Is the GOP Doomed by the ‘Generation Gap’?
November 27, 2012 - 2:05 pm
Winston Churchill has been quoted as saying, “Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.”
And any man who writes on politics for New York Magazine has neither heart nor brains — especially if his name is Jonathan Chait:
How doomed are conservatives? Pretty doomed, if you look carefully at the Pew Research Survey’s close analysis of the youth vote in the 2012 elections. The Republicans’ long-term dilemma has generally been framed in racial terms, but it’s mainly a generational one. The youngest generation of voters contains a much smaller proportion of white voters than previous generations, and those whites in that generation vote Republican by a much smaller margin than their elders. What’s more, younger voters supported President Obama during the last two election cycles for reasons that seem to go beyond the usual reasons — social issues like gay marriage and feminism, immigration policy, or Obama’s personal appeal — and suggest a deeper attachment to liberalism. The proclivities of younger voters may actually portend a full-scale sea change in American politics.
Chait needs a quick trip to the Wizard of Oz. In addition to heart and brains, he might see if the old humbug has any common sense rattling around in that sack.
The transformation of the young from liberal to conservative begins when they get their first paycheck as teenagers. The look of shock and dismay on these kids’ faces would be comical if you didn’t remember having the same look on your face when you got your first paycheck. “What’s FICA?” they wail. The disbelief they feel that the government would take so much — enough to fill up their gas tanks or get a couple of CDs — is not quite a Road to Damascus moment, but it certainly gets the wheels turning.
Feeling this way doesn’t make them any less compassionate for those less fortunate, or resentful of those on the dole. But it is their first lesson in understanding the adage that all those who can’t wait for their “free” health care under Obamacare seem to have forgotten: “There is no free lunch.” The first step in the transformation of liberal to conservative is a cognitive one — the understanding that funding the government so that it can bestow all those benefits is a fine thing in the abstract. But when it comes to you having actual skin in the game when the government taxes you for those benefits, your perspective is altered dynamically.