Very Hopeful Poll on Views of Age 18-26 Cohort Has Major Justice Implications

Frank Luntz, a broadly respected Republican Pollster, has just issued a fascinating poll on attitudes of people aged 8 to 26, which he calls the “Snapchat generation,” for whatever reason.

Bottom line, leaving the partisan stuff out, this generation are collectivist, internationalist, see corruption as the biggest problem, and highly optimistic about the future, both for themselves and the country.  Here are some highlights, but I recommend that people go read the whole poll (which includes the partisan and candidate alignment data).  It is an eye-opener, and suggests a huge shift for a more hopeful world.

My view of the whole things would be that this poll suggests that, a least in terms of the 18-26 generation, the access to justice community should be developing an agenda for fairness and justice, while attacking inequality and corruption, particularly when it comes from corporate or Washington failure, while also supporting those who provide help to individuals, and while not being afraid to draw on precedents and ideas from other countries, almost regardless of the labeling of their political systems.

Here is why.

Optimism.  88% say that they are at least somewhat optimistic about their own future and 61% say that America’s best days are ahead.  A massive change from prior groups, and suggests the possibility of hopeful engagement.  Indeed 87% say they will likely vote in the coming election.

Valuing Caring Professions.  The most respected professions are doctor/nursing and teachers, at 49% and 48% listing in the top three.  Lawyers, not so good at 8%.  Perhaps the explanation for the lawyer number can be found in the fact that elected leaders clock in at 6%, business leaders at 4%, and bankers at 4%.  By their clients you shall know (and judge) them.

“Corruption,” “Greed” and “Inequality” are seen as the Words that Best Describe America’s Problems.  This comes in at 38% for Corruption, 29% for Greed, and Inequality at 26% (the same number as Government, perhaps picking up a different political demograph, or more likely overlapping.)  Capitalism and Poverty tie at 13% and interestingly Partisanship gets only 8% suggesting that the Beltway’s evenhanded allocation of blame does not resonate with this group.

The Biggest Political Challenge is Seen as Inequality. 28% identify Inequality as the biggest problem, choosing as the top challenge: “Income inequality: I’m worried about the widening gap between the rich and poor. The rich aren’t paying their fair share and the poor are suffering.”  It is particularly that this is seen as a political challenge, that is to say one that must be solved in the political area, and is explicitly linked to inequity of financial burden.  An important potential message for issues of legal aid and court funding.  Again, the idea that this is not going to be solved by further empowering capitalism is supported by the fact that when asked which political system is more compassionate ,58% said Socialism 9% said Communism, for a combined non-capitalist 67%, and only 33% said Capitalism.  Moreover, 66% said Corporate America “embodies everything that is wrong with America,” and only 34% said that it is what is “right” with America.  “Washington” scores nearly as badly at 60% in embodying the problem.

A Full Third Now See Themselves First as Citizens of the World, More Than of America.  It is 35 to 65, but still a huge change.  It suggests that courts need to start thinking more about our interests as world citizens, rather than just US.  Not to mention perhaps citing opinions and legislation from other countries.  It also means that people may be interested in leanring from innovation in other countries such as the role of the legal profession.

Not American Exceptionalists.  On the contrary, 58% agreed that “America isn’t any better or worse than most other countries,” and, in strong contrast to prior generations, only 42% agreed that “America is exceptional. It’s better than every other
country in the world.”  Same conclusion.

“Fairness” (5%) and “Justice” (11%) Rarely Cited as Things that Make America Special.  Opportunity, Freedom, Diversity and Democracy all scored high.  Given the low scores for fairness and justice, and the low excptionalism score, this may be because this generation simply does not see America as fair or just, and presumably would like to do so.

This is consistent with the recommended messaging from Voices for Civil Justice:

.  .  .  helps ensure fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of how much money you have. It provides access to legal help for people to protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families. Civil legal aid makes it easier to access information— whether through easy-to-understand forms, including online forms; legal assistance or representation; and legal self-help centers—so people know their rights. Civil legal aid also helps streamline the court system and cuts down on court costs. When we say the Pledge of Allegiance we close with “justice for all.” We need civil legal aid to ensure that the principle our founding fathers envisioned remains alive: justice for all, not the few who can afford it.

Note however, that this messaging is much less aggressive on inequality and corruption than would appear to be appropriate for the 18-26 group.  It is more individualistic a.  It is non-internationalistic, and makes no use of skepticism about corporate America or “Washington.”  Perhaps most importantly, it fails to share the optimism this group seems to feel.

The real question is how can we get this generation to communicate with and persuade their elders to adopt their world view and analysis.

(Methodological note:  Most of the percentages above allowed several answers, but I am not certain how many.  In some cases it is clear that they were allowed three.)



About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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