That's really what this article in the Washington Post should have been titled. After all, it pretty much laid out the case for why young Republicans are irrelevant in today's political games, even though the author might not have intended that.

Take, for instance, the end of the second paragraph.

The crowd was mostly white and mostly male, dressed in slacks and starched shirts. For most of them, Ronald Reagan and the good times he personified for conservatives were not even vague memories.
Limited demographic appeal and no new heroes--that's a recipe for irrelevancy, all right. Besides, this isn't Reagan's party anymore, and Reagan's party wasn't anything to get all that excited about in the first place. This is the party of Dubya and The Hammer and Newt, of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and John Bolton, of an economic recovery that never was for most people, and an unnecessary war that has added to our national hangover.

The really interesting thing from this piece, however, is how much the people interviewed in it are convinced that the problem is one of branding, not one of substance. For instance, look at the following selections:
"Conservatives haven't been in the right place to get the message to young voters," Austin Walne, 22, says, sipping his beer. "Young people who just got into the workforce don't care about the tax rate, but they have to fill up their gas tank and turn on the AC in their studio apartment. Energy is a big winner for us if we can communicate it well."....

If McCain can convey his straight-shooting independence and show his authentic sense of humor through compelling YouTube videos and smart interaction via the blogosphere, he can pull in Gen-Next and millennial voters, says All....

David All points to a page on McCain's Web site as more old-fogy branding: The candidate is extolling his regulatory policies as friendly to small business, and the accompanying photo shows an old-time Main Street barbershop in the background. The young Republican techie, who raises money online for McCain, would have used the image of a young high-tech entrepreneur instead, someone to whom teenagers could relate. Seventy percent of high school students say they want to be entrepreneurs, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Only the first example even begins to acknowledge the real world stresses young people are experiencing, and even then, only in the vaguest of terms--"energy is a big winner for us if we can communicate it well." What does that mean? More drilling? Solar? Wind? Public transportation? Hybrids? There's no policy there--just branding.

And I understand why; it's because that's all the Republicans have right now. Fortunately for us, that brand is crap because of the last eight years of Bush rule, and younger voters understand that as well. There's a reason 44% of voters under 30 identify as Democrats while 18% identify as Republicans, and it's not because Democrats have done a great job in going after them--it's because Republicans have screwed up so badly that the Democrats don't look so bad by comparison.

But I hope they keep it up. I hope they continue thinking that the problems their party has with youth voters are tied to branding and have nothing to do with the fact that they're overwhelmingly white and male, because they'll continue down that path to irrelevancy if they do.

Newer Post Older Post Home