Turning Off the Twenty-Somethings

This opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal echoes something Aggie said repeatedly during the campaign:

In politics, as in life, perception is key. The Chicago machine and the Democratic National Committee as a whole have perfected the art of marketing, even when they’ve got nothing to sell. They’re like a used-car salesman who pushes lemons on unsuspecting drivers and never gets caught. Democrats can home in on Latinos, blacks, single women, young voters—and have them chanting “Four more years!” before they know what hit them.

I happen to be one of the latter, a college student at a time when youth is a hot political commodity. Most kids my age bristle at the word “conservative,” and I don’t blame them. The right has done nothing to welcome young people.

Shame on Republicans for not seizing the opportunity this time around. They could so easily define their brand as the true advocate of rebellion; a “stick it to the government” movement in the spirit of the 1960s hippie wave.

The party of pro-choice, pro-gay has such a hold on young people because those are issues they can care about easily. Not many 20-year-olds can hold a coherent conversation about Social Security reform or double taxation, but all of them can argue passionately for gay rights.

As a member of this all-important demographic, I know that neither I nor (almost) anybody else coming of age today supports the Republican social agenda. That’s the way the country is moving—so just deal with it. Modernize and prioritize.

Though it may be painful, though it may be costly at the polls in the short run, Republicans don’t have a future unless they break up with the religious right and the gay-bashing, Bible-thumping fringe that gives the party such a bad rap with every young voter. By fighting to legally ban abortion, the party undercuts the potential to paint itself as a rebel against the governmental-control machine.

Embracing a more liberal social agenda doesn’t require anyone to abandon her own personal values; it’s possible to keep faith and the party too. But the evangelical set essentially hijacked the Republican Party in the 1970s; now we need to take it back.

I’m not sure I’d put it in those terms, but there sure is more to being a Republican (or a conservative, if you prefer) than demonizing gays and the right to choose. I don’t hate evangelicals for their views, even if I don’t share them, but I know that their preferred candidate, let’s say Rick Santorum, would lose in a landslide.

I may agree this country is going to hell, but I stick with the lower-case h. It’s not hellfire and brimstone I fear, but red ink and socialism. The writer, a young woman, makes a point worth heeding. Republicans have turned off youth so much, not even double-digit unemployment under Obamanomics will drive them to vote for the GOP.

4 Comments »

  1. Kimmi said,

    November 12, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

    The reason Republicans lost this time around is not because the youths or women voted for Obama. The youths and women have leaned liberal for a very long time. Republicans lost because they have been unsuccessful at selling their brand. They have been unsuccessful at selling their brand because they have moved to a position where they are no longer trying to sell conservative values but trying to gain political power by mimicking the left. There was not much of an agenda set forth by Romney himself. The agenda Romney set forth was lacking in detail. He left us wondering who would show up in the oval office. Would it be the Romneycare type governing style seen in Massachussets or a small government conservative who embraced a running mate like Paul Ryan? Romney never successfully responded to the charges about Bain and he never overcame the image of being a wealthy businessman who didn’t really care about the common man. Thus leaving him unable to make the argument that as a businessman he would be best suited to fix the economy. Zogby polls suggested that the economy was the number one issue on peoples minds going into the polls but most thought Romney’s policies favored the wealthy.

    This twenty something unmarried Californian female does not believe that Republicans need to become more liberal to gain votes but need to instead put up candidates who are effective at selling a conservative brand.

  2. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    November 12, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    Thank you, Kimmi, for that comment. I can’t get my head around this loss, and I welcome—heck, I’m desperate for—diverse opinions on the subject.

    BTL

  3. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    November 12, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

    Kimmi,

    I agree with both you and the young woman that wrote the WSJ article – there are lots of ways to view this. I would add that Romney never had the chance to portray himself in a caring light because the media, working with the Obama campaign, took control of the narrative. In 2008, nobody knew anything about what Obama would do if elected because he simply refused to discuss it. That was viewed as brilliant strategy and didn’t cost him any votes at all. The media endorsed it. But if Romney provided detailed plans (original 59 point plan), they didn’t report on it, and when he simplified it (5 point plan), they said he wasn’t giving meaningful information.

    My own view is that we have multiple problems as a nation and they work together to cause us to be unserious and ill-informed. For example, most people cannot understand the magnitude of the deficit because they can’t do simple arithmetic. They were not forced to learn multiplication tables and decimals and basic algebra and they can’t understand big numbers. Seriously. It is also true that there are cultural problems, especially around gay rights and abortion. The infighting among Republicans isn’t useful. And the cultural acceptance of expressing disdain and loathing of Republican ideas causes conservatives to closet themselves. But I think the biggest problem of all is that the media simply refuses to report on anything that the administration does that might not go over well. Here’s one example: Did you know that Doctors Without Borders is operating in NYC because FEMA is so completely lame? And did you know that most of what they are doing is delivering insulin and AIDS medications to people on Staten Island and Queens? Can you guess where these drugs are coming from? Manhattan. Yes. Manhattan. We require an international organization to go to Manhattan every day, collect medication, and deliver it to Queens.

    - Aggie

  4. Kimmi said,

    November 12, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

    Aggie,

    I agree 100 % about the media but a liberal media has dominated the discussion ever since I can remember and there was a Republican president in the not so distance past. Romney did not help himself when he made the 47 % percent comment, even if it is true. Republicans know that the media is campaigning for the Democrats and therefore they need to think more carefully about how they say things.

    I agree with you about Americans not knowing simple arithmetic. I teach two sections of a general biology laboratory for biology majors and have watched students use calculators for arithmetic that amounts to 1 + 1 and come up with answer other than 2.

    I agree with you that the media refuses to report information that might harm the current administration but I do not think that this is the biggest problem. The biggest problem is an American public that is too lazy to seek out the information.

    Kimmi

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