Twenty-somethings in America–the “millennial” generation–by and large can be categorized as politically active, socially left-leaning, and entrepreneurial. Alarmingly for conservatives, they share a trust in the government’s ability to solve our nation’s problems. According to the Pew Research Center, they are “the only age group in which a majority said the government should do more to fix problems.”

Why do young people trust the government to fix problems? In part because of the unhealthy nexus between big government and big business, The Heritage Foundation’s Matt Grinney explains:

Whether it’s through favorable regulations or loan guarantees, targeted tax breaks, or noncompetitive contracts, the government-granted privilege that results from this crooked marriage undermines the public’s faith in both government and business.

And when neither Washington nor Wall Street can be trusted as legitimate, people tend to prefer state control to an unfettered market.

Distrust drives more government, and more government fosters distrust. How can this vicious cycle be broken? Grinney tells us all hope is not lost:

With government spending at an all-time high and a federal bureaucracy that has expanded dramatically under President Obama, the failure of big government to deliver on its big promises becomes clearer each year.

Those who support free enterprise and limited government must tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of the Missoula Millennials, explaining the difference between big business and free markets and refuting the left’s common refrain that one must choose between only two options: government or absolute individualism.

Do you think young Americans can recognize the failures of big government?

Comments (27)

morris mccain - February 26, 2013

Heritage, how can you justify asking me for my money, without giving me a distinct action plan first. It seems that we are in a serious position that Alex Tocqueville described long ago. When the total of government workers, along with none taxpayers (welfare etc) exceed the real workers (the middle class), then the middle class will always get beat. Just like the last election proved. PS. Look at Canada.

Mary - February 27, 2013

The blame for the generations educated after the sixties can be squarely placed on our educational system where the majority of instructors advocate the leanings on the left meaning more government and less personal responsibility. I was born during a time when I had to work at menial jobs starting at age 14 so I could afford a college education. The more money that we pour into education the less informed the students are.
Wake up, America, before it’s too late!!

John Blaikie - February 27, 2013

Arguably the rise of big government started with Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and the start of Social Security! Historically, socialism has always failed and will continue to fail today! What will be the outcome of our government’s continuing march toward more socialism? Unless something is done and quick, our beloved Country is in peril!!!

Steve - February 27, 2013

One reason I think is because conservatism’s message isn’t edgy enough. Liberals have the edge when marketing their “brand”, making it look hip even when it is anything but.

The one advantage conservatives do have at this time is that conservatism could be considered rebellious and anti-establishment, given liberals’ control of academia, Hollywood, the media and government. But this won’t mean diddly if conservatives don’t confront liberals head-on and in the liberal arenas of influence.

Bill White Sr. - February 27, 2013

Young peoples ( 40 and under ) thinking is a result of the school system teaching the LEFT’s ideas through incrementalism. Being a patriot is bad, pledging to the flag is bad. Its all crap!!!

C.Hoffman - February 27, 2013

Indoctrination at the little red school around the corner from a home near you. You reap what you sow. Government will destroy every last one of us before it realizes what it’s done and it still won’t matter. Who will be master and servant then?

John Hazeltine - February 27, 2013

Young Americans are brainwashed by public schools. One needs to look no further.

Frank Bilek - February 27, 2013

Young(er) people are just that; young. By definition, this includes a level of inexperience with life in general. The expectations provided by the federal public school systems operated by teacher union advocates has been self-promoting – for the teachers. Those who have gone through the politically correct curriculums have not been familiarized with or exposed to the failures of markets or economies or prepared for situations when a multitude of variables align to present process failures. Those more associated with “super-hero” solutions and who choose to expose themselves to such ideals will always believe in a “shining knight”. (Consider Hollywood movie themes and computer video game topics those in their 20-30’s choose to watch.) The reality is that humans make mistakes; whether in business or in government. Leaders in either arena must be well-grounded in the morals and ideals this country was founded upon. The curriculums provided to the young that are based on provisions of “self-esteem” and “everyone is a winner” do little to identify with the prinicples maintained by those of more conservative analytical thinking. Perhaps by the time they are well in their fifties they will understand the failures of the feel-good world they grew-up in and seek comfort in the hard, cold world of reality where most success is a product of recognized failure(s).

