Why the GOP Shouldn’t Take Advice From Liberal Children

While there are many variations of post-election hand-wringing, one of the most common is tailoring a hairshirt to be worn by the Those Other People Who Are to Blame For Our Failure. Such lamentations are always tedious, but sometimes they reach a level of clichéd cluelessness that it makes them noteworthy.

A prime example is an op-ed yesterday by Sarah Westwood in the Wall Street Journal. Ms. Westwood is still a few months away from being a sophomore at George Washington University but she’s already getting ahead of the curve by writing one of the most sophomoric op-eds ever to be published outside a college newspaper.

The definition of sophomore—for freshmen who have not been apprised of the term’s meaning—is “conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature” and “characteristic of a sophomore.” There is a reason we adults do not take political advice from sophomores.

Indeed, there are two groups that serious adults never take advice from: children and College Republicans. It’s not that these groups are stupid (and least not completely), it’s that they lack wisdom. As humans have learned from eons of civilization building, you don’t listen to the most immature and inexperienced members of society when deciding how to structure the polis. However well intentioned they may be, they are likely to advocate idiotically destructive positions, such as providing unlimited access to candy and abortions. Adults realize that we shouldn’t adopt policies that rot our teeth and souls.

Had Ms. Westwood merley advocated that Republicans promise a lollipop in every pot, her op-ed might have been worth serious consideration. But instead she trots out the time-worn old mantra of college libertarians about how to fix the GOP: Become the Democratic Party with tax cuts.

Let’s snarkily examine the op-ed, section by section:

If the election results told us anything, it’s that the GOP has some serious soul searching to do. On paper, Mitt Romney’s history of accomplishment towered over President Obama’s train wreck of a record, so his loss seemed nearly inexplicable. But Mr. Obama carried his key groups so easily that Republicans should give him props for such a feat— and start taking notes.

Does everyone have a pen to take notes with? Because Ms. Westwood is going to school us old geezers about what we’re doing wrong. This should be instructive.

In politics, as in life, perception is key. The Chicago machine and the Democratic National Committee as a whole have perfected the art of marketing, even when they’ve got nothing to sell. They’re like a used-car salesman who pushes lemons on unsuspecting drivers and never gets caught. Democrats can home in on Latinos, blacks, single women, young voters—and have them chanting “Four more years!” before they know what hit them.

Did you get that? In life, as in politics, what matters is perception. You may have thought that it was important, for example, to have integrity. But what really matters is the that you be perceived as having integrity. Why work on character when a simulacra will do just fine?

I happen to be one of the latter, a college student at a time when youth is a hot political commodity. Most kids my age bristle at the word “conservative,” and I don’t blame them. The right has done nothing to welcome young people.

Since the Twenty-sixth Amendment was adopted, youth have been a “hot political commodity” for three reasons: because they can vote, because they have a lot of free time for useless political activity, and because they are extremely gullible.

For instance, Ms. Westwood says kids “bristle at the word conservative.” That’s not necessarily true everywhere, though I have no doubt it is the case at a liberal school like George Washington University. Since Ms. Westwood is surrounded by liberal, she wants to be different than them—but not too different. When you’re in high school and college the most important thing in life is to fit in and not be perceived as being someone who thinks differently than their peer group. This is the reason that some of the most liberal people you’ll ever meet are “college Republicans.”

If Republicans hope to win in 2016 and beyond, they need to change everything about the way they sell themselves. They’re viewed by the 18-24 set as the “party of the rich” and as social bigots. That harsh, flawed opinion could be rectified if Republicans started presenting their positions in a different way. The GOP is like a supermodel who has been doing photo shoots under fluorescent bulbs without any makeup. But fix the lighting, dab on some foundation and highlight her good side, and she can take the most attractive picture.

Notice that Ms. Westwood’s primary solution is for the GOP to change its marketing position. When you’re young changing how people see you—whether dying your hair blue and getting a tattoo—is considered a bold act of self-redefinition. What it really is, of course, is the conformity of rebellion. The greatest conformists are always “rebels.” They may dress differently but they tend to think exactly alike.

Consider, for instance, the idea that problem with Republicans is that they are “party of the rich” and “social bigots.” Ms. Westwood is young so she can be excused for not realizing that the “party of the rich” mantra was a tired and inaccurate cliché even before she was born. Perhaps she is unaware that in this last election Obama won 8 of 10 wealthiest counties in U.S. Despite their populist rhetoric, the Democrats have been the “party of the rich” for decades.

