In step with the increasingly secular and progressive culture, young people are the least religious, most anxious, most depressed, and have the most negative view of the United States than any other generation before them. As millennials get older, there isn’t a shift towards conservatism like we’ve seen historically; they are becoming more liberal. Like the culture, young generations are increasingly moving left on social issues and what qualifies as “social issues” has drastically changed.
What used to be a fiscal and social divide in ideological ideals is being bridged by identity warfare. For example, healthcare could now be categorized as fiscal and social. If you identify as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, this topic proves to be one of contention and confusion. On the economic side, a capitalist healthcare system makes sense fiscally, but on the social side it is being misinterpreted as being unempathetic towards the poor. The class warfare is therefore bridging the fiscal and social gap. Culture and politics, social and fiscal, these concepts are all emerging into one culture war that has consumed political thought.
Because the gap is closing and social issues take precedent, we are seeing a growing number of young people following the mainstream cultural narrative with all sides of their politics. Social media, legacy media, Hollywood, the education system, and even conversation on an individual level are heavily influenced by the leftist shift of cultural social ideals. We live in a binary system where you must pick a side in order to contribute to political discourse and decisions. Moderates, or those who identify as fiscally conservative and socially liberal or vice versa, are left with an ultimatum – follow the cultural current or become the alternative.
You can’t claim neutrality. The blending of politics and culture will not allow it. The elimination of the fiscal and social fence will not allow it. A resistance to this binary choice and proclamation of moderation is a choice in and of itself; it is the choice to join the alternative. Look at political and cultural figures such as Dave Rubin, Steven Pinker, Eric Weinstein, and Joe Rogan. None of these men are conservative, yet they’ve all been labeled as “right-wing” because they don’t subscribe to the mainstream leftist agenda. Not picking a side is picking a side.
Where does that leave the center-right and right? Where does that leave conservative millennials and Gen-Z who are being alienated by the mainstream narrative? It leads to a pushback. It leads to a counterculture born out of a suppression of ideas. This pushback resulted in alternative media outlets such as PragerU, The Blaze, Dailywire, and organizations such as the Young America’s Foundation, Turning Point USA, and Young Americans for Liberty. PragerU, which makes short educational videos, has over 2.3 billion views alone. Dailywire’s Ben Shapiro hosts the largest conservative podcast in the world and the fifth most popular podcast in the country overall. Hundreds of thousands of college students across the United States are now being exposed to the pro-American message due to the efforts of groups such as TPUSA, YAF, and YAL; organizing students who don’t fall into the box of leftist ideals. Simply put, the pushback is not small.
It is true, only 12% of millennials identify as conservative, but then why is it that the counterculture is rising? Because the counterculture values diversity. Not intersectional diversity, diversity of ideas. That is why those that are center-left, moderates, and center-right are labeled as alt-right in their rejection of the culture’s shift towards extreme progressivism. The pushback includes those who understand America is exceptional and that we have made mistakes, but that no other country in the world has worked harder to atone for those mistakes. This seemingly simple concept of American exceptionalism has no ideology, but it is the cornerstone of the falsely labeled “right-wing” counterculture.
It says a lot about the state of politics and culture in America when a pushback based on Constitutional principles and American ideals is considered far-right or even aligned with one ideology. It’s not hard to be labeled as part of the counterculture but it is hard to stay with the current. You can be a lifelong liberal and the minute you say trans-athletes have an objective biological advantage in women’s sports you are now the pushback (Martina Navratilova, anyone?). You can be 99.9% on board with mainstream culture but drawing the line with your convictions that requires you to go against any aspect of progressivism will be a one-way ticket to the counterculture. Like I said, the pushback welcomes diversity.
The great uniting aspect about the counterculture is that it relies on our loyalty to our identity as Americans, not our skin color or ethnicity. It relies on our liberty, not centralized government control. And it relies on our acceptance of each other’s beliefs, not mandating a narrow viewpoint of so-called progressivism.
The pushback is real, it’s gaining steam, and it’s ready to take back the culture by instilling the very values that created our great nation in the first place. It’s not a controversial stance, it’s not alienating, and it’s not a political party or ideology. The pushback to the politically correct and divisive culture that’s engrained itself into every facet of our politics is not a movement that can be dismissed by falsely maligning its purpose with an extreme belief system. Every institutional, corporate, and individual attempt to suppress the counterculture makes it stronger. Because you can’t defeat a movement through suppression when it was born out of it.
Alyssa has her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and currently works as an analyst in corporate finance. She grew up in northern Wisconsin and is a former collegiate hockey player. Alyssa is pursuing her passion for current events and politics through writing and being an advocate for the conservative movement.