Mike McNeff - February 27, 2013

One reason conservatives aren’t reaching young people is because conservatives are behind the curve on social issues and as a result, exclude many segments of voters.
Want more voters? I suggest the following:

Present a realistic immigration reform plan and do it quickly. You don’t have to provide an accelerated path to citizenship, but you do have to make it easier to get a green card or an equivilant.

Quit fighting gay marriage. Many gays are conservative thinkers, but this issue is important to them. Currently, conservatives are alienating these voters.

Do a better job of getting the facts out. Obama is a liar and the facts prove him wrong every time. Conservatives have done a lousy job of demonstrating how the financial condition of this country is critical and the current Obama fiscal policy is making it worse. You have to show how this affects young people now and in the future. You’ve missed a great opportunity this January when young folks saw their take home pay cut by new payroll taxes, which was proof of Obama’s false promises..

Feinstein, Pelosi, Boxer, Schumer, Reid and others make stupid statements all the time. Get those statements out on social media.

That’s how I see it.

Rock - February 27, 2013

Conservatives have a dyslexic and unfocused message. Being honorable to a fault, we seem incapable of grasping the kind of war being waged against us. We seem content to erect disparate, platoon sized defenses against battalion sized spoiling raids; content to defend freedom and liberty with 18th century musketry facing 19th century auto-fire rifling; content to accept that the liberals have captured “low information” voters….and are Bataan marching them into dependency prison camp; content to fight political and economic ignorance in a retreat action that features disorganized and non-lethal sniper fire.
I’m quite comfortable with the warfare metaphor….. because it isn’t just a metaphor, it’s what’s happening; it’s reality.

Janny - February 27, 2013

With Obama’s re-election, I’m beginning to feel that there is little hope for the immediate future. We are marching slowly but surely toward Communism, with the nationalization of student loans, car companies, health insurance and more, a the same time that Democrats are speaking of “collectivism” and expanding the government at alarming speeds. The media has become an extension of Obama’s continuous campaign and the UN is still pushing Agenda 21. The similarities between our current political state and the rise of Communism is astouding. Since the 1960’s, the public school systems have not been teaching history accurately, and those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. The problem is, there will be no USA and allied forces to rescue the country s in the past.. Only after a great deal of suffering will the people of this country become strong enough and united enough to remove the shackles and search for freedom again. However, we all know that our founding Fathers warned us that freedom, once lost, is rarely regained.

David Ormsby - February 27, 2013

We are a nation of laws that has become a nation of regulations and permits. The left has gained control because we do not enforce our laws nor punish bad behavior. When government dictates what is taught our young people to believe about our laws our Constitution and our way of life we opened the door for the socialist agenda being taught as factual.It is no longer possible for people to go forth and prosper. We need a permit and must adhere to regulations pay the fees provide services and specific wages …. How can we expect to grow when at every turn we have another agency putting up new regulations requirements and fees?

Janice Flowers - February 27, 2013

Young people today are taught that everything is about them. The best way to reach them, in my opinion, is to show how big government policies will affect them negatively in the near to distant future – how it limits their opportunities, steals the lifeblood from their dreams, kills their spirit. And we must do it through storytelling. We must tell the stories of how our grandparents and great-grandparents came to this country to make a better life for themselves, how hard they worked, the sacrifices they made, and how that hard work paid off. We must treat our young people with respect and not talk down to them, and let them know that we love them. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Our great advantage over Obama is that he only pretends to care.

Sharon - February 27, 2013

The 18-30 group have been brainwashed since kindergarten. The 60’s radicals made sure they became the voice of the re-education process.

Max L - February 27, 2013

Ditto morris mccain – February 26. And the plan should include uniting all the conservative groups. Ben Franklin said, JOIN OR DIE.

