Thingish Things

Snatching the Youth Vote

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Apr• 28•11

Republicans look lame to most young people.  We are stiff and mean, always saying ‘no’ to progressive-sounding ideas. Democrats want to revolutionize the world; Republicans want to till it.  We are the authoritarian fathers to the Democrats’ cool aunts or uncles. That’s why for every Alex P. Keaton, there are two Gloria Bunkers, if not Gloria Steinems.

This perception was never more evident than in 2008, when idealistic young voters supported Barack Obama over John McCain by a margin of 66-31 – a shellacking for the GOP in the under 25 electoral market.  It wasn’t the margin of victory in the election, but it sure helped the Democrat.

But young voters should be wide open to GOP messaging in 2012, if only Republicans would address them.  Republicans may never enjoy a plurality of support like Senator Obama did in 2008, but parity, plus one or two is entirely feasible.

The 18-25 voting bloc is poised to skew Republican, even if it doesn’t know it yet.  It may not be hip to be Republican at that age, but it’s always been hip to be smart, and any young person blindly supporting President Obama’s deficit spending policies is being anything but. The President’s policies, and the policies of  most Democratic congressman, senators, and state leaders, are annihilating opportunities for future generations by the minute.  Republicans need to say that on college campuses about 100 million times between now and November 6, 2012.

The generation of young people voting in 2012 is in trouble.  The President is running up unfathomable credit card bills under their signature, as the brilliant economist David Malpass often puts it.  So are state legislatures.  The combined debt states face in pension costs now exceeds $3 trillion, according to estimates.  Add that to the $14 trillion in federal debt we are looking at today.  I won’t have to pay the bill. But my daughters and their daughters will.

A partner at my firm said something brilliant yesterday, literally at the water cooler.   “Why will young people move to New York City in a decade,” he asked, “when 100% of their discretionary tax dollars will go to paying for trash that’s already been picked up?” – that is, to pay the pensions of sanitation of workers and other city employees who retired years ago.  That’s actually what we’re looking at, not just in New York, but in municipalities everywhere. Money that pays for parks and little league scoreboards and community centers today will have to be diverted  into pension payments tomorrow. There is no way around that.

Young people are blessed with idealism and optimism.  It’s why audacious campaign lines like “This is the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal” are so appealing at that age. But they are neither stupid nor unapproachable. Republicans need to remember that in 2012.


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  1. Good Luck says:

    The GOP needs to dump the dumbass wing of the party. When Trump is trumping the message of adults like Daniels, Pawlenty and (dare I say) even Ron Paul, then you know we’re in trouble.

  2. Your Friend says:

    I’m guessing you think The New Yorker is a liberal rag, but the recent piece by George Packer is a more cogent argument, IMHO, about the differnces between the two parties, especially when framed as ideology vs. principles. Anyway, it seems to support the idea that Paul Ryan may be more trouble than good for your side of the aisle. The reason I think no republican can win is because they will first need to cater to the wing-nut side of the party in order to win the nomination and they will never be able to walk it back from there.

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