Many Millennials Claim to be Socialist … But Don’t Know What that Means

When I appropriate a label for myself, I generally attempt to know what it means first. Not so, with most Millennials. According to a recent poll, almost half of Millennials claim to be socialist, but very few of them can give an accurate description of just what being a socialist means:

Forty-two percent say they prefer socialism as a means of organizing society but only 16% can define the term properly as government ownership of the means of production. In fact, when asked whether they want an economy managed by the free market or by the government, 64% want the former and just 32% want the latter. Scratch a Millennial “socialist” and you are likely to find a budding entrepreneur (55% saying they want to start their own business someday). Although they support a government-provided social safety net, two-thirds of Millennials agree that “government is usually inefficient and wasteful” and they are highly skeptical toward government with regards to privacy and nanny-state regulations about e-cigarettes, soda sizes, and the like.

So when Millennials think say “socialist,” they mean somebody with lots of friends on Facebook. Not really. They mean someone who believes the government should be involved in “social” issues. In other words, Millennials are very passionate and zealous about things they know very little about.

I could have told you that. But there are a few aspects of this new poll that I think are exciting. First, a large portion of Millennials are truly independent politically. Second, the vast majority of Millennials are skeptical of the civil government.

So while Millennials may be concerned with social justice—they want to see the hungry fed, the poor taken care of, the innocent protected, and the corrupt punished—and they’ve also been trained to think the civil government is the only institution capable of achieving the justice they crave for, and yet

But Millenials really don’t trust the government. Which means they are ripe for a paradigm shift of worldview. If we could only educate Millennials that there was another way to achieve social justice, the future of the country might actually be secured.