There is growing speculation as to whether or not young peoples’ lack of interest in the mid-term election will lead them to simply not show up to vote and how that would impact the election. What isn’t talked about is that a young person who stays home on Election Day is in fact voting. What every so-labeled conservative candidate in every individual race should be asking is “How do I get them to change their ‘neither’ vote to me?”
Writing recently in The National Journal, Ron Fournier makes the argument that there is a great political disruption coming to the United States that will be “a bottom-up revolution on the scale of what upended the music, television…and retail industries.” Fournier points out that the American political process has produced a plethora of unsatisfied, or dissatisfied, consumers and that’s when disruptive activities can thrive in a market environment.
Fournier cites a number of races in this upcoming election as being indicative of the “change that’s gonna’ come.” Using the Senate races in Kansas, South Dakota, and North Carolina as examples where politicians have conducted their campaigns from non-traditional perches or perspectives, he says that politicians are now beginning to reach out to voters outside of the conventional and tired Republican-Democrat paradigm. Polling in those states does seem to make clear that win or lose these types of candidates are making it difficult for mainstream party members to “campaign as usual.”
At the heart of the disruptive movement Fournier places Millennials. He credits Millennials with being “civic-minded, pragmatic, tolerant, diverse, and less interested in ideology than results.” If one sought to balance these lofty adjectives they could add that Millennials are also, obsessed with technology, strung out on social media, seek idle time over work time, and want quick fixes. For the purposes of this column let’s simply stipulate to the fact that Millennials are complicated.
Since late August Turning Point USA has been on 700 college campuses nationwide in an effort to educate young people on the power of free markets and to help get them registered to vote. That program has given me the chance to discuss politics, parties, and issues with over a thousand of young voters and future leaders. Their attitude regarding politicians, and the two mainstream parties, is a cross between disdainful and disregarding. They believe that the people out on the stump kissing babies would, deep down, prefer to be spanking those babies and getting paid to do it. Students use phrases like “they’re all corrupt”, “throw them all out”, “they promise everything and deliver nothing”, “don’t vote, it only encourages them”, “they don’t care about me so why should I care about them.” Negative ads are working; everybody’s negative!
What does connect with Millennials on today’s college campuses? It’s the same thing that historically resonates with young people: Freedom. Youth have always wanted their freedom but American collectivists who have dominated messaging for generations by co-opting Rousseau have convinced them that Americans are free and yet everywhere are in chains. They’ve been made to feel that their freedom comes only at the price of leaving others shackled. But the wind is shifting. Government abuse and mismanagement under the Un-lawful Firm of Obama, Reid & Pelosi, and attendant new-media coverage, have opened young people’s eyes to the truth of Big Government. They are learning that freedom’s not another word for someone has to lose.
Republicans have a chance to reach young people by sharing a message of true individual freedom. Democrats might like to but they can’t bring themselves to say the words. They don’t believe in individual freedom. They believe in collective decision making. Republican candidates in every district and every State in the country need to spend the next few days letting young people know that they want them to be free.
This isn’t a national election. It’s a who’s is talking to me and what are they saying election
Fournier concludes his piece conjecturing that one day the political parties as we now know them may be replaced by independent candidates and fresh parties that reflect the new mosaic of American thought. Recent history tells us if we get splintered parties we will likely harm small government advocates. Big government people know how to stick together. They are collectivists. It is the individualists who become fragmented and make their candidates weaker in the process.
At the moment, America doesn’t need new parties, it just needs Republican candidates to stop hinting at believing in America’s First Principles and stand up to tell young Americans, and all Americans, that “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” are real campaign promises and not a copybook heading from their American History text.