The general logic four years ago in the GOP primary was the same as it was eight years ago and, sadly, it’s the same today. What logic do I mean? The logic that says: “Whoever the nominee turns out to be, young conservatives must do ‘what’s best for the Party’ and vote for him.” There are a couple of poison pill presuppositions that go into this assertion. By poison pill, I mean that this statement has the exact opposite effect intended by those who make it. Here are a couple of items for consideration.
Young Conservatives Are Beholden to Principles, Not Party Loyalty
Embedded in the above assertion is the idea of party loyalty. The assumption is that young conservatives are primarily beholden to the Republican Party, and that they should (and will) vote for whoever the party puts forward. This is logic that may have worked in generations past, but Gen Xrs and Millennials find the assumption to be insulting.
First, they are not convinced that the Republican Party has, in their lifetime, done anything to court their vote. They have simply assumed they automatically deserve it. Second, it assumes that young conservatives will simply abandon principles for a party that has not even attempted to demonstrate in any substantive way that they care to work for their vote. Instead, the Republican Party has a history spanning the entire lifetime of all Millennials and most Gen Xrs of fighting tooth-and-nail against true conservative candidates (1976, 1980, and 2016), nominating moderates who push the party left at nearly every turn (1988, 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2012), and corrupting conservative congressmen the moment they step foot in D.C.
Last night my family and I watched the classic Capra film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and something occurred to me. Gen Xrs and Millennials are not looking to elect Taylors (Trump) or Paines (Rubio). They want to send a Jefferson Smith (Cruz) to Washington, someone who has stood on the Senate floor and, against his best interest, called out the liars and exposed them for who they really are, even within his own party. They want a man who will not abandon principle in the face of total opposition, but will fight for the people who put him in office. And young conservatives are increasingly convinced that the GOP machine will stop at nothing to refuse them what they want so desperately.
Young Conservatives Are Principled, Not Pragmatic
The word “principled” has become a kind of slur in the realm of politics. In an America mortally infected with pragmatism, it can be hard to understand why someone would hold so strongly to his or her principles. Regardless of the merits or demerits of idealism, the fact is that the vast majority Americans would prefer to be seen as idealists, not pragmatists.
The Democratic Party gets this, and that’s why they win. Let that soak in. Think about it. There are literally hundreds of positions held, and held strongly, by the Democratic voter block. The Democratic Party is the party of environment worshippers, baby killers, race baiters, gender baiters, sexual revolutionaries, communists, and anyone else with an agenda to numb the collective conscience of America and centralize power for the sake of massive government overreach.
Each one of these voters is convinced that their party must die on their hill. The DNC understands this about their voters, and their candidates fight hard for each one of these issues. ‘But Billy, people shouldn’t be single-issue voters.’ What people should or shouldn’t be does not matter here. The only thing that does matter is what people are, and the overwhelming majority of Americans are single-issue voters.
So, are young conservatives any different? On the issues? Yes. By-and-large, they don’t favor killing babies. In regard to “single-issue”? No. Most young conservatives have one, two, or three issues that are their major issues. Young conservatives want small government, they want to preserve human life at all stages of life, they want to be less hawkish in our foreign policy, they want free market economics, they want strong borders, they want religious liberty, they want to keep their guns, and they want the federal government to honor the 10th Amendment.
Not all young conservatives care about all of these issues the same, though. Some care more about the unborn, some care more about the border, some care more about the free market, etc. Four years ago, the GOP lost because Mitt Romney’s handlers told him, “Only talk about the economy. Don’t talk about anything else.” GOP voters felt cheated. They were told, in a general election, that their issue did not matter unless their issue was the economy. Whether the GOP likes it or not, most Americans are single-issue voters, and young conservatives especially are people of principle on these issues, not party loyalty.
Young Conservatives Are Threatened by Trump
Another element has crept in. Donald Trump is the quintessential Baby Boomer candidate. In the eyes of young conservatives, the hippie generation has long since abandoned their principles in favor of party loyalty. Now that even the older Republicans are feeling abandoned by the party, they are gravitating toward what they know. What do they know, though? They know that they’ve spent much of their adult life watching Trump win (or pretending to win, at least). They know that they love game shows and glamor, and Trump is the only cultishly glamorous game show host running right now. They know they like familiarity, and they don’t know who some of these other candidates are.
Young conservatives not only feel as though they have been abandoned by the Republican Party. They see this abandonment as indicative of an overall societal abandonment. Let’s get really real, here. When young conservatives consider the hippie generation that raised them, they see a generation that was raised by parents that looked out for them. They see a generation that was generally taught great values, received a decent education, and inherited great prosperity. However, they also see a generation that has squandered its inheritance in pursuit of leftist policies in both parties.
Young conservatives not only see the Baby Boomer generation as a generation that has squandered its inheritance, but also as a generation that is robbing Gen Xrs and Millennials of any hope of an inheritance. The Baby Boomer generation is the ultimate “Me” generation, all about self-preservation and political compromise, and Donald Trump is their perfect poster child. Put this all together, and you have the #NeverTrump movement. The #NeverTrump movement is ultimately a movement against all pragmatic, compromising, Baby Boomer self-preservationists.
Young conservatives are not looking to preserve their parents’ generation, their own, or even their kids’. They want the preservation of all of America, and they know that a Trump presidency, just like a Romney presidency or a McCain presidency, would only work to slow the ultimate demise of America. These pseudo-conservative candidates are selling slow death. They are selling temporary preservation of the hippie generation, but a big fat middle finger to their children and grandchildren.
Young Conservatives Feel Betrayed by the GOP
Where does that leave the GOP? Well, the GOP is clearly beholden to the pragmatic, self-interested hippie generation. They tell young conservatives, “If we can’t get our candidate, we will certainly make sure you don’t get yours and, if you dare vote third party, we will shame you as traitors.” This is a leftist tactic. They might as well call us Uncle Toms, like black Democrats do to black Republicans. This accusation assumes (falsely) that young conservatives consider themselves Republicans. We don’t. We vote for principles, not for parties. We can’t betray a party with whom we don’t feel any binding allegiance.
In fact, we can’t betray a party that has already betrayed us. There is a deafening hypocrisy pervasive in the notion of a political party that demonstrates no loyalty to a voting block from whom it demands blind loyalty. Were there a more conservative third party on the ballot in all states, regardless of its likelihood of winning against the Baby Boomer GOP, I am convinced that young conservatives would flock to it. Seeing as there is no such party, many will simply stay home.
I doubt I’ve convinced blind loyalists in the GOP of anything with this article. However, I do hope I’ve given you something to consider. If (when) the DNC candidate wins in November, my stance will be (as it was in 2008 and 2012) that it was the GOP that betrayed America, not young conservatives who stayed home and kept their honor. We have seen the tenacity with which the Baby Boomer GOP pulls out all stops to assassinate Jefferson Smiths like Ted Cruz.
Understand that these Jefferson Smiths will not back down and they will not bend on their principles for the sake of pragmatism. Not all Jefferson Smiths will be able to stand on the Senate floor and call Mitch McConnell a liar to his face, but they can stand in the voting booth and check none-of-the-above. They did it in 2008. They did it in 2012. They will do it again in 2016, if the GOP doesn’t abandon its slow, steady drift left.