The numbers are in from the Super Tuesday primaries, and one statistic being heralded by many media outlets (MTV, for example) is that the youth vote is stronger than ever. During the primaries so far this year, the numbers of under-30 voters have turned out in double and triple the numbers than they did in 2004. But the increased fervor and political excitement among young people is very lopsided toward the Democratic candidates, particularly Obama.
This is strikingly clear at the Obama-crazy UCLA these days (and I suspect at most secular college campuses). During a mock campus election last month, only 225 students voted for a Republican candidate. Meanwhile, 1,387 students voted for Obama.
This is unsurprising in many respects, but if we’re looking for reasons why young people prefer the Democratic candidates over the Republicans (and, let’s face it, it’s not because of issues like social security or healthcare), we can perhaps look to the fact that not even hardcore Republicans are all that excited about the Republican candidates. Instead, the cranky old white Republican guard (the Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity/Christian Coalition types) are bickering amongst themselves in angsty confusion.
Take James Dobson—one of the most powerful (or formerly powerful) evangelical/political leaders in America. Frustrated that there isn’t a knock-out candidate on the Republican side, he’s recently taken to publicly bashing the frontrunner, John McCain.
Dobson’s list of grievances with McCain includes the fact that the Senator did not support the anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment, supports some stem cell research, and opposed the Bush tax cuts (evidently tax cuts are considered the “Christian” thing to do). Oh, and McCain supposedly uses "foul and obscene language" … Making him not only an unconservative pseudo-liberal, but a borderline pagan.
Here’s some more of what Dobson said of McCain:
I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are. He has sounded at times more like a member of the other party. …Given these and many other concerns, a spoonful of sugar does NOT make the medicine go down. I cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience... Should Sen. McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime. I certainly can’t vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama based on their virulently anti-family policy positions. If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life.
Oh Dr. Dobson… You were so wise back in the Dare to Discipline days. What happened? Now you’re advocating not voting? Even though in 2006 you said “it would be a sin” not to vote a for a candidate “who lives by a strong moral code and believes in Jesus Christ”?
Granted, Dobson today did come out and endorse Huckabee. So in the unlikely event (unfortunately) that Huckabee wins the party’s nomination, Dobson would have a reason to vote in November. But chances are the Republican party will push on and nominate McCain, with or without the Dobson-brand Christians.
Alas, I think that Dobson’s babyish tantrum is less a commentary on the state of the Republican party as it is on that fact that people like Dobson are losing their political clout. In this soon-to-be post-Bush era, Americans seem to be desirous of a departure from the wonderful world of WASPs.
As our rapidly changing country pushes forward in the midst of recession and uncertainty, the last thing we need are a bunch of aging white men quibbling over potty mouths and conservative cred. In the globalized, digitized, Darfur-burdened world we now inhabit, there are bigger fish to fry. And that is one reason why the majority of Americans (and almost all young Americans) are voting for Democrats these days.