GOP stands for Generational Outlook Pathetic

If the future of the Republican Party lies with today’s younger Americans, the outlook from the conservative perspective is not exactly encouraging.

Jonathan Chait EXPLAINS:

How doomed are conservatives? Pretty doomed, if you look carefully at the Pew Research Survey’s close analysis of the youth vote in the 2012 elections. The Republicans’ long-term dilemma has generally been framed in racial terms, but it’s mainly a generational one. The youngest generation of voters contains a much smaller proportion of white voters than previous generations, and those whites in that generation vote Republican by a much smaller margin than their elders. What’s more, younger voters supported President Obama during the last two election cycles for reasons that seem to go beyond the usual reasons — social issues like gay marriage and feminism, immigration policy, or Obama’s personal appeal — and suggest a deeper attachment to liberalism. The proclivities of younger voters may actually portend a full-scale sea change in American politics.


Obviously, such a future hinges on the generational patterns of the last two election cycles persisting. But, as another Pew survey showed, generational patterns to tend to be sticky. It’s not the case that voters start out liberal and move rightward. Americans form a voting pattern early in their life and tend to hold to it. That isn’t to say something couldn’t shake these voters loose from their attachment to the liberal worldview. Republicans fervently (and plausibly) hoped the Great Recession would be that thing; having voted for Obama and borne the brunt of mass unemployment, once-idealistic voters would stare at the faded Obama posters on their wall and accept the Republican analysis that failed Big Government policies have brought about their misery.

But young voters haven’t drawn this conclusion — or not many of them have, at any rate. So either something else is going to have to happen to disrupt the liberalism of the rising youth cohort, or else the Republican Party itself will have to change in ways far more dramatic than any of its leading lights seem prepared to contemplate.




  1. I think Mr. Bennett would like to respond.


    Liberalism has effectively persuaded its many factions that it is uniquely qualified to meet their needs and desires, while conservatism has not. By its nature, liberalism molds to fit these times better than conservatism; conservatism is by its nature more abstract than practical, more focused on long-term considerations than short term.

    Does this mean that conservatism is past its time and that liberalism is the mandate of the future?

    No, it doesn’t. Liberalism’s continued success depends on many factors, but two in particular. First, it must paint the political alternative, conservatism, as the faction of social injustice, as anti-immigrant, anti-entitlement, anti-regulation and so on. The Obama campaign did that effectively in this election without an equally effective conservative response. One presumes that conservatives will be ready in 2016.

    Second, and more importantly, effective state intervention of the sort liberals propose depends almost entirely on a state that is strong economically and socially. It is here that liberalism falls short in the long term. The various liberal constituencies are in fact atomized groups of individuals who are relying on government, rather than creating the economic growth or fostering the social and civic health necessary to sustain the ideal liberal state.

    Minority turnout a curveball for GOP Whereas liberals see entitlements as the immediate response to economic injustice, many fail to realize that they alone cannot rebuild a middle class. In fact, they can have the opposite effect in the long term and insulate their recipients from upward mobility. With $16 trillion in national debt, an aging population, and an already-overburdened entitlement system, the ideal liberal social welfare state can only sustain itself for so long before it collapses under its own weight. It is a lifeline attached to a slowly sinking ship.

    Whereas liberals celebrate subsidized birth control and the unmooring of what they see as narrow-minded religious moral standards, they fail to realize the alternative that is right in front of them: out-of-wedlock birth rates that are at all-time highs and a destructive breakdown in the family unit.

    Absent strong, active, character-forming institutions, like families, schools, and churches, single mothers and low-income households in many cases have no where else to turn but to the government. The problem is that liberals often confuse such allegiance with successful governing.

    The liberal coalition of the future looks more like Greece, an advanced secular, social welfare state, than the idealized liberal glory days of FDR.

  2. Luke Fredrickson

    ” The various liberal constituencies are in fact atomized groups of individuals who are relying on government…”


    Actually, conservative constituencies rely on government even more so, as Pat has detailed many times. Red states tend to suck, so to speak. So does Big Oil.

    Hell, even Blankfein and the other bailed-out bankers rely on government. They owe their entire livlihoods to government, but they just don’t want government helping anyone else but them – can’t afford THAT…

  3. Luke Fredrickson

    A bit more on the welfare queens of the conservative constituencies (the takeaway is, they want “a government that’s small when it comes to helping people and big when it comes to helping business):

    Mitt Romney once seemed like a moderate technocrat. But, as the Republican Convention and the video leak of his comments about the “forty-seven per cent” of Americans who “believe that they are victims” made clear, Romney now seems to fancy himself a small-government zealot, who promises the end of the culture of entitlement. Yet even as he assails people on Medicaid and Social Security, and those who receive the earned-income tax credit, for being “dependent upon government,” Romney has had strikingly little to say about another prominent group that’s “dependent upon government”: the many American companies whose profits rely, in one form or another, on government assistance.

