A new poll shows that a good portion of young people don’t value living in a democracy. The Democracy Project found that of the folks they surveyed, the millennial generation (born in 1982 and the two decades following) and Generation Z (the generation born after millennials) are the least likely to think it’s “absolutely important” to live in a democracy. Fewer than 40 percent of both those generations surveyed value democracy, while nearly 77 percent of those ages 65 and older say it is “absolutely important” to live in a democracy. However, the Democracy Project did find that “the vast majority of the American public wants democracy.”
These kinds of statistics, while disheartening, are more and more frequent. A 2016 survey by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that just over half of the millennials surveyed thought communism was a problem at all.
Not only is there a distinct difference between communism and democracy, but there are obvious age differences between the groups that value democracy and those that don’t. Those that value democracy most, folks 65 and older, lived through the aftermath of World War II, watching as Europe recovered from the Nazi attempt to take over. They lived through Vietnam, the collapse of Soviet Russia, and the destruction of the Berlin wall.
Older generations clearly recognize that while communism, socialism, and even fascism might sound good on paper, those philosophies rarely work out in government form very well. Instead of freeing and liberating people, encouraging a free market, and stimulating a high production of goods and services, governments that are not in some way democratic enslave, bind, belittle, and devalue the people who live there — and of course, then, the markets suffer too. (All one need do is look at Venezuela to see how that’s working out.)
Still, the fact that fewer than 40 percent of the young people surveyed who will soon be able to vote, raise families, and be a (hopefully productive) part of society value the very democracy that allows them to thrive is disheartening, to say the least. It’s unfortunate that as teenagers, their civics lessons, history assignments, and even family involvement haven’t taught them that the many things they value most are a product of living in a free market system that values the voice of the people.