To fully understand how dramatically politicians in this country will move in the coming decade you need to look at the unique political positions of Millennials. On a range of top issues this generation is decidedly more progressive than the rest of the country. Even more important, as this generation gets older it is not moving towards the center, but growing more firm in its positions.
1. Marriage Equality – As far as the Millennial generation is concerned there is basically no debate over same-sex marriage. According to the recent WAPO-ABC News poll, an incredible 81 percent of adults under 30 think same-sex marriage should be legal. No other subgroup in the poll backs marriage equality more strongly. Younger adults are more supportive of same-sex marriage than Democrats (72%) or even self-identified Liberals (74%).
2. Marijuana Reform – Depending on the poll you are using young Americans are as supportive and even more supportive of marijuana legalization than they are of marriage equality. Quinnipiac found 67 percent of Americans under 30 think marijuana should be legal, a position which puts an entire generation to the left of the Democratic Party. Only 58 percent of Democrats think it should be legal.
3. Immigration Reform – While the politics of immigration reform is often viewed through an ethnic lens, there is also a big generational divide. According to Quinnipiac, 71 percent of adults under 30 support a pathway to citizenship, which is 14 points higher than any other age group. Surprisingly, the poll found a greater percentage of young people support a pathway to citizenship than do Hispanics (69%).
4. Climate change/Renewable Energy – While the generational divide on this issue is not as huge, young Americans are more concerned about climate change than any other age group. Importantly, when it comes to setting energy priorities, an overwhelming 71 percent of young people think our focus should be on developing renewable resources rather than more drilling. Once again this is an issue where young people are to the left of the Democratic base where only 64 percent think developing alternative energy should be our top energy priority.
These are just a few of the biggest issues young people are leading the way on but they are not the only ones. On many policy positions Millennials are well to the left of the Democratic base and official Democratic Party platform. On a few issues this generation is even more liberal than self-identified Liberals.
Soon the political system will be forced to start respond to the preferences of this generation which is growing in influence every day.
Photo by papalars under Creative Commons license