At The American Conservative, author and professor Paul Gottfried examines Alex Muresianu’s case for improving Millennials’ relationship with the GOP by putting forward plans that would lower the cost of housing, one of the generation’s greatest worries. Gottfried doesn’t say the plan won’t help at all, but he points to deeper reasons Millennial Americans don’t feel well represented by the GOP platform. As evidence for what makes Millennials lean to the right politically, Gottfried puts forth Eastern Europe, where the young are homogeneous, less urban, and more family oriented than their American peers. The heavy participation of Millennials in Hungary’s Jobbik Party and France’s Rassemblement National are concrete examples. He writes (abridged):
In a recent article at TAC, writer Alex Muresianu put into relief the difficulties that lie ahead for the GOP as it seeks to capture a larger chunk of the Millennial vote.
In the 2018 elections, voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for Democrats in House races by a margin of 35 points. Tellingly, Millennials who attended college were more likely to vote Democrat than those who didn’t. As a retired professor, I can attest to the immersion in leftist ideas that a college education, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, brings with it. But however we look at the demographic under consideration, the disparity in voting preferences cited by Muresianu remains quite noticeable.
Muresianu proposes that Republicans endeavor to reduce “income inequality” in part by making it easier to live in urban areas. Because of controls on who can build what in certain cities, which are invariably run by Democratic administrations, Millennials, who concentrate in those cities, are paying more for housing and rentals than they otherwise would. If more abundant and cheaper housing were available, those urban residents might reward the Republicans who helped bring this about by changing their party affiliations.
Pardon my skepticism. For one, people tend to make their electoral choices for cultural and sociological—not just material—reasons. Further, it seems unlikely that policies, even ones as popular as affordable urban housing, can shake political loyalties that run so deep.
Let’s look at non-economic factors. Black voters are not rushing to embrace Donald Trump because he improved their employment prospects (unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2006). As a bloc, black voters loathe the president and prefer Democrats who—though they might not be much help financially—still appeal to their view of themselves as an oppressed minority.
Millennials vote for the Left because they have been conditioned to do so by social media, educational institutions, and their peers.
This doesn’t necessarily hold in Europe, where some young people are more inclined to vote for the Right than they are here. In France, the Rassemblement National is building its base among Millennials; a similar trend can be seen at work among populist Right parties in Eastern Europe. In Hungary, the favorite political party among university students is the very far Right (I don’t use this term lightly) Jobbik Party. But there are also variables at work in Europe that have helped make the young more conservative: less urbanization in some countries than is the case here, a high degree of ethnic and racial homogeneity, and the persistence of traditional family and gender relations are all factors that counteract the cultural-political radicalization of young adults.
In the U.S., we may have reached a perfect storm for this radicalization, because very few of the countervailing forces that continue to operate in other societies are present here. This is not to even mention the giveaway programs (masquerading as “socialism”) that the Democrats have promised the young. How can Republicans match such largesse?
Moreover, a growing percentage of Millennial voters are multiracial and generally tend toward the Left. A study by the Brookings Institute in 2016 indicates that no more than 55 percent of those between 18 and 34 are white. It is hard to imagine that these non-white young voters, who are now solidly on the Left, will embrace Republican politicians because they promise to free up the urban rental and real estate markets.
Read more here.