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Turning Right: Kids Today are Thinking Different
National Review Online | 21 January, 2004 | Holiday Dmitri

Posted on 01/21/2004 12:11:59 PM PST by annyokie

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January 21, 2004, 9:30 a.m. Turning Right Kids today are thinking different.

By Holiday Dmitri

In my adolescence, I used to consider myself a devoted lover of the Left. At 17, I presided over my high-school chapter of NOW, joined the rank-and-file of Greenpeace, and annoyed my loving parents by turning vegetarian. I was so hip, so against the grain, I was bona fide "cutting edge."

Like many teenagers who grew up in the age of Nirvana, I sported a hairdo of defiance and clung to my generation's badge of conformity — beat-up flannel shirts and Doc Martens. Anything GOP was bad news. My friends and I didn't follow politics, but we listened to punk rock, poked holes in our bodies, and branded ourselves with tattoos, which, naturally, meant we were progressive in our politics. Counterculture meant rebelling against the Establishment — the rich, stodgy men in Brooks Brothers suits, the cigar-smoking conservatives, the geriatric gentle class. As a matter of self-preservation, you conformed to nonconformity.

Then something funny happened: Conservatism became "cool." Kids today are turning right and voting Republican. Members of the cool-cognoscenti like Gavin McInnes, cofounder of the New York hipster magazine Vice, are proclaiming it fashionable to think like Reagan. "It seems impossible that a generation reared on free-love television and rap music, a generation far more tolerant of ethnic diversity and homosexuality than its elders, could support the GOP, whose base is anchored in the religious right," writes Mort Kondracke in the current Roll Call.

But believe it. On college campuses, "young Hipublicans" are taking strides in fighting the (liberal) status quo. These new conservatives inject a healthy dose of popular culture into their politics: They can defend liberty and champion individual freedom just as well as they quote Homer Simpson.

Coined by Rolling Stone contributing editor John Colapinto, "young Hipublicans" describes a new demographic of young right-wingers that includes a slew of women and draws some of its fiercest ideologues from the middle class. No longer the WASP, the country-club golfer, or the Bible thumper, the new conservative doesn't belong to your daddy's Grand Old — "boring" — Party, but a bold new party for a bold new generation.

Let the stats speak for themselves. In a recent poll by the Institute of Politics at Harvard, 31 percent of college students across the country now identify themselves as Republicans (27 percent of the students say they are Democrats, and 38 percent consider themselves independent or unaffiliated). The poll also reported that 61 percent of college students approve of President Bush's job performance — a number about eight-percentage-points higher than the general public. Two other studies, one done by the Gallup Organization and another by the University of California at Berkeley, found that teens now hold more conservative viewpoints than older generations on issues like abortion and prayer in school. Not since the 1980s, when Reagan triggered a youthquake of conservative campus activism, have so many kids rocked the GOP vote. Could it once again be hip to be square?

My epiphany came during freshman year in college. I took a "test" in my American-government class, one of those 60-question computerized exams created to help the ideologically challenged pinpoint where they belong on the political landscape. To my surprise, I was hailed a classical liberal — which I was told was someone who disliked government interference and loved the free market. (This later became my excuse to my Marxist friends when I would run away — as soon as possible and as fast as I could — from the socialist meetings they dragged me to. I was allergic, I'd say, to big government.)

While attending the University of Chicago for grad school, I wrote for The Criterion, a too-cool-for-school conservative journal published by a group of Allan Bloom-adoring prep-school dandies. The Criterion boys (the board was made up of all guys, at least at that time) were hardly your run-of-the-mill, button-down cohort. These fashion-conscious provocateurs injected dirty humor and an in-your-face attitude into the pages of their publication, covering issues from the types of sexual relationships to avoid to an editorial urging the sending of campus protesters off to war. ("This [move] is good," the piece read, "for it injects energy into our self-absorbed community.")

PC campuses beware: The "under-30 generation" is rebelling against rebellion itself. Across the country, College Republicans are mobilizing. Since 1999, the College Republican National Committee has tripled its membership and now holds claim to 1,150 chapters, with more than 1,000 student coordinators on campuses nationwide. At the University of Chicago, the College Republicans have more than 30 deputy registrars conducting voter registration, and are currently running students as candidates for several local offices. Additionally, for the 2002-2003 school year, the U of C College Republicans were allocated more than $9,000 for annual expenses, not including their speaker honoraria. In comparison (in a reverse of typical campus trends), the U of C Democrats got a measly $92.

