Forever Liberal

Ian Mitroff
3 min readNov 17, 2023

I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. You can “follow” me to never miss an article.

Conventional wisdom has it that young people start out being Liberal, but as they age and especially as they accrue assets, they become increasingly Conservative. Thus, when we are young, not only are we open to Change, but we seek it out.

In a scintillating Op-Ed, Jamelle Bouie takes sharp issue with this old adage[i]. In fact, a new survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago confirms that a Rightward Shift is hardily happening with younger voters as they age.

As Bouie says:

“…the gap in the number of millennials who Identify as Democrats rather than as Republicans is huge, with more than twice as many self-identified Democrats as Republicans. The next cohort on the roster, Gen Z, is even More liberal and Democratic than millennials and shows no indication of becoming substantially more conservative as it ages.”

As Bouie notes, we should be wary of talking about generations as uniform or monolithic in their attitudes or opinions. Nonetheless, he contends that the turmoil of the 2000’s, the rise of Right-Wing extremist groups that Threaten the rights of far too many, the 2008 recession, and a general dissatisfaction with life in the U.S. have led young Americans to openly display their discontent with Capitalism.

They are also greatly dissatisfied with a Conservative Supreme Court that is bent on taking away their rights. The Republican Party’s hostility to free and fair elections is also a hindrance. Still, no one knows for sure if they’ll change as they age. I for one wouldn’t bet on it. The Republican Party keeps getting more and more extreme.

In another Op-Ed in The Times, Rich Lowry, a noted long-time Conservative, takes on the Republican Party’s penchant for waring against itself[ii].

In his words:

“The conservative movement has warred against the party establishment since its inception. Conservative heroes like Barry Goldwater, Ronald Regan, and Newt Gingrich rose by arraying themselves against Republican powers that [they] considered too timid and weak.”

But by far, his most chilling comment is:

“The thinking of a lot of Republicans after [the two losses to Barack Obama] was basically, If you portray all our candidates as crude, unethical partisan haters, well maybe we should give you one [i.e., Donald Trump].” [Italics in original]

With the likes of Matt Gaetz, things have only gotten worse. And, there are no signs that it will get any better in the future.

By any standards, I am far from young. But I consider myself more Liberal than ever.

Postscript

The election of an Ultra-Right Conservative as the new Speaker of the House only confirms how bad things have become.

[i] Jamelle Bouie, “Younger Voters Are Tilting Left and Staying There,” The New York Times, Wednesday, October 25, 2023, P A23.

[ii] Rich Lowry, “The Right’s Purity Tests Are Haunting the House G.O.P.,” The New York Times, Wednesday, October 25, 2023, P A22.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.

Photo by Rob Wicks on Unsplash

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