In response to Peter Lawler’s post above, I don’t think it’s anything new that young people tend to be less socially conservative than older people. What would be new is if there were evidence to suggest that they will remain so as they age and begin to accept more responsibilities (jobs, families, taxes). If that evidence exists, I have not seen it.
I think Peter is right to suggest that McCain has an advantage with (most) young people in that he does not seem to be overtly religious or conservative merely because of his relative Christianity. You don’t have to be in his club, in other words, to get what he’s saying. I have often thought that what really offends young people about the overtly religious is less their reliance on or belief in God and more the appearance of "clubiness" and exclusivitythe exasperation that comes through in too many of their arguments with the uninitiated. You need patience and good humor to persuade young peopleunless, like Obamayou’re just a demagogue. McCain has demonstrated quite a bit of patience (how long has he been working at trying to become President?) but it remains to be seen whether he will have either the good humor or the strength of the arguments to back him up. I think he could get enough of the youth vote to make a difference if he worked for it. And I also think it is an important and worthwhile effort. But it won’t be easy. He will NOT get any traction if he tries to out-cool Obama, for example. Young people hate phonies when it’s obvious that they are phony. That’s probably why they don’t like Hillary.
Also, I’m too lazy to look it up right now but I came across an article earlier in the week (and I heard Dennis Prager talking about it too) that said Obama’s youth voters are having an effect on older voters. In other words, THEY are persuading their parents and older associates to switch over to Obama and away from Hillary. If that’s true, it’s very important. And, of course, it says a lot about the generation that calls itself our "elders" these days. They’re listening to their kids? I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose. Why not?!
they try to dress like their kids, be their "friends" and act like them in most other respects. Voting for Obama is "hip." And there’s nothing more important for many people nowadays than to be thought to be "hip."
Perhaps the real hope for the GOP (and this brings with it a whole other set of problems) is that a good number of young people will begin to rebel against this generation of "elders" and develop contempt for the baby boomers. That is likely to happen, it seems to me, when the young people realize that their paychecks are dwindling because of massive government spending on behalf aging boomers. This will cause them to search for answers that Obama and his ilk cannot provide. I expect a real backlash to come about in another 10 to 15 years. This will not, of course, be an entirely good development. I’m glad I won’t yet be old (or, at least, not too old) when it comes. It will be a very good thing, for example, if we can do serious work now on life issues (and in the clever way that Peter suggests).