- - Thursday, April 15, 2021

College and high school students have liberal views — which have moved further to the left during the past year. On the bright side, opinions shift when students are presented with data refuting progressive talking points. These are a few of the key findings in a new Tax Day poll released by Young America’s Foundation (YAF). 

Not surprisingly, 64% of students surveyed in the poll support the federal government eliminating student loan debt for all borrowers. However, more than half of respondents agreed that it was not fair for those who did not attend college to pay for student loan debt cancellation with their hard-earned tax dollars.

An overwhelming majority of students, 69%, said they support a $15 federal minimum wage. However, their support dropped nearly 20 points when they learned of the Congressional Budget Office’s projection of 1.4 million jobs lost due to the wage increase. Again, it boils down to fairness. A higher minimum wage for some isn’t much consolation for those who face unemployment.  

The left is very good at invoking fairness. What college student would not want to have someone relieve their financial burden? Making someone else pay for it who did not even go to college, however, does not seem fair. Forcing some nameless corporate leader to pay higher wages sounds good to some, but seeing people lose their jobs over it isn’t fair. In my book “Unintimidated,” I argued that conservatives need to take up the fairness argument. 

We were winning the fairness argument when I was governor of Wisconsin and saying that public workers should pay a similar amount for health insurance premiums and retirement costs as their neighbors. People also agreed that the old system of union seniority wasn’t fair when it forced the layoffs of some of the best teachers and workers. Fairness is on our side, but students will not know it if we can’t get our message across.



Sadly, most students are only getting one side of the argument. When they do get the chance to hear a different side — particularly one based on solid facts — many of them change their minds. This is why fighting cancel culture is so critically important to the future of our beloved republic. 

Radicals don’t want people — particularly young people — to hear conservative, common sense ideas. They understand (better than many conservatives do) that blocking our ideas from having a prominent place in our schools, colleges, culture and communications is the easiest way to enact their agenda. For many of them, it is all about power. 

Our polls show that students become more liberal as they move from high school to college. What they are exposed to, or not exposed to, on campus plays a big role in this trend. 

One positive trend: Many students have positive instincts in areas where cancel culture has not cluttered their viewpoints. 

Regarding tax rates, 49% of students say a fair tax rate on most Americans would be between 0% and 10% — despite current federal income tax rates being much higher than 10%. Another 22% thought taxes should be somewhere between 11% and 20% of total income. That means more than 70% think tax rates should be 20% or below. 

Only 26% of the students surveyed said that the government was efficiently spending their tax dollars. Still, 42% said they wanted a larger government with more government programs. An interesting contrast in ideas: The government does not spend money wisely but they still want the government to spend more on programs. 

The new data from YAF’s polling underscores the importance of facts over liberal talking points. Without a doubt, Generation Z and millennials do hold some liberal views, but these findings highlight that many young people simply have not heard a differing viewpoint or been taught the facts. The rising generation values fairness, and the YAF will continue to show young people that progressive ideas are — at their core — unfair and unjust. We will continue to promote and give voice to the pro-freedom ideas which the mainstream media and our government-run schools actively stifle.

Polling for Young America’s Foundation’s 2021 Tax Day Poll — released in partnership with Townhall — was conducted by Echelon Insights from March 30 to April 7, 2021, from a sample of roughly 800 current high school students and 800 current college students aged 13 to 22. The YAF has commissioned a number of similar polls over the past year to stay in touch with high school and college-aged students. 

Results of the polling suggest that cancel culture is real. This is why we must push Young America’s Foundation’s action plan, “The Long Game,” to win the battles of the day and the war for the heart and soul of our republic. The future of America depends on it.  

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at swalker@washingtontimes.com or follow him @ScottWalker.

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