Young GOP techies taken in by a liberal fairy tale in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.
(Page 2 of 5)
Let’s go through this in detail.
Beginning with the Draper theme that the GOP is teetering on the verge of obsolescence.
Why is this a joke on the apparently clueless Mr. Draper and all these young GOP techies (more of whom in a bit)?
Because what Mr. Draper has written here is just the latest version of an old fairy tale. An urban legend of politics. In fact, it’s ancient. Very. So ancient that it is more than fair to say that Mr. Draper’s mind, not to mention his story, looks as fresh and modern as the old typewriter and rotary phone pictured in his piece. Older, in fact. Over a half century older, to be precise.
So let’s begin by taking some of Draper’s story and listing here verbatim, the bold print my own for emphasis. Draper writes:
• But the problem for the G.O.P. extends well beyond its flawed candidate (Romney) and his flawed operation. The unnerving truth, which the Red Edge team and other younger conservatives worry that their leaders have yet to appreciate, is that the Republican Party’s technological deficiencies barely begin to explain why the G.O.P. has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. The party brand — which is to say, its message and its messengers — has become practically abhorrent to emerging demographic groups like Latinos and African-Americans, not to mention an entire generation of young voters. As one of the party’s most highly respected strategists told me: “It ought to concern people that the most Republican part of the electorate under Ronald Reagan were 18-to-29-year-olds. And today, people I know who are under 40 are embarrassed to say they’re Republicans. They’re embarrassed! They get harassed for it, the same way we used to give liberals a hard time.”
• (28-year old GOP pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson), for her part, is now a pollster and vice president of the Winston Group. Like the Red Edge partners and virtually every other young Republican with whom I spoke, she regards herself as a socially tolerant, limited-government fiscal conservative. (Today Republicans of all age groups strenuously avoid describing themselves as “moderate,” a term that the far right has made radioactive.) Camera-ready and compulsively perky — she has twice appeared on Bill Maher’s ”Real Time” panel as a token conservative — she nonetheless lapses into despondency when talking about her party’s current state of denial. During one of the postelection panels, Anderson heard a journalist talk about his interviews with Romney staff members who had hoped to build a winning coalition of white voters. “That just stunned me,” she told me one afternoon over coffee. “I thought: Did you not see the census? Because there was one! And it had some pretty big news — like that America’s biggest growing population is the Latino community!”
It gets better.
Draper sits in on two Anderson focus groups. The first all-female, the second all young men. Asked to free associate with the word “Republican” the women come up with words like “corporate greed,” “narrow minded,” “rigid,” “polarizing,” “stuck in their ways.” For the men: “racist,” “out of touch,” “hateful,” and, this one being particularly rich, “and put ‘1950’s’ on there too!”
When asked what the GOP could “say or do” to make them feel more positive about the GOP, one 22-year old respondent replies — no kidding — “embrace technology and change.”
Then Draper writes:
Later that evening at a hotel bar, Anderson pored over her notes. She seemed morbidly entranced, like a homicide detective gazing into a pool of freshly spilled blood. In the previous few days, the pollster interviewed Latino voters in San Diego and young entrepreneurs in Orlando. The findings were virtually unanimous. No one could understand the G.O.P.’s hot-blooded opposition to gay marriage or its perceived affinity for invading foreign countries. Every group believed that the first place to cut spending was the defense budget. During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.”
“There is a brand,” the 28-year-old pollster concluded of her party with clinical finality. “And it’s that we’re not in the 21st century.”
I’m sure Anderson is smart. This is certainly not meant to be personal. But she is, at least as depicted here, truly clueless. As is Draper.
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