According to the numerous polls, studies and surveys conducted on Millennials, we are a very progressive generation. This may not be very surprising to many since it is commonly believed that young people are always progressive, but then become more conservative as they age. However, this really isn’t true. It has been discovered that individuals develop their political views and voting patterns early on in adulthood, and maintain these political views and voting patterns during their lifetime. Thus, more than likely Millennials will largely retain our progressive views even as we age.
However, it is important to note that Millennials do not view progressiveness in ideological terms. To us, being progressive is more about wanting to move the country forward, to advocate change, to advance new ideas, policies and methods. Honestly, we see it more as a middle road to the two extremes that are butting-heads in our nation today. And in fact, the 2007 Greenberg Millennials study found that most Millennials are registered Independents and the majority support a third political party that fits between the Democrats and the Republicans. So we don’t view being progressive as taking a particular political stance, even if our views fit more with those of one of the two leading political parties today.
Social issues are where Millennials hold the most progressive views. In terms of homosexuality, interracial relationships, gender roles, immigration, and religion, poll after poll and study after study confirms that Millennials hold decidedly more progressive views than all other generations alive today, and in history. A majority support same-sex marriage, we almost unanimously agree that interracial relationships should be accepted by society, a large majority support equal pay and opportunities for women, we are the most likely to feel that immigration is a good thing for our country, and we are the most religiously tolerant generation alive today (and are also the most likely to believe in evolution while being the least likely to have strong religious beliefs).
Similarly, when it comes to the hot-button issues of healthcare and education, numerous polls, surveys and studies reveal that Millennials are more likely to support a universal healthcare system and to advocate for increased federal funding for education. In addition, Millennials are the most likely to believe that climate change is happening and is a major threat to our future. In fact, a large majority of Millennials want to see increased government action on climate change beginning now. With foreign policy and national security, a majority of Millennials want to see an increase in multilateralism and a decrease in military action. We also want to see human rights become a bigger part of our foreign policy. Finally, regarding the economy (which, like the majority of the nation, is our number one issue right now), Millennials are likely to support a progressive tax system, to want an increase in the minimum wage, to support free trade, and to believe that government regulations on businesses are necessary in order to keep them in check and to protect consumers. We are also very concerned about the exploding national debt, but we are less likely than the general public to want to keep the deficit down even if it means a slower economic recovery from the Great Recession (although 51 percent to 45 percent of Millennials are in favor of this option).
Not surprisingly, Millennials see ourselves and our generation as progressive. A 2007 Democracy Corps survey of 18-to-29-year-olds revealed that 77 percent thought that “forward-looking” and “progressive” well-described their generation. And when asked how well specific terms described how they see themselves, 93 percent chose “forward-looking” and 86 percent chose “progressive.” We also like change, and we want to see more of it in our country and around the world. In fact, a November, 2008 Pepsi Refresh Optimism report on Millennials found that we tend to embrace change, and 95 percent make positive associations with the word. The top words Millennials associated with change were “new” (79 percent), “progress” (78 percent), “hope” (77 percent) and “excitement” (72 percent). And according to the 2007 Greenberg Millennials Study, participants reported that one of the top defining characteristics of their generation is the ability to “embrace innovation and new ideas.”
Without a doubt, the progressiveness of the Millennial Generation will play a huge role in how we lead this country, and how we lead this country will be a big factor in how we form our legacy. We have grown up in an era where our nation’s dominance has declined, inequality both at home and abroad had increased and our government has been kept at a standstill from an increasingly heated partisan battle. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, therefore, that we want all of this to change…that we want to move the nation forward towards a more positive and prosperous future for all.
As the nation’s most progressive generation takes over, the United States and the world will begin moving in a new direction, and hopefully we won’t ever look back.
For information regarding the progressive tendencies of Millennials, visit the links below:
*The Pew Research Center has done extensive studies on Millennials over the years. They are a top resource for anything Millennial related.
*The Center for American Progress has conducted two in-depth reports on Millennials. They can be viewed here and here.
*The Harvard Institute of Politics does a biannual survey that tracks the political views of today’s youth. Go here to see a list of all the surveys dating back to 2000.
*The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans. Visit their website here to learn more.
There are many, many more polls, surveys and studies on Millennials besides what you see listed above. This is just the tip of the iceberg. However, the links above are some of the best resources that I have found regarding the Millennial Generation.