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Not the One They Were Hoping For

Bliss it wasn’t in that dawn to be alive.

Mar 8, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 24 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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But what has most stymied the Millennial ascendancy is the persistence of ideological conflict. These consensus-seekers have found just how tenacious disagreement over values can be. Turns out the proper size and scope of the federal government is a value, too. Americans have now elected three consecutive presidents—Clinton, Bush, and Obama—who have promised to transcend old divisions and govern from the middle. And in each case, those hopes were dashed within months of Inauguration Day. Millennials are blocked. Their time is not yet.

Will it ever come? Of course. But it won’t necessarily be the liberal renaissance some pundits dream of. Over the last year, the proportion of Millennials who lean Democratic has dropped to 54 percent from 62 percent. Obama’s job approval among this group has also dropped, to 57 percent from
73 percent. So they are still on the liberal-Democratic side of things, but less so. And that may be the trend. As generations mature, marry, and multiply, they tend to grow more conservative. One of the reasons the Millennials are so liberal and Democratic is that so many of them are single and childless: Only 12 percent are married with children.

And if the Republicans embrace youth, technology, and diversity while emphasizing a free-enterprise agenda, they may be able to persuade Millennials that the Democrats do not have all the answers. In retrospect, the 2008 election might one day be seen not only as a harbinger of future politics, but as the moment when Millennial support for the Democrats peaked. The moment when great hopes crashed against rock-hard political and social realities. When a generation woke up.

This won’t all be Obama’s fault. After all, he’s a Millennial guy trapped in an old man’s town.


Matthew Continetti is associate editor of The Weekly Standard and the author, most recently, of The Persecution of Sarah Palin (Sentinel Books).



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