Advice from a former Lonely College Republican to the latest Lonely College Republican.
I saw your op-ed “Advice from a Lonely College Republican” in the Wall Street Journal the other day.
It deserves a respectful and, hopefully, thoughtful response.
In our family photo book there is a picture of my younger self. Standing at a podium, long hair cut shorter (but still decidedly not short), finger earnestly raised in the air mid-speech. I confess I was a little reluctant to send it in to my editor to accompany this piece. Time has… um… moved on. But there I am back there in… yikes!… 1972. The president of the Franklin and Marshall College Republicans. Franklin and Marshall being a wonderful liberal arts college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, founded in 1787 and named for Founding Father Ben Franklin and later Chief Justice John Marshall.
Your article reminded me of that photo because as a College Republican in 1972 — the year the Democrats nominated South Dakota Senator George McGovern to run against President Richard Nixon — I too was a Lonely College Republican. I think there may have been all of five of us who were Nixon supporters on campus that fall. Everybody else…. my girlfriend included!… was out there passionately for McGovern.
Interestingly, the things I heard from my liberal classmates then was only an earlier variation of what you are hearing from your liberal classmates today. While gay rights had not yet emerged as an issue, abortion was in fact already on the radar. They were for it — and the Nixon campaign was running commercials against it. Amnesty was another big issue — but it didn’t refer to immigration. Amnesty in 1972 referred to young Americans our age who fled to Canada to escape the draft. Amnesty, allowing them back in the country to resume their American citizenship, was extremely popular with my passionately anti-war classmates.
They also snickered openly at a third “social issue” of the day that was driving the Nixon campaign — drugs. The smell of marijuana floated through dorms, kids were taking LSD or “acid” as it was quaintly known for its hallucinogenic qualities. Mad about drugs? You bet they were, although not exactly the way the Nixon campaign was mad about drugs. My classmates were also big on McGovern’s proposal to give a guaranteed $1,000 to every single American — an early forerunner of Obama’s redistribution.
The Nixon campaign summed all this up in television commercials by saying McGovern supported “Acid, amnesty and abortion.”
Safe to say there was shock on campus at the election results. How in the world could America choose Nixon over McGovern — and in a humiliating 49-state landslide to boot? Why, everybody they knew — me and my four friends excepted — was for McGovern!!! Talk about depression!
In other words, your experience at George Washington University is nothing new. You are a Republican at a liberal college in a sea of liberal classmates. You would find things quite different, I suspect — as a matter of fact you would surely find the exact reverse — if you were a student at Liberty University in Virginia or any number of private or public colleges and universities around America. But that’s not the point here.
As a Reaganite let me stipulate that your thoughts on economics and the government are well taken. Ronald Reagan decidedly agreed with you that Republicans were, as you put it, “the true advocate of rebellion.” He was decidedly a revolutionary within the GOP and did repeated fierce battle with the Republican Establishment. You are right on the money with your thoughts on this.
But there is another part of your argument that is, many conservatives would argue, wrong. So I will focus on where we disagree.
Another leg up that the left has is its claim to the moral high ground. The party of pro-choice, pro-gay has such a hold on young people because those are issues they can care about easily. Not many 20-year-olds can hold a coherent conversation about Social Security reform or double taxation, but all of them can argue passionately for gay rights.
As a member of this all-important demographic, I know that neither I nor (almost) anybody else coming of age today supports the Republican social agenda. That’s the way the country is moving — so just deal with it. Modernize and prioritize.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online