Conservatives are fooling themselves into thinking the millennial generation is in tune with the Right. The truth is that we’re losing ground in the cultural battle for young voters’ hearts and minds.
There's still hope, but if we want our music to be heard, we have to play where the crowds are.
Columnist, comedian, radio host and TheBlaze contributor Steven Crowder (@scrowder) lays out the problem the Right faces — and how to fix it — in his October cover story for TheBlaze Magazine. But a word of warning: This piece will make conservatives feel worse before feeling better. Those who get so depressed that they think of tossing their copies of the magazine or leaving TheBlaze.com altogether must avoid the urge, put on their man-pants and plow through — it gets better. This is not an indictment of conservatives or their ideals. Quite the opposite. It’s an honest look at a growing problem that must be addressed.
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Below is an excerpt from Crowder's piece, "Falling Behind." The full story is available ONLY in the newest issue of TheBlaze Magazine.
Conservatism. What does it mean? The general consensus is that it’s an ideological worldview revolving around the ideals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” To conservatives, that whole bit found in the Constitution is kind of a big deal—as is the rest of the document, along with it’s equally important sister document, the good old Declaration of Independence. These two together are exclusive to the United States. Everybody else was—and still is—doing things one way, America has done them another. The essence of conservatism boils down to the fact that most conservatives believe that the United States was and is right.
Leftists tend to prefer the societal constructs of European socialism, while conservatives prefer their policies to be made in America. It’s why leftists mock conservatives as stereotypical, overly patriotic bumpkins. It’s why, when conservatives or Christians show up in a film, they’re the inbred, redneck serial killer or the nerdy high school virgin who can’t get any.
The ideas of conservatism—individuals being free from establishment-mandated restraints and the rejection of a necessary reliance on government—are ideals that figuratively should appeal similarly across all demographics.
Of course, not everyone will embrace the concepts of independence and intrinsic self-worth. Some people will instead choose security in exchange for freedom. Human nature allows for a percentage of wimps who don’t believe in themselves. But if 55-70 percent of Americans aged 60 and older tend to lean conservative, that should apply across the board.
The last two presidential elections tell the tale: Republicans lost the young people’s (ages 18-29) vote 66 percent to 32 percent in 2008 and 60 percent to 36 percent in 2012. And those aged 30-44 went to Obama by a significant margin in both elections.
In a nutshell: Unless there is a huge demographic change, there will never be more conservatives than yesterday.
FOX NEWS WON'T SAVE US
So how did conservatives find themselves so far off the plot? […]
We conservatives tend to congregate with like-minded people—as every ideological group does—but the echo-chamber effect in the conservative movement is exceptionally strong. More frighteningly, it has deluded many people involved with the movement: Rather than facing the growing demographic problem, conservatives have convinced themselves that it doesn’t exist.
“Liberals can say what they want! We’re still No. 1 in news!”
Of course, that’s the big elephant in the room, Fox News. And it’s true, Fox News is the most conservative of news outlets and does pull impressive numbers. As a matter of fact, FNC touts the highest numbers anywhere in cable news, averaging around 1.8 million total viewers in primetime and 1 million daily, according to a September report from Mediabistro.com.
But the key words are “cable news”—not “cable” or “news.” Cable news. Essentially, Fox is No. 1 in a talent pool of three: MSNBC, CNN and Fox News. …
… When it comes to cultural influence, all cable news networks receive ratings for which the news team would be promptly fired at an alphabet network. NBC’s Brian Williams, for example, pulled in an average of 8 million nightly viewers in mid-August, reported Mediabistro. And ABC’s Diane Sawyer had 7.7 million, with 2 million coming from the coveted 25-54-year-old demographic. Even Scott Pelley’s “CBS Evening News” had 6.2 million viewers.
More alarmingly, an ever-increasing share of millennials get their news from alternative outlets such as Comedy Central, MTV and HBO.
Most importantly, many young people don’t watch news on television at all. Instead, they spend their tube time on any of the other soft liberal programming the alphabet and cable networks pump out on an hourly basis. From “Modern Family” to the entire MTV line-up, viewers are bombarded with political/cultural messages day in and day out whether they know it or not.
So now we are comparing the influence of a place like Fox News to that of not only MSNBC and CNN but also all of the alphabet networks’ news broadcasts and nearly all of network and cable programming combined.
Changes the picture a little bit, doesn’t it?
LEAN TO THE LEFT, NOT TO THE RIGHT
When young voters are actually polled for their opinions, we find that they are actually quite far from conservative. In a piece for HotAir.com titled “Libertarian Poll: Millennials Are … Pretty Liberal, Actually,” writer “Allahpundit” analyzed a recent survey from the libertarian team at Reason.com (see “Millennials’ Real Politics” sidebar). Looking at the data, he discovered the youngest generation of voters are “not so libertarianish.”
“Millennials do have some right-wing leanings, of course—they’re open in principle to cutting taxes and spending, prefer to see wealth distributed according to achievement, and most importantly, heavily favor privatized Social Security accounts,” Allahpundit noted. “That’s a sign of growing awareness of the entitlement crisis among the generation that’s going to suffer the most from it. Dare we hope that they might be serious about balancing America’s books? Actually, no. We daren’t.”
The real polling numbers of what millennials believe, as reported by Reason, belie a perceived conservative image:
➤ 74 percent: government should guarantee every citizen has a place to sleep and enough to eat;
➤ 72 percent: raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour;
➤ 69 percent: government should guarantee everyone access to health care;
➤ 68 percent: government should ensure everyone makes a living wage;
➤ 66 percent: raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy;
➤ 63 percent: spending more on job training would help the economy;
➤ 58 percent: government should spend more on assistance to the poor even it means higher taxes;
➤ 57 percent: spend more money on infrastructure;
➤ 54 percent: government should guarantee everyone a college education; and
➤ 51 percent: view Obamacare favorably.
Also telling from the Reason poll was millennials’ stated preference for bigger government. When asked to choose between a smaller government providing fewer services and a larger government providing more services, they chose the larger government 54 percent to 43 percent.
When the question was changed to point out that larger government meant higher taxes the numbers essentially flipped, with 41 percent supporting a larger government and 57 percent favoring a smaller government.
Do those people sound conservative—at all? The point here is that rather than face a very serious problem threatening conservatism, many people are more comfortable in telling themselves that we’re actually winning, and it’ll all be OK.
It’s not OK. It’s beyond not OK.
It can’t be stressed enough that, unless there is a monumental demographic shift in the conservative movement, there will never be any more conservatives than yesterday.
STEPS TO RECOVERY
The good news is that there is hope. Like the Ghost of Christmas Future, I paint this grizzly picture not to show a future that will be, only a future that may be. In order to avoid it, there are …
Want more? Get the full cover story on the real fight conservatives are up against and much more in TheBlaze Magazine.
Crowder details not only what the problems are but also lays out solutions for the Right recapture hearts and minds. The conservative approach of disengaging in culture needs to be eradicated and replaced with that of reappropriation. Put simply: America’s future has spoken. Time and time again, younger voters have shown that they’re not interested in the content being put out by conservatives. It's all in the newest issue of TheBlaze Magazine—which you can get for FREE.
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