Monday, May 18, 2009

Your Plan is Losing

Right now, the prevailing thrust of the Republican plan to rescue itself from irrelevancy is that they need to become even more purer. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) expressed the agenda in particularly inane fashion by saying "our plan is freedom" (after declaring he'd prefer 30 Senators "with principles" than 60 "who had none"), and declaring that "The federal government is too big, takes too much of our money, and makes too many of our decisions." Though objectively speaking neither DeMint nor other orthodox Republicans have the slightest interest in reducing government (ask your local woman or gay person for their thoughts on the matter), even interpreting it charitably -- that is, a strategy centered around less government spending, a reduced safety net, and economic intervention, it looks like -- surprise -- it's still a loser.

That's the response rate for the under-30 crowd -- the very demographic group that will rule American politics in the future, as well as the one voted "most likely to hate the GOP with the fury of a thousands suns". As Yglesias notes, typically the emergent Republican problem with younger voters is cast in terms of social differences (they loathe gay people, we don't). But it seems to be that the chasm is much broader than that, and represents a wholesale repudiation of Republican ideology up and down the political map.

3 comments:

PG said...

But people's views aren't static -- in particular, they tend to become more wary of taxation as they become older and taxes are more of a burden (what does a kid in a dorm room care about property taxes?). They also become more supportive of stuff like charter schools and school choice once they become parents, and more likely to feel the negative impact of government interference in the economy. (18 year old flipping burgers benefits from a federal minimum wage; 40 year old small business owner doesn't.)

Only at the point that the young voters start voting at high enough rates to impact elections will their views as young voters make a difference.

Joe said...

That's true to a point, but brand loyalty is a big part of a political party's bag of tricks.

PG said...

Joe,

I think that's true for social issues but doesn't work as well for economic ones. On social issues, politics can be like religion: I am This Kind of person who believes in X, Y and Z. Economics tends to be more fluid -- people vote based somewhat less on beliefs and more on practicalities.

This is particularly true at a local level where economics often distinguish the parties more than social issues. I can't decide among most NYC politicians based on their views regarding abortion or gay rights; even quasi-fascists like Giuliani are pro-choice and pal around with gay folks. The reverse was true in East Texas, where my Democratic Congressional Rep would vote in favor of every abortion restriction that came up and in favor of the "Marriage Protection Act." The level of government spending, however, tends to differ more significantly.