Friday, January 28, 2011

Big Government and the iGeneration

Michael Barone noticed what is perhaps impolite to mention, viz. that the current Democratic leadership is really, really old (”Wily Old Dems take on Whippersnapper Republicans“).

The ages of the ranking Democrats on the Appropriations, Ways and Means, Education, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, and Judiciary committees are 70, 79, 65, 71, 70, 69, and 81. The three party leaders are 70, 71, and 70.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with that on its own. But he adds that their generation thinks of the country's business based on an outdated model that he calls “Big Unit America.” It is a country controlled by big government, big business, and big labor. We saw it in the 111th Congress. Huge stimulus package to move the economy. Prop up the unions with card check. One big health care insurance system to cover everyone (eventually).

It struck me, however, that this view is entirely out of step with this Internet formed, emerging generation who, in my Worldmag column, I call the iGeneration ("The Politics of the iGeneration").

While it is true that younger voters are still breaking for the Democrats, as they grow up and put life and politics together they will find that the Big Unit view of the world is not theirs. The younger generation values personal control of their lives, and this priority is driven by technology. They have personal settings and privacy settings for everything. They are used to having My-this and My-that. Niche news and information sources on the Internet have replaced the big three networks of the 1970s. They are used to being heard (or at least thinking they’re being heard) through everything from blogs and comment threads to the widely publicized chatter of social network sites. Centralized, bossy, deaf bureaucracies will not be their thing. It’s not how they roll.

These are people who design their own Converse high-tops online before they buy them.

What will this young generation expect in place of centrally planned, centrally administered government health care, for example? It will be precisely what John McCain advocated (but tepidly, and explained poorly) during the 2008 election: consumer-driven health care.

See my 2008 post on it: "Hope for the Health Care Mess." That comes with links to Regina Herzlinger's three books on the subject.

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