Saturday, February 27, 2016

Millennial rightwingers - and more to come?

The current primary campaigns have brought lots of commentary on political authoritarianism (Trump, Cruz, really the whole Republican Party) and even some of self-consciously left-progressive ideologies.

The quality of the commentary varies.

Ned Resnikoff makes a contribution to this discussion with How young ‘liberal’ Americans could become racist right-wingers 02/26/2016. Resnikoff quotes someone who actually knows about far-right populism here:

David Neiwert, northwest correspondent for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told me that violent hate crimes tend to increase in areas that undergo “changes in demographics.”

“When there’s an increase in minorities, that’s when we tend to see these kinds of skinhead type crimes,” said Neiwert. “Or when you’re in a rural area and you have an influx of minorities, then you have people acting out what they see as a defense of their communities.”
Resnikoff is making a fairly broad argument, reflected in the title, that younger "Millennial" voters are open to racist, xenophobic, nationalist, authoritarian appeals in politics. And that this phenomenon can be seen in the US and in Europe:

Trump is not likely to spearhead a reactionary millennial front, but his success in the Republican primary—including among young GOP voters—is suggestive. It’s not difficult to imagine a near future in which young politicians adopt Trump’s flamboyant style and ideological leanings, while pitching their message specifically to members of their own generation.

Parties like Germany’s AfD and France’s National Front are already actively cultivating younger leadership. AfD has a youth-centric wing called Young Alternative, and National Front has elevated 26-year-old Marion Maréchal-Le Pen to become one of the youngest parliamentarians in modern French history. Expect Trump to draw in similar young talent through the force of his example.
By "Millennials," he apparently means people between 18 and 30, more or less. I guess I haven't been assuming that bad ideas and attitudes are restricted to particular age groups. Even though old white people in former Confederate states seem to be particularly receptive to them right now.

This statement from a few years ago still makes sense to me (Franklin Roosevelt, Radio Address to the Young Democratic Clubs of America The American Presidency 08/24/1935:

I, for one, am willing to place my trust in the youth of America. If they demand action as well as preachments, I should be ashamed to chill their enthusiasm with the dire prophecy that to change is to destroy. I am unwilling to sneer at the vision of youth merely because vision is sometimes mistaken. But vision does not belong only to the young.

There are millions of older people who have vision, just as there are some younger men and women who are ready to put a weary, selfish or greedy hand upon the clock of progress and turn it back. [my emphasis]

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