According to the newest edition of an annual UCLA survey of college freshman across the United States, more first-year students describe themselves as “liberal” in 2016 than they have at any other point since 1973. 33.5% of students surveyed by ACLU call themselves liberals, only slightly behind the 1973 high-point of 36.4%.
“When politicians on the conservative end of the spectrum highlight some of these social issues that aren’t really resonating with college students, it may turn students away from other messages that may resonate more,” said Kevin Eagan, a UCLA official in charge of the survey.
That’s likely true, but there’s an insinuation there that Republicans should cede the floor on issues like gay marriage and marijuana legalization so they can attract college freshmen. Just like they should go soft on immigration to attract Hispanics to the fold. But at some point, the “big tent” doesn’t have any more room to grow. Who is going to represent the millions and millions of Americans who are conservative on both social and economic issues, if not the conservative party? You can’t appeal to everyone. And it certainly doesn’t make sense to change the party to appeal to people who probably aren’t going to vote anyway.
Does anyone actually care what kids fresh out of high school think about politics, anyhow? Do you remember some of the stupid ideas you had at that age? Now compound that with a semester’s worth of indoctrination, and you have results like these. Worse now, of course, because young people see President Obama as this celebrity-cool figure, an image that few presidents have ever managed to cultivate.
Then of course there is Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator giving Hillary Clinton nightmares over in the Democratic race. Thanks to concentrations of idiocy like Reddit, Sanders is becoming an icon to college nerds who would otherwise be rallying around some obscure left-wing libertarian. When you haven’t paid one dollar in income tax, a guy selling free college and free healthcare can have a field day.
If there’s a silver lining to all this, it’s that the history of this country’s political progress has been that of a pendulum swinging back and forth. If we’re a little more liberal now, we may be headed into an era of conservatism. The left’s wilder efforts, including this unfortunate embrace of illegal immigration, are going to invite a backlash at some point. Donald Trump may be the beginning of that backlash, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens in November.
Maybe that’s false hope, but at least it’s something.