Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, March 19, 2018

In a Tuesday article for The New York Times’ Upshot blog, David Leonhardt suggests that the next generation could grow up conservative — even though today’s young voters are overwhelmingly liberal and diverse, and the GOP is the party of older white voters.

Leonhardt argues that ideology is generational. The hippies of the 1960s who fought against Vietnam and supported gender and racial equality were replaced by the generation that voted for Reagan and social conservatism.

He writes that the current crop of young voters grew up with the Iraq War and George W. Bush’s failed policies. They’re the generation of “hope and change.” But the next generation is growing up under a struggling Obama administration. President Obama appears powerless in a government where little is accomplished, and this group doesn’t really remember the Bush administration.

If the GOP were still the moderate party it was during the 1970s, then Leonhardt’s argument could make a lot of sense. Political attitudes shift, which is why control of the nation frequently switches between the Democratic and Republican parties. In the 1970s, President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, which many of today’s Republicans would like to see abolished, and pushed for a very progressive welfare plan.

But today’s GOP has moved so far to the right that it’s hard to imagine young people supporting a party that really doesn’t represent them. For example, the modern Republican Party denies global warming and attacks welfare programs.

Of voters aged 18-39, 72 percent think that global warming is a serious problem facing the country, while only 49 percent of Republicans do, according to a June ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Similarly, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that 45 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds think that the poor aren’t doing enough, compared to 61 percent of Republicans.

Leonhardt admits to a few holes in his argument. For one, Obama’s administration is largely struggling because the Republican Party does whatever it can to block all his initiatives.

He also acknowledges that the GOP has a large diversity problem. The latest Census Bureau data shows that the country is becoming more and more diverse. Non-Hispanic single whites under the age of 18 only make up 52.4 percent of the population, and that will continue to decline. Leonhardt points out that 45 percent of American teens are either Hispanic or a minority, compared to 29 percent of citizens older than 20.

In the 2012 election, although young voters favored him less than they did in 2008, they were still President Obama’s largest base of support (60 percent voted for him). While whites were the only race of which a majority voted for Romney, Obama won 93 percent of the black vote, 73 percent of Asians, and 71 percent of Hispanics. The Republican Party has a problem with minority voters, and it’s not going to go away unless the GOP reforms its platform and becomes more inclusive.

Leonhardt is correct that today’s teens will remember the Obama administration when they cast their first votes. His legacy isn’t looking so great at the moment — a poll did just name him the worst president since World War II. But what Leonhardt fails to mention is that some young voters might be disillusioned with Obama because he’s not progressive enough. These voters are certainly not going to run to the Republican Party, a party that definitely won’t close the prison at Guantánamo or reform Wall Street.

No one in the 1960s would have predicted that the next generation would become Reagan Democrats, so it’s true that anything can happen over the next few years. But it’s very unlikely that the next generation will take a sharp right turn.

Photo: Chill Mimi via Flickr

Interested in U.S. politics? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 The National Memo

29 Responses to Why The Next Generation Won’t Turn To The Right

  1. Some may become conservatives and most won’t. The upcoming generation is by-in-large better educated and socially engaged. Look at their views on gays and women’s issues for a clue to their future political bent.

  2. Being from a conservative district, I completely disagree with this piece. The problem is that the Democratic Party doesn’t offer young people any sort of vested interest. Yes, young people believe in climate change, support same sex marriage, and marijuana reform. But does that make them Democrats?

    For the Democrats to steal away young conservatives they have to learn how to talk to conservatives and run conservative Democrats in some Districts. For me the most appealing Democratic ideals, are protecting American jobs, unions, roads, and education.

    • Democrats do not need to “steal” young conservatives: the party’s platform is replete with the policies, you yourself agree, will attract these voters, “protecting American jobs, unions, roads, and education.” GOP policies promoted nationwide demonstrate irrefutably that Republicans know full well they can only win elections by cheating: gerrymandering districts to stack the deck; passing legislation in Red states that disenfranchises voters who do not see things their way; using the right-wing media to broadcast outright lies and slander against Democrats, especially the president; and wasting millions on do-nothing gestures in Congress, like proposing bills to repeal the ACA or running “hearings,” which more resemble kangaroo courts, and are meant to discover and foment imaginary scandals and made-up conspiracies. What kind of “vested interest” does this chicanery offer young people of any political persuasion?

