Those Non-Meddling Kids

For once, a new poll on the political attitudes of young Americans brings some good news.  The poll, “D.C.’s New Guard: What Does the Next Generation of American Leaders Think?”[.pdf]  is from the Brookings Institution, and it’s the subject of my Washington Examiner column this week:

“It’s a survey of the type of kids who run for student government and choose to spend their summer vacations working in Washington,” the authors explain, “youth who already have the ‘Washington bug’ and have set themselves towards a career in politics and policy.” In other words … creeps!

If you’re the rare bird who favors limited government at home and abroad, you can hardly expect good news from a poll of this generation’s Tracy Flicks*. After all, aren’t these just the sort of model U.N. types who’ve always wanted to run the world?

Maybe not: The Brookings study contains some surprisingly encouraging findings about the attitudes of our future policy elites.

When given a list of possible foreign policy actions and asked to prioritize them, our precocious politicos put “build a stronger military force to ensure deterrence” near the bottom. Moreover, nearly 58 percent of these “young leaders” agreed with the statement that “the U.S. is too involved in global affairs and should focus on more issues at home.”

Only 10 percent “thought that the United States should be more globally proactive.”

I’ve read a lot of polling data on the Millennials’ politics, and, from a libertarian perspective, they’re a mixed bag. On the plus side, they’re socially liberal, and totally uninterested in culture-war politics. On the minus, they exhibit higher levels of faith in government than do older generations, leading the Center for American Progress to call them “The Progressive Generation.”

But if, as the Brookings survey suggests, even GenY’s model-UN types don’t want to run the world, then the future looks less bright for neoconservatives than it does for libertarians.

* reference is to the Greatest Political Movie of All Time, 1999’s “Election”: