By Doug Newman
(WARNING: GRAPHIC, BUT NOT GRATUITOUS, IMAGES. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IN WAR!)
Denver talk host David Sirota wrote a very fine essay this week on Ron Paul’s appeal among voters aged 18 to 29. Contrary to common belief, this popularity is not simply a matter of their wanting to burn hippie lettuce.* Rather, Sirota says, it is that they have a principled stance against America’s endless wars.
I want to approach this question from a different angle: how one’s life experience often profoundly influences one’s worldview. There are three major cultural reasons for Ron Paul’s appeal to younger voters.
1) They are on the internet more intensively than anyone else. Indeed, if you are 18, you may very well not remember life without the internet.
When I was 18, in 1979, we got our news from the three major networks, newspapers and news magazines. No we were not in the Soviet Union where the flow of information was controlled by TASS, Pravda and Izvestia. However, our news options were relatively quite limited. Cable TV hadn’t gained a footing yet. The Fairness Doctrine governed radio, so talk radio was a non-factor.
Along came the internet in the 1995-96 time frame. Now, anyone anywhere of even modest financial means could broadcast their message worldwide. Our news and information options suddenly became infinite. This is the world in which the majority of the group Sirota describes has come of age. This is how they get their information. And it absolutely tortures control freaks!
2) They know they have gotten a raw economic deal.
On the front end of things, more people than ever are questioning the value of a traditional college education. In 1965, tuition at Yale and Princeton was $1950 per year. In 2011, it is roughly $40,000. In-state tuition at Black Hills State University is now $7400. Higher education may very well constitute another bubble waiting to burst.
Not only has college become way more expensive – largely due to federal involvement – but jobs for new graduates are scarcer than ever. And the total amount of outstanding student loan debt has surpassed that of outstanding credit card debt.
On the back end, most young adults know that they will never see a dime of Social Security or Medicare. Current unfunded liabilities of the federal government stand at over $116 trillion. If you can’t comprehend that number, don’t worry. Neither can many astrophysicists.
It is this generation that will foot the bill for the financial damage that the current political and paper-money financial establishments hath wrought.
3) They are of military age.
Sirota goes into great detail about their thoughts on war and foreign policy. Let me drill down here. Might these thoughts just stem from the fact that, more than anyone, they, their friends and classmates have spilled their blood in endless wars that are being sold to them by politicians and media hacks who have never served a day in the military?
It is easy to talk about “war”, “country”, “flag” and “patriotism”. It is quite another to pay for these things in the coin of your own blood.
It is quite another to have before-and-after photos like those of Marine Sergeant Tyler Ziegel of Metamora, Illinois.
Or to have before-and-after photos like those of Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard of New Portland, Maine.
I resent it when people purport to speak for me. Hence, I almost never want to speak for someone else. However, it is one thing to wage war, finance war, and promote war and to get all weepy-eyed whenever you hear Lee Greenwood sing and to gawk at Fox News as if it were the Playboy Channel. It is quite another to experience war firsthand or to know someone who has.
Is it any surprise that Ron Paul receives more campaign contributions from active duty military than all other presidential candidates combined? He is the only candidate who realizes that war is not just a video game, but a true life-and-death experience. He is the only candidate who will not use you or your kids as meat on the hoof for endless wars based on endless lies.
Is it any surprise that Ron Paul is so popular among young voters? I repeat my thesis: one’s life experiences have profound effects on one’s worldview. Ron Paul’s message and philosophy have enormous practical appeal to those who are coming into adulthood at this point in American history.
* Ron Paul supports your Ninth Amendment right to burn hippie lettuce. Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, supports interrupting your life if you are caught ingesting things he doesn’t want you to ingest. Governments have done infinitely more to destroy civilization than plants and their extracts ever have.
When you let people do whatever they want, you run the risk of Woodstock. When you let governments do whatever they want, you run the risk of Auschwitz. Any questions?
If you would like to post this elsewhere, please email me and include a link to this URL. Thanks! – dfn