Young voters, empowered by technologies that give them more choices than their parents, are fiercely dedicated to personal freedom, entrepreneurship, and finding their own path. They don’t look to corporations or government as sources of lifetime support, but only as way stations that they can tap as needed, and for a price.
Growing up during decades of cultural dynamism and political gridlock, young voters favor free enterprise but distrust both government and corporate power, and the more job experience they have, the less dependent on government they feel. Some 51% of those aged 18 to 24 and 64% of those 25-to-32 prefer “smaller government with fewer services but lower taxes,” according to a poll conducted in Summer of 2013 by inc./WomanTrend for FreedomWorks.
Three-quarters of the 18-to-32-year-olds said they believe current economic conditions can be changed by the federal government in Washington. But most feel that, during their lifetimes, the changes brought by Washington have been for the worse. Two-thirds believe their generation will be worse off than their parents’. Many are delaying buying a home, saving for retirement, starting a family and getting married because of the economy.
Young voters know there is a role for both corporations and government. But they don’t trust either. They distrust the motives of corporations, and the competence of government.
On Social Security, Medicare, student loans and other middle class government subsidies, young voters know that, either through government mismanagement or corporate self-interest, the programs are headed for disaster. Fully 90% of respondents agree with the statement, “We need to reform Social Security and Medicare now so that the next generation isn’t left cleaning up a huge mess down the road.” Some 58% say they would be better off if Medicare and Medicaid were reformed so they cost less in the future.
On student loans, CRNC suggests that “Republicans should offer a way forward that doesn’t just propose to subsidize the problem of sky-high tuition; they should offer solutions that would help make an education more affordable in the first place. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry has issued a challenge to institutions to create the “$10,000 bachelor’s degree,” and in Indiana, then-Gov. Mitch Daniels helped establish Western Governors University Indiana, a non-profit, competency based university developed by a bipartisan group of governors and education innovators.
An innovation agenda for higher education would do much more for the young than driving costs higher with even more cheap student loan money.