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Have young Americans woke-en up? Well, they’re not as liberal as ...

World

Have young Americans woke-en up? Well, they’re not as liberal as we think

Behind a façade of leftist ideals, they still believe in the capitalist principles of competition and earned success

Adrian Wooldridge

One of the few things that red and blue Americans can agree on in this age of pig-wrestling polarisation is that the young have turned sharply to the left — not just in the sense of the natural generosity (or naivete) of youth, but in a more profound and philosophical shift towards statism. One poll showed that some 40% of younger Americans preferred socialism to capitalism.

This belief in a leftward youthquake has had significant consequences. Republican operatives justify their embrace of grumpy old men on the grounds that the young are a lost cause. (The advertisements on Tucker Carlson Tonight suggest an audience in an advanced state of physical decomposition.) Their Democratic equivalents justify their economic and cultural shift to the left on the grounds that they are following future voters. And CEOs justify their increasingly progressive policies on the grounds that they need to recruit and retain younger workers.

It is easy to see why this assumption has taken root. Many young people are undoubtedly frustrated with the way the world works. Their frustration sometimes takes the form of praising “socialism”. Woke activists set the tone of universities and prominent corporations with their shrill certainties. Left-wing heroes such as senator Bernie Sanders and representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attract passionate young supporters...

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