Politics

Millennials: The Sleeper Right-Wing Generation

Rise of the populist Right driven by young people more engaged and conservative than their parents

Millennials have a solid reputation for being self-absorbed, disconnected, infatuated with globalization, and incredibly liberal.

Paradoxically, however, millennials might also be the most right-wing generation in decades — and the last, best hope to save Western civilization from destruction at the hands of liberalism and globalization.

“High school seniors are more likely to identify as political conservatives now compared to 10 years ago.”

Much has been made about the rise of the anti-globalist, populist Right across the West. What hasn’t been much discussed is how free-thinking, patriotic millennials are a key component of this rise.

A 2013 report released by Demos and Ipsos MORI found that while 40 percent of Brits born before 1945 agreed that “the government should spend more money on welfare benefits for the poor, even if it leads to higher taxes,” less than 20 percent of millennials agreed. A YouGov poll taken that same year found that nearly a third of British voters aged 18-24 supported the U.K. Conservative Party.

Their French peers across the channel appear to be even more to the Right. A May 2016 poll taken by Ifop on behalf of France’s National Association of Boards of Children and Youth found that between 27 and 31 percent of French youth aged 18-25 supported Marine Le Pen and the right-wing populist Front National.

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In October of this year, thousands of French millennials joined in a march in support of La Manif Pour Tous, a French organization opposed to France’s recent legalization of gay marriage. These demonstrations have occurred yearly since 2013 and always have a significant millennial presence.

In Germany, youth support for the right-wing populist AfD is in part driving that party’s success. According to Berlin-based political research institute Infratest dimap, AfD was the first choice of 26 percent of voters aged 18-24 in the regional Saxony-Anhalt elections held in March 2016, compared with 16 percent for Angela Merkel’s CDU and only 11 percent for the Greens and SPD. Twenty-nine percent of voters in Saxony-Anhalt aged 25-44 supported the AfD.

The further east one travels in Europe, the more it appears that the millennials lean further Right. In Poland, millennial support for right-wing populist positions is incredibly high, as is opposition to mass Islamic immigration. Recently, Polish Independence Day has been marked by tens of thousands of young, patriotic Poles marching through Warsaw in opposition to unchecked migration and in defense of their culture and heritage. The 2015 march saw over 100,000 people in attendance, most of them young.

In Hungary, an astonishing February 2015 poll revealed that while 16 percent of Hungarians under 30 support the governing, national conservative Fidesz Party, another 20 percent of Hungarians support the far-right Jobbik Party, a political organization so extreme it can actually be compared to the Nazis.

So strong is right-wing populist, anti-globalist feeling among a large swath of Europe’s millennials that it has spawned its own pan-European movement — the Identarian movement, or Génération Identitaire, founded in France in 2012 to oppose mass non-European migration into Europe and its corrosive effects on European identity, demographics, and culture. The movement has active chapters in France, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Italy.

It’s hardly surprising Europe’s youth leans significantly more to the Right than American millennials. The people of Western Europe have had radical, positively revolutionary demographic changes forced upon them, and as a consequence have to deal with regular Islamic terror attacks and stagnant economic prospects, while the people of Eastern Europe know well the dangers of communism and can see plainly the damage globalization, multiculturalism, and mass migration have done to their Western neighbors.

“I’ve lived in this multi-ethnic society and seen its ravages, the dangers it poses for us, for the French. We’ve become passive, too accepting,” Génération Identitaire spokesman Pierre Larti told the Canadian Broadcasting Company this week.

But it would be gravely unwise to dismiss American millennials as a monolithic bloc of precious snowflakes drunk on progressive Kool-Aid. Indeed, the much-discussed yet barely understood Alt-Right in America is a movement composed mainly of millennials. Liberals may instinctively think of right-wingers and conservatives as an ever-shrinking group of old white men — but old white men don’t spend their time on 4Chan and Reddit sharing Pepe the Frog memes.

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A September 2016 paper published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, revealed that American millennials are more likely than either Generation X or the baby boomers to identify as conservative.

The report revealed that 23 percent of millennial college freshmen identified as leaning far Right, compared to 22 percent of Gen-Xers and only 17 percent of the baby boomers. “High school seniors are more likely to identify as political conservatives now compared to 10 years ago,” Jean Twenge, lead author of the study, told CNN in September.

“Most surprising, more identify as conservatives now compared to the 1980s, presumably the era of the young conservative.” But perhaps it’s not so surprising at all. Since the 1980s, society and culture has only lurched further to the Left — and every action has an opposite reaction.

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