      • The Democrats have operated under the same rules that Republicans have. Democrats play to their base, Democrats gerrymander districts, and Democrats alienate rural voters.

        You might find the Republican Party absolutely detestable… but the fact is young people didn’t see Ron Paul as disgraceful. Most of his young supporters viewed him as a principled critic of Iraq, and an ally in drug legalization. I have even heard it argued in some conservative circles that young people lost Romney the election by voting for Johnson.

        The only Democrat actually talking policy that affects young people is Elizabeth Warren. And Warren isn’t talking about gay marriage, diversity, and ecology. She is talking about the government profiting from student loans, which isn’t really a partisan issue.

        • There is no “left” politics that is equivalent to the “right”.

          For every one “dirty trick” you can point to on the lest I can how you 1,000 from the right that are far more destructive and detrimental to our American Democracy that pale anything from the left.

          Bring up Benjahazi (spelling?) and I can show you 13 similar situation (with over 100 dead!) that happened during Bush’s terms…or that more Americans die every month from the GOP denying the expansion to Medicare than the amount of people who dies in Benjahazi.

          We have never faulted on our loan until the Republicans took over 1/3 of the government. He have never had a government shutdown. We went from the largest surplus this nation has ever known to the largest deficit…all under the “fiscally responsible party”…what a joke!

          Students are seeing who is voting against reducing student loans, who’s religion is making it harder on their single mom and who is voting to take away benefits from family member who return from service.

          Republicans lie so much that you “greymettered” the last election so badly that even FOX entertainment was surprised that Romney lost.

          Back in the Vietnam era the “hippies” made a grave mistake by targeting the service men and not the government and it cost them a lot over the years. NOW with the creation of the Tea baggers the Republicans are going to experience the same downfall that will cost them at least 2-3 generations ofvoters.

          Why…because you fools keep doubling down on your stupidity. Whatwoman, minority, worker or veteran would vote for this party of “no”…i.e. thestupid party.

          It’s a good time to be a progressive. And who am I to interrupt my enemy when he is making such a grave mistake.

          • You seem to think I am defending the Republican Party. I am not. Republicans are selling the message that government doesn’t work and young people are buying. If you look at todays Demographic of young people you will find they either tend to be more socialist leaning, or libertarian. But they aren’t going to rally around the flag and support state level legislatures. They will show up for the presidential election and go home.

            There is no proof that the next generation will not be more economically conservative then their parents.

          • ? I believe you missed my point. I am not a Republican, neither am I a Republican apologist.

            I argue facts. There is nothing that supports the articles claim that young voters won’t become more conservative. Economically young people today are very economically libertarian. True they hold some social positions that are similar to the Democrats. But will they vote that way?

            I am from a conservative district. While younger voters are not the same kind of conservative as their parents they are still not Democrats.

        • Perhaps they didn’t see the racist articles in his “newsletter.”
          I’d like to believe the article, but you’re right that the Dems haven’t exactly covered themselves with glory. I must also point out, however, that unless “young” conservatives are very, very different from their elders, the Dems don’t have a snowflake’s chance in Hell of winning them over; I think the bottom line is that there are (hopefully) a lot fewer conservatives among the young than among the general population. But I remember people from my college who supported liberal causes then talking about working to assure Reagan was re-elected years later.

          • I think they do have a chance of winning them over. But it will take tact and honest policy positions.

            The problem today is that neither party is willing to speak differently to appeal to a different electorate. The GOP holds the rural area’s and the Democrats hold the urban. For Democrats to become competitive in rural areas they have to tackle rural issues. They will not get the votes they need if they just use National talking points. The war on women, gun legislation, gay rights, are not winning issues where I come from.

            If a Democrat ran with enough money and talked about manufacturing, the NSA, social security, jobs and fair trade. He would have a lot better chance.

            This article seems detached from reality. Yes, young people are pro-contraception, and pro-gay marriage. But that doesn’t make them Democrat.

