Advice from a former Lonely College Republican to the latest Lonely College Republican.
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Governor Dewey agreed with you. In fact, after twice losing the White House as an advocate of liberal Republicanism he went to Princeton University in 1950 to deliver a lecture on the subject.
The lecture was written up in a Dewey biography by the distinguished historian Richard Norton Smith decades later. Wrote Smith of Dewey channeling the still unborn Sarah:
He railed against the “vociferous few” who demanded neatly divided parties, “impractical theorists” who wished to drive all moderates and liberals into Democratic arms, in return for a purely conservative GOP. Everything would be neatly arranged, said Dewey. “The results would be neatly arranged, too. The Republicans would lose every election and the Democrats would win.”
This is your argument circa 62 years ago, Sarah. And, quite notably with 62 years of hindsight, Governor Dewey turned out to be wrong, wrong, and wrong again. In fact, since 1932, Republicans have bought into what I will call here the Thomas Dewey-Sarah Westwood argument ten times with moderate nominees named Hoover, Landon, Willkie, Dewey (twice), Nixon (in 1960 but not 1968), Ford, Bush (in 1992 but not 1988), Dole, McCain and Romney.
Wow. Ten Dewey-Westwood style nominees and ten losses. Not a great track record.
Why is this?
Let’s end where we began. With you and I having experienced the heartache of the Lonely College Republican.
Eventually, Sarah, college ends. I had to leave the wonderful cocoon that was Franklin and Marshall just as you will eventually have to leave GW. So too was it for all my liberal classmates and indeed so it will be for all of yours. Everyone sallies forth to make their way in the world. Along the way they will be seeking things like jobs and houses. They will have mortgages and kids. In short — they will come face to face with the realities of making a living and having relationships of all kinds — romantic, business, and social.
Over time something interesting happened to my generation. The kids who were so passionate about George McGovern became adults who voted for Ronald Reagan and listened to Rush Limbaugh. Why? Because reality had set in on their lives. They needed jobs and wanted to be able to afford houses. They had to pay the mortgage, and their responsibilities as husbands and wives and parents and, eventually as a care-giver to their own senior parents made them… yes… conservatives.
While you may not yet realize it, some of the most conservative members of America’s future are today walking around the campus of George Washington University disguised as liberals.
Thanks for taking the time to make your case, Sarah. Please know I’m not writing this to discourage you but just the opposite — to encourage you. There will come a time in your political life, I assure you, when you will be Lonely No More.
A Once Upon a Time Lonely College Republican Who Is Lonely No More
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