Did You Hear the One About Young Republicans Changing the Party?
The New York Times and Susan Saulny roll out an old perennial today with the story headlined: Young in G.O.P. Erase the Lines on Social Issues
This is essentially little more than a press release from the Republican Party, designed to send a signal to younger voters that Republicans really care about young people and really care about what young people believe and, gosh darnit, it is going to change for the younguns’!
Keep it in mind when you read the GOP’s platform they’ll be putting together this month – it will likely be more regressive than the last insanely regressive one. And keep it in mind as you think about how far to the right the party has drifted and how insanely to the right, including on social issues, the GOP presidential candidates were during the primary.
Aside from the fact that this is little more than the New York Times doing voter outreach on behalf of the Republican Party (relying almost entirely on anecdotes from self-interested Republicans and one generic quote from a political scientist to create a false narrative), what is really galling/funny is that this tripe is thrown out there in every single election. Sadly for Susan Saulny, this isn’t the first time she’s tried to sell this hoary line: she tried to sell that young voters are more conservative a little more than a month ago. As I pointed out on Twitter, it was a familiar refrain. And here we go again. This is an old story, rewritten for a new election. From just a five minute search on Google’s news archive:
From the UPI in June 28, 1963: “Nation’s Young Republicans Roar Goldwater Approval“
The Associated Press from December 1, 1964: “Young Republicans Changing Image?“
From the New York Times Magazine on July 13, 1980: “The G.O.P. Gets its Act Together; Projected a New Image, Learning How to be Winners, Broadening the Base“
A letter to the editor from a local Young Republican leader printed in the Beaver County Times, September 29, 1991 is titled “Young Republicans Call For Change,” in which the Young Republican leader says, “The days of party ideals and party platforms etched in stone have gone by the wayside.” Does that sound anything like the Republican Party you have known since 1991? If anything, the GOP has become more rigid, more focused on requiring litmus tests.
From Business Week on September 2, 2008: “Young Republican Road Trip” In this one, the requisite young Republican female said, “”People don’t realize the Republican Party is very appealing to young people….The Republican Party is not just one demographic, it’s not old white men.” I’m guessing that the Kerry Donnelly that said that is now the same Kerry Donnelly that is a staffer for Republican congressman Mike Grimm, a young(ish) white male.
From the St Louis Post Dispatch on September 4, 2008: “Young Voters Support McCain, Too“
From December 17, 2008, the Christian Science Monitor has this story: “Young Republicans Seek a New Kind of Party.”
From March 9, 2010, the Christian Science Monitor publishes a poll with the following headline: “Poll: Republican Resurgence Among Young Adults“
That was just a search of five minutes! A trip to the library and I bet I could find stories like this going back to the days of Calvin Coolidge. And yet the Republican Party keeps drifting further and further to the right. How about that!