          • You make good points there. Progressives definitely need to do everything they can to get more progressive candidates to emulate Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Angus King and Alan Grayson. Elizabeth and Bernie are the two progressives who will really make an effort to get into the media spotlight and challenge the right-wing idiocy. We need many more to help them get the message out.

      • Great post but I think the main reason why young voters will stick with the Democratic party is because the current Republican party has turned into an irrelevant, Right wing extremist organisation. The GOP clings onto a backwards social ideology, obstructionism and bigotry in place of real ideas and policy.It is a disgrace that a major political party is creating its own downfall because it is anti-women, anti immigrant, anti Black, anti Gay, anti the have nots, anti unions, anti healthcare, anti the minimum wage, anti fair pay, anti welfare. Poor leadership, no interest in governing, not opening the GOP tent will finish off the Republicans not just with young people but women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians.

    • I guess my sense is that what you’re suggesting will only happen if Republicans are successful at keeping young people uneducated. I’d appreciate someone here enlightening me as to what advantage anyone sees in a conservative legislator or president, since history has shown that they are very poor at true governance.

      Let’s look at America’s debt. Aside from Eisenhower who was an absolute cheapskate, such that he presided over the most recessions of any president since 1900, virtually all other GOP presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have been a disaster with respect to spending and increasing America’s debts – and by the way, in creating recessions and even depressions. Hoover and his GOP congress at the time are clearly responsible for the Great Depression in the 1930s; and Reagan and the two Bushes who spent like drunken sailors are responsible for more than 90% of America’s current 17 trillion in debts.

      And let’s look at job creation. Not only did Bush Jr and Sr preside over the most disastrous economies with respect to job creation, but if you look at jobs created over the 20 yeas that Reagan and the 2 Bushes presided over the nation, only a measly 20 million jobs were created; whereas, during the less than 18 years that Carter, Clinton and Obama presided over the nation, well over 38 million jobs were created. This is just one more example of conservatives being terrible at governance.

      And being terrible at governance can be seen clearly in how the GOP is governing red states. If you do a little research, you will see that the conservative governors and legislatures of red states are demonstrating clearly that even at the state level, conservatives do not know how to govern.

      Red states lead the nation with respect to the percent of their residents living in poverty. Of the 23 states with more than 15% of their residents living below the poverty level, 20 of them are red states. All 5 of the states that lead the nation in overall violence are red states. Red states by far lead the nation in homicides of all types, including fire arms mortality.

      In addition, Republicans in the majority of red states have over the years kept their budgets such that they provided very little assistance to the less advantaged, which I believe is part of the reason why on average, people live 2 year shorter lives than in blue states, and as much as 5 year shorter lives if the red states with the shortest life expectancy are compared to the blue states with the longest life expectancy. And that’s only with respect to red state infants who actually grow up, considering that 13 of the 15 states with the worst infant mortality rates (babies who don’t live at birth or die by their 1st birthday) are red states.

      I could go on with example upon example of the disasters of conservative governance, but I hope you’re seeing my point. It’s only if Republicans are able to keep the you ignorant, such that they don’t learn of the disasters of conservative governance, that some may actually turn to the right. I’m hoping that the opposite is true, that more and more young people learn that voting for a conservative politician can well be detrimental to your long term well being – in many ways!!!

      • But they already do that? And they still have support among demographics that their policies hurt the most.

        There is a naive view within the Democratic Party that we just need to buy our time and wait for this present generation to die out.

        This is the same faction that doesn’t want to compete in the mid-terms and just hopes they don’t lose by too much.

        The only way you win is by arguing the issues, and selling your ideas. Democrats would much rather complain about the incompetence of Republicans then actually fight them.

  3. A better question may be, why is the next generation likely to turn to the center? The reasons for that likelihood range from the fact that prejudice and intolerance are slowly but surely disappearing. A cursory look at rallies conducted by both the far right and the far left would reveal that the most radical members in our society are middle age and senior citizens, and that most of them are white.
    The next generation is also the best educated, have had more exposure to what is happening in the rest of the world than previous generations of Americans, and are much more pragmatic and logical than their elders. Their only weakness may be unrealistic expectations.