    From the days of high tariffs and giant land grants to the railroads, business and government have always been tightly intertwined in this country. But, in recent decades, what you could call the corporate welfare state has become bigger. Energy companies lease almost forty million acres of onshore land in the U.S. and more than forty million offshore, and keep the lion’s share of the profits from the oil and natural gas that they pump out. In theory, this is O.K., because we get paid for the leases and we get royalties on what they sell, but in practice it often works differently. In 1996, for instance, the government temporarily lowered royalties on oil pumped in the Gulf of Mexico as a way of encouraging more drilling at a time of low oil prices. But this royalty relief wasn’t rescinded when oil prices started to rise, which gave the oil companies a windfall of billions of dollars. Something similar happened in the telecom industry in the late nineties, when the government, in order to encourage the transition to high-def TV, simply gave local broadcasters swathes of the digital spectrum worth tens of billions of dollars. In the mining industry, meanwhile, thanks to a law that was passed in 1872 and never rewritten, companies can lease federal land for a mere five dollars an acre, and then keep all the gold, silver, or uranium they find; we, the people, get no royalty payments at all. Metal prices have soared in the last decade, but the only beneficiaries have been the mine owners.

    In other cases, the government offers direct subsidies, like those which have helped keep many renewable-energy projects afloat. Farmers, despite food prices at record highs, still get almost five billion dollars annually in direct payments, along with billions more in crop insurance and drought aid. U.S. sugar companies benefit from the sweetest boondoggle in business: an import quota keeps American sugar prices roughly twice as high as they otherwise would be, handing the industry guaranteed profits.

    The tax code, too, is a useful tool for helping businesses. Domestic manufacturers collectively get a tax break of around twenty billion dollars a year. State and local governments give away seventy billion dollars annually in tax breaks and subsidies in order to lure (or keep) companies. The strategies make sense for local communities keen to generate new jobs, but, from a national perspective, since they usually just reward companies moving from one state to another, they’re simply giveaways.

    More subtly, government boosts business profits via regulation. The most obvious example, perhaps, is the banking industry. The F.D.I.C. encourages people to deposit money in banks, and the biggest banks also benefit from the perception that the government will not allow them to fail, which enables them to borrow money at a low cost. Another leading beneficiary of regulation is the ethanol industry, a sacred cow of American politics. The government requires refiners to blend billions of gallons of ethanol into gasoline annually, and hands out an ethanol tax credit. As a result, forty per cent of corn acreage in the U.S. now goes to make ethanol. This jacks up food prices, since less corn is grown for feed and table, and the environmental benefit is dubious. But farmers and refiners benefit enormously, so the mandate stays in place. Vested interests of this kind also explain why so many states have onerous licensing regulations; Florida says that you need six years of training and apprenticeship to become an interior designer. Such regulations, which have grown precipitously in recent decades, are catnip to incumbent businesses worried about competition.

    Perhaps the biggest boon that the government offers business is the benefit of copyright and patent protection. As the economist Dean Baker shows in his book “The End of Loser Liberalism,” patent protection is worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year to the drug industry alone. And while most of us would find it hard to imagine doing without copyrights and patents, that doesn’t justify the huge expansion of intellectual-property rights we’ve seen of late: the length of copyright has been expanded eleven times since 1962, and the range of things that can be patented has increased hugely, even in areas where, as Judge Richard Posner recently argued, there’s little or no economic benefit to society.

    Corporate welfare isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some of these giveaways arguably do a lot of good. But companies that benefit from these policies are just as dependent on the government as the guy who gets the earned-income tax credit. And, when Romney concentrates his fire on the latter rather than on the former, it makes you wonder if his problem isn’t with government assistance per se, but only with government assistance to poor and working people. Romney may say that he wants small government, but what he’s pushing for is a government that’s small when it comes to helping people and big when it comes to helping business.


  4. Brian Opsahl

    Wow Doc, you sure like to tell everyone what somebody else is, don’t you…
    I will only address your last line where your dumb enough to bring FDR into the coversation…..
    Since it was FDR that got the LAST republican (Hoover) out of a DEPRESSION funny you would even mention him.

    And then while leading with your chin just like Romney did in the 2nd debate….You mention Greece….the Country that let the rich people pay no taxes and then wonder what the hell happened ….austerity doe’s NOT work…

  5. DNC stands for Do Nothing Communists

  6. Brian Opsahl

    RNC stands for…republicans never change, I could say a few others but I would get in trouble…lol

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