The kids are alright

Desperate conservatives delude themselves that young voters are Republicans.

July 28, 2007 12:50AM (UTC)
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Earlier this week Glenn Greenwald discussed this dreamy cover story in the Weekly Standard claiming that members of the new "9/11 Generation" are more patriotic than their dirty hippie forebears and implying they share the views of those who write for the Weekly Standard.

On the same day, Townhall published this article claiming that today's young women are much more conservative than their slutty feminist mothers:


These are the "New Victorians." They don't wear corsets or submit to confinement while pregnant, but they've turned against the sexual revolution, yearning for tradition in their lives. They're getting married and having babies and, unlike their parents, putting away childish things at an early age.

The New Vics don't even show much pity for their "spinster sisters" in their 30s, fretting because their biological clocks are ticking ever louder and they can't find suitable prospects among the Peter Pan bachelors who refuse to commit. The New Vics grew up on the sitcom "Sex and the City," and they don't approve of the way those characters lived reckless lives.

Setting aside the fact that this "New Victorianism" has been proclaimed to be the latest trend every five years or so for the past quarter century, this article too implies that that the modern Republican faux philosophy of patriotism and traditional values is catching on like wildfire among the kids and it's only a matter of time before the nation is swept up in the firestorm.

There's a teensy problem with that thesis. It's not just that everywhere you look in popular culture you see a vast diversity among young people, from "Girls Gone Wild" to Goths to evangelicals at pep rallies. Neither is it that all the flagship conservative media projects are patronized by the oldest demographic in the nation. It's this (PDF):


Republicans Collapse Among Young Americans:

A major, multi-mode survey of America's young people recently conducted by Democracy Corps shows young people profoundly alienated from the Republican Party and poised to deliver a significant majority to the Democratic nominee for President in 2008. [ ... ] Exploring attitudes toward the parties themselves, young voters' reaction to fundamental issues and their perceptions of the GOP suggest a fundamental alienation from the Republican Party, a crisis that will not leave with the Bush administration.

Young people react with hostility to the Republicans on almost every measure and Republicans and younger voters disagree on almost every major issue of the day. The range of the issue disagreements range from the most prominent issues of the day (Iraq, immigration) to burning social issues (gay marriage, abortion) to fundamental ideological disagreements over the size and scope of government. This leaves both potential Democratic nominees with substantial leads over Rudy Giuliani, but importantly, both Democrats still have room to grow their support among younger voters. The current problems with the Republican brand are not fully reflected in young people's preferences in for President.

These conservative observers of popular culture probably ought to dig just a little bit deeper. They may find that the 9/11 generation and the "New Vics" are exactly as they seem -- but they are voting Democratic anyway. That old Republican brand just ain't what it used to be.


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