I’ve been interested in politics since I was a teenager, but it’s also been a while since I’ve been a teenager. I’m thrilled to see so many teenagers take an interest in politics today (whereas I was the nerd of my high school government class), but I’ve noticed that many teenage girls have embraced far-left policies like Socialism and Marxism.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with teenagers embracing these ideas. Young people are much more common to embrace left-wing ideologies than right-wing ideologies. What struck me as interesting is that teenagers seem to be further along the left side of the political spectrum than they used to be.
Last year, I asked why Millennial women were embracing Socialism and Marxism. I will be exploring the same question in this article, only with teenage girls in mind. Based on my research, teenage girls embrace these ideologies because all they know is partisan politics and they’re surrounded by Marxist propaganda and the influence of leftist political figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
All They Know Is Partisan Politics
President Trump declared his candidacy nearly five years ago in June 2015, making the oldest teenagers only 14 years old when his campaign began. Teenagers have experienced the intense political division of the Trump era for at least a quarter of their lives. Millennials and those in their early 20’s have memory of a less divisive time in politics.
I was 14 years old during the 2008 Presidential election. It was the first election I paid close attention to. There was plenty of animosity and disagreements, but none like the level of the 2016 election. I knew people who voted on both sides and never thought someone I disagreed with was inherently a bad person. I cast my first vote when I was 18 in the 2012 Presidential election. I had friends who voted on each side, and I never doubted that those who voted differently than I did were good people who just had differing opinions. Teenagers today can’t say the same.
Teenagers have experienced the intense political division of the Trump era for at least a quarter of their lives.
Over the past decade, the United States has become a deeply divided country. Research shows how the political division has fluctuated since the 1990s, and it also shows how much it has dramatically grown over the past 10 years. Colton Carpenter of the Harvard Political Review writes, “For many Americans, however, the days of general consensus seem long gone. According to Pew Research, there are no issues that are widely considered top priorities by both Democrats and Republicans today. The average partisan gap between the parties’ rankings of priority issues in 2019 is 19 points, representing a 36 percent increase over the last two decades.”
When both political parties refuse to come to a consensus, the Republican party often moves further to the right and the Democrats to the left, making more extreme views the norm. With this kind of division, it makes sense that some of those who grew up in this deeply divided political era choose the far right or the far left instead of a moderate or centrist position. And today’s teenagers are siding more with the far left — with Socialism and Marxism.
They’re Surrounded by Marxist Propaganda
For older teenagers, college professors promoting a Marxist agenda in the classroom could be a reason why so many are embracing more radical politics. Marx’s Communist Manifesto is one of the most commonly assigned books in college courses, and Marxist professors outnumber conservative professors on most college campuses.
Don’t get me wrong. Professors have freedom of speech and can promote what they want in their classroom. The problem lies in the fact that this is the dominant narrative on many college campuses, leaving little room for discussion or dissenting viewpoints. College should be about being challenged with new ideas in an open dialogue, not being fed one side of a narrative.
For older teenagers, college professors promoting a Marxist agenda in the classroom could be a reason why so many are embracing more radical politics.
For younger teenagers, it probably doesn’t help that teen media outlets are filled with Marxist propaganda. Teen Vogue is one of the greatest perpetrators. If you were like me as a teenager, you read Teen Vogue to copy celebrity fashion on a budget, and though it seemed like a cool place to work after watching Lauren Conrad’s internship with them on the earlier seasons of The Hills, it’s a completely different publication now.
Articles on how to copy Demi Lovato’s eyeliner have been replaced with articles on Socialist feminism, a biographical piece on Marx, and an interview with Ash Sarkar, a young British woman who went viral for yelling, “I'm a communist, you idiot!” at Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain. Teen Vogue’s shift from fashion and pop-culture to radical political content is representative of the larger media landscape, where there is only left-leaning political content written for teenagers.
Teen Vogue’s shift from fashion and pop-culture to radical political content is representative of the larger media landscape.
The Influence of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
It’s not uncommon for teenagers to have celebrity role models. I wanted to be just like Taylor Swift when I was a teenager, and my friends and I always had posters of Zac Efron and the Jonas Brothers on our bedroom walls. Many teenagers now have a young role model in the political sphere — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. With her 4.3 million Instagram followers and strong presence on other social media platforms, it’s safe to say she’s won the heart of both Millennials and Gen Z.
Her influence on teenage girls is important to note because this is the first time teenage girls have a young and powerful political figure to look up to, and she’s as popular as any pop-culture celebrity in Teen Vogue. It only makes sense that they would want to learn more about her and embrace her policies.
AOC’s influence on teenage girls is important to note because this is the first time teenage girls have a young, powerful, and popular political figure to look up to.
On a surface level, this makes a lot of sense. Being the youngest woman in the history of Congress is a major accomplishment, and it’s nice to see someone who’s young stick up for what they believe in, even if you disagree with them. She’s also more relatable than most politicians and is relevant in pop-culture; she made an appearance as a guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race and is making house calls on Animal Crossing.
However, it’s also important to acknowledge that many of her policies prove that the Overton window is shifting to the left. Many of her policies, especially the Green New Deal, are considered to be radical by both right-wing and left-wing circles. It’s important to acknowledge her accomplishments, but her accomplishments and her popularity don’t make her immune to criticism from a policy standpoint.
The answer to why teenage girls are embracing Socialism and Marxism is much simpler than why Millennials are. Teenagers have spent their formative years in one of the most divisive political climates in American history and are surrounded by Marxist propaganda, and these ideologies are only becoming more popular with the rise of figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This is important to take note of because teenagers will be our politicians someday, and it’s important to acknowledge how these trends inspired their political views.