As for the term “social bigots” the only people that use that phrase are morons. It’s a term used by dumb people who are not able to make arguments based on their merits but think they are “tolerant.” Generally speaking, it’s not worth engaging such people because they either have not learned how to think for themselves or have shut their brains off so that they can feel superior to those who don’t share their prejudices.

Still, since we are engaging Ms. Westwood’s op-ed we have to ask: Does she truly believe that the vast majority of humans throughout history have been “social bigots?” Does she honestly believe that she is more enlightened about social structures and morality than the wisest men and women in our civilization’s history?

Sadly, I suspect she does. The fact that she could parrot such an ignorant phrase as “social bigots” shows that she is not nearly as bright as the editors of the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page are leading her to believe.

My age group is one pocket of voters who Republicans should be carrying with ease. Youth is all about rebellion and freedom and independence—things the Democratic Party preaches but doesn’t deliver. Behind their clever one-liners lurks a government shackle waiting to be slapped onto the wrists of every young voter they ensnare.

Ms. Westwood is correct that the Democratic Party preaches “rebellion and freedom and independence.” But that is because they do not see the inherent contradictions between “rebellion” and “independence.” There are no people on earth so enslaved as those who rebel against moral norms in the name of freedom. The young tend not to realize that, which is why they enslave themselves to their passions. For youth whose parents can pay to repair the damage—sending them to rehab, paying for an abortion, financing their starter marriage and divorce—the consequences can often be avoided. But not everyone is fortunate enough to avoid reaping what they have sown.

Another leg up that the left has is its claim to the moral high ground. The party of pro-choice, pro-gay has such a hold on young people because those are issues they can care about easily. Not many 20-year-olds can hold a coherent conversation about Social Security reform or double taxation, but all of them can argue passionately for gay rights.

First of all, the reason most youth are “pro-gay” is because they are profoundly ignorant of the harms of homosexual behavior. While it was once considered compassionate to care about those who engage in harmful behavior, today you are labeled a “social bigot” for thinking that maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to encourage behavior that is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence. (Since Ms. Westwood and other “pro-gay” youths are likely to be unaware of the data supporting these claims, I’ve included it at the end of this post.)

Today “tolerance” and “compassion” requires encouraging people to engage in sexual behavior that destroys the body and sullies the soul. This is why it’s not much use arguing with the young about sexuality. Although many 20-year-olds may be able to “argue passionately for gay rights,” until they understand they arguments on the other side they’ll remain clueless interlocutors.

As a member of this all-important demographic, I know that neither I nor (almost) anybody else coming of age today supports the Republican social agenda. That’s the way the country is moving—so just deal with it. Modernize and prioritize.

“So just deal with it.” Here we go. To her childish arguments, Ms. Westwood now adds childish foot-stomping. We old fogies need to just accept the fact that the world is changing! The children have spoken! They will get their way or they will send us off to the old folks home!

While it may be true that the country is moving in a direction where morally ignorant libertines decide our countries fate, that is something to be avoided, not embraced. Personally, I’m more hopeful. As happens with every generation, maturity and life-experience tends to make people more conservative and less accepting of the “lifestyle choices” they thought were hip and cool when they were young.

Though it may be painful, though it may be costly at the polls in the short run, Republicans don’t have a future unless they break up with the religious right and the gay-bashing, Bible-thumping fringe that gives the party such a bad rap with every young voter. By fighting to legally ban abortion, the party undercuts the potential to paint itself as a rebel against the governmental-control machine.

As a member of this all-important demographic, I know that neither I nor (almost) anybody else coming of age today supports the Republican social agenda. That’s the way the country is moving—so just deal with it. Modernize and prioritize.

Though it may be painful, though it may be costly at the polls in the short run, Republicans don’t have a future unless they break up with the religious right and the gay-bashing, Bible-thumping fringe that gives the party such a bad rap with every young voter.

I realize that this is probably Ms. Westwood’s first op-ed, but for most of us, this isn’t our first time reading one. Those of use who aren’t sophomores have likely read hundreds of this type of article. The clichéd trope always follows the same pattern:

1. The problem with Political Party X is that it is harmed by its association with Faction Y.
2. By turning their back on Faction Y, Political Party X would become more attractive to Faction Z.
3. Political Party X must—if it wants to remain viable—dumb Faction Y post-haste.

Every election there are dozens of op-eds that argue that if only the GOP would distance themselves from the gargantuan faction of social conservatives the party could then appeal to some a minuscule faction of left-libertarians. Eventually, some other op-ed writer points out that since the 1960s the GOP has never won an election in which conservative Christians did not come out in force to support the Republican candidate. Then such idiocy is set aside for four more years.

