The right must reckon with its gen­er­a­tion gap

Orlando Sentinel - - WALL STREET REPORT -

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.

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