There is one takeaway from the 2016 Presidential election that should scare Republicans to death; conservatism has a huge marketing problem among young people.
Even though Hillary Clinton lost the election, she won 55% of the votes among those 18 to 29, Bloomberg pointed out. The only good news for the GOP was that the turnout among 18 to 29 year-olds was at the fourth lowest level since 1972.
Such numbers might spell long-term doom for Republicans as Bloomberg writer Polly Mosendz pointed out: “Had only Millennials voted, Clinton would’ve won the election in a landslide, with 473 electoral votes to Trump’s 32.” That bodes ill for future Republican efforts.
Some critics might claim these numbers come from young people’s dislike of Donald J. Trump; but there is a more obvious truth, as observers of popular culture know, young people simply don’t like conservatism and conservatives. Therefore conservatives and others need to ask themselves; “why do young people hate conservatives?”
Some Reasons why Young People Hate Conservatives
There are many reasons why young Americans dislike conservatives but a few rationales stand out. These justifications for dislike include:
- The economy that conservatives created simply hasn’t worked for young people as these statistics indicate:
- The average member of the class of 2016 had $37,172 in student loan debt; up 6% from 2015, Student Loan Hero reported.
- Meanwhile, Millennials (persons aged 18 to 35) are earning 20% less than baby boomers did at the same age, Federal Reserve research found, the Associated Press reported.
- To make matters worse the home ownership rate for persons of that age dropped to 43% in 2015 from 46% in 1989.
- Things are worse for African Americans Millennials; whose median income has fallen by 1.4% to $27,892, between 1989 and 2015.
- 50% of people born in 1980 will not make any more money than their parents did. Meanwhile, 79% of those born in 1950 will earn more than their parents did.
- The bottom line is that millennials have grown up in the neoliberal free market economy and it has not worked for them. It is no wonder tens of thousands of them turned out for Sanders for President Rallies.
- Conservative sermons about capitalism. One of conservatives’ stupidest; and most offensive behaviors, is to respond to legitimate criticism about problems like income inequality with lectures on hard work, freedom or the American dream. For example lecturing a Millennial who is working two-dead low-paying jobs; and driving Uber on the side, to pay the rent about how hard work will lead to wealth. To such a person the American Dream sounds like a cruel joke and the lecture is simply inane.
- The hypocritical conservative embrace of Donald J. Trump; a man who is clearly not a conservative, simply because he is popular with some voters. Trump has articulated many positions that are counter to long-held conservative beliefs; he supports single-health care and believes police should have a carte blanche power to seize property from any citizen via civil forfeiture. Yet numerous conservative spokespeople such as Rush Limbaugh keep putting forward the ludicrous premise that Trump is a conservative. They maintain the unfounded position, even though Trump himself has gone out of his way to say he is not a conservative.
- Young people hate hypocrisy yet many conservative leaders have become poster children for it.
- Conservatives used to do pretty well here, but not in the age of Trump. They’ve chosen a standard bearer; who denounced Mexicans as un-American, rapists, and murderers, and embraced white nationalism in a nation where the Millennial population exhibits the following characteristics:
- Census data indicates that minorities composed more than half the Millennial (18-to-34-year-old) population in 10 states in 2015, The Brookings Institute estimated.
- Two of those states; Texas and Georgia, are important Republican strongholds. Texas is the most populous red state and a lynchpin in every GOP victory since the 1960s.
- Two more of those states; Arizona and Florida, are important swing states that help decide presidential elections.
- In California (the nation’s most populous state) more than two-thirds of the Millennials were nonwhite, and more than 60% were minorities in 2015, Brookings calculated.
- More than 40% of the Millennial population in another 10 states was defined as “minority,” Brookings discovered.
- Three of the states with a minority population of 40% or more were important Presidential election “swing states” Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
- This is a potential disaster for Republicans and conservatives; because it means a large percentage of Millennials are going to marry nonwhites and have nonwhite children. Many others will have nonwhite friends, lovers, coworkers and acquaintances. Those people are not going to vote for politicians that trash their loved ones or friends.
- Particularly offensive to minorities; and whites with nonwhite friends and relatives, will be voter suppression efforts and law and order policies that target minorities. Trump has made these centerpieces of his administration. Smart conservatives had better take notice of all the white faces at “Black Lives Matter” protests and fast.
- A likely outcome of these developments is more and more states like California; where conservatives and Republicans are isolated and embittered minorities.
- Outdated conservative attacks upon progressivism and socialism. A particularly ineffective tactic is old fashioned red-baiting; i.e. comparing people like U.S. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) to Lenin and Stalin. This might have worked in 1987 when the Soviet Union was still in existence. Today, Communism is history to millennials and many Generation Xers. Conservatives might as well compare Bernie to Kaiser Wilhelm II.
- Jingoism, nationalism, and militarism. Both Generation X (persons aged 35 to 51) and Millennials have had their fill of these dogmas. Yet mindless support of military actions, and knee-jerk denunciations of anybody who questions “national security” as unpatriotic; are now required rituals for conservatives. Particularly loathsome to younger Americans in uniform; who are doing the actual fighting, are all the flag-waving country club types; who dodged the draft 50 years ago, but now demand absolute obedience to “America.”
- A related and offensive pathology is the tendency of some conservatives to denounce foreign cultures or ideas and anybody who says a nice a word about them as inferior. This is particularly confusing to Millennials who might have friends all over the world on Social Media.
Disturbingly this list is simply the tip of the iceberg in ways Conservatives offend modern young people. Other offensive behaviors might include anti-drug hysteria, LBGT issues, almost anything to do with sex, Luddite thinking, attitudes toward China, misunderstanding, and misrepresentation of popular culture and ignore of technology and popular culture.
This tendency to offend and refusal to understand explains why the children and grandchildren of those who voted for Ronald Reagan are embracing Libertarianism, Sanders-style socialism or the Alt-Right; in other words anything but conservatism. Conservatives had better learn to understand younger people and stop lecturing them if they want to start winning elections and debates again.