The quote, “If you are young and not liberal, then you have no heart; but if you are old and not conservative, then you have no brain,” (often attributed to Disraeli or to Sir Winston Churchill) bothers me. I’ve always resented the inferences of the quote because I’ve never been a liberal. I think the notion that young people are moved mostly by emotion and only in their later years smart enough to be conservative, is just not true either.
My generation is changing the way young people have traditionally looked at politics. I think it has much to do with the fact that we are living in a time when big government, leftist ideology is now our reality. Nationwide polling conducted by Young America’s Foundation shows that 48% of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 believe that the federal government is too big. Only four percent believe it’s too small. Limited government and accountability resonate with young people and I think it has much to do with the fact that we are feeling the real effects of progressive ideas come to life and we don’t like what it means for our individual lives.
All of that being said, there is no doubt that conservatives have a lot of work to do when it comes to reaching out to young people because even with truth, facts and history on our side, we are at a distinct disadvantage. Think about it: the left owns education, they own the media, they largely own the culture and for the most part, the left owns the government.
Although it might sound like an uphill battle to get young people to join our cause, I am confident that we can do it. The first step is to get them to better understand what we are all about, and then make our case to each individual we encounter using the facts. I addressed this tactic in greater detail this weekend during the Patriots Rally 4 Freedom in Martinville, TX. You can watch my speech on how to gain support from American youth here.
I have found that young people are very receptive to and interested in some of our core principles: Limited government, individualism, and free markets. In order to make the connection, we need to articulate the correlation between these principles and what is happening in their lives. ObamaCare is a great place to start. Obamacare is an infringement on each of the core principles listed above. It makes government bigger, it restricts individual choice, and it further dilutes our system of free markets.
This overhaul of our healthcare system was intentionally designed to screw young people over. When the actuaries tried to figure out how they were going to pay for this monstrosity of a program they knew there would be no other way to make it work without forcing young people (18-35) to purchase a product that they may not want or need. It was imperative that young and healthy individuals be forced to sign up for coverage in order to cover the cost of higher-risk patients. Therein lays the key: force.
This is a classic example of collectivism, which is at the root of the leftist philosophy. Everything they do is supposed to be for ‘the greater good’ but all too often, it sacrifices the individual for the collective – by force. When it comes to ObamaCare, young people are the sacrifice. Young people have to suffer in order to make the rest of the program work.
This is just one example. When presented with reality, young people will listen. We as conservatives have to do a better job of articulating ourselves and our positions. We need to continue to talk about the benefits of individual liberty, small government and capitalism. We need to take the time to explain ‘why’. Most importantly, we need to not only be unafraid in pointing out the reality of the situation we find ourselves in, but we must also offer bold solutions and alternatives to get back on the right track.