Millennial voters who lazily but instinctively support Britain remaining in the European Union are letting down their country and their entire generation
Lately, this blog has been focusing on the younger, millennial generation and our unfortunate propensity to think as scared consumers rather than engaged citizens, and so overwhelmingly support Britain remaining in the European Union (even if many of us are too lazy to carry our opinions as far as the ballot box).
In taking this stance, I have encountered some pushback from readers, who have (rightly) pointed to the fact that older generations can be equally greedy and self-interested, but (wrongly) drawn a false equivalence between the two.
While not all young Remainers hold their position because of perceived material self-interest, those who completely ignore the democratic question to focus exclusively on their own material (typically career and travel) prospects – which would almost certainly be completely unaffected in the event of Brexit – are fully deserving of the criticism levelled at them by this blog and others.
The Guardian breaks down the latest polling data:
Government strategists and pollsters privately admit that the central problem for the Remain side is that its support for staying in the EU is strongest among young people, the group least likely to vote. Opinium found that in the 18-34 age group, 53% said they backed staying in, against 29% who wanted to leave. But only just over half (52%) in this age group said they were certain to actually go out and vote.
Among voters in the 55-and-over category, support for leaving was far stronger, as was their certainty to vote, offering a huge advantage to the Leave side.
Some 54% of voters aged 55 and over said they wanted to leave against 30% who wanted the UK to remain in the EU. But in stark contrast to younger voters, 81% of this group were certain to vote.
Perhaps our generation is in need of a wake-up call. This particular tirade (quoted below) is addressed to American millennials flirting with the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, but parts of it apply equally to younger British voters indignant that the Leave campaign’s quest to restore democracy is interfering with their perceived career options springing from the munificent European Union.
Courtney Kirchoff writes over at Steve Crowder’s website:
Adulthood isn’t what we thought it would be. No, the economy these past several years hasn’t exactly been stellar, either. Okay? Okay.
My fellow millennials, for sure we have our challenges. Many of you were raised in broken homes. Many of you were exposed to divorce. It’s possible a lot of you didn’t live with your father or may not have known him at all. Combine home life with the rise of political correctness in school, taking its dangerous form of “self-esteem above all,” and no wonder you think life is unfair but you should have it all.
Look, I’m sorry life screwed you over in the early years. I’m sorry if you were shuffled to daycare day in and day out. I’m sorry if you don’t have memories of playing with your parents. But most of all, I’m sorry you were not instilled with the grand idea of personal responsibility. I’m sorry you were not empowered with the notion that YOU are the commander of your own life. If you take nothing else from this post, believe that no matter who you are, you can succeed. Without government.
Because guess what, my friends? You’re abject loyalty to socialism is going to tank our country. Your insistence on getting what you want and making other people pay for it, all under the guise of “fairness,” will lead to ruin. For everyone. Including you.
Switch out “socialism” and “government” and replace it with “the EU” and you have a perfect response to the EU’s millennial cheerleaders.
Yes, of course this is an age of anxiety. Just as the boomer generation seriously worried about imminent nuclear annihilation, so we worry about job security and career prospects. But we are hardly a uniquely benighted generation, though there are indeed many ways which our politics currently favours older voters – the government’s lack of a coherent housing policy being an obvious example.
But I’m sorry: growing up in economically uncertain times in an age where there is no guaranteed job for life does not absolve millennials – my generation – from thinking not only as self-interested consumers but also as engaged citizens who care about the country and democracy that they will bequeath to their own descendants.
The generation who spent their prime years fighting fascism – and who saw their contemporary Britain largely reduced to rubble and ruin in the process – could have abstained en masse from fighting the Nazi threat in order to buy a few more years of economic security and job stability through appeasement. But they were willing to go to war and risk what they had for principles which transcended material concerns.
By contrast, our generation is not called to risk or sacrifice nearly as much as our grandparents and great grandparents were to defend democracy and national self-determination – and in fact could have much to gain from British secession from the European Union, materially and otherwise. But by an overwhelming majority we are unwilling to take even that far smaller risk.
And history will long note this colossal failure of courage and character from Generation Me Me Me.
