The Millennials—America’s First Post-Ideological, Post-Partisan, and Post-Political Generation

Posted by: eric on October 21, 2008 at 7:34 pm

A new generation is poised to seize the reins of history. It’s a generation unique in history—the Millennial generation. Born between 1978 and 2000, the Millennials currently include 95 million young people up to 30 years of age—the biggest age cohort in U.S. history.

The Millennial generation has already begun to emerge as a powerful political and social force. They are smart, well-educated, open-minded, and independent—politically, socially, and philosophically. They are also a caring generation, one that is ready to put the greater good ahead of individual rewards. (Hence our preferred name for them—“Generation We.”) And they are already spearheading a period of sweeping change.

For our new book Generation We, I sponsored a major research study into the characteristics of the Millennial generation. It was conducted by Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications, one of the most respected research organizations in the U.S., and included both extensive oral and written surveys and a series of in-depth focus groups. The Greenberg Millennials Study (GMS) offers the most detailed portrait available of the attitudes and values of today’s youth, and we’ve supplemented it with extensive research into other indicators of the behaviors and beliefs of the Millennials. Here’s some of what we found.

First, by comparison with past generations, Generation We is highly politically engaged. Voting turnout is one marker of this trend. In the 2004 election, the 18-24 year-old age group, completely composed of Millennials, increased their turnout 11 points to 47 percent of citizens in that age group, while 18-29 year-olds—dominated for the first time by Millennials—increased their turnout nine points, to 49 percent. These increases were far higher than among any other age group. Further increases occurred in the 2006 elections.

As a result, Generation We is already beginning to make its influence felt—and that influence is heavily leftward-leaning. If young people ruled America, Kerry would have won by a landslide in 2004, claiming 372 electoral votes to 166 for Bush. And in 2006, Millennial voters (then 18-29 years old) favored Democrats for Congress by a margin of 60 to 38 percent. They (not anti-Iraq-war-voters) were the swing voters who delivered Congress to the Democrats.

Yet though the Millennials lean Democratic, our research demonstrates that they’re far more wedded to progressive political and social views than to any party. More Millennials in our study described themselves as independents (39 percent) than either Democrats (34 percent) or Republicans (24 percent). And on issue after issue, from the economy to global warming to the war in Iraq, the young people we surveyed favored progressive solutions even as they rejected both “conservative” and “liberal” labels.

Generation We is also eager for political, social, and economic change. Our GMS asked Millennials whether their generation was more likely or less likely than earlier generations to be characterized by various attitudes and behaviors. Over three quarters

12 Responses to “The Millennials—America’s First Post-Ideological, Post-Partisan, and Post-Political Generation”

  1. tea Says:

    i was touch!
    i saw the video and i love it!
    it is a great mission that you are have before all of you. so how can i join? i am not from US, but i have the same opinion like we-generation and i like to do something! maybe because i am one of that generation, born in other country. by the way i am from Macedonia. can you tell me how can i do something?
    the goal is suppose to be not just for USA, but for the whole world. i think that is the way the world to see that you are not arrogant and greedy nation.
    i hope that you will make that possible!

  2. Shelley Schweizer Says:

    Please don’t forget to include the Gen-We who were born with or developed during their childhood disabilities. This, too, is a sign of our time. This group of differently-abled remarkable indviduals is perhaps the most overlooked and undervalued population of people on the globe. much love, Shelley

  3. Innovation Investments: Who is Gen We? « Fitness for the Occasion Says:

    [...] addition to the .org address, Gen We has a .com address has a blog, where the first post is titled The Millennials—America’s First Post-Ideological, Post-Partisan, and Post-Political Generation: Yet though the Millennials lean Democratic, our research demonstrates that they’re far more [...]

  4. Christina Urso Says:

    I just recently learned about Generation WE, and I am hungry for more! It’s so empowering to know that there is a generation with such clarity about what’s not working and understanding for what needs to be handled differently and at the same time portraying such high values. I’m telling everybody I meet about Generation WE and I encourage them to go to the website. I’ve started reading the book and my heart is opening. I want to know what I can do…
    Many Blessings,

  5. Nick Gurnick Says:

    I am a baby boomer. I am also a Canadian. In my nearly 60years of life i have come to realize that this continent we live on is more than 2 or three countries. We are dependant on each other for many things. I have come to believe that What is good for you also helps us. I also agree that those in power should look for new innovative ideas. This is not just to do with the oil crisis or foreign trade. I see your generation as the people with both the technical ability & the willingness to start a great change that could save this planet from destruction. I back Gen We all the way. You get the ball & you run with it. GOD bless.

