They have a raft of policies -- higher taxes on high earners and those not enrolled in favored health insurance plans, cap-and-trade legislation that taxes everyone who use electricity -- that discourage job creation and stifle innovation. Freezing things in place may sound good to those who already occupy a comfortable niche, but it does little for the many young people who are currently looking for a job.
That's especially true when they're seeking a job in which they can use their talents creatively and imaginatively to serve society as well as themselves. The full employment economy that prevailed for a quarter of a century until 2008 enabled new workers to find such opportunities. An economy that promises 10 percent unemployment as far as the eye can see -- which is what the Democrats' job-killing policies seem likely to produce -- forces young people to take whatever job they can get, however unappealing, as young people did in the 1930s.
Against this background, the Democrats' relatively liberal policies on cultural issues don't seem to have much appeal, as was plain in Virginia. Certainly not enough to bring many young voters to the polls. Obama posters and T-shirts are no longer selling well, and chants of "hope and change" now seem dated.
That's likely to be a problem for Democrats in 2010, as it was in 2009. But there's a problem for Republicans, too, when the Millennials do turn out again in large numbers, in 2012 or whenever. The challenge for them is to come up with policies that they can argue will enable young Americans to choose their future -- policies that will again produce the bounteous economic growth that provides opportunities for work that can be productive, creative and satisfying.
The House Republicans' alternative to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's chaotically cobbled together health care bill is a start. So are Gov.-elect McDonnell's detailed proposals in Virginia and Gov.-elect Chris Christie's somewhat vaguer proposals in New Jersey.
This year, the Democrats' proposals proved unappealing enough to keep young voters from the polls. But Republicans will need better ideas when they finally do show up.