    • my Aunty
      Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  4. Thank God! My generation came after the flower power children. What a terrible time in history. We are at the tail end of the hippies in political office and what a mess they have left future generations. My generation was much more conservative so it does not surprise me that many of our kids are too. I’m really surprised because our education system is so liberally bias. Surprised because the schools have done their damndest to brainwash kids. This is really good news:) Suppose that the politics in the home have some influence on children after all.

    • Our educational system Should Be liberal. If not you would be swimming in your own genetic pool and we know what that breeds, Hannity, Palin, Limbush, the Caine Train, Mitty etc.

      For all the super religious out there answer me this:
      If God was not liberal then how do you explain the existence of Liberals and Liberal thought?

      • The education system should be taught with a very open minded approach and I don’t see conservatives taking that road.

        • Conserv-aholics, have been after public education
          for the last 30+ years. Over the objections of the vast
          majority of Americans. Their onslaught has been unrelenting, because of the many potential political benefits to them. First, an elimination of the public school systems would deliver a death blow to the public sector unions, which is a major funder of their
          Democratic opposition. As well as all unions are.
          Secondly, that would eliminate the Fed’s Dept. of Ed. That sets the minimal standards, and requires a core curriculum. Two things one leg of the Right’s political base. The, anti-secularists, the World in only 500 years old, fundamental Christian Right abhors. Secondly, it would allow corporations to establish cookie cutter institutions, where their $8.00 an hour instructors, could brainwash legions of our Nation’s youth, “Fox Nation,” style. Into a Country of totally corporatized robots, spouting the corporate line, the corporate economy, the corporate control of the Country, for life. What a wonderful vision the Right Wing has in store. Little wonder, freedom, and liberty are every other word pouring from their lying lips!!!

          • Why do you suppose that is charleo? I came out of H.S. school not knowing the difference between a noun and a verb. I had a teacher in Jr. High who taught english and social studies that only showed movies. My first few years in school were excellent. We were still dependent on phonics and spelling tests. If you spelled a word wrong you had to write it 100 times. I learned most everything I needed in college. Our colleges are still very good. The grade you get is the grade you earn. Should be the same in lower education. So what if you flunk and have to do a grade over. Would make you try harder. Kids are way too board, many are not challenged enough, get away with too much, and instructors don’t push the envelope.

            Having talked to several college educators about the subject, (since I have taught myself at the college level I am always curious) they stated that the situation is now WORSE. Students cannot even write a paper.

      • Duhhhh! We all have our own minds….. Just happens that liberals have stepped over the line and become Communists. Freedom is really not free. It takes laws that need to be abided by. At the moment not the case. It’s all about laws on the fly. Conservatism and Communism are not very good stable mates. They tend to swing on different ends of the political pendulum. But mind you, it will swing back towards Conservatism believe me.

        Liberal education is fine as long as it doesn’t become too biased and too open. Responsibility and discipline work wonders. Honestly, 32 out of 32 in reading/english out of all developed countries. Pretty bad.

        Enjoy your Ameritopia while you can. It is pretty disgusting. You have helped create this mess. You should be soooo proud. NOT WORKING….

        • They’re not Communists, they’re Socialists. Socialism is sensible if the people of that nation have a good work ethic. Places such as Sweden and Denmark are examples of how great it can be if everyone does their part. Unfortunately, here, our work ethic is quite poor and implementation would be long and painful. An education system that improves work ethic is one that will solve our problems. I’d vote for anybody who could figure out how to do that.

      • I was a liberal, and I supported the Emperor for his first 5 years. I believe anyone in our country’s highest office should be of the highest moral fiber, and should be someone that everyone should look to for inspiration. We have not had anyone like that for decades. Why? Americans have become complacent. Most do not understand that our rights and freedoms are to be watched over carefully, and it is not free. We need to assure that our constitution is not perverted into something it was never intended to be. We have allowed career politicians to hijack our system to further their own needs and wants. We have allowed one side to take over our schools to teach our children to believe that communism is a good thing, which is diametrically opposed to what we were taught during the cold war. We have an Emperor ruling when we should have a president that is above reproach, and works for the wellbeing of this country and its people. We need to oust ALL career politicians and replace them with those that will get us back to following our constitution and our laws. We, as a nation, have failed to keep watch over those that should be serving the American people.

