Young Republicans Beginning to Close the Gap on Social Issues
Not many will deny that our nation is bitterly divided this election season and that — although the economy should be one of the decisive issues — social issues probably represent the deepest chasm between left and right.
I was thus pleasantly surprised to read that there is a group of young Conservatives for who such social issues “are far down the priorities list.”
What is even more refreshing — and encouraging — is that some of these young Conservatives support rights such as same-sex marriage and abortion.
According to the New York Times, Zoey Kotzambasis, vice president of the College Republicans at the University of Arizona, who considers herself a Conservative and who supports both same-sex marriage and abortion rights says, “A lot of the College Republicans I know share the same liberal-to-moderate social views,” and adds “I think that’s changing the face of the party.”
In a break from generations past and with an eye toward the future, many of the youngest leaders of the Republican Party are embracing views on some social issues that are at odds with traditional conservative ideology — if they mention such issues at all, according to interviews, experts and some polling.
“When it comes to what you do in your bedroom, or where you go to church, or where you want to put a tattoo, we just couldn’t care less,” Mr. Hoagland said at a meeting last month of young Republicans in Charlotte.
As a matter of fact, again according to the Times, “some social conservatives say they are deliberately playing down their own views on issues as a tactical move to attract more young voters to the Republican Party.”
While — perhaps because — polls show that “Americans under 30 are the least likely to identify as Republican, and those in the millennial generation support President Obama by a wide margin,” and in order to win the votes of these young people, Republicans are now making a conscious effort to tap into the disenchantment with the economy, and into what Republican leaders see as a growing libertarian trend among these young conservatives, “the same energy that Representative Ron Paul of Texas rode with some success through the early primaries, with a strong emphasis on minimalist government and individual freedoms,” according to the Times.
Some additional points from the Times article:
A poll this year by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that the percentage of Republicans ages 18 through 29 who favor same-sex marriage has grown to 37 percent, up from 28 percent eight years ago.
All of their characteristics taken together, young Republicans present a nuanced mix of political ideals that may well change the face of the party over time, experts say. “There has to be room for them or the Republican Party won’t exist, at the pace this generation is evolving,” said John Della Volpe, polling director at the Harvard Institute of Politics.
Those “characteristics’” are, in addition to worrying about the economy and jobs and, in addition to supporting same-sex marriage and abortion rights: more tolerance, inclusiveness and acceptance of different lifestyles — including inter-racial marriage — more women in the workforce, less government and more fiscal responsibility and individual freedoms.
Lest me hasten to add that it would also be refreshing to read that there are similar groups of young Democrats — and I am sure there are — who are not as ideologically fixated on social issues as some of us old-timers are, but who are willing to discuss, accommodate and compromise where possible in order to perhaps begin to close the deep and widening fissure between our Parties and between Americans.
Read more about this interesting development here.