Don't Blow Off Millennials

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Many of the same people who think punching a "fascist" is cool don't know that fascism has much in common with socialism, or that the policies they mouth allegiance to lead to really uncool food lines and worse. (Image via Wikipedia.)
According to John Hart of RealClear Politics, the recent primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Joe Crowley is "the most significant political upset since Tea Party Republican Dave Brat defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014." I agree, and I have to express my relief that a conservative is taking the event seriously. Rather than yielding to the temptation to dismiss Ocasio-Cortez as a fluke, or half-insultingly assume that young voters will somehow "grow up" to embrace free markets, Hart considers the broader political context. He then offers specific strategies for overcoming the ascendancy of the far left in the Democratic Party. Here's an example of one strategy I am close to agreeing with:
The only path forward for conservatives is to appeal to millennials who are undecided about economic theory. For instance, a Gallup poll from 2016 showed a majority (55 percent) of Americans between the ages of 18-29 had a positive view of socialism. Yet, the same poll revealed that millennials view small business, entrepreneurs, the free enterprise system and capitalism more favorably than socialism. Free enterprise was viewed favorably by 78 percent of younger Americans while capitalism was viewed favorably by 57 percent. Gallup also found that millennials have a higher opinion of small business and free enterprise than Americans over 65.
This is true, but ought to go father in two directions. First, there is no need to limit oneself to appealing to undecideds. Second -- and this is why the first is true -- the appeal need not and should not be restricted to economics. Ayn Rand and others have argued that capitalism (the "unknown ideal") is not just more practical than the alternatives, it is the most moral political system. It is not clear to me that Hart agrees with this assertion, but he does appreciate the moral dimension of this development:
The heart of the Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez Democratic-socialist movement is a question more than a set of policies: Is it right and moral that in a modern and wealthy country some people are too poor to live? That is the right question. Conservatives have the best response and should welcome this struggle. [bold added]
I am not sure I agree that this is the right question, but it is being asked.

Regarding capitalism as a moral system, I will refer the reader to Ayn Rand (and previous two links) for the full argument. But, again, I mention this because one thing Ocasio-Cortez does on the campaign trail is uphold socialism as a moral system. This is a big part of what makes her so compelling as a candidate, and this is what pro-liberty politicians will have to become able to address if they are to hope to have real success at winning elections, making America freer, and ensuring our future prosperity.

-- CAV

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