Michael In Norfolk: Millennial Voters and the GOP Titanic
Over at The Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan has been running a number of posts that contain excerpts from letters – or more likely e-mails – from millennial voters. In the recent election, the Democrats won the under 30 vote by a large margin. The content of these letters ought to terrify the Republican powers that be since they clearly demonstrate that the current backward facing, Christofascist embracing agenda of the GOP is alienating younger voters in droves and there is no evidence that this will change. Add in the growing flight of Hispanics, Asians and other minorities to the Democrats and it appears that the GOP has nothing short of a suicide wish. As noted before, the only way to save the GOP from the swamp fever that now holds it is to eject the Christofascists and Tea Part crowd from control. Unfortunately, given the way in which these toxic forces have overrun the candidate nomination process, exterminating the virus from the party will be difficult. Here are a sampling of highlights from some of the “letters”:
My wife and I (31 and 30 years old) are both heterosexuals who believe in full civil rights for gay people and the right for these fellow citizens to marry the person they love and not have the government tell them they are invalid. After this most recent election (we both voted for Obama largely because he publicly endorsed gay marriage), we got to thinking about the waning role of religion in the lives of people our age and how that might affect how we vote.
My family (we have two daughters, 3 years old and 6 months) does not attend church and we don’t adhere to any religious beliefs. I was raised Catholic and attended church from birth until I went to college.
I stopped going largely because I feel the church has involved itself too much in politics as a means to control the lives of people who may not necessarily adhere to their beliefs through the passage of laws by friendly legislators. What we’ve noticed these days is not a single one of our friends in our age group attends church, talks about religious beliefs, or appears to be the least bit religious. We pride ourselves on being free thinkers and on not taking, at face value, the pronouncements of those who hold perceived authority. Compare this to many of my older relatives who still receive their voting marching orders from the pulpit.
I always chuckle when people run for office on a “family values” platform. They didn’t check with me to see what my values are, so how can they assure me those are the ones they will protect. I more get the sense they want me to live by THEIR family values, and I don’t like that.
Here are thoughts from another millennial:
I stayed pretty religious and conservative through 9/11 and into the Iraq war. But those two events got me interested in politics. And the aftermath of those events, particularly the failure in Iraq and the way it was sold to us, tore away at the next layer of how I perceived the world and replaced it with a cynicism and curiosity that put me on the path to where I am. From that point on I questioned everything, and the college experience was right there to help that along. I went from being an O’Reilly-watching Catholic to now being a very progressive atheist.
The biggest difference I’ve noticed between the conservatives of my generation and those of my parents’ is that most of the people my age lean strongly libertarian. They may oppose gay marriage on ‘moral’ grounds, but they’re more likely to consider it a choice that, so long as it’s not forced on them, they don’t give a damn about. “Civil unions? If they want to go to hell, let them. Just don’t make my church do it.” I’ve even heard a few propose that government should butt out of the business of marriage entirely, which, even as a liberal, doesn’t seem like such a bad idea of me.
And still another:
I attended my dad’s alma mater, a small private evangelical Christian college in southern California, and had almost no opportunities to meet anyone different than myself. . . . . Other than what I was told about abortion, I was very ignorant about politics.
After graduating college in 2003, I moved back to Seattle, and more-or-less was thrust into the “real world” with the opportunity to encounter a diversity of opinion for the first time. . . . . I began to intentionally pursue understanding of perspectives different than my own – the pro-choice position, the case for marriage equality, tolerance and understanding (rather than demonization) of other religions, modern feminism. For the first time, I became exposed, both online and in real life, to nonwhite, non-straight, non-conservative people.
I don’t currently consider myself a “liberal” or a “conservative” – I still try to see the good in both “sides” of contentious issues. But increasingly, I’m brought to the realization that the Republican party currently has virtually nothing to offer – it is decidedly not the party of family values or morality, is hypocritical and in the pocket of large corporate interests. . . . . I saw, and in some ways still see, in President Obama a way forward, a rejection of polarizing us-versus-them narratives, an embrace of a multicultural, diverse America – an embrace of America at its best. I still support that vision.
One last one:
I cast my ballot for McCain. After Obama’s inauguration, I realized it would be the last time I ever voted for a Republican. . . . The rise of the Tea Party appalled me. Their rhetoric, their unhinged paranoia, their thinly-veiled racist attitudes toward Obama. If they were what the Republican party was offering, I no longer wanted a part of it. I drifted further and further to the left, while still clinging to my LDS faith. Then the healthcare debates began. Healthcare! Something Jesus probably would be on board with! I would read scriptures and sing hymns that made me think, “Oh yeah, that Jesus guy was really on to something when he said take care of the sick and afflicted,” but then my Republican friends would support things that flew in the face of the very same scriptures and hymns.
By 2009 I was no longer active in the Mormon church, partly because I’d realized that I was gay and partly because I realized that it offered nothing but a pessimistic view of the world. . . . . I came to see the Republican party as a backwards-looking and regressive machine that does nothing to bring the United States into the 21st century; no, it was not the party for me.
Many of my generation of similar stories to mine. I think it is safe to say that my generation is not satisfied with the status quo that the generations before us were satisfied. We are leaving our parents” dogmatic faiths behind us in favor of tangible knowledge, which will lead to breakthroughs in science and other realms of academia. We are abandoning their antiquated notions of gender, family, sexuality, and morality en masse. We have lived through the results of their belief in trickle-down economics and deregulation. We have watched in horror as the climate has changed, while they have sat content in their inaction.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the GOP leadership sold the party’s soul to the Christofascists and far right extremists in the pursuit of short term advantage. By doing so, they have likely killed the party’s future as older Neanderthal voters literally die off and are replaced by those who reject the drum beat of fear, hate and bigotry. It is also a safe bet that millennials will raise their children in turn to reject the GOP message.
Michael Hamar is an out gay attorney in a committed relationship; formerly married and father of three wonderful children; sometime activist and political/news junkie; survived coming out in mid-life and hope to share my experiences and reflections with others. Follow him at Michael In Norfolk.
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