Most were skeptical of the thought that Trump would win in 2016. They thought millennials, who are the future, would finally go out and vote. Much of Clinton’s campaign relied on that belief, seeing as she poured $30 million into ads with celebrities and on social media platforms. Yet, despite the seemingly teetering Republican population, Trump was elected by the people. The question is would Trump have won 50 years from now, when the Silent and Baby Boomer generations are long gone?
According to the Pew Research Center, 44 percent of Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1964) and 48 percent of the Silent generation (born between 1925 and 1942) are right-leaning while 44 percent and 41 percent, respectively, are left-leaning. These two generations are the last largely conservative generations when considering only a meager 37 percent of Generation X and 33 percent of Millennials are right-leaning while 48 percent and 54 percent are left-leaning.
The 2016 election made it strikingly clear that young people tend to be Democrats and older people tend to be Republicans, with the majority of 18-44-year-olds voting for Clinton and the majority of those 45 and older voting for Trump. This statistic may not look good for the GOP in the long run, considering the increasing Millennial voter turnout with their predominantly liberal views. In fact, in a poll conducted by the Patriot Post in October, 43 percent of students said they identify with the Democratic Party while only 19 percent said they identify with the Republican Party. However, it must be taken into account that this large discrepancy was likely due to a more liberally charged Broward County since it’s the most Democratic county in Florida.
Generation Z, which includes all current high schoolers, is the most politically active generation. This should come as no surprise given that they are the children who grew up in a time riddled with school shootings, global terrorism, immigration and perpetual wars shoved in their faces. Well, that’s what people say at least. But is it not also true that the youth of the ‘20s experienced the Great Depression and World War I and the military draft. The youth of the ‘30s experienced World War II and the draft. The youth of the ‘40s experienced the long-lasting Vietnam War, which sparked a wave of protests across America, with its military draft.
While it’s true that our generation has grown up in tumultuous times surrounded by frequent shootings and crises, haven’t all generations gone through their own struggles as well? This issue isn’t so cut-and-dry. Younger generations tend to be more socially liberal, regarding issues such as immigration and crime. This is partially because younger generations are more likely to have graduated from university (about 35% of 30-year-olds have a degree, compared with 10% of 70-year-olds) and higher education tends to make people more socially liberal.
Younger generations have also been raised in a more socially liberal world, with abortion and homosexuality now legal and the death penalty and racism now taboo. This process of generational replacement could be very important, because it implies that the right-wing is fighting the tide of history. On this argument, conservative political parties are effectively dying out.
However, it’s impossible to determine whether older people leaning to the right is due to generation gaps or people turning conservative as they age and experience life. The future for the Republican Party is uncertain until America sees how Gen Z votes in the time to come.