Harvard Researchers Claim Young Americans are Dumping Democracy

There is no doubt that 2016 was a crazy year from a political standpoint. In huge upset, voters in Britain voters chose to exit to leave the European Union which sent the markets spinning. And then Americans elected Donald Trump as President which shocked the world. And then In the country of Austria, the right wing populist candidate representing the Freedom Party barely lost the presidency to a 72-year-old opponent. 

Democracy Getting Canned Worldwide

We saw Turkey, who is a member of NATO and a possible EU member, was often referred to as a shining example of a very stable Democracy from the Middle East. Then the military currently engaged in a coup d’etat under the cause of “constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, and the rule of law”. The ensuing defeat of this coup led to a huge crackdown on journalists, academia, and even police officers.

democracyAll these factors have made the recent results of a brand new study about the world’s young people understandable. This study was conducted by Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk, and it has shown that young people have become increasingly un-democratic and un-liberal in their political views as to how a government should operate. In fact, they discover that just a third of millennials from the US view civil rights as essential to democracies, as compared to about 40% of citizens who are older. We have seen poll results on the topic are a little higher in Europe. 

The study also found that only 20% of US millennials agreed with the statement “a military takeover is not legitimate in a democracy”. And there was about 25% of American millennials who believed that democracy is either “bad” or “very bad” for any country, which is up about 10% from a poll that is 20 years old. And European millennials pretty much responded the exact same way.

Finding Out Why

Why do these young people think this way? The polls have almost always shown that younger people have a tendency to have these kinds of attitudes toward anti-liberal political views, when compared to their elderly counterparts. The fact is that these millennials are remembering only the time after which Francis Fukuyama made the statement “End of History” along with the triumph of Western Liberal Democratic Capitalism. To a large extent, they are probably taking the social order for granted and are not seeing the full issue of reduced liberties. They have no memory at all of the evil totalitarian regimes from the past – like their older counterparts remember.

In all fairness to them, these young people have witnessed several failures of democracy within their lifetimes. Americans who are at least 24 have witnessed seven different presidential elections within their lifetime. They have seen two of these elections lost by the candidate who won the popular vote. They have also seen four of these elections won by people who didn’t even receive 50% of the votes.

Likewise in the United Kingdom, there was a recent election where results were the absolute worst ever in history in terms of voting results when compared to who wound up getting into office. Only about 36% of total votes cast were actually cast for their Conservative party, who was able to form a majority government in the end.

It is easy to look at these political events and conclude that your political participation makes very little difference.