Some days it seems, at least from reading the mainstream news or cable television, that all millennials are voting for Democrats, or that college-educated kids are all going to be part of the “blue wave.”
In fact, there is a whole cadre of young Republicans and conservatives populating college campuses, who see themselves as the post-Trump future of the Republican Party.
Journalist Eliza Gray recently went looking for the heart and soul of young conservatism as part of a story for the Washington Post Magazine. She shares some of her findings, in this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, with Jeff Schechtman.
Gray interviewed over 50 young conservative leaders. She started with College Republicans, and her search took her to groups that ranged from William F. Buckley's Young Americans for Freedom, to organizations founded in the Reagan era, to libertarian offshoots of the Ron Paul campaign, as well as some Christian groups.
While Trump is certainly not the model all of them want to emulate, and they are hardly falling in line behind his approach of being “light on policy and heavy on combat,” some still see him as a means to implementing their own policy preferences.
According to Gray, the libertarian streak is perhaps the most prominent feature of these young conservatives, some of whom have taken to calling themselves Conservatarians. But even with their libertarian leanings on issues like sexual preferences and foreign policy, the vast majority are strongly pro-life. And many agree with Trump in his attacks on both the media and popular culture.
As for young, moderate Republicans, they have, says Gray, become an endangered species; according to her research, many were turned off by the rise of Trump.
Gray explains why the biggest heroes of many young conservatives are commentator Ben Shapiro and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Most are not fans of Sean Hannity.
There is also very little hero worship for what some see as a mean, frequently crude, ideologically fickle 72-year-old man. Many realize they will have to fight to rebuild the party and conservatism in their own image.