David Frum

11.13.12

A Young Republican Looks Forward

Former Frum Forum writer Jeb Golinkin on the future of the GOP

Bill O'Reilly commented not so eloquently that the election shows that the white establishment has been displaced by a rainbow coalition they hardly recognize and are not dealing all that well with. He was clumsy in his description, but I would submit he isn't wrong.

The newest round of Medicare beneficiaries was born in 1947. If you were born in '47 in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, or any state in the deep south, for that matter, consider how much change you have seen over the course of your lifetime. The Supreme Court did not strike down separate but equal until you were eight years old.

The bottom line here is that in a Republican party which is old, white, southern, and male, it should not be altogether surprising that its base seems scared, confused, and stuck in the past.

If you were a 65 year olds who grew up in a mostly white, mostly male dominated, still religious, and almost universally homophobic society, you might be confused too—today, a smart, cool, likable Harvard educated black dude is President. We just elected an openly gay Senator, and gay marriage is rapidly becoming the law of the land. Hispanics are the largest growing population group in the United States, and people are talking about how the jobs these old white people held in in their not so clean factories are quite literally destroying the world.

So yeah, the pace of change could be a bit overwhelming.

I am 24 years old. I grew up in Houston, which recently surpassed New York and Los Angeles as the most diverse city in the United States of America. I realize pollution is bad, and while I am very proud of being a Texan, I take no pride in my state's one time membership in the Confederacy. I was taught to believe in God...but I was also taught, unequivocally, that evolution is a scientific fact of life and that faith in Science carries over to the environment and other areas. My time has been defined in large part by debates about what rights non citizens have. The 65 plus crowd dealt with the far less pleasant topic of what rights our own citizens have here in America.

Over the past week, I have been told over and over that my party is full of irresponsible, hateful lunatics hellbent on preserving a world order that simply does not exist anymore. I have been instructed that conservative causes are dead and that Barack Obama won an astonishing mandate. I have been told that the conservative political movement has no future in these United States of America.

All of this is only temporarily true. I and others like me will become the face of a very different conservative movement. It will defend the rights of women, of gays, of blacks. Our movement will adopt a Hamiltonian posture in the way we discuss government. We will ensure that the instruments of government are used not to give but rather to encourage. We will move government away from handing out carrots and instead use the carrots to encourage people to improve their own lives. Out with Solyndra, in with cap and trade. Pro pay for performance, anti-"take whatever you want" healthcare. In with government funded service at private convenient care clinics, out with government funded ER care except in exception circumstances. In with pay for performance in teaching, out with tenure. In with charter schools and vouchers, out with failure factories. More OIRA discretion, less EPA discretion. And so on.

The conflict between collectivism and individualism has always been overstated. Our country has always valued both. The question has always been of how to strike the balance between the two values. If left unchecked, the Democratic Party will push country towards the collectivist side of the spectrum in ways that will, and perhaps already do, make many Americans uncomfortable. For those young people out there who consider themselves "socially liberal and fiscally conservive," our time is rapidly approaching. William F. Buckley rebuilt conservatism in the 1980s into a modern movement. In 2008, David Frum launched a movement to build a conservatism that can win again. Do not abandon the movement yet. Our time is coming, and we are better prepared to apply our conservative principles to the new world than the generation which seems to be lost at sea.

Jeb is a law student at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow him on Twitter @JGolinkin. He'll be appearing on Huffington Post Live at 1 pm EST tomorrow to discuss the GOP's relationship, present and future, with young voters.