Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Young Republicans the product of bad parents? 

We all rebel against our parents at some point. I have two children ten years apart, and they both do it in their own ways (though Littlest Scholar is far harder on Mrs. B than on me, because they are closer). This Christian Science Monitor article about young conservatives getting ready for the fall elections certain has that flavor to it, but it goes to a place I'm uncomfortable with.
Why are youth embracing conservatism? There are two reasons, says Ryan Thompson, editor in chief of Young Conservatives (, a weekly Web publication with a staff of about two dozen young writers nationwide.
"There [are] legitimate people out there that really believe in this, and I think that's because some parents in some respects are a little more protective because they know what they did during the '60s generation," says Mr. Thompson, who expects to begin his freshman year at Hillsdale College in Michigan this fall. "Then, there's also some [for whom] I think it's a rebellion, almost. You see the excesses of that generation. And people, when they see the excesses of one generation, they go to another side."

If liberal parents are not enough cause for rebellion, liberal school environments may also spur conservative-leaning students to new extremes. Thompson says some conservative students are "ostracized" in high school.
OK, and we've already noted these things in our discussion of Bryan Henderson and the Protest Warriors. It's the stuff of John Hughes mov... er, never mind. But then the article suggests that because the older generation hasn't taught the younger students the right values, the students are attracted to conservatism? Dunno: you read this and tell me.
J. Stanley Oakes Jr., president of The King's College, reflected on the principles behind the students' politics.

"When you think about universal principles," he said, "my generation ought to be transmitting them to you and they have done a lousy job."

That failure to transmit values explains a lot about the attraction of today's youth to conservatism, says Thompson. He attributes his peers' conservatism at least in part to a general yearning for parental instruction.

"There's a lack of guidance out there for certain, out there among adults, that I think is a problem," he says. "People are getting kind of sick of this 'do what you want' kind of society."
Maybe this is my libertarian streak coming through, but I don't think people are sick of "do what you want" when it means freedom. Perhaps they've learned that liberty and libertine are two different things, and maybe they've learned that what their parents had in the 1960s wasn't freedom (though I'm persuaded by some of what Murray Rothbard* said of the 1970s being a movement towards greater freedom), but looking to a philosophy of the state as a substitute for parental instruction is not just immature. It's sick.

* -- I'm sure Mitch and the other NARNers will fry me for that link. Fine, it'll make good radio.