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The initial and continuing outburst of Remoaner ad hominems against Leave voters is a depressing damnation of my generation.
Whether you voted Remain for selfish petty issues, or because you jumped on the bandwagon that tried to turn the campaign into a stage for virtue signalling, wrongly trying to make Leave as some immoral vote for racism, you were wrong.
But they’ll still slur Leave voters.
It’s maddening having my intelligence and knowledge questioned by people who made their voting decision on neither.
As you say Samuel, history will look back at our generation and rightfully criticise it. Shame we’ll have to explain to our grandkids that we were part of the minority who didn’t lose the plot.
Hi! I would like to commend the author for his excellent input. As a person born in the late 1980s and a self-employed libertarian, it is truly saddening to witness my fellows’ conformist attitude. Notice the cries and whimpers from pro-Remain millennials immediately following the Referendum? ‘The older generation took my easy ride! I wanted in! It’s not fair!’ Saddening.
We live in an era where the young are no longer agents of change. They are not angry at ‘the establishment,’ they are angry at those who contest the establishment. They idolise the establishment. They want to be coddled and protected by the establishment. They are too scared of being called bad names or being ostracised in their social networks for contesting their peers or attempting to listen to the other side. They might read this post and refer to the author as a ‘fascist,’ a ‘bigot,’ or something along those lines.
Certain classes of immigrants are often negatively portrayed as individuals who are seeking to ‘milk the system’ without paying into it, particularly in the case of welfare states such as Britain. Whether this portrayal is fair or not is not really the point here, but even if that were the case, those individuals have greater respect from me than most of these entitled millennials. Why? Because at least they are honest in their intent – they are guided by self-interest, not ideology. Millennials don’t even believe in the concept of milking the system – they firmly believe the world OWES them something and that it is the State’s role to meet their demands, and who better than the bureaucratic beast that is the EU to pander to them? The very idea of freedom and self-sufficiency demand is inconceivable for these people.
I realise the article is more nuanced, but I violently disagree with the headline’s idea that the “millennial” generation are failing a test of character. This blog has spent a lot of time eloquently calling out the sections of the left that think their opponents are not misguided but actively evil. Now here you are calling those who are your political opponents as lacking in character.
Posing support or opposition to Brexit as a test which, naturally, those who have come to the conclusion you support have passed and those who have not have failed, belongs with this:
While I suppose I’d rather be called lacking in character than evil (as a pro-Remain Tory I suppose I’m going to get both) is it not the same school of rhetoric?
I must admit that the idea for the headline came to me just before I hit “publish”, and that I agree it lacks some of the nuance of the overall piece.
However, you draw an interesting comparison between leftists screaming about “Tory scum” and my disdain for the majority of millennial remainers basing their decision on very myopic self-centred grounds. I think that there is a difference, for two reasons:
1. The question of Britain’s EU membership is not a left/right party political issue; it goes to something far more fundamental and speaks volumes about the kind of country and world one wants to live in. Differing on the question of Brexit is not like Labour and the Tories arguing about the welfare cap or over a 5 point reduction in the top rate of income tax – on the contrary, it is an existential question for Britain. And on questions which are existential, I think character and motivations can, sometimes, legitimately come in to question.
2. People can believe Britain’s future lies within the EU and make that case with honour (this blog certainly champions some politicians, like Corbyn, with whom I strongly disagree on the issues – though even Corbyn is betraying his own values on the EU question). But when people support Remain after having spent a career posing as a eurosceptic because the world is “too unstable” for an outbreak of democratic sovereignty in Britain (Sajid Javid’s pathetic reasoning), or when millennials don’t even think about the ramifications for their country and democracy (or anything at all beyond their own perception of their career and travel prospects) then I would have to say that they are lacking in character. I believe that my contrast with the generation who spent their prime of life fighting tyranny in Europe is an apt one – today’s young people are called upon to risk far less than their grandparents and great grandparents, but many cannot lift their heads beyond their own bank balances and travel plans.
I’ll sit here all day and listen to passionate arguments for European political union and a federal EU. What I have much less time for though, are the limp cries of “but we need the EU for yoomanrights and jobs” from my own generation.