Pew: Young Liberals Losing Faith in Government and God

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 12:06 PM

By Andrea Billups

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Today's millennials lean left but distrust government, marking a political opportunity to cull their support, which is more libertarian and independent-minded than generations before them, a new study by the Pew Research Center shows.

The survey says that "Next Generation Left," born in the 1980s and 1990s, believes in a boot-strapping approach to life, The New York Times reported, citing Pew's political typology, "which sorts voters into cohesive groups based on their attitudes and values" and moves the discussion beyond the political contrasts of simply red and blue.

Such a new left encompasses voters who are quite socially liberal and relatively affluent, who support issues like same-sex marriage and abortion rights, but also have concerns about the costs associated with government programs. Their thoughts on affirmative action also forecast a shift of attitude toward race and success, Pew found.

"Perhaps the most staggering finding," the Times reported, was the "so-called 'next generation left', (which makes up 12 percent of the total population), is seven times more likely than traditional liberals — 68 percent to 10 percent — to agree with the statement that 'blacks who can't get ahead are responsible for their own condition.'"

Entrepreneurial and wholly capitalist, the new liberals have lived through the growth of globalization and "many have resigned themselves to its logic of everything being made in the cheapest place, with the cheapest workers, for the cheapest price," the Times reported.

In a Times opinion piece, Thomas B. Edsall writes that their attitudes have been shaped by what they have lived through, making their perspective unique among other liberals before them and creating what some see as a future schism for the Democrat party as younger voters fail to tow the party line of old.

"This is a generation of American young people who may be rightly suspicious of grand collective enterprises: they have watched a pair of flawed wars, a botched campaign against drugs, a failure to stem the worst financial crisis in decades, the end of the space shuttle program, endless Washington gridlock, the eclipse of state-provided technologies like home phone service and mail by privately provided ones like smartphones and email," the Times reported.

Among the other findings from Pew about the newest left: a majority (46 percent) do not think society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority, while 71 percent think relying too much on military force to defeat terrorism creates hatred that leads to more terrorism. More telling, 91 percent of Next Generation Left agrees that "it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values."

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