Dear Abby: Comment Response March 17, 2009Posted by Jamie Friedland in Politics.
Tags: Democrats, Politics, Republicans, Youth Vote
Thrust, parry. Instead of reposting, I will just redirect you once again to my good friends at NextGenGOP.
A fellow Duke student posted a comment on my column today. While I cannot engage her criticisms about my column (and was happy to see that other people basically said what I would have anyways), I did decide to check out her blog, NextGenGOP. She also posted today, on the topic of youth liberalism.
After reading her piece, I decided that I ought to return the favor and leave her a similarly helpful albeit longer comment. Below, I have reposted her piece “Kids These Days,” followed by my response. Alternatively, you may read her post (and my response) on her blog (here), which I actually recommend – it is very nicely designed. Enjoy:
Kids These Days – Abby Alger
The question I am asked most often is why I am a Republican. It’s a query accompanied with a smirk by liberals, particularly Baby Boomers. (They hope my answer will contain overtly racist, sexist, classist, ageist, heterosupremacist, insertcategoryhereist opinions or—better yet!—upbringing of the same type so that I can be made to recognize my sins, repent, and achieve salvation/redemption/eternal life on the government dole.) And it’s a query increasingly accompanied with a bit of anxiety, edge, even desperation when it comes from Republicans mainly—conservatives, less so.
I’m in the generation that’s the least Republican since Pew started tracking such things. Depressing, not dire as a statistic, but indicative of a broad force at work. It’s something in the cultural water that turns the kids these days into knee-jerk Democrats of the leftist stripe. And it’s got to be in the water—and not just in being liberal at 20 because you have a heart etc.—because it’s a sort of blind, stupid activism that delights in conformity to the (now-confirmed) left-wing echo chamber, rather than overthrowing The Man to bring in a new era of enlightenment, happiness, peace, and drug legalization.
So what is it about Generation Me/Generation Next/Millennials that makes us so blindly leftist? Below are my initial thoughts. I invite fellow writers here to join in the chorus.
I think the answer, at that abstract, 30,000-foot view, is simple and explainable by characteristics of the era. The story goes something like this: being a limited-government, fiscally conservative Republican is, well, kind of boring. You let people do what they want to do. You provide for the common defense, the national infrastructure, some social goods (e.g. education), and enforce laws that keep people from stealing, killing, and the like. It is remote, even impersonal. The government does not care who you are or what you do. It just gets out of your damn way.
But I’m in the generation that believes it is amazingly interesting. The internet, which brought to us delights like LOLcats, rickrolling, and Rathergate, also brought us navel-gazing on a scale unseen before now. As Matt Labash put it in this week’s Weekly Standard, “The very fact that they are on Facebook has convinced people that every facet of their life is inherently interesting enough to alert everyone to its importance.” In other words, me me me now now now pay attention pay attention pay attention to me me me.
Unsurprisingly, this also affects political discourse. What I feel is infinitely more important than what I know or what you can prove with logic or numbers. “That offends me [or aggrieved groups X, Y, and Z]” is a sufficient answer to settle any intellectual debate. Take away your cold facts; my intuition and desires are enough to settle complex debates. Sound familiar yet?
And I’m in the generation that believes it depends on what the meaning of is…is. However young we were during Bill and Monica, we got the lesson. There are no moral absolutes, no unimpeachable standards of right and wrong. There is only legal and illegal. What the law prescribes is allowed; what it does not discuss is a black hole. (Here there be anarchy, so we never go there.) But then, even that is flexible. A tax cheat collects our taxes, a corrupt crook stayed governor of Illinois for weeks, and a perjurer held the highest office in the land.
This whole process makes us curiously dependent on the government and our legislators to decide what is good, what is bad, and what the penalties are for transgressing those boundaries. We dwell, quite literally, in the nanny state. Even worse, we enjoy it. We press for its growth and slow encroachment on each part of our lives.
As Republicans and conservatives, how do we communicate to this generation? We tell them to grow up or we wait until they do (i.e. when they get their first paychecks). The only upshot of Obama’s budget is that he may hasten that process nicely…
Dear Abby – My Response
As much as I hate to add a discordant voice to your one-woman “chorus,” I accept your invitation.
Do you honestly believe that young people lean left just because we seek conformity? Or because fiscally responsible governance is “boring?” Wake up.
Liberalism is not in the water (that apparently only young people drink). It is a product of an open mind that cares about the world it lives in. The free market and <6 year election cycle are ill-suited to addressing long-term challenges. Yet somehow I still care about my long-term future. I’d like the world to be a clean, safe place both for myself now and my kids later. And sadly, that makes me a Democrat.
We’re liberals because we think everyone deserves a chance. And we’re liberals because we think everyone deserves a choice. For a party that prides itself on government “getting out of your damn way,” you certainly enjoy legislating your values. But if you really want to know why our generation is so “blindly” Democratic, I’ll tell you the answer, but you’re not going to like it:
We are Democrats because of Republicans. Our generation awoke politically to the travesties of the Bush administration and its Congressional accomplices. I don’t have to list the deeds of that gang, you know them well. And we’re still paying for them today in money and blood.
Growing up in that climate, how could we become anything but Democrats? Even if we DIDN’T support the liberal policy agenda or happen to care about the environment, in a 2-party system we really had little choice BUT lean left. Our generation wasn’t born Democratic, we were pushed there, away from the Republicans abusing our government and hijacking our country.
And do you really want to talk about criminal politicians? People in glass houses, for god’s sake. Our guy got a blow job. Your guy deceived us into an unending war et plenty of al.. You do NOT want to go here. If our country were as interested in transparency as you claim to be (in your profile) and our current president wasn’t trying to turn a new leaf and leave the past where it is, we WOULD have to legalize drugs – to make room for Republicans in our prisons (perhaps not for quantity, just quality).
Also, it’s cute that you scoff at Democrats for wanting peace. You’re right, it IS confusing why more young people aren’t Republicans.
Unrelated point but worth mentioning: it’s a little hypocritical to disparage our generation because it “believes it is amazingly interesting” and draws undue attention to itself…on a blog that you started so the whole world can access your personal insights. Yes, I know I have a blog too. But my life and opinions are amazingly interesting.
I lamented during the election about my inability to find active young Republicans. It is nice to have finally found them.