Young Americans want a far less interventionist foreign policy, and they don’t trust the United Nations or the federal government in general. And they have strong libertarian leanings on other key issues.
That’s according to the latest Harvard Public Opinion Project, a highly-respected national poll of America’s “Millennials”(18- to 29- year-olds) by Harvard’s Institute of Politics that has been conducted biannually since 2000.
The numbers are startlingly anti-interventionist. Fully 74 percent agreed with this statement: “The United States should let other countries and the United Nations take the lead in solving international crises and conflicts.” Only a fourth believed that the United States “should take the lead in solving international crises and conflicts.”
Fully 39 percent disagreed with the statement “it is sometimes necessary to attack potentially hostile countries, rather than waiting until we are attacked to respond.” Only a tiny 16 percent agreed with that statement.
Concerning specific recent foreign policy crises, 62 percent disapproved of the president’s handling of the Syria crisis, and 59 percent disapproved of the government’s policies towards Iran and Ukraine.
The same skepticism applies to international bodies. Fully two-thirds said they trusted the UN only “some of the time” or “never.” Only about a third of respondents said they trusted the United Nations all or most of the time.
This radical rejection of interventionism among the young is accompanied by other libertarian-friendly positions and a strong degree of skepticism towards government in general. Just three percent of Millennials reported trusting the federal government “all of the time,” while 80 percent said that they trusted it either only “some of the time” or “never.” Similarly, eighty-four percent of participants felt that they could trust Congress only “some of the time” or “never.” Just one-third trust the president “most” or “all of the time.”
On the re-legalization of marijuana, 25- to 29- year-olds support re-legalization by a large margin of 50 percent to 28 percent (21 percent unsure); among 18- to- 24- year-olds, 38 percent support, 39 percent oppose (22 percent unsure). Overall, 66 percent support re-legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.
On sexual tolerance, 61 percent say that “a friend’s sexual orientation is not important to me.”
Finally, Millennials are moving away from identifying with either of the two older parties, with increasing numbers identifying as Independents (38 percent) rather than Republicans (25 percent) or Democrats (37 percent).