Romney shows that Republicans still don’t get young voters
Yesterday while campaigning at the University of Chicago ahead today’s primary, Mitt Romney made a profound remark about young Americans voting for Democrats; one that needs to be addressed:
GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney said Monday he doesn’t understand how young people could vote for Democrats.
“I don’t see how a young American can vote for, well, can vote for a Democrat,” Romney said in a speech at the University of Chicago.
The former Massachusetts governor said Democrats were saddling young people with debt while Republicans are committed to reducing spending and balancing the budget.
“My party is consumed with the idea of getting federal spending down and creating economic growth and opportunity so we can balance our budget and stop putting these debts on you,” he said.
Given that Democrats seem to want to spend endlessly on government programs that will only add to the river of red ink flowing from Washington, Romney has a really good point here. But it’s not that difficult to understand why young Americans tend to vote for Democrats instead of Republicans.
Most of the young voters that I encounter are, loosely defined, libertarian. They consider themselves fiscal conservatives, but socially liberal. But when it comes down to it, in my experience talking with younger voters, that they care more about social issues. They’re tired of endless crusades by social conservatives against gays. They are also exceedingly weary of more wars, though that seems to be a lesser concern.
Part of this is because many young Americans get their “news” from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who sacastically pillory Republicans for their out-of-touch views on social issues. Of course, those two do get their shots in against Obama, as we’ve noted here before.
But Rick Santorum’s candidacy, for example, is a Republican Party’s worst nightmare. It guarantees that fiscal issues are off the table, and the culture war will be waged in November instead of the real threat to America’s future prosperity and these young voters’ futures. That’s not to say that these kids don’t have values. Rather, they believe in personal freedom.
You need only look at the issues that Santorum has brought up in his campaign, most recently. the idiotic comments about contraception and now his equally idiotic war against porn. Romney’s hands aren’t exactly clean either. In his pursuit of the GOP nomination, he’s been pandering to conservatives hoping to sway them into his corner.
These voters only see the intolerance of Republicans. This is where Democrats have won the messaging war. And Republicans will be forced to evolve or find themselves facing a string of electoral disappointments. They need to emphasize the lost economic liberties under President Barack Obama. They need explain, until they are blue in the face, that unless entitlements are reformed, they will see a crippled, substantially less free economy.
This election is about the economy under Obama and the coming fiscal tsunami, not wedge social issues. Unless Republicans realize that quickly, they’ll continue loosing young voters to Democrats.