These facts scare some. In 60 years, no Democrat has ever won the presidency without carrying the youth vote. Imagine what would result if conservative thought seeped into the Ivory Tower! Colapinto calls it an "assault" on liberal teaching. He believes that campus conservatives — those misled souls! — are being exploited by rapacious right-wing think tanks and leadership organizations, serving as mouthpieces for their political agenda. In fact, Colapinto gives the kids no credit. According to him, a young Hipublican's "idea" of wearing recognizably "hip" clothes is the brainchild of off-campus conservative groups. Come on now, can you really see a bunch of suit-and-tie geezers legitimating street cred? I don't think so.

There are some things that change, yet stay the same. What kids want today hasn't changed much since the New Left movement in the '60s. They crave authenticity and are wary of tradition. They want to "keep it real," and they want to "keep it fresh." While conservatism may be by definition traditional, on campuses nationwide, conservative thought is often unconventional thinking.

Today professors don't think twice about openly denouncing the government or the current war. And holidays like Columbus Day are hardly celebrated anymore. (If anything, the day is mourned for lauding a "mass murderer.") But as academia turns more liberal, the student population sways the other way. One reason that College Republican membership is rising is because students are sick of being spoon-fed leftist political ideology and having to adapt to pious political correctness.

As the liberal herd mentality swells on campuses, students become more wary of groupthink and seek insurgent vision. And let's face it, it becomes cooler to break from the pack and revel as an outcast amongst the academic elites. Facilitating nonconformity, conservative concepts become emblems of revolt. The new youth movement is bound to bring energy and momentum to the Right. It's time to welcome the new face of conservatism: the rebel with a cause.

— Holiday Dmitri is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C

TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: generationy
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It's hip to be square.
1 posted on 01/21/2004 12:11:59 PM PST by annyokie
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To: annyokie

HOLIDAY DMITRI is a freelance writer and editor with more
than 10 years of editorial experience, specializing
in media and popular culture, arts and entertainment,
and feature writing. She has a keen interest
in both counterculture and mainstream culture,
and their influence in today's conservative youth movement.

2 posted on 01/21/2004 12:20:58 PM PST by LibFreeUSA
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To: crosshair
3 posted on 01/21/2004 12:24:06 PM PST by leadpencil1
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To: annyokie; Freee-dame
I have watched this transition since the campaign of 2000. The ivied professors and the dem political consultants are not going to know what hits them this summer and next fall.
4 posted on 01/21/2004 12:24:56 PM PST by maica (Laus Deo)
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To: LibFreeUSA
She looks like she barely has 10 years' experience breathing...
5 posted on 01/21/2004 12:33:21 PM PST by txhurl
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To: txflake
Good Lord, is that a cigarette she's smoking?!?
6 posted on 01/21/2004 12:39:32 PM PST by txhurl
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Sorry to be negative, but from what I've read about these 'Hipublicans' makes me believe they are basically young neoconservatives. Now I'm not saying that is inherently bad, but it also seems as though they have some of the worst traits of those neocons who won't hesitate to cast racist charges at fellow conservatives who dare disagree with them on issues like immigration.

I also get the sense that these 'Hipublicans' are steeped in left-wing ideology in the way they spout mindless platitudes about the glories of diversity. They probably have no problem with Bush's surrender on racial preferences, and also probably have no problem with judicially mandated gay marriages (or whatever euphemism you want to use like 'civil unions').

In other words I don't get the sense that Hipublicans are conservative at all when it comes to social issues other than abortion.
7 posted on 01/21/2004 12:42:49 PM PST by Aetius
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To: annyokie
Depends on what kind of Republicans they are. If its a Rockefeller generation that's coming then this is worse news than hearing they're Liberman supporters.
8 posted on 01/21/2004 12:42:52 PM PST by KantianBurke (2+2 does NOT equal 5)
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To: Aetius
Thanks for confirming my worst fears. The hell with them. Go stick with the Dems, you RINO scumbags.

