After last month’s election, I had a series of conversations with friends and family regarding the results, and why they thought President Obama was re-elected despite the deplorable condition of the U.S. economy and his oft-stated positions opposed to any real reforms except for raising taxes – “Ask the rich to pay a little bit more.”
One liberal friend said the parties were basically tied on economics (because the subject is wonky and hard for the average guy to understand) but it was the GOP’s positions on social issues that brought Romney down, specifically abortion and “gay rights.” And similar to Mitt Romney’s post-election explanations, several conservatives blamed giveaways to Democrat constituencies as the cause of his defeat.
Like Bill O’Reilly is fond of saying, people just want “stuff.”
While I may not agree with all the points made by the cross-sample, what was most astonishing were the answers given by the younger folks I talked with – and therein lies the problem for conservatives in turning our political fortunes around.
“Mitt Romney wants to take away women’s rights.”
“I think two people who are in love should be able to get married, and Republicans tell them they can’t.”
“Women should be able to terminate a pregnancy, and it’s nobody else’s business.”
“Obama is cool. Romney’s old.”
Not a single one of them mentioned the Constitution or the role of government. Most of these kids sounded like they’re shaping their political worldview based on what they read on Facebook and Twitter.
I know from observations that most of them know how to use the internet and phones to communicate in just about every way possible, but when asked about the size of the national debt, they don’t have a clue.
From what I can tell, the public education establishment doesn’t really address the issues, either. Kids certainly need the three R’s in order to develop a firm foundation for the future, but what’s getting lost is the ability to think and process the information they’re being given. There’s no requirement for students to challenge the positions of the political establishment – it seems like it’s just a regurgitation of facts and figures.
And to some degree, hero worship (not of the Founding Fathers).
These are not just political issues, these are cultural issues, and conservatives are on the losing end of this up-and-coming generation simply because our side of the story is not being listened to. Granted, there were a few kids in my informal survey who expressed conservative views, but the majority seems to hold the same beliefs as the young lady wearing the Obama sticker seated at a table next to us at a fast-food place on Election Day.
I was sorely tempted to ask her the reasons why she supports Obama, but I suspect I already knew.
Much has been written about the GOP’s demographic obstacles in the upcoming elections, but if the moldable minds of our youth cannot be shaped in a liberty-oriented direction, then it won’t matter much who we put forth as candidates.
I doubt this generation would have warmed to Ronald Reagan if he had been running against someone like Obama. They don’t want to hear about freedom, they want to be comforted with security and notions of “fairness” in social values.
They’re digging their own financial holes before they even get a job – and they don’t even realize it.
Education begins at home. We can’t rely on teachers to provide the ability to think and challenge the status quo. If conservatives are going to make headway in turning around the political arena, the cultural deficit must be filled first.