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Opinion
Adrian Wooldridge

Young Americans Aren’t as Woke as You Think

Beneath a left-leaning veneer, they continue to believe in the capitalist verities of competition, individual responsibility and earned success.

Republicans shouldn’t write off the young. 

Republicans shouldn’t write off the young. 

Photographer: Roger Kisby/Bloomberg

One of the few things that red and blue Americans can agree on in this age of pig-wrestling polarization 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. In my last column, I somewhat lazily quoted polling showing 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.