Friday, May 8, 2009

Conservatives and Young People

What hope do conservatives have, given that young people voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama? After all, the youth is the future, and if they reject conservative ideas for liberal ideas, well...

That is what Hugh Hewitt is worrying about, and he asked Mark Roberts from Christian Biola University to write about it. Writes Roberts:

Losing the youth vote year after year is a sign of approaching party senility.

Then Roberts goes on to propose development of "middle-brow" institutions that can speak to young people.

We either need to be part of or fund the equivalent of middlebrow institutions such NPR and public television to discuss the entire culture from a conservative point of view. A political movement in a republic cannot be healthy if it loses the class of people who are not professional intellectuals, but who care deeply about the life of the mind. Such folk will produce much of the popular entertainments consumed by the rest of us.

Yes, but who's that "we?" And don't we need the young people themselves to develop the middle-brow institutions?

Actually, the miracle is that any conservative ideas get a hearing and any conservative politician gets elected. Given that the left controls the schools and the media your average young person would be a force of nature to get through twelve years of schooling without internalizing the lefty world-view.

In the current situation, conservatives are stuck with a raiding strategy. We can only swoop down and conquer when the liberal agenda has failed. That's how Ronald Reagan got elected. In 1980 it was pretty obvious that something was wrong. When Ronald Reagan came up with a solution that seemed to work, he got the votes of young people.

Here in the United States we've had a cultural drumbeat for the last ten years against conservatives as mean-spirited and narrow-minded. Bush Derangement Syndrome amplified anti-conservative rhetoric up to a level that could damage people's hearing.

And of course, young people are receptive to anti-authority rhetoric. Always have been.

But don't forget that right now the Dems are in control, in the White House and in the Congress. So if you are a real anti-authority figure, you'll be anti-Obama and anti-Pelosi, right? I dare say that we'll see a lot of conservative entertainment media seeping up through the cracks, now that video is so cheap to produce, and now that the official hypocrisy is all liberal.

The other big problem for conservatives is the schools. As long as the schools are government schools they will be trying to turn out graduates that love big government. The solution here is to educate children away from the schools.

The more I think about it the more obvious it is that the purpose of the education system is to raise nice dutiful little liberals who will take their place either as elite transgressive creative artists or as bureaucratic placemen and women in the administrative state.

But conservatives want to raise children who are courageous and adventurous. Obviously you can't raise such children if they are stuck in school for twelve years sitting on their butts watching environmental agitprop like Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.

It is pretty obvious. Adventurous adults need to be raised to adventure while they are still children. They need to be self-directed. They need to have a healthy attitude towards risk. They need to be trained in the four aspects of competence: knowledge, skill, experience, judgment.

There's no need for conservatives to worry about becoming irrelevant. What we need to do is have the courage of our convictions and live our lives as a demonstration of our convictions.

Here's a prediction. If conservatives have the courage of gtheir convictions and make their lives into a witness to their convictions there will be a consequence. Young people will notice.

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