David Brooks: Young People With Their Guacamole Bread & 'Diversity' Are Killing The GOP
Millennials have been blamed for killing canned tuna, diamonds, breakfast cereal, and home ownership. But even sadder than that, David Brooks at the New York Times thinks the maligned generation's next victim is the Republican Party.
Drama queenNew York Times
Brooks laments a growing generation gap in voter preferences. He notes an Atlantic article that observed how older Democrats prefer a "more moderate candidate" who they think can beat Donald Trump; not so coincidentally, this candidate more closely resembles them and people they've voted for in the past. Younger voters, however, are more open to a candidate's identity -- old, white, young, minority, gay, lady-parts having. They aren't choosy so long as their pick can deliver "systemic change." They're not interested in simple palliative care for our government.
This is where the "GOP apocalypse" enters the picture. To "put it bluntly," as Brooks says, young people "hate" Republicans. These young ingrates have thoroughly rejected a political party that works so hard to deprive them of health care, keep them buried in debt, and actively oppress them. Go figure.
In 2018, voters under 30 supported Democratic House candidates over Republican ones by an astounding 67 percent to 32 percent. A 2018 Pew survey found that 59 percent of millennial voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, while only 32 percent identify as Republicans or lean Republican.
The difference is ideological. According to Pew, 57 percent of millennials call themselves consistently liberal or mostly liberal. Only 12 percent call themselves consistently conservative or mostly conservative. This is the most important statistic in American politics right now.
Voters born after 1996 -- technically "Generation Z" -- also don't have time for the GOP's shit. The smarty-pants set predicted "demographic doom" for Republicans in the past but they didn't foresee the party consolidating support from older white voters or that "assimilated Hispanics" would shrug off Trump's bigotry. We remember how happy Peggy Noonan was on election night. Everything was coming up Richard Milhous Nixon! She didn't need a few belts of scotch to believe it was 1968 again.
Although old white people are going away, the generation gap isn't. Brooks thinks America's growing diversity is responsible. Whenever conservatives discuss this topic, it sounds like men complaining about the complexity of the female orgasm: "Jesus Christ, there's a clitoris! And it needs stimulating!"
If you are a millennial in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona or New Jersey, ethnic minorities make up more than half of your age cohort.
Oh no! Where are the gated communities when you need them?
In just over two decades, America will be a majority-minority country.
But young people with their iTunes and guacamole bread don't mind the end of white-dominated "liberal democracy." They support immigration, and they don't fear racial diversity will ruin America's property values. Brooks thinks young people have "constructed an ethos that is mostly about dealing with difference." It's laughable that Brooks thinks this is something new. The greatest generations of the past debated over just how human to consider enslaved blacks and were especially fussy over which water fountains we could use and where we sat on public transportation. What's changed now is that difference is respected and embraced. That's what young people demand and it's unsettling for Republicans. How are they supposed to hang in a world where they aren't the only people who matter?
The most burning question for conservatives should be: What do we have to say to young adults and about the diverse world they are living in?
Probably nothing but let's hear him out.
There is a conservative way to embrace pluralism and diversity. It's to point out that there is a deep strain of pessimism in progressive multiculturalism.
So, Brooks proposes embracing "pluralism and diversity" by pointing out that it's full of crap? He's like a white music critic from the 1950s who's patiently explaining that this new "race music" is just "insolent noise." He's right, though, that this is in fact the "conservative way."
A better multiculturalism would be optimistic: We can communicate across difference; the American creed is the right recipe for a thick and respectful pluralism; American structures are basically sound and can be realistically reformed.
Sweet fucking Christ on a stick! This is literally the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign. Remember "Stronger Together"? We swear to God it happened. Conservatives rejected this inclusive, uplifting message because they wanted more Supreme Court justices like Clarence Thomas. Brooks has gall of steel to claim that conservatives are in any way optimistic about the country. The entire Fox News primetime lineup from Tucker Carlson to Laura Ingraham is one long cynical skid mark on the nation's fabric.
Brooks ends his column with a shout out to his mentor, William F. Buckley, who famously vowed "to stand athwart history yelling "Stop!" It's at least honest for Brooks to admit that this has always been conservatism's sole objective, but it's unclear why young people would bother with a political party that still doesn't understand how wrong Buckley was. When you have segregated lunch counters and women getting spanked in the workplace, you don't need some pompous ass trying to halt social progress. You need a big, honking green light for change.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."