Friday, February 26, 2010

Rock The Vote--Or Maybe Not

The past few years we've all heard from the Democrats over the exciting development of the youth vote. Whoopee! They're coming out in force. They're going to change America with their enthusiasm. They love Obama and support his hopeychange entirely. They're the future! Recent reports indicate they are quickly becoming the past.

Youthful voter turnout has often happened in the past, and it was normally a flash in the pan. Younger people, and more so today than in the past, have amazingly short attention spans. The big turnout for Obama is losing its steam, and it would seem it's losing it an astounding rate. All those promises, so little time. Young voters often think in terms of slogans, and will turn out for a candidate who seems to fit the slogans. "Hopeless" and "more of the same" won't get the youth to put down their X-Boxes, bongs, and Cliff Notes long enough to vote. "Hope" and "change" seemed to fit the bill, and when added to "yes, we can," were irresistible to slogan-thinkers. And since most of them have been told that America is a racist nation, this was the closest thing to genuine, principled rebellion they could come up with. Obama is The One.

They suffer from a serious dearth of historical information and historical perspective. "Yo, MTV raps" is to them a serious political statement. "Rock the vote" is a clarion call to participate in the political process, or party, whatever. "I'm like, um, young, and I'm like, Obama is really cool, I'm gonna vote for him, and text my friends to vote for him too (U shud vote for that Obama guy)." Republicans and conservatives are all far too old to have any problems, but youth, ah youth, have problems that only a really cool guy like Obama could understand. With that kind of depth of thinking, is it any surprise that there is no indication that the youth vote will be showing up in any numbers in the upcoming election? "OK, we helped get him elected, so what's for dinner?"

The other facet of the youth vote is that younger people have largely not yet joined in the "real world" of responsible adulthood. That's not even a criticism. As Shaw said, "Youth, what a shame to waste it on the young." Yes, I know, some attribute the quote to Twain. Young people are just beginning their lives, and have very little real life experience with what it means to strive, raise a family, build a business, and deal with all the boring details of everyday life. A famous youth anthem summed up the thinking of a large portion of perfectly normal young people: "You gotta fight for your right to party."

My boy E. J. Dionne at The New Republic just wrote a pompous, pedantic article that tells us something we've all known for years. Young people are generally liberal, but apathetic in doing anything about it. Long ago, Churchill said that anyone who was not liberal when young had no heart, and who was not conservative in his later years had no head. It's the natural order of things, but with all the statistics and studies that Dionne cited, you'd think he had just had an original thought. He cites the "liberalism" of today's voters by age group and dates of birth, and is astounded to find out that the older the voters are, the more conservative they are. He needs to take a good hard look, slide that generational grid over the past 200 years, and discover that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Without adult experience to give them context, a candidate who can spout the right slogans and have the right look can easily lead them down the primrose path, get them off the couch, and get them to the voting booth. The youth vote went to Kerry and Gore, but in nothing like the numbers or percentages that it went for Obama. Why not? They didn't have the right slogans and the right charisma. Kerry looked like a corpse or a wax dummy, talking about issues that were important when their parents were young. Gore was the overblown fat guy who wanted to stop global warming, which would require taking away their cars, not to mention censoring their pornography.

Then, along came Obama. He not only had all the right trappings to stir up the youth vote, he ran against John McCain. To the younger voters, McCain was like the slightly-addled great uncle who came to family dinners, couldn't remember anyone's name, and talked about how tough things were when he was young (a couple of centuries ago). They've also discovered that most of the people in Congress who have to enact Obama's schemes look a lot like McCain, or Medusa.

But Obama, now he's cool. And since life is not perfect for youth, and Obama promised it would be if they dumped their apathy and voted for him, they showed up at the polls. A mere year later, things are not perfect. In fact, they're worse. He hasn't delivered on a single one of his promises (except for spending money on things they don't care about). The post-racial society has turned into something faintly resembling the pre-60s racial divide. And they've discovered an eternal truth: "Words are not the same thing as deeds." Even Dionne recognizes that the youth vote, largely embracing "the Millennials," still have a high opinion of Obama's personal "cool," but think as a leader, he's largely a failure. In their view, the world should have changed overnight, he promised it would, it didn't, and their enthusiasm is fading like cheap vegetable dye in the bright sun.

16 comments:

JG said...

There's that song that goes, "one day my generation is gonna rule the population..." I still cringe whenever it comes on.

Just try and get those young voters to admit that they are worse off than they were a year ago, and they'll time-jump back to 2008 and say it's all Bush's fault anyway. I can't wait to grow up.

AndrewPrice said...

McCain not only struck me as an older, nastier (more liberal) version of Elmer Fudd, but he struck me as highly irrational and erratic too. You never knew what he was going to do to convince you that he had the calm steady hand of leadership.

Not to mention, I don't think the man understood basic math or basic economics. . . not that Barack did either.

