While some older Americans have developed a taste for being told what to do, Millennials by and large reject Authoritarianism. And that’s very bad news for Donald Trump, very good news for America.
In January, Matthew McWilliams published a study on the one trait most predictive of whether or not a person supported Donald Trump.
It wasn’t age.
It wasn’t income.
It wasn’t race.
It wasn’t religion.
Rather, the strongest indicator was being Authoritarian.
Authoritarianism is not a new political concept. You’ve probably heard it before in reference to preference for a “strongman.” Someone who rattles off declarative, unequivocal edicts. Someone who demands absolute loyalty and obedience.
Someone exactly like Donald Trump.
What has traditionally made Authoritarianism so unpalatable in America is that its very meaning is antithetical to the American myth.
The self-made striver.
Instead of extolling his crowds with the greatness of America, all that untapped potential trapped by systemic government overreach or a host of anti-growth policies, Donald Trump promises to build a wall. Instead of inspiring his audience to reach their goals and help create a brighter future, Trump promises to hunt down and kill the wives and children of terrorists.
And then he asks his supporters to raise a right hand and pledge allegiance to him and him alone, in a visual so darkly reminiscent of Nazi Germany that over the weekend, Saturday Night Live focused their sharpest comedic critique on Trump’s troubling resemblance to dictators of the past.
The entire spectacle of Trump is moving quickly beyond entertaining, past creepy, and well into disturbing.
But! A good word for those fretting about the future of our country, should he be elected.
Millennials – that massive group of voters born roughly between 1980 – 2000 – are not very receptive to this message.
They’ve already figured Social Security won’t exist for them.
They’ve already navigated a rough and tumble economy.
They’ve already abandoned many institutional pressures – marriage, religion – in favor of forging their own definition of a good life.
In short, they are the next wave of American westerns, the next batch of entrepreneurs, the next bloc of self-made strivers.
This doesn’t mean they reject the notion of governmental good. Witness their rush to Bernie Sanders and the endless safety net of parental programs he wants to institute.
But it does mean that Trump stands little chance of garnering enough of their vote to ever be elected.
And that’s a bit of good news for us all.
Photo: Flickr/ITU Pictures