Lemme guess, this guy's their idol?

9 posted on 01/21/2004 12:44:46 PM PST by KantianBurke (2+2 does NOT equal 5)
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To: KantianBurke
You guys are mean. Why not check out a conservative college publication before you make such baseless assumptions? will lead you to The Counterweight, a publication by a group that has been featured in The New York Times Magazine section, Fox News, NPR, to name a few ....
Well doing all that reading might just be too much work. It's easier to make assumptions about the younger generation.
10 posted on 01/21/2004 12:56:57 PM PST by Truth'sBabyGirl (Bucknell class of 2003)
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To: Truth'sBabyGirl
Why waste time reading junveille tripe? Either you're for conservative values or your not. If you kiddos aren't then you shouldn't be welcome in the GOP. Try the Dems if you want the contrary.
11 posted on 01/21/2004 1:01:58 PM PST by KantianBurke (2+2 does NOT equal 5)
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To: KantianBurke
I think it's a function of who is in the White House at the time. As I entered college, Reagan was finishing up his masterpiece administration. The Reagan Revolution was the soundtrack for my (politically) formative years.

A mere six years ago, I was certain that every single person between the ages of 18-22 was a Clintonite, and I was probably close to the truth. They are now the Deaniacs, if you haven't noticed.

Now, we have W in office, with the echoes of 9/11 still reverberating. It stands to reason that many young minds would support the president (and his prevailing views) at this time. Are they neocons? Not yet. Most of them will end up politically apathetic anyway. But it's nice to think that there is a decent base of young people who lean Rightward.

12 posted on 01/21/2004 1:20:45 PM PST by Mr. Bird
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To: Truth'sBabyGirl
We can always count on these two for a ray of sunshine, can't we?
13 posted on 01/21/2004 1:23:20 PM PST by annyokie (Wesley Clark: Howard Dean with medals!)
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To: annyokie
Well what else am I supposed to do now that Paris Hilton is holding up my regular day job of clubbing baby seals? :>
14 posted on 01/21/2004 1:24:54 PM PST by KantianBurke (2+2 does NOT equal 5)
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To: Mr. Bird
Very Well Said, Lets give them a chance to grow within the party.
15 posted on 01/21/2004 1:29:45 PM PST by cmsgop ( How Come Vic Tayback Never Won an Oscar ???????????????????????????????)
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To: KantianBurke
Club a sandwich at her and get back to work! ; )
16 posted on 01/21/2004 1:42:42 PM PST by annyokie (Wesley Clark: Howard Dean with medals!)
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To: KantianBurke
Seriously, how can young politically active people who are going to work for and vote for Bush be bad?

Consider a bell curve of politally interested people. Some will be extremely liberal; some will be extremely conservative; and the rest will fit somewhere in between. The trick in politics is to have enough weight on one's side to Get Elected. After that happens, pressure can be applied within the party to accentuate the wishes of the more extreme or pure or whatever word suits you to describe the most conservative among us.

17 posted on 01/21/2004 2:41:34 PM PST by maica (Laus Deo)
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To: maica
"how can young politically active people who are going to work for and vote for Bush be bad?"

False choice. Good for the young folks who are interested in politics. Why the college aged crowd is helping Bush, the "compassionate" one who is going to rape their generation's paychecks with quite a tax bill, is a bit mysterious. But the point is, if you're not in tune with the defining principles of the GOP why ARE you a member of the party? Once again, if you're a Jeffords clone I'd rather not have your help or aid however well intentioned or ignorant it may be. Quit harming conservatives and go join up with the Donkey party.
18 posted on 01/21/2004 2:49:26 PM PST by KantianBurke (2+2 does NOT equal 5)
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To: annyokie
19 posted on 01/21/2004 4:32:48 PM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: annyokie
"He believes that campus conservatives — those misled souls! — are being exploited by rapacious right-wing think tanks and leadership organizations, serving as mouthpieces for their political agenda."

Of course, no leftist, Marxist organizations or professors would ever do such a thing as to exploit impressionable young people to promote their political agenda from their bully pulpit of the classroom. < /sarcasm >

20 posted on 01/21/2004 5:54:05 PM PST by sweetliberty (Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. - (LOTR))
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