Friday, March 28, 2014


Members of the Republican Party often repeat an old saw - “If you’re young and not a Democrat, you’re heartless. If you grow up and you’re not a Republican, you’re stupid.”

This quip though, was first uttered with quite a different meaning by the mid-nineteenth century French historian and statesman François Guizot when he stated, “Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.”

Today, some former Republicans argue that the party has become anything but “republican.”

Between the ages of 20 and 30, I went from Republican to Democrat to Independent.  A new Pew study refers to that as becoming “unmoored” as I did from several institutions during that period including organized religion.

According to the study, 50% of Millennials, a generation now ranging in age from 18 to 33, are political Independents and about 3-in-10 are religiously unaffiliated.  However, they also stand out as voting heavily Democratic and for liberal views.

They are also far less trusting than other generations, especially boomers, my generation, but also more upbeat about the future.

The study sheds light on why Republicans are so desperate to take away privileges they see as benefiting Democrats such as early voting, funding check offs on tax returns, voter ID requirements, etc.  The party is losing ground even faster with Millennials than Democrats.

The study charts the rise of Independents among every generation in recent years and the dramatic drop in every generation except the very oldest for Republicans.

Boomers, for instance, are now 37% Independent, 32% Democrat and 25% Republican, although a new survey shows Americans who are 65 and older now leaning slightly Republican, unfortunately because they are more white the analysis finds.

In North Carolina, where I live, Independents are now the fastest growing group, and consultants project these voters are likely to outnumber registered Republicans in most counties by 2016.

Independents leaning Republican are also in decline among younger generations, flat among boomers and up only among the very oldest of Americans, giving thought that those using the old saw mentioned above should adjust the age of transition by several decades.

After years of nomenclature demonization, more than a little of it self-inflicted, it is interesting to note in the study that the percentage identifying themselves as liberal has trended up in every generation during this century while favorable views of the major parties have trended down.

Maybe Republican demonization of government has had unintended consequences.  Millennials are much less patriotic than other generations as well as less likely to consider themselves religious or environmentalist and far less loyal to employers.

They are becoming “unmoored” from Republicans as well.

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