Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Millenials' Surprise: There Isn't an App to Solve All Problems

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Millenials' Surprise: There Isn't an App to Solve All Problems

Article excerpt

Poverty? Isn't there an app for that?

None of my college journalism students has asked me that one - yet. But I wouldn't be all that surprised if one of them did.

Millennials, it seems, have very different ideas about how to solve urban problems. And unlike the notions of this retirement- age New Dealer, their solutions typically don't include raising taxes or expanding the reach of some government agency.

This is, I think, a fast-evolving yet underappreciated phenomenon in American life and politics. The millennials, roughly defined as those born between 1985 and 2000, are so smitten with mobile technology and its social and economic applications that they see tech as the solution to just about everything.

Need a cheap ride? Punch-up Uber on the iPhone.

Hungry? Go to

Their universe of digital conveniences is extensive and extending. When she needs a movie listing or a sports score, my 20- something daughter would no more pick up an ink-flecked sheet of dried tree mulch (aka a newspaper) than she would scan the horizon for smoke signals.

But is this new way of thinking birthing a new kind of politics? I think it is. And the new digital mindset is, at its core, libertarian. Which is to say: very liberal on social issues such as gay marriage and legalized pot, yet very skeptical of government efforts to regulate the economy or levy taxes.

So they're trending toward the Republican side of the ballot.

This was driven home in November's election when the two Chicago wards most associated with upwardly mobile millennials - downtown's 42nd Ward and Lincoln Park's 43rd Ward - carried, in the aggregate, for Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner.

Normally it has been the white ethnic and blue-collar wards on the city's Far Northwest and Southwest sides that stray from the Democratic reservation. This time it was the 43rd - the same lakefront precincts that once elected independent Alderman Bill Singer and Alderman Marty Oberman - that delivered nearly as many votes for the Republican Rauner as for the independent-minded Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. …

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