Once you read this short piece below, you may react to it the very same way that I did… I called Daniel Larison an asshole. He may think he’s a ‘thinking conservative’, but on this one he blew it. He makes the very same mistake that so many do in todays climate of super-hot differences in the left/right politics of our country. Bad news for Republicans does NOT necessarily mean bad news for Conservatives.
Memo From: Gio-
To: The world
Stop claiming that the word “Conservative” and the word “Republican” have the same meaning. Thank you.
February 22, 2010, 10:14 am
The Party of AARP
… the evidence we have available right now suggests that conservatism is losing, indeed has already lost, most of the next generation, and that conservatism as we know it today is going to keep losing ground in the future. It is possible that something could happen in the next few years that could change that significantly, but typically once a cohort attaches itself to one party or the other its later voting habits become fairly predictable …
On average, Millennials’ underlying social and political views put them well to the left of their elders. If you dig into the full report, you will see that the recent Republican resurgence owes almost everything to the dramatic shift among members of the so-called “Silent Generation,” whose voting preferences on the generic ballot have gone from being 49-41 Democrat in 2006 to 48-39 Republican for 2010. There have been small shifts in other age groups toward the Republicans, but by far it is the alienation of voters aged 65-82 that has been most damaging to the Democrats’ political strength …. In other words, the main reason why the GOP is enjoying any sort of political recovery is that many elderly voters have changed their partisan preferences since the last midterm. Republicans remain behind among all voters younger than 65.
In a way, these figures should make small-government conservatives a lot more nervous than they make partisan Republicans. After all, you can win an awful lot of elections just by mobilizing the over-65 constituency — they’re well-informed, they turn out to vote, and there are more of them every day. But the easiest way to do it, as the Democrats proved for years and years and years, is to defend Medicare and Social Security like McAuliffe at Bastogne. This means that while the energy of activists may be pushing the Republicans to the right on size-of-government issues, the concerns of their central constituency could end up pulling them inexorably leftward on entitlements. (There’s a reason that even South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, in the midst of a CPAC stemwinder, paused to allow that one of the things government “has” to do is “keep our promises to our seniors.”)
This wouldn’t be a terrible things if Social Security and (especially) Medicare accounted for, say, ten percent of the federal budget. But where the size of government — and if we ever want to cut the deficit, the burden of taxation — is concerned, they’ll be the whole ballgame soon enough. And if the Republican Party depends too heavily on over-65 voters for its political viability, we could easily end up with a straightforwardly big-government party in the Democrats, and a G.O.P. that wins election by being “small government” on the small stuff (earmarks, etc.) while refusing to even consider entitlement reform. That’s a recipe for one of two things: Either the highest taxes in American history and a federal government that climbs inexorably toward 30 percent of G.D.P., or a Greece or California-style disaster.