Let me begin by saying that I think the only issue in the 2014 election should be Obamacare. In fact, that should be the only issue in every election until it’s repealed.
I also think all Republican candidates should be trained with shock collars and cattle prods to automatically respond, upon hearing some combination of the words “abortion,” “rape” and “incest”: “Yes, of course there should be exceptions in the case of rape or incest, and I also support giving rapists the death penalty, unlike my Democratic opponent, who wants to give rapists the right to vote. Now, back to what I was saying about Obamacare …”
Yet and still, I’m not sure it’s news that The New York Times ran into some kids at CPAC who are “pro-free market on fiscal issues and libertarian on social ones.” [Young Republicans Find Fault With Elders on List of Social Issues,” March 10, 2014]
First of all, young people are idiots. I love them, I was one once myself—but they’re idiots. We’ll be interested in their opinions on the basic rules of civilization as soon as they have one of three things: a household to run, a mortgage or school-aged children. Being in college is like living in Disneyland.
Second, I’ve been reading that same column in The New York Times every few months for the last 20 years. Whether it’s abortion, gays, God or drugs, Times reporters are like bloodhounds in sniffing out Republicans—often kids—who are “pro-free market on fiscal issues and libertarian on social ones.” If something has been trending for decades without ever really catching on, it’s probably not about to sweep the nation.
In 1988, the Times claimed Congress had “lost its taste for the social agenda” and quoted Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire—one of the GOP’s last liberals and, consequently, the Times‘ lodestar for all things Republican—saying that people like himself “felt deeply” that the social issues should be dumped.
In 1989, the Times was all atwitter about three typical Republicans who opposed the GOP’s pro-life position. These “stalwart Republicans” were: Barbara Gimbel of Manhattan (Gimbels department store heiress), Barbara Mosbacher of Manhattan (banking heiress) and Pauline Harrison of Manhattan (DuPont heiress). All vowed not to support any pro-life candidates—except Harrison, “because she had recently been appointed to the Republican State Committee representing the 66th Assembly District on Manhattan’s East Side.” There’s a reason you never hear the expression, “As goes Manhattan’s Upper East Side, so goes the nation.”
In 1996—nearly 20 years ago!—guess what the Times said young voters cared about? Young people were: “Conservative on economic issues and liberal-leaning on social issues like health care and abortion.” It’s almost as if today’s generation of whippersnappers is exactly like their middle-aged counterparts 20 years ago!
In 1999, the Times reported that Republicans were “repositioning” themselves on the abortion issue, based on their recognition that “a more tolerant position” would help the GOP win the White House. The following year, pro-life Republican George W. Bush won the presidency.
In 2003, the Times again noticed that the Republican Party was considering “moving to the center on social issues in order to become even more competitive in state and national races.” Former representative Joe Scarborough told the Times, “I think the country right now continues to get more conservative on economic issues and more progressive on social issues.”
The year on the calendar changes, but the clichés stay the same.
In 2006, the Times triumphantly reported that former representative Dick Armey had denounced James Dobson and Focus on the Family as a “gang of thugs,” and “real nasty bullies.” Armey complained that while Republicans were talking about “gay marriage and so forth,” Democrats were “talking about the things people care about, like how do I pay my bills?” (Of course, as soon as Democrats get elected, then all they talk about is transgender rights for kindergartners.)
In 2008, the Times found some “families that have been Republican for generations” carping about the “newcomers’ agenda of opposition to abortion, gay rights and liberalized immigration policies.”
In 2009, the Times reported that Republicans were “rethinking” their position on gay marriage because—guess who didn’t care about it? That’s right: Young people! In another article that year, the Times said: “Many Republicans have been arguing that the party’s focus on social issues is a mistake.”
In 2012, the Times produced this gripping headline: “Young in GOP Erase the Lines on Social Issues.” Yes, apparently, people with no responsibilities, no families to provide for, no children to worry about, and who had recently experienced their first hangovers, didn’t care about the social issues.
As with every generation, the kids always think they’re saying something fresh and new. “Social issues are far down the priorities list,” Matt Hoagland told the Times, “and I think that’s the trend.” (How far down the list compared to “global warming”?)
So I guess, in addition to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, we can add to the list of “Things Young People Didn’t Invent” the bright new idea of being “pro-free market on fiscal issues and libertarian on social ones.”
Interestingly, when the Times reports on actual election results, rather than the opinions of 20-year-olds, the paper admits that the social issues are a huge boon to Republicans.
In 2004, for example, when traditional marriage initiatives were on ballots in dozens of states, the Times admitted that the measures “acted like magnets for thousands of socially conservative voters in rural and suburban communities who might not otherwise have voted” and even “tipped the balance” in close races. (Same-Sex Marriage Issue Key to Some GOP Races, November 4, 2004.)
Luckily, like every generation before them, someday, young people will eventually grow up and discover that you can’t have conservative economic policies without also having conservative social policies. Imagine their embarrassment when they realize that a free society is impossible without lots of stable, married, two-parent families raising their children in safe, drug-free neighborhoods.
How about not letting them vote until they’re at least old enough not to be on their parents’ health insurance?
Her most recent book is Never Trust a Liberal Over Three-Especially a Republican.