Yesterday, RedState contributor Leon Wolf explained to Millennials that what they believe doesn't make sense. Wolf refers to a poll conducted by libertarian/conservative site Reason.com that asked 18-29 year olds what they thought about various political issues. While he identifies that Millennials are strongly socially liberal and generally hold center-left economic positions, Wolf claims that there is room for improvement in the conservative movement's outreach to younger voters.
What struck me is the gall that conservatives must have in claiming what they think is an issue they champion for. For example, Wolf says that there is some encouragement in some of the distrust that Millennials have for government, with 63 percent believing that government regulators favor special interests. Gee, I wonder what must have caused for us all to think the system is rigged? This is the first time that I recall where conservatives are genuinely interested in keeping government honest, open, and accountable. I seem to remember the strong Republican outcries against Cheney's Halliburton, his wonderful and trustful friend Scooter Libby, their pal Jack Abramoff, the ethical Justice Department stewardship of Alberto Gonzalez... I mean, I could go on for days about how the Republicans tried to keep government clean and free of outside influence during the time they were at the helm.
He goes on to mention that 73 percent of Millennials favor privatizing Social Security and do not believe it'll exist long enough for them to benefit from. How ironic considering the reason Millennials (myself included) believe Social Security won't be around is because of how conservatives are trying vehemently to gut its funding. History has shown that this is nothing new and will probably never end in my lifetime. The doubt that our generation may have in Social Security is doubt that they purposefully engineered and seek to capitalize on. It's sickening.
What took it home for me were ten results that Wolf gave that apparently run counter to what their movement is supportive of. Remember, these are all opinions that he identified as "troubling". These are the Ten Conservative Freedoms. Freedom that in a conservative paradise, we should all be allowed to enjoy if they have their way.
I. Freedom to be homeless and starve
"74 percent of Millennials say government has a responsibility to guarantee every citizen has a place to sleep and enough to eat."
II. Freedom to be underpaid
"71 percent favor raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour."
III. Freedom to be uninsured
"69 percent say it is the government's responsibility to guarantee everyone access to healthcare and 51 percent have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act."
IV. Freedom to be poor
"68 percent say government should ensure everyone makes a living wage."
V. Freedom to be economically unequal
"66 percent say raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy."
VI. Freedom to have no job skills
"63 percent say spending more on job training would help the economy."
VII. Freedom to not help the poor
"58 percent say the government should spend more on assistance to the poor, even if it means higher taxes."
VIII. Freedom to live in an underdeveloped area
"57 percent favor spending more on infrastructure."
IX. Freedom to have a nonfunctional government
"54 percent favor a larger government that provides more services, when taxes are not mentioned."
X. Freedom to not get an education
"54 percent want government to guarantee everyone a college education."
From this list of the wonderful freedoms that I really ought to be supporting, it's no wonder the most conservative states lead the nation in...
Highest poverty rate: Mississippi (#50, 20.1%), Louisiana (#49, 18.9%), Alabama (#47, 16.7%), Texas (#46, 16.2%).
Most uninsured (2012): Texas (#50, 24.6%), Florida (#47, 21.5%), Georgia (#46, 19.2%), Alabama (#45, 19%)
Lowest college graduation rates: Alaska (#50, 26.6% graduated in 6 years), Idaho (#49, 37.8%), Arkansas (#48, 38.7%), Louisiana (#47, 38.8%).
A part in his post noted how younger generations will turn out to be more liberal until they grow older and exhibit more conservative tendencies. We all know for that to be true, except that we're entering uncharted territory with global unrest and a mass awakening to the systemic problems with income inequality. Wolf seemed to assert that a lot of these political attitudes are merely just phases and that Millennials will eventually come over to their side if conservatives just "educate them about how free-market policies can better provide the results they want than government interference".
I'd say that I became politically aware when I was 12-years old. It was 2006 and the political atmosphere was fairly toxic in the depths of the Bush Administration and the Iraq War. My parents were southerners, my mother from Dallas and my father from New Orleans, and tended to vote Republican. My awakening to politics came at the hand of the Internet with various political forums and browser-based games on geopolitics. I aligned myself with conservatives simply because that was the rhetoric I'd hear from my parents and their Fox News habits.
What became quickly apparent to me was that conservatives were constantly being called racists and were often on the side of an argument where they had to defend themselves as not being bigots. I found it fascinating that the opposite side of the spectrum never had these allegations thrown against them. I knew that I wasn't supposed to like liberals and were to make fun of them, but I never really understood exactly why liberals were bad for society. Having recently discovered Wikipedia at 13, I did some reading on liberal-related articles and got a basic idea on what liberalism was. My original purpose was to get an idea of what they believe and why I believe different -- fortunately that was not the outcome.
I found myself agreeing more and more with what I read. The fundamentals that society has a communal responsibility to help out disadvantaged people. Making the system fairer appealed to me (as it should anyone). "Why would I be opposed to that", I often found myself wondering. I was never raised religiously, so I never developed a sense that I had a divine purpose to subject my life to certain customs. Without religion, conservatism's social issues fall apart and with it comes a change in attitude about economics.
The rest is history. I turned 18 and voted for the first time to help get Barack Obama reelected. I volunteered for Netroots celebrity and Congressional candidate Darcy Burner (WA-01) that year. I remember the first real election I followed was fervor of Obama's rise to prominence in 2007-2008. It gave me faith that my government could do good, that it could recognize the wrongs of the past and work to correct it. I still believe that today.
I'm 20 now, and I understand that plenty of my idealism is a result of my age. I know that as I grow older and (hopefully) earn more wealth, that my attitudes may change on some issues. Though now married, with a mortgage, and a corporate desk job, I've found that my priorities haven't really changed. My wonderful wife and I have really matured over the last couple of years in our progressive attitudes. And you know what? Those feelings have gotten stronger over time.
What I know without a shadow of a doubt that I have an unwavering commitment in trying to strengthen our society to be fairer, to include all people regardless of any kind of label, and that we have a responsibility together to preserve this Earth's natural beauty. It isn't a phase, it isn't naive idealism, it's reality.
I hope to write a piece for Daily Kos at least once a day and connect with this community. Politics has long been a passion for me and I hope to exercise that passion into something productive. I look forward to my time here as an experience where I evolve and give back to the group that helped me with who I am and what I believe today.