Humberto Acevedo - February 27, 2013

As a legal immigrant that worked in factories and held two jobs to support the family and pay for College to a Master, and paid for my daughters College, this is unthinked of by the Millennial’s generation that they are convinced that They have the right to housing, right to healthcare, right to education (pre-kinder to College), right to a job, right to transportation, right to food and clothing, all these rights from the government.
This believe is world wide in South America every country but Colombia is Socialist. Chavez is in His third term so it is Correa elected by a majority of people that receive government handouts/entitlements, and they will have a fourth and fifth term if they live and we are going that way too.
Illegal immigrants are asking for the same rights as citizens and anchor babies are called citizens with the same rights. They are taken care from cradle to grave, all these million from single mothers with no fathers when it comes to support them.
How can you reach them when is so comfortable to live of the government? and We elect politicians to give them more rights and in turn they get reelected over and over.
In my view, it might be too late for America, the trend is too far entrenched.

Robert Cool - February 28, 2013

Without sounding too fatalistic, one of the biggest problems with modern America (and by extension, the younger generation) is, paradoxically, its great wealth. Thrift and hard work are no longer “in” because they are no longer necessary for survival. Conservative social values are thought to be outdated because they are, supposedly, no longer necessary for a stable society. Our great wealth, which has allowed the federal government to become so large without completely hobbling the country, has also allowed all kinds of unproductive or even deviant behavior to spring up whether it be in the school systems, universities, businesses, and even churches. Why should anyone really try hard if there is always enough money for a “bailout”?
It will be an uphill battle to reach my generation, I’m 25, but if we are entrepreneurial as this article claims, it might help to talk about lower taxes, less regulations, etc. All these things increase productivity and help start-up businesses.

Wade Semons - February 28, 2013

Socialism works great, until you run out of other peoples money when the people with there hand out exceeds those who get stuck paying the bill. like obama phone and all the other subsities that we are currently paying for oh and changing the name of food stamps does not change the fact that food stamps are still food stamps as far as obama and sequester if our national defense is cut then obama should be held accountable to all those who voted for obama your taxes have gone up hows that working for ya don’t know if obama made it to Kris kyle’s service but if he did not I appreciate that he stayed away they are truly met cut from different cloth kyle being a good man. obama not so much men like kyle provided overwatch that would haveProtected both my sons when they were deployed in overseas and I appriciate his and all who serve they are truely what makes america great it goes to show that some things don’t make much sense in todays world Obama not being truthfull on sequester is that a shock to anyone! I for one voted to put a Republican controled house to block obama’s agenda and I expect them to do just that I do agree with obamas plan for immigration learn english get in line BEHIND those who were here first did you notice that he did not dare bring this up during the election, I wonder how many would have voted for him if they knew that this would be his proposal

Pat Movement - February 28, 2013

The Patriot Movement must/will align conservatives, libertarians and those many people that are some of both against the destructive “progressive” socialists.
Many “libs” on social issues are really libertarians (whether they realize it or not) that revere the Founders and their guidance about limited government on a wide range of issues.

Barbara Margaret - February 28, 2013

add to the reasons for their beliefs:
the deliberate liberal indoctrination these kids have received thru the public school system, thank the NEA.
been there, seen it, got outta it in disgust.

Clifton jackson - February 28, 2013

8 percent of all federal employes salaries starting with the president, down to the cleaning team. If cuts are needed
Make them across the board.

Donna Ramos - February 28, 2013

Personally, I think Conservatives will not attract the young in great numbers until they change the name. “Conservatism” sounds too stodgy. I prefer to call myself a Constitutionalist or a Republitarian. Present the Founding principles as the revolutionary ideas they were and still are. Attack the authoritarianism of the Left, the coercive solutions. Attack the corruption of the status quo and corrupting nature of centralized and government and competiton-destroying standarized regulation. I agree the problem began in the educational institutions. Open their eyes to the solutions in their own nation’s history they were never taught, and in the free market solutions tried in other countries and they will will begin to recognize the lies.

Holly Chapo - February 28, 2013

Given our abyssmal, left leaning educational system, what chance do these young people have to learn about the greatness of America, about the truths and great principles of our Declaration and Constitution, about the tremendous benfits of free market capitalism, about the importance of religion and morality in preserving the civil society? Heritage, you’ve got a big task ahead of you if you want to make a difference and start turning this around. As an American citizen, I hope I can help.

