Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Generation Next

I’m working my way through this Pew survey report about young people today. So far (in my reading), the "bad" is that one-third of them have tatoos, they’re focused on fame and fortune, and 20% are atheistic or religiously unaffiliated, while the good is they tend to favor privatization of social security. Right now, they’re more Democrat than Republican, though that could change (we hope).

An interesting observation for those dissatisfied with George Bush’s America is that, across the board, people are pretty doggone happy: more than 80% in every age group report their quality of life as excellent or good, and over 80% say they’re very or pretty happy. But nevertheless, "the country" is going in the wrong direction. By what measure?

Discussions - 10 Comments

As a member of this newer generation (age 26)I will make you a deal... I will not complain about the direction of the country until you do...Once the complaints start we will talk of "measures"(or Ontological Structures). Of course I think Tatoos and a focus on fame and fortune are rather antipodal. How many people on the Forbes list have tatoos? Not that Tatoos are essential... In any case I wish more of my generation was focused on Fame and Fortune. I also don’t mind that a substantial portion are atheistic, I find it more honest than lukewarm christianity, superior to sincere Islam, and more coherent than new age Buddhism. In any case I want to call my generation the Poker Generation...or the Leadville Generation. And perhaps this Poker generation is turned off to the GOP only on the issues of the War in Iraq(althougth I would think that a large enough minority still supports it...large enough relative to the other age groups...) I think the Poker Generation is also turned off to the bans on Online Gambling... In essence then the Poker Generation (that was spawned in part by the Hockey strike) is more or less opportunistically Libertarian. We more or less want a laissez-faire government on social and economic issues...We aren’t necessarily socially liberal...we just don’t think reasonable dialogue is possible between ideologically or otherwise interested opposing sides...essentially being the Leadville generation we know there is only one way to solve these sorts of disagreements...Doc Holiday style...but killing people is uneconomical, and in the end because we have been to war we know that taking a life can have a greater impact on you than you might guess by playing Halo 2 on X-box live. So because killing everyone you disagree with is out of the question...or at best a theoretical option, it is far better to buy them a whiskey and then fleece em’ on the felt.

John Lewis, my older sons are around your age, actually, the second one IS your age. I think they would, mostly, agree with you. What you say here, We more or less want a laissez-faire government on social and economic issues is certainly true of them and their friends (many of whom are also my friends and like to talk about politics.) though the married ones who have children are more socially conservative. As your generation has more at risk, that’s the way it will go.


Joe, People, even those my son’s age, are worried about the direction of the country because of things like this or because of the threat of international terrorism, or the idea that just because life is good right now doesn’t mean tomorrow it won’t be all gone. Gen Nexters (what a stupid name. I like John’s better) have been taught in schools where the threat of global warming, or asbestos in the walls, or some kind of death by the hands of the careless, is always hanging, sword of Damocles-style (though they were probably never taught that reference.) They are highly attuned to the entertainment industry, including the part of that which produces what we call "news". That news industry seems to need to keep everyone agitated all the time in order to keep attention and commercial dollars. However, (maybe I ought to actually read that report and I’ll find I am wrong, but....) John’s Leadville Generation is cynical and jaded by the continual hype of the news media. All of the fuss cannot possibly be true, and sometimes isn’t. Sorting out what IS true from what isn’t seems hopeless, and the Doc Holliday option appeals, (I have had male students for whom the neutron bomb is an endless fascination and seems to hold the promise of a better tomorrow.) but as he says, is usually rejected. IS an apocalypse right around the corner or not? What good is a life plan in the circumstances?


I think the blended family thing is huge. Marriage is not seen as a dependable institution anymore. (As one son says, what can gay marriage do to the marriage contract that divorce hasn’t already done?) The fear or dread of making a commitment - will they get past that or is it a permanent feature of our society? The undependability of those closest to you just breeds a mistrust of the whole world.

“We are the people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.”

R.O.B., Oh my. I knew that sounded familiar, but had to look it up to see why. How funny, and what a good point.

For openers, maybe we could get everyone to correctly spell tattoos. I know I rank the misspelling of tattoos right up there with being atheistic or religiously unaffiliated.

Alright Kate... But I resent being called cynical and jaded... if anything the leadville generation is overly optimistic...we are like prospectors seeking to embody the California gold rush spirit. So we have some cynicism...but even when we fail to find gold...and instead discover poisonous lead we will find the silver linning(the whole history of leadville is the discovery of silver!). If anything we are rebelling against the Post-Modernists, the cry me a river Rousseauians. The Poker Generation knows one of one faith in particular...In the long run sucess is determined by how well you play your cards...luck factors itself out, which by the way was a dictum of Winston Churchill. I don’t look uncomfortably at the world I inherit. If there is a Canyon in my way I will build a bridge, if there is a mountain I will employ dynamite. I am Lockean and agree with Bacon either way you want to put it...Nature to be commanded must be obeyed or Nature to be obeyed must be commanded. The Leadville Generation watched McGuyver, we know that when the Sword of Damocles is swinging on a pendulum above us, we must employ any means necessary to thrawt the contraption and escape. As long as cooler minds prevail there is no Apocalypse around the corner. We also wish our parents wouldn’t quite worry as much as they do...If you can seriously ask the question by which "measure"?...Then you are with us. If you can see the good and the bad then do not trouble yourself with the want of Gold, focus upon the silver mixed with the lead. And if we must say a prayer then make it the first paragraph of the Serenity prayer: "God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."-Amen. Let me reiterate...the Serenity prayer is why the leadville generation is socially liberal.

John Lewis, no, you misread what I said, (though I like the response that provoked) The cynical jadedness was towards the news media’s presentation of the world as it says it happens. The news can make the world seem impossible to cope with, and I do know some of your generation who have just given up in the face of that, sunk in drugs and apathy, but not all, probably not even most. But those guys are a worry.


Life "McGuyver(sp?)-style" - I like that, but in that, I do not see a lot of planning going on. You guys DO seem to take things as they come. My new English class is in the afternoon and nearly all people within five years of your age, either way. Two, maybe three are ex-military. All are starting over, trying a new hand in the game. I love them already.

Paul A’Barge, how did tattoos get to be such an issue for you?

"‘We more or less want a laissez-faire government on social and economic issues’ is certainly true of them and their friends"

I think this tendency wanes as one gets older. Now at 37, I could have been fairly described as a "libertarian" at 27. However, the last 10 years has convinced me of the somewhat fragile nature of the "culture" that sustains itself, civil society, and good government. I am now firmly in the "Kirkean" conservative camp...

Let’s just hope that today’s youth don’t embrace "the cultural left," because, as Dinesh D’Souza points out in his new book, "The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11" that is the kind of thing that just INVITES attacks like the one Sadd...err...Al Qaeda carried out on 9/11. (Joseph - I’ll be looking forward to your review of this book!)

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