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Posted on Apr 15, 2009 in Conservatism, Ideology, Liberalism

Will Generation Y Redefine What it means to be Conservative or Liberal?

In Yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Concordia University Professor and former Republican Congressional candidate, Jim Burkee, had an interesting op-ed discussing role “Generation Y” could play in re-shaping American politics.

From the article:

In the first few months of his presidency, Obama has continued his full-court press for young voters, breaking protocol by giving Queen Elizabeth a loaded iPod, appearing on television and radio and expanding the White House’s Internet presence.

But the political loyalties of that coveted demographic are not yet decided.

While they seem to lean to the left, they’re actually more libertarian than liberal, a fact that will reshape the way we think about liberalism and conservatism in decades to come.

America’s Generation Y (born between 1980 and 1995) is the first to have grown up with the Internet, which leaves it the most liberty-loving generation since the era of Andrew Jackson. Liberty, the root of what meant to the founders’ generation “liberal,” describes freedom from control and interference, particularly by government. And there is no domain so free from government as the Internet.

What does it mean to have been weaned in an environment – the Internet – virtually free of government interference? Millions of Gen-Yers have grown accustomed to making purchases online tax-free. They download movies and music (much of it pirated), read their news online for free (to the detriment of print media), find recipes online and network with friends and relatives online.

In short, they love their freedom.

While I agree with much of what he is saying there, I do have to point out some disagreement with the beginning of his op-ed:

If exit polls and surveys prove accurate, there will be one demographic deeply underrepresented in Wednesday’s conservative “taxpayer tea parties,” to be held at capitols across the country: Americans between the ages of 18 and 29.

While in the eyes of many Americans that might seem like a safe assumption, personally, I don’t think it could be further from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that if it wasn’t for this demographic (and those who come close to falling in it), the tea parties that have been (and will be) held around the country wouldn’t have been as successful.

It was the Internet (the tool that Burkee rightly points out as one that has given our generation a unique footing politically) that has led to these movements becoming what they are today.

Luckily, most of us “Gen-Y” folks haven’t been politically active enough to be completely indoctrinated by one party or another. This means that if anyone is going to be able to call bullshit on those in Washington and in our states, it’s going to be us.

We’re young and we’re not huge donors, so most politicians don’t give us the time of day (unless they want free labor or websites built). This inherent bias and neglect gives us a perspective that many older Americans simply aren’t able to see… at least without our help.

Simply put, we get to see politicians for who they really are, first hand, because so many of them still don’t take us seriously.

While every generation was once young and had similar experiences, with the Internet, we have the advantage of being able to share our frustrations with millions of people in seconds, and quickly organize to yield change.

Yes my friends, change is coming America, and it’s going to come from us, Generation Y. Yes we can.

Let the classical liberal revolution begin