  6. Imagine2020 Says:

    I’m also hungry for more and I loved reading the post from Tea on October 25th. WE are a global generation. I’m infatuated with what I learn from the cultures outside of my own and I am sure that WE will do something wonderful. I’m sick of feeling helpless while a dictator sits on a thrown making decisions that effect me, but more importantly they effect my CHILDREN and the Children of the world! This is our country and I’m over come with joy at the possibility that together WE will rise up and take it back while simultaneously reaching out to accept help from and offer help to our brothers and sisters of the world!

  7. Jake Says:

    Anyone who calls my generation of media- and marketing-saturated, critical-thinking-deprived teens “post-ideological” clearly has no clue what the word “ideology” means. Actually, come to think of it, any use of the term “post-ideological” denotes nothing but a speaker who doesn’t understand his own terminology. But, given the “we tell you what you think” tones of the site, I’m guessing a discussion of critical Marxism and psychoanalysis is beyond the scope of this comment.

    But just to note: There is nothing non-partisan about this site, or the politico-corporate machine that it is one of several recently constructed fronts for. It’s full of nothing but DNC plugging, Bush bashing, and not-so-subtly conformist rhetoric aimed at young people.

    I see no articulation of a coherent set of ideals or principles, no discussion of political philosophy or actual radicalism, no concrete policy analysis. Just a bunch of hot air, and a discursive laundry list of positions we are told our generation believes.

    Thanks for telling me what I think, Eric. I’ll keep that in mind when I’m deciding what prefab ideological conditioning to buy.

  8. GenME Says:

    I can’t help but see this as a sham, as a whole. I believe that there are plenty of people out there that do truly care about what comes next in this world, but too largely, I see the opposite. Our generation (I was born in 87) has been the most marketed to generation in history, although the next generation (1990+) will probably, and most likely already has, take that distinction. The problem is that youth, in a very generalized sense, care much more about the ME than the WE. I support and believe in our generation and I believe that the best change will come from us, but I do also think that while we’re the most connected, the most politically aware and over the most open minded, our generation still remains the best consumers and the best wasters. People who are now between the ages of 18 and 25 have had the most compulive spending habits than anyone else before–we buy more junk without questioning it. We’ve become brand loyal, too many have stopped questioning whether or not their purchases make a difference in the long run. We’re entering a state of being where water in Africa is paid via meter, yet we still buy and throw away bottled water by the tons. We’ve turned public schooling into a joke when kids in remote regions of Pakistan can virtually hold sessions alone without instruction and without someone telling them they have to.

    My point is this–this generation is consumed by facebook, myspace, youtube, etc and we care too much about how we look than what we actually think or believe in. We pick the best, most flattering, most “character revealing” pictures we can find to show to the outside world, yet we’re lonely and crying for attention.

    My solution: quit facebook and all of these other things. Call your friends, meet in person, abandon the senseless things that do not make you anymore friends and which do not bring you closer to humanity. Rid yourself of consumerism as much as possible, live more simply and with less complication, less “stuff” and less concern on your individual life. I quit all online networking sites at the rise of it all and after the first couple of days I saw the poisoning of it all, I saw the waste of time and I become sick of the “status setting” conversations around me. You’d be amazed–try it.

    Generation WE is surrounded by exchange of IDEAS, not IMAGES. Share your mind with strangers, not your pictures. Like I said, I belive in Generation We, I just don’t believe that the majority of our generation actually fits under this title.

  9. Rapson Says:

    I’m a GenWe from Canada, born in 1980. These posts are actually proving the very point Eric is making. We will not be told. It is our individual self-obsession that leads us to put the greater good first. We don’t want to see ourselves as greedy, arrogant or self-interested. We definitely don’t want anyone else to see us that way. However, we’re savvy and cynical enough to know authenticity or insincerity when we see it. We’re self-aware and we know we can’t fake anything. We couldn’t respect ourselves any more than anyone else could respect us if we did. We hate fakers. Kurt Cobain, Millie Vanillie, Exxon and marketing taught us that. We know that if we’re going to put ourselves under microscopes and love what we see as much as we want everyone (including ourselves) to love us, we’re going to have to walk the talk. That’s why Eric is right.

  10. Bonnie Says:

    I loved reading this and I dont really like to read :)

  11. Gadhadh Says:

    I will be sure to bookmark your site and check later.

  12. Abraham Manker Says:

    I have to say this is the third time I have come across your blog and I am loving it! I added your website to my rss reader. Cant wait to see more blog posts!