest in civil rights and issues around inequality. We have aged into selfish, luxury-seeking entitled people who lack compassion.

  7. Well perhaps, Patmcc, but then there have been a number of times when we’ve assumed that attrition through demise would bring us into a wonderful new era (can we say “Peaceful and Perpetual New World Order after the collapse of the Soviet Union?), only to find that as David above seems to suggest , hardening of the arteries and/or softening of cranial superstructures simply produces another crop of the same type of craziness before the Grim (and maybe Grinning) Reaper makes his or her final visit.

    Sometimes I think that “the long arc of history” simply keeps on bending towards itself, ultimately become a circle, if not a rather disappointingly flabby and senile oval.

  8. In my experience, the Millenials are less likely to read newpapers or magazines, either in print or online, less likely to watch any news commentary that isn’t billed as entertainment, know less about history and civics and more about celebrities and the latest facebook/twitter etc. cause du jour and have less engagement with their communities than older generations. As a rather trite but telling example, look at the number of them that put their trash out on the regular pick up day in a week that has a Monday holiday. They have no clue as to when trash will be picked up nor do they notice that other neighbors do not have their trash out on the curb. I know. It may be silly but sure is revealing of the mindset.

  9. Wow, we can only hope the younger GOP types are less reactionary. As a Baby-Boomer I guess I isolated myself as the vast majority of the Baby-Boomers I know were from Liberal side of the spectrum. I did have some relatives that were comfortable with the New GOP. Since retirement I have discovered the angry, frightened, Bible Thumping reactionaries among the Boomers. I have discussed this discovery with my friends, and Liberal relatives. I wonder where these reactionary Boomers were during the 1960’s did nothing about that era soak in??? The 1960’s and the freedom to protest against the “System” was exhilarating to me. Some people may see freedom as a threat and revert to a containment shell, where there are black and white rules, and a hierarchy to define the rules. Perhaps that is why they are called Reactionaries.

    One part of these Reactionaries that is a puzzle. They seem to have a huge distrust of certain parts of the Federal Government such as EPA, or even CDC, but see no threat at all from the Wall Street-Security-Military-Industrial Complex.

    I was thrilled to see the Students involved the protests in Colorado. I see hope.

  10. “My generation of boomers started out with more liberal views” Oh heck no, for every one of us who was a hippie there were fifty who stayed on the farm and grew sugar beets. You are talking about a HUGE number of people; we flooded every niche. It seemed we were all cool because you never heard from Cousin Eustace back home who thought hippies were probably scaring the goats, or Eppie who went to church six days a week.

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