Is libertarianism a worldwide trend among young people? There are poll reports from the United States, Great Britain, and Turkey this week that point in that direction.
The College Republican National Committee put out a report finding that young voters are very much against excessive government spending (though they do support higher taxes on the wealthy) and are strongly in favor of gay marriage. They want to reform entitlements but see the Republican party as “closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.”
Meanwhile, the Economist, in an editorial titled "The strange rebirth of liberal England" (in an allusion to a famous history book), writes, "Young Britons have turned strikingly liberal, in a classical sense....The young want Leviathan to butt out of their pay cheques as well as their bedrooms." An accompanying article declares, "Britain’s youth are not just more liberal than their elders. They are also more liberal than any previous generation":
Young Britons are classical liberals: as well as prizing social freedom, they believe in low taxes, limited welfare and personal responsibility. In America they would be called libertarians.
More than two-thirds of people born before 1939 consider the welfare state “one of Britain’s proudest achievements”. Less than one-third of those born after 1979 say the same. According to [the long-running British Social Attitudes survey], members of Generation Y are not just half as likely as older people to consider it the state’s responsibility to cover the costs of residential care in old age. They are also more likely to take such a hard-hearted view than were members of the famously jaded Generation X (born between 1966 and 1979) at the same stage of life.
“Every successive generation is less collectivist than the last,” says Ben Page of Ipsos MORI, a pollster.
And finally comes this headline from the Hurriyet Daily News in Istanbul:
Protesters are young, libertarian and furious at Turkish PM, says survey
An online survey of 3000 protesters conducted by two academics found, among other things:
A majority of the protesters who completed the survey, 81.2 percent, defined themselves as “libertarian.” A total of 64.5 percent of the respondents defined themselves as “secular.”
Maybe this really is the libertarian moment. Students for Liberty attracted 1,400 attendees to its February national conference, and another 365 to a European conference in March. Now, as the Economist says, if only the young people will vote -- and the parties will offer them candidates.