Why Millennials are More Libertarian Than Socialist

By: Jennifer Floyd

The recent buzz in social media has been the results of a poll conducted by NBC News/GenForward revealing than 71% of Millennials believe there needs to be a viable third party option.  As the largest political party outside of Republicans or Democrats, this potential influx of younger, more educated, and aware voters is the key to the future success of the Libertarian party. However, many believe that Millennials are more socialist than free-market, a thought that keeps people from even trying to reach out to them and introduce libertarian philosophy. One only needs to point out the successes of Bernie Sanders, campus protests, or the Antifa movement to declare them a lost cause.  But it only takes a moment to look at the underlying reasons why these movements gained traction to find that Millennials are more Libertarian than they realize.

They are the more Socially Tolerant generation

According to Medical Daily “millennials are twice as likely to identify as gay compared to adults of all ages” with 7% of Millennials identifying as LGBT. They’ve grown up in an era where it’s accepted, and they are less likely to be discriminated against by their peers to be open about their sexual preferences. In the workplace, they are more likely to prefer cognitive diversity – a group of mixed backgrounds, genders, races, and viewpoints to bring fresh ideas and discourse.

Millennials also strive for greater gender equality in the workplace, recognizing there is no such thing as traditional male or female roles. Women are earning college degrees at a greater rate than men, more men gaining access to paternity leave, the gender pay gap is disappearing, and women are not viewing themselves in direct competition with their male counterparts.

Above all, they are individualists, demanding the need to expresses themselves and their identity without having to conform to someone else’s ideal. Millennials crave freedom of thought and expression, and the ability to chart their own way regardless of gender, race or orientation. It is this mindset that often gets them branded as selfish or self-centered. However, this is a belief that everyone should have the right to chart their own way… sound familiar?

They are more Fiscally Conservative than their parents


They can’t survive if they aren’t.

Millennials hold an estimated $1.1 trillion of the country’s $3.6 trillion in consumer debt, most of which is student and auto loans. They must shackle themselves with massive debt just to have the means to earn a living in an era where jobs are harder to get and overall, not only pay less, but have less buying power. Almost 40% of Millennials work more than one job to make ends meet. The result is Millennials are much more savvy consumers; they wait for the right deals and search for the lowest prices.

This makes Millennials more educated consumers as well as more conservative in their balance sheets. They are not only aware of what products a company offers, but how much they do for their communities and their sources of income. In an era where capitalism has earned a negative reputation, it is really the level of corporatism that will drive a Millennial away. The level of charitable giving by a corporation and their involvement in government bailouts and tax breaks is very important to them.

They are the next Volunteer Generation

Even though they are perennially in debt and are working their tails off just to keep ahead, they still find time, and money, to support causes. An amazing 70% of Millennials spend at least an hour volunteering their time to a cause they care about; a full third will spend 11 hours or more. They are a very idealistic generation, and since they don’t have a lot of money to invest, they turn this idealism into action.

What money they do have, they share, but in their own way. 78% donated money to causes outside their workplace, according to a Reason-Rupe poll.  The connectedness of their lives through social media has lead to the rise and success of sites like kickstarter, patreon, etsy, and gofundme where budding entrepreneurs and people in need can appeal directly for assistance. This holds great appeal in an era where it is easy to find how much of a donation gets used for its intended purpose.

So, why are they branded Socialist?

The apparent preference of single-payer insurance, government-funded education, mistrust of capitalism in general, and big business specifically shown by Millennials certainly gives the appearance of preferring socialism, but what’s really going on here?

Analysis of various surveys of Millennials by fee.org paints a different picture. Millennials are looking for value in an economy that left them struggling. Their reliance on public transportation, uses of sharing services like AirBNB, Uber, peer-to-peer file sharing, and reduction of personal consumption aren’t necessarily indicative of a shift to the far left in ideology. Rather, it’s an act of necessity based on dealing with the recession waiting for them as they entered the workforce. Millennials don’t eschew capitalism; they rely upon the free-market to make their money go as far as possible. The problem might be they don’t know it.

In a rather panicked article by the Washington Times, survey results from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation reveal Millennials would prefer to live in a communist, socialist, or even fascistic society, admire communist notables like Che Guevara, and wouldn’t mind being called communist. But, in the same article it is revealed that these same Millennials couldn’t correctly define neither socialism nor capitalism as well as other age groups or the overall survey group in total.  The National Review carries this into conspiracy territory by declaring that Millennials were “brainwashed” into this way of thinking by their college professors.

Taken together, this paints a seemingly bleak picture of an endless increase of spoon-fed, ignorant, safe-space hugging, SJW’s marching to the oblivion of capitalism with hands stretched for charity. The problem is that’s too outrageous to be true. Between left-leaning publications declaring this a victory and right-leaning publications crying it’s the end times, there can be found the truth.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s article in Reason’s Hit and Run blog breaks it down into a clearer picture. Millennials are fed up with the current economic and political situation. The support for Bernie and, yes even Trump, can be attributed to the idea that to shake things up, bold steps need to be taken. The hype that this is an indicator of growing socialism is just that – hype.

Millennials aren’t buying the narrative of the duopoly and are looking for better options. These folks who prefer a free market, individual expression, and social tolerance are looking for a home where their idealism and drive to volunteer are treasured and needed. They desire government that is going to get out of the way of innovation and job growth while not wasting their money through overtaxing and regulation. They recognize what a person has to offer is far more important than their skin color, gender, or sexual orientation and will step up to defend others against those who think otherwise. They want an end to corporatism where Big Business and Big Profits go together with Big Government.

In other words – they’re libertarians. They just don’t know it yet.

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