January 18, 2023

Reaching the Next Generation

Our younger generations don’t seem to have the same love for America and its institutions as their elders had. But all isn’t lost.

Being misunderstood by one’s elders is as much a part of growing up as is misunderstanding young people when one is growing old. That’s life. It’s also true that young people tend to be more liberal than their parents and grandparents. They also tend not to have an inherent respect for our institutions. Recognizing these realities makes it easier to understand the disconnect that takes place between generations.

Unfortunately, what we’re currently experiencing is more than just the growing pains of a younger generation. A recent poll found that just 16% of Generation Z (defined here as people born 1997-2012) say they are “proud” to live in the United States. That’s frightfully low compared to the generations that preceded them. Baby Boomer (born 1946-64) pride was 73%; Generation X (born 1965-80) 54%; and Millennial (born 1981-1996) 36%.

What’s most troubling about this lack of connection among younger generations is that it no longer seems to be improving with age. Looking back, perhaps no generation was less proud of America than young Boomers were. These children of the 1960s rebelled against everything from fashion and music to politics and the culture itself. Gen X youth were aloof and cynical, and not disgusted with the institutions of their elders so much as blatantly uninterested. Both generations, however, matured and stepped into the role of stewards of our country as nature intended.

But Millennials and Gen Z are another story. They may be the least conservative young generations in history. They do not exhibit the same interests as prior generations at their age. They possess entirely different viewpoints on home ownership, career advancement, the value of money and savings, getting married and building a family, even leisure and pastimes.

The lack of patriotism and the sharp, even dangerous, lack of respect for our institutions are certainly byproducts of woke culture and the intended products of public school miseducation. Painful though it may be to admit, it must be recognized that the Left has done solid work in indoctrinating America’s youth and turning them against their own country.

Since the 1990s, we’ve watched as our very culture was weaponized against us. The leftists executed the most potent plays in the socialist handbook. They convinced the impressionable young that the country and its institutions were a sham. Instead of embracing our commonalities, we were taught to focus on our differences. Race and economics were used as pivot points to stir animosities between groups, and these became the lenses through which all of life was seen. They distorted perceptions and became the worldview of the younger generations.

But all is not lost. Key to regaining these lost generations and showing them the possibility of a better world is recognizing what they’ve been through. Millennials and Gen Zers were born in a world of great uncertainty. They know of the struggles of the Cold War only through history books. Their earliest memories are of a world at war with the deadly, unpredictable fury of radical Islam. The virtues of the capitalist system that won the Cold War and lifted billions out of poverty around the world are lost on them — largely because they’ve been misinformed and reconditioned to see only economic uncertainty and the closure of some of the world’s oldest financial and manufacturing institutions. For them, economic security is elusive, and the financial system seems a rigged game played by crony capitalists.

Leftists have convinced young folks that they “care” and will “help.”

Frankly, we need to step up our game. Instead of ceding ground to the Left, we need to get smart. The virtues of America far outweigh the vices, and the mistakes of the past need not be the scars of the future. The woke mob must be challenged on every point with facts. The unelected bureaucrats must be stripped of the power they’ve seized. And we mustn’t be embarrassed to exude patriotism.

It’s not the fault of the younger generations that they’re so disconnected from our country and our culture. But it’ll be our fault if we give up on them. We can’t just let them slide and hope the generation that follows will do better. By then it’ll be too late.

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