Robert C. Spott - March 1, 2013

I once heard a speaker say the hardest objection to overcome is a blatant outrageous lie, something said that most people would immediately think who would believe that? Well! don’t we have this situation happening right under our noses and who objects? Our complient so called main stream media ( actually the extension of the democratic party) gives a pass to this Presidents continued use of lies. Please speak up America.

Liam - March 2, 2013

Regarding Mr. McNeff’s comment: “Quit fighting gay
marriage. Many gays are conservative thinkers, but this issue is
important to them. Currently, conservatives are alienating these
This has been a major sore spot with me too
regarding conservatives. While determined to placate the likes of
Mr. Robertson, Bauer and other Family Research Council phonies,
conservatives have shut out a hugely older, well-educated
population of gay people who have incredibly large disposable
incomes. While often voting Conservative in the privacy of a voting
booth, no way will they actively participate in a group that so
vehemently dislikes them, much less part with their money to assist
conservative causes. Their thinking is that, “If you hate me, you
can’t possibly want money I have earned or inherited.

Cam Hale - March 4, 2013

I agree with Mr. DeMint and Mr. Feulner when they stated that the reason conservatives failed in the last presidential election was not due to conservative ideals, but due to limitations in how these ideals were articulated. I do believe that for upcoming elections, we may have to modernize some of our social views, but without sacrificing core conservative beliefs.

For instance in regards to Gay marriage. This appears to be a small issue (apparently around 5% of the nation are homosexual). However, conservatives have been beaten over the head with this issue and demonized by the press. This issue has been used to categorize all conservatives as prejudiced, inflexible, archaic and intolerant. Young voters and uneducated voters allow this issue to color their views of all conservatives and conservative ideals and to reject even economic conservatism. I believe this issue needs to be addressed head on, but not from a typical moral or religious view. I am not a Christian or particularly religious, but I am in support of the Defense of Marriage act. I support this act because I believe that children’s welfare should be everyone’s primary concern. Persons that have the potential to procreate and raise children should receive some benefit that supports them in doing so. Many people who are childless cannot fathom the sacrifice and work it takes to have and raise children. Strong families are the foundation of this country and the major reason for its success.

How do you communicate this to the electorate without sounding pompous and elitist? Their are certainly Gay people who make good parents. However, parenting children does not seem to be the core reason for why Gays form relationships. My questions as a voter considering this issue would be:
1. How much tax payer money would be required to provide the same marital benefits (social security and Family Leave) to Gay couples?
2. What about allowing “civil unions” with lesser benefits for Gays and not calling these unions marriage?
3. Could the gay union be called “common law unions” and their benefits not kick in until they have satisfied the common law marriage requirements?

I don’t know the answer as to how to present this issue to the voting public. It may seem to be a minor one, but addressing it directly based on preserving the intact family is important. Possibly, some believe that it is better to skirt the issue and try to ignore it. But it seems that many voters use the conservative stand on this issue to define how conservatives view all social issues. I think we need to take religious, moral views out of the equation and analyze the issue based on what is best for producing the next best generation. We can recognize that Gays want to form relationships, but reserve the term marriage for a heterosexual union. In the long run (for the majority of situations), a male and female will provide a better environment for male and female children. The children get the benefit of two world views and are able to better identify with the same sex parent.

Thanks for listening and keep up the good work!

Jeff Strode - March 20, 2013

Heritage should create a publication for distribution in schools and home schools. I send my children to a private Christian school, so I was recently surprised to find one teacher distributing “Upfront” (published by the NY Times, it contains numerous misrepresentations under the guise of “news”) and another teacher showing a clip from “An Inconvenient Truth” (which contained one of the deceptions identified by a judge in Great Britain). My daughter brought these things to my attention. One problem is that the teachers do not have any truly objective news sources to use in their classrooms. It appears to me that the teachers may be genuinely unaware of the flaws in their information until I brought it to their attention.

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