In fact, the last election probably involved four of the dumbest people to ever be on Presidential tickets. That's the only reason most people didn't see Barack for the idiot he was, because of the group he was standing in. Barack’s just lucky “him read good.”

It's a wonder a black hole of stupidity didn't open up and swallow them all when they gathered together on stage.

JG said...

That's a good point, Andrew, and of course many people are saying that's why the MSM pushed McCain so hard in the primaries - he was the easiest to beat (theoretically, I'm not sure Ron Paul would have done much better). I'm still surprised that Obama beat Hilary; I think she just came across as too much of an ice queen. But she's obviously more intelligent and experienced - which I say even though I loathe her.

LawHawkSF said...

JG: The "Who" sang "talkin' 'bout my generation--things they do look awful cold--hope I die before I get old." I know they got old, but I'm not sure they got any wiser. But they're show people. Youth wants excitement, maturity wants calm results. Youth wants what it wants when it wants it. The impatience of waiting for it is matched only by the impatience of not getting it. They haven't gotten it, so they'll go back to their apathy until the next knight on a white horse comes along. For them, Obama is damaged goods, and he's so "last year." I'm not sure their attention span stretches as far back as Bush. LOL

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: You nailed that. It's hard to soar with the eagles when you're surrounded by turkeys.

LawHawkSF said...

JG: The youth that loved the Clintons so much in 1992 are now the middle-aged crowd, and current youth considers them old fuddy-duddies. That's the "generational grid" I mentioned in the article (the one Dionne hasn't quite figured out yet). Clinton was cool because he tried marijuana. Obama is cool because he inhaled, or something like that. The Clintons represent the old Democrats. Obama represents the new Democrats. And we all new that new is better, don't we?

StanH said...

This was bound to happen, the fleeting attention span of kids. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next election, will Barry be able to rile up the youth vote again? Instead of getting them away from the bong and the X-Box, maybe he will promise free bongs and X-Boxes. Then it will become incumbent upon parents, and grandparents to tie their kids up in the attic…until they grow up a little!

AndrewPrice said...

JG, I think Obama would have absolutely destroyed Paul. He's an interesting guy who makes some good points (and some crazy ones), but he's not a credible national candidate.

I agree about the MSM pushing McCain because they thought he was the easiest to beat.

In terms of beating Hillary, I think she underestimated how far left Democratic primary voters had shifted. She thought she was a shoe-in for the nomination, so she tried to play the moderate to pull in moderate Republicans in the general election. In the process, she let Obama out-flank her on the left.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: I think Obama's star has lost its gleam for them forever. Another trait of short attention spans is that they move on, looking for all new things to get temporarily excited about. They rarely return to the scene of the original crime. Like Kerry and Gore, Obama will still get the larger portion of the youth vote, but the numbers and proportions of the total vote will be much lower than in 2008. Obama won't generate the enthusiasm among the 18 to 24 year olds that he did when nobody knew anything about him, so they'll largely stay home on election day, much as they have done ever since the 18 year olds got the vote.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: And even if McCain had fooled them and won, he still wouldn't have been the conservative the MSM so greatly fears. It was a win-win for them.

Writer X said...

When the young voters who voted for Obama are still living at home and unemployed by the next election, they will find religion quickly. The small percentage who are perfectly comfortable living rent-free in the family basement are beyond help and shouldn't be a focus by any Conservative/Republican candidate. I think there's a difference between reaching out to potential voters and trying to mold yourself in their image. The latter always come across as looking phoney.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: No need for us to go after the basement-dwellers. They won't ever vote again, for anybody, as they retreat into their Obama-created cocoons. They won't even rouse themselves to sign up for vote-by-mail, let alone clean up and go to the polls. I doubt that he could appeal to them even with stimulus funds for basement upgrades.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--I can't remember any candidate who energized the youth vote and then was able to duplicate it at the next election. Take out the ones who get enthused, once, and you probably have close to the margin of victory in close races.

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: I can't remember one either. Obama has zero coattails, so the loss of the additional formerly enthused young people will probably have little effect on the Congressional elections. Old-time loyalist Democrats could be somewhat energized by the challenge of conservatives and Republicans, but the newbie voters see no need to rally behind a party at all.

As we've discussed, young voters who already have a disposition to vote tend to vote on the liberal end of the spectrum. It's the surge that candidates like Obama get from young people who would normally ignore elections that help them once, but rarely twice, that always proves to be the rule.

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk, just read this. Well done. Rock the Vote is a joke. I always think of the late Chris Farley in one of his movies. I am only thankful that these idiots who helped vote Obama in will hopefully stay away from the polls in droves this November. The emporor indeed has no clothes.

LawHawkSF said...

Tennessee: You're so right. Rock the Vote is a joke on a par with Pull My Finger, and just about as productive.

Post a Comment