Young Conservatives

I’ve been following Patriot Blog (linked to below) since its first or second post. It reminds me that young people are one of conservatism’s best demographics. This is a striking fact, given that 1) most teachers and nearly all news sources are liberal, and 2) conservatism has long been thought of as the product of hard-won experience, not youthful theorizing. Why, then, are so many of our young people conservatives? I would hazard a couple of reasons.
First, they are not yet on the take. For all of its denunciations of “special interests,” liberalism is fueled largely by economic self-interest. Liberals are, in a great many cases, people who benefit directly or indirectly from government programs. When people who do not have such vested interests approach politics from the standpoint of objectively analyzing public policy arguments, most of them come down on the conservative side.
Second, contemporary American liberalism is less about sound public policy than it is about identity politics. Liberalism carries a lot of baggage; to say that you are a liberal is to tell the world that you are a certain kind of person–caring, informed, sensitive, etc. Most of this baggage comes from events, like the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement, that have no unique significance to young people.
Young people see liberals attacking their country, their schools, and their families’ way of life. Not being children of the 60’s and 70’s, most of them–who love their country, like their schools, and have no grievance against their parents–are mystified. Some, like the authors of Patriot Blog, proceed beyond mystification to counter-attack.
An optimistic observation: if these thoughts are anywhere near the mark, the affinity between young people and conservatism should continue for a long time.
In the meantime, James, Tim and Grant, welcome to the fray.


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