How Conservatives Can Win Back Young Americans

posted by Jay Weber - 

via The Weekly Standard by Ben Shapiro

Young Americans are moving to the left. On virtually every issue, they support the Democratic party. A Harvard University poll taken in December 2017 found that among likely American voters aged 18-29, fully 65 percent supported Democratic control of Congress. Polls consistently show greater warmth for socialism among millennials than their elders, greater sympathy for regulation, and less interest in protecting core constitutional liberties ranging from freedom of speech to freedom of religion.

“So,” conservatives usually respond, “what else is new?”

And there’s some truth to this. For generations, conservatives have had to fret over the possibility of losing their children to the attractions of the left, and for generations we’ve been comforting ourselves with the bastardized saying, “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 40, you have no brain.” We tell ourselves that as Americans age, get married, have children, and pay taxes, they’ll inevitably move to the right.

Not anymore.

Given the polling data, cheery optimism isn’t just whistling past the grave. It’s whistling with one foot in the grave. Older conservatives, clutching the Trump presidency like a security blanket, sound less like steady advocates for calm and more like the man questioned about how things are going just after jumping off the top of the Empire State Building: “So far, so good.”

Here’s what the polls show: Young Americans are moving left and staying there. According to a Pew Research study from June 2017, approximately 41 percent of millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) considered themselves either mostly or consistently liberal in their views in 2004; in 2011, that number had remained somewhat steady at 38 percent; by 2017, that number had ballooned to 57 percent, with just 15 percent of millennials calling themselves consistently or mostly conservative. A March 2018 Pew study on the generation gap in American politics found that among Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980), 29 percent considered themselves liberal in 1994; today, that number has shot up to 43 percent. In 1994, liberal baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) were actually outnumbered by conservatives 29 percent to 22 percent; today, liberals outnumber conservatives 39 percent to 32 percent.

Typically, conservatives combat this sort of broad-based political change by pointing out the extremism of the left. During the Carter era, things certainly looked dark for the GOP, but conservatives were able to point out Carter’s incompetence; after Bill Clinton’s 1992 election victory, Republicans ran against Hillarycare and higher taxes; after Barack Obama’s landslide 2008 election, conservatives made war on Democrats’ overspending and regulatory overreach.

And there is no reason to think that Republicans can’t win the same kind of victories now. Republicans famously swept local and state political races across the country between 2010 and 2016; they took the House, the Senate, and the presidency. Meanwhile, Democrats have continued to swing more and more wildly to the left. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is now the ideological head of the party, promoting insane schemes to guarantee jobs, student loans, and an infinite supply of ambrosia and nectar to all through the power of centralized government. Thought leaders like Ta-Nehisi Coates have sought to replace the blue-collar base of Bill Clinton with the intersectional coalition of Barack Obama, using identity politics as a club against Americans who refuse to admit their “white privilege.” Campus ideologues have declared that the future will be replete with “safe spaces” and compulsory use of transgender pronouns. The left has thrown its moderates out with the bathwater. There is only one pro-life Democrat in Congress. There are few pro-gun Democrats there.

The full piece here > How Conservatives Can Win Back Young Americans

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