The right must reckon with its generation gap
grown-ups, like William F. Buckley and M. Stanton Evans.
This disparity can be explained both philosophically and sociologically. The young conservatives hailed from more blue-collar backgrounds, and they selfconsciously aligned themselves with eternal truths and the wisdom of the ancients. The young liberals, who tended to be the children of elites, sought to reinvent the wheel, rejecting not just the ancients but also the generation that came before them.
Ever since, young conservatives have been inclined to take cues from their elders. But that seems to be changing.
In the current issue of the Weekly Standard, Ben Shapiro has a fascinating essay on the profound divide between young and old on the right. Older conservatives are almost unanimous in their support of Donald Trump’s presidency. Meanwhile, a staggering 82 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning 18- to 24-year-olds want Trump to be challenged for the nomination in 2020, while 74 percent of Republicans over 65 don’t.
Shapiro argues persuasively that young conservatives care about character and values, while older ones have largely abandoned such concerns, preferring solid policy victories and perceived wins in the war on political correctness.
What explains the opposing visions? Part of it, Shapiro writes, is the usual tendency of young people to gravitate toward libertarianism and idealism.
But there’s another reason: Young people understand that some of the things old people see as “political correctness” aren’t necessarily the product of a Marxist virus that somehow escaped a laboratory at Berkeley. Some of it reflects an attempt to craft decent manners in the increasingly diverse and egalitarian society that young people actually live in.
As pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson notes, also in the Standard, the GOP has a grave problem with younger voters in part because it is almost wholly dependent on white voters, and white Americans represent an ever-shrinking slice of the youth vote, which will only become more important as the baby boomers throw off this mortal coil.