The hipster Republican boomlet has coincided with a strange Rand Paul boomlet. The idea is that not only can Rand Paul win the Republican nomination (which could be true for all I know) but that he’ll be a formidable (pundits love that word) general election candidate because teh kidz love him so much. Hip young gunslingers like Ruth Marcus and Joe Gandelman have been promoting this theory.
Here’s how Rand Paul will win over the youngsters: “by referencing modern cultural touchstones like Pink Floyd, Domino’s pizza and Monica Lewinsky.” And here is a pretty good summary of why it won’t work:
To recap, here’s the case for Rand Paul, millennial hero: He’s against surveillance and drone strikes, two issues on which the millennial vote is divided; he’s against comprehensive immigration reform and same-sex marriage, two things that millennial voters strongly support; he’s against big government and universal health care, two more things a majority of millennial voters back; and he likes to talk about getting people of color to vote for him, despite supporting voter suppression and the right of businesses to engage in race-based discrimination. Oh, and he’s comfortable telling the first black president, the one who “surrounds himself with Martin Luther King memorabilia in [the] Oval Office,” how he’s failing to live up to King’s legacy.
Look, I like making fun of stripey shirt Republican guy and the Fonz and McCardle/Suderman as much or more than the next liberal blogger, but I don’t think they and what they represent constitute the main thing that keeps millennials from voting Republican.
The reason that white middle-class people ever started voting Republican en masse in the first place is that Republicans won them over with race-baiting. And that dog whistle won’t hunt with millennials, or at least not as well as it hunted it with previous generations. Plus, race-baiting the blahs turns off the brahs, who are a larger proportion of millennials than they were of previous generations.
Only an idiot could believe that the politics of drones and surveillance are as potent as the politics of civil rights. The politics of drones and surveillance aren’t even as politically potent as the politics of immigration reform.