If Ms. Westwood stays in school and takes a political science class (or just reads a newspaper), she may eventfully become aware of this concept known as “political reality.”

By fighting to legally ban abortion, the party undercuts the potential to paint itself as a rebel against the governmental-control machine.

Supporting the slaughter of the unborn is rebelling against the “governmental-control machine”? Good grief. I realize that Ms. Westwood is blinded by her allegiance to garden-variety social liberal libertarianism, but this is embarrassingly ill-informed.

Is she not aware that polls consistently show people between the ages of 18 to 29 are the most likely to be against abortion? The pro-life movement is skewing younger than ever before. The younger generations are becoming more pro-life while it’s the crusty old Baby Boomers who are stolidly, vehemently pro-abortion.

I realize you don’t have to, you know, know stuff to write an op-ed. But why did the WSJ feel obligated to give space to such a completely uninformed college student? How important must Ms. Westwood’s parents be that she was allowed to publish such college newspaper drivel in the esteemed paper?

Embracing a more liberal social agenda doesn’t require anyone to abandon her own personal values; it’s possible to keep faith and the party too. But the evangelical set essentially hijacked the Republican Party in the 1970s; now we need to take it back. Thawing the icy attitude of our most vocal, radical voices—including the raucous right (a la Limbaugh)—could let a fatally fractured party put the pieces together again.

Is Ms. Westwood tipping her hand and revealing herself as a Democrat? Since the claim that evangelicals “hijacked” the Republican Party in the 1970s is such a common talking point among liberal Democrats it’s hard not to wonder if she’s not just a concern troll. Perhaps it’s simple the case that she’s an uninformed, childish liberal that prefers to vote for Republicans. But it does make you wonder where her true allegiance lies.

The GOP won’t survive if it doesn’t start courting young voters. Simple math dictates that the Republican Party can wrest power away from the left only if it builds an army of fresh young members into its base. Democrats are the ones doing that now.

And so concludes one of the stupidest op-eds I’ve ever read.

I won’t go into all the reasons why this strategy—which has been advocated since the 1960s—is politically ignorant. Many of us who survived our twenties realize that our priorities and politics changed considerably once we left the epistemic cocoon of college and our parent’s homes. With maturity comes the realization that certain institutions—like marriage—are worthy of protection and certain freedoms—like the right to life—are essential in a civilized society. Like the Apostle Paul, many of us can say, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

And one of the childish ways we give up on becoming adults is taking advice from children like Ms. Westwood.

 

Addendum

Sexual Promiscuity

According to a survey taken in 1997 and published in the Journal of Sex Research, 21 percent of gay men older than 30 had between 101-500 sexual partners over their lifetime. During the preceding six months, 44.9 percent had between 2-10 partners while 26.6 percent had more than 10. Only 28.5 percent had been with only one partner.

Additionally, “monogamy” is often defined differently in the gay community—a fact that is rarely mentioned, but never disputed. The term monogamy is redefined so that a person can be “faithful” to one partner and, thus, “monogamous,” while continuing to have sexual experiences with others. San Francisco State University released a study in 2010 that found that about 50 percent of those surveyed had sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

There is no question that homosexual conduct is associated with higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases. As the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases noted last year, “Men who have sex with men (MSM) have increased rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) compared with demographically matched controls.” Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that STDs ” have been increasing among gay and bisexual men.” In 2008, men who have sex with men accounted for 63 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the United States and are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men.

Mental illness

Numerous studies (see, for example, herehere, and here) have found that homosexuals have a higher incidence of mental illness than the general population. Even the SPLC doesn’t deny this point, though they claim that the reason is because of the “stress of being a member of a minority group in an often-hostile society.” However, studies have also shown that the same level of mental health problems occurs in areas that are accepting of homosexuality, such as San Francisco, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Substance Abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), studies have shown that, when compared with the general population, gay and bisexual men, lesbian, and transgender individuals are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, abuse substances, and continue heavy drinking into later life. They are less likely to abstain from alcohol and drug use.

Domestic Violence

survey by the Department of Justice found that same-sex cohabitants reported significantly more intimate partner violence than did opposite-sex cohabitants. Among women, 39.2 percent of the same-sex cohabitants and 21.7 percent of the opposite-sex cohabitants reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a marital/cohabiting partner at some time in their lifetime. The survey also found that 15.4 percent of same-sex cohabiting men reported being raped, physically assaulted and/or stalked by a male partner.

Additionally, 82 percent of the victims of domestic violence reported to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs identified themselves as gay.

 

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