    • The mess for future generations can be correctly placed at the feet of one Ronald Reagan. When the dissembling of the once mighty Middle Class began. The grand unhooking of labor’s wages to productivity, has since increased over the last 30 years to 30% and 40 % and more of every dollar. Dollars that once bought homes, educated our children, and made the Country the most prosperous place on Earth. Now flows into the pockets of the upper 1%, and 1/2 of the upper 1%. Where from there, the Country’s wealth has been exported out, to chase slave wages in Communist Countries, and Dictatorships across the Globe. With, of course, the accompanying tax breaks, and debt paid, and created on the potential, and reputation of the earning capabilities, of a Middle Class that hardly exists anymore. That is the legacy of your generation’s faux Conservatism. Do look at the numbers, my misguided, and misinformed Conservative. They don’t lie. Your Party is the lie.

      • Huh! Ronald Reagan…….In your dreams. Due to all the taxes and regulations, we are suffocating under the liberal pillow. Gosh, what have I told you about the 1%….. Blame your own.

        I agree with you on the outsourcing issue, however; the demise of the middle class has a WHOLE lot to do with your side.

        Our Conservativism hasn’t come in to play yet. We are still run mainly by the dippy hippies.

        We better get our shit together on both sides or, you are right, we are toast. You need to come a wee bit more towards the center. Yes, I feel awful for the younger generation. It really is all on them. Plus, they get to inherit the almost 18 trillion dollar debt that your man incurred. Nice isn’t it?

    • What, you mean when you came of age (was that when black people had all the same rights as whites, i.e., in never-never land)? If the rest of your “generation” is like you, we can all look forward to accelerating gains by an increasingly fascist, intrusive, and oppressive GOP. One can hope that most are not such zealots who follow the kind of aggressively nasty delusions to which you seem exceptionally prone.

      • You are an idiot! Before Obama came into office I think we all were getting along just fine. I have had and have African American friends so go blow yourself.

        You see Sand_Cat, opposing points of view are no longer acceptable and most of that is coming from your side. You cannot be against the president because you call us racist. We cannot be against gays because then we are homophobic. We cannot be anti-immigration because then we are against the poor. All of this is suppressive bullshit. Honestly, it will get to a point where we really no longer care what you think or say. Hmmmm, come to think of it, it is getting more and more to that point as we speak.

        Fear mongering is your sides M.O. Aggressive, just who is the contentious one. Hasn’t been us, yet:)

        • Nice projection.
          You’re right that opposing views are no longer acceptable in the GOP, which has driven out plenty of former members and every primary season seeks to remove more. If facts meant anything to you, I think you’d find that is far more true of your friends than their opposition, but then, for you the NAACP and ACLU are “hate groups.” I’m sure you do hate them.
          But go ahead and keep telling yourself that it’s all the opposition that are the intolerant extremists, and you’ll go far in the GOP.

          • Well….I guess I could say the same for your side as more and more of your representatives pull themselves away from Obama and his policies.

            I am not against the NAACP and ACLU in theory, however; I draw the line in the dirt with their extreme views of modern society. Problem with many groups is the fact that they start out with good intentions and then the POWER goes to their heads and points of view become over the top. Same goes for your comrad in cheif. Dude just doesn’t know how to handle power. As a result, we see what we are seeing now. A mess and a divide.

            I told you what comes round goes round and that is exactly what you have going on. Obama is supposed to be a leader. Diplomacy is all about being at the helm. Obama IS NOT diplomatic. It is his way or I will not work with the conservatives on anything because I just want my way. Isn’t that a bit childish? It takes a good leader to make a country work. He is not, so it is what it is. Their is an ongoing strife and divide. What do you think is creating that divide? …..And don’t say Congress because they are not the only problem.

            My question to you then is….do you want this country to survive for future generations? How would you handle the crisis we now face between parties and answer me in a diplomatic way in which both sides benefit from your decisions….?

Leave a reply