Young People Support the War?

If you didn’t catch yesterday’s New York Times, check out Janet Elder’s article in the Politics section on us young’ins, and our support for the Iraq war. The conclusion: our demographic supports the war more than any other age group.

April 17, 2007 , in the New York Times, Janet Elder writes:

The younger generation is opposed to the war in Iraq, right? Wrong. Actually, they’re divided on the war, far more so than their grandparents, according to a New York Times/CBS News Poll in March. Seems younger people are more supportive of the war and the president than any other age group.

I’ve talked to many a war-supporting college kid over the past few years, but otherwise, most people my age that I run into are against the war – and a good handful of them actively speak out and take action. But is there some truth in the NY Times study? Are we myopic? Something about the numbers just doesn’t sit right with me. Oh, that’s right, I know exactly what it is: if this is actually the case, then we have a lot of things to be worried about in the future, as our generation ages, but not necessarily matures, and occupies the same seats of power that have propelled the war.

Conventional wisdom tends to say that youth opppose the war because of things like having more open-minded brains, and that ultimately, we’d be the ones who would go off to fight in the event of a draft. The images and stories in history books overwhelmingly say that this was the case in the 60’s. But here’s what the story has to say:

A look back at the Vietnam years showed a similar divide between young and old. Older Americans were defined as 50 and older, but the comparison is still apt. In October 1968, when Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon and George Wallace were running for president, a Gallup poll found that about half, 52 percent, of people under the age of 30 supported the war in Vietnam. But among those 50 and older, 26 percent supported the war.

The article then brings up this perspective: if we buy into the NY Times statistic, then are young people supportive of the war, or just apathetic, because there’s no draft? Would a draft bring about a revolution or mass movement? Or is something deeper at work, is our generation really just supportive of this administration?

More than one person who lived through the Vietnam war mentioned the draft and the absence of one for this war. “It’s because of life experience,” said Jimmie Powell, 73, a bartender and factory worker from El Reno, Oklahoma. “I don’t think younger people really know a whole lot about anything. They don’t care because there is no draft. If there were a draft, we’d finally have the revolution we need.”

It’s easy to build up a skewed perspective, living in a liberal town like Portland where even wheelchair-bound grandmothers picket the Army recruiting office. But is this statistic accurate? What is the NY Times really trying to say? What does it mean for us when we’re 30 or 40? Very interested to hear your thoughts.

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One Response

  1. I am against this war and I know almost no teens who are for it. And I do know a lot of older people that are against the war. Want to hear what more left thinking youth think? Visit YouThinkLeft.com .

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