Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Something Old, Something New


In his New Hampshire primary day piece for The American Spectator, Robert Stacy McCain takes note of some interesting numbers:

Polls in Iowa showed that [Ron] Paul got 48 percent among caucus voters under 30, which might suggest that his libertarian-tinged anti-war message represents the future of the Republican Party. But that youth vote was only good enough for 21.4 percent of the total, because fully 60 percent of Iowa GOP caucus-goers were 50 or older. So the oldest candidate in the race, dismissed as a crackpot by most mainstream Republicans, is almost uniquely capable of attracting young voters to a party dominated by the gray-hair-and-bifocals set. However one attempts to explain this situation, it does not bode well for the GOP. And perhaps it doesn't bode well for America, either.

Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...Image via WikipediaEven if (as seems likely) he fails of presidential triumph in person, Paul's campaign presages a massive realignment in American politics just over yon horizon, and the near certain doom of a Republican Party ill-equipped to survive that realignment.

It's that old bogeyman, the "generation gap," in spades. America is separating along the age demographic.

Older voters refuse to let go of their Cold War "national security" fetishes or their Social Security checks so long as they can have both (if they could only have one, it would be the latter, but the GOP establishment lacks the intestinal fortitude to force that choice upon them).

Younger voters are getting less and less willing to continue paying through the nose -- in blood, in treasure, in debt -- to shield either of the oldsters' treasured houses of cards from the whipping winds of economic reality.

The Republican Party isn't willing to give up the larger demographic for the smaller. That, at least, makes sense. If you can't have both voting blocs, you go for the larger one, right?

But neither is the GOP well-equipped to compete with the Democrats for that larger demographic. The Democrats are just as good as the Republicans at playing the jingo card when they have to (if George W. Bush was a tin-horn Napoleon, Barack Obama does at least a passable impression of Genghis Khan), and much, much better at catching geezers by hiding in the bushes and imitating the mating call of a benefit check.

The Republicans will continue to pine ceaselessly for oldster love, but the Democrats will be the ones who, more and more, actually get that affection. And the youngsters will eventually abandon a party that has nothing to offer them for some new vehicle. GOP, finis.

Apart from strictly partisan concerns, it is social conservatives who are also set to lose big in the coming recombobulation. As the GOP disintegrates around them, they'll find themselves forced to choose between moving en masse into the Democratic Party as a minor voting bloc, or seeking lodgings in the third party ghetto. The youngsters aren't supporting Paul because they agree with him on abortion, immigration or marriage. They're supporting him in spite of his positions on those issues, and because he's got their backs on foreign policy, fiscal policy and monetary policy.
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