The New Rebels Are on the Right
The GOP can and must appeal to the freedom-loving, rebellious side of young voters.
February 16, 2009 - 12:00 am
To revive the party, Republicans need to shake off the party’s image as one of staid, old, straight white men, say moderates like David Frum. To this end he has started a new blog, the New Majority. In order to win again, we need to give up social and cultural issues, say the reformers. We also need to start blogging, Twittering, RSS-feeding, Digg-ing, text-messaging, email-alerting, and getting connected into the vast electronic network that the Democrats use so well.
Indeed, Big Brother Obama has a direct electronic cord to his followers.
We need to do the same, they suggest.
But had McCain-Palin offered such a direct conduit, it is doubtful that any of the kids would have signed up. As far as I can tell, conservatives have no trouble getting the message out to people who are interested because once I had filled out a form for one conservative list, I saw them spread like dandelions in my inbox.
And it seems that students are already capable of using the electronic network to effect change, as the protest via Facebook against using student fees to pay for a Bill Ayers appearance at a campus demonstrates.
But most of my college students won’t give Fox News even a look and have never heard of the conservative journals or blogs out there. Conservative foundations offering grants, scholarships, and free workshops beg for student participants.
Zac Morgan writing at the New Majority notes that it was the appeal of Obama that drew young people to the polls. To them, John McCain is like some historical artifact in a Wikipedia article, Morgan suggests.
Yet, it was McCain’s running mate, a woman younger than Obama, who drew the most vitriol — especially from young women.
The vitriol came from young female bloggers and columnists, and spread to college campuses.
I was taken aback by my female students’ contempt for Palin. After I had assigned them Gloria Steinem’s editorial, “Palin: Wrong Woman, Wrong Message,” I was surprised at how they bought the talking points on “patriarchy,” “right wing,” and “reproductive freedom” that the 74-year-old Steinem resuscitated. Steinem was on the same track she was on in a 1971 New York Times editorial that they also read.
But I shouldn’t have been surprised: Steinem’s language — and Obama’s community organizing, diversity dribble — has been the language young people grew up speaking in schools.
In addition, faculty and staff members openly displayed their support for Obama during this election. And they continue to promote the idea that Obama is the messiah.
Consider this fawning post by University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley Dean James Perry, linked on the university’s main web page next to the large advertisement for The Vagina Monologues (hat tip to English Professor Malcolm Allen).
Dean Perry’s verbal boot-licking should appall any self-respecting, independent-minded young person.
Dean Perry is the establishment. We are the rebels. And we need to tap into the rebellious nature of our students.
We need to tell them about something they value: freedom. And we need to do it in a genre they relate to — satire.
The other side has given us plenty to work with, like the Demi Moore pledge video of pontificating celebrity narcissists. And the hokey, pseudo-country/multicultural Born Again American pap put out by Norman Lear.
We’ve got the talent and the intellectual powerhouses. I know plenty of conservative Ph.D.s frozen out of tenure-track positions at universities, and plenty of writers and artists who can’t sell their work to the outlets controlled by the liberal publishers and producers. (Shameless self-promotion here: I’ve got several manuscripts.)
We need to put these on the shows that young people watch.
Jonas Stankovich, a college student blogging at the New Majority, suggests that Republicans follow the lead of Republican economist Lawrence Lindsay and take their message to such arenas as The Daily Show.
That’s one good idea from the New Majority website.
But we don’t have to give up our social principles.
We just need the opportunity to expose the power-grabbing, fascistic traits of the current administration. It’s an administration that wants to take away our freedom to earn and use our money the way we want (the “stimulus” bill), the freedom to listen to and express opinions (the revival of the “Fairness” Doctrine, Obama’s public ridicule of conservative talk show hosts), the freedom to defend ourselves (assaults on the Second Amendment, aid to dangerous Palestinian refugees, the closing of Guantanamo), and the freedom to live (abortion on demand, rationed government health care).
We need to get this message out. It’s all about values.
This is where the Republicans have failed. They have focused too much on the short term and not enough on culture and education.
The left, on the other hand, began its project in 1962, when the SDS founders meeting in Port Huron outlined their strategy of infiltrating the universities. They won hearts and minds through a long process — not by compromising or looking to the short term. Barack Obama simply stepped into the position that had been prepared for him. The process began before he was born.
It’s always been a culture war. To ignore that fact is to continue with the strategies that have failed.