2004 August 26 Thursday
College Students Moving Rightward, Critical Of Bush

Time has an interesting article on signs of increased popularity of conservatism and libertarianism on campus.

But while professors may lean left, many students are tilting right - especially toward that brand of conservatism known as libertarianism. According to a well-regarded annual survey sponsored for the past 38 years by the American Council on Education, only 17% of last year's college freshmen thought it was important to be involved in an environmental program, half the percentage of 1992. A majority of 2003 freshmen--53%--wanted affirmative action abolished, compared with only 43% of all adults. Two-thirds of frosh favored abortion rights in 1992; only 55% did so in last year's survey. Support for gun control has slipped in recent years among the young, and last year 53% of students believed that "wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes than they do now," compared with 72% 11 years earlier.

Time reports that these young conservatives are great admirers of Ronald Reagan but are highly critical of George W. Bush. Well, if these kids really are conservatives or libertarians their views about Bush and Reagan make perfect sense. Yes, expansion of Medicare and the Department of Education are unconservative and unlibertarian policies. Yes, the failure to enforce immigration law is unconservative (and ultimately increases the fraction of the populace that favors higher taxes and more social spending but the more ideological libertarians refuse to see that).

National Review editor Rich Lowry returned from a conservative Young America's Foundation (YAF) event and found that right wing college students found little difference between Bush and Kerry.

It's always a kick to speak at a YAF events. Any eye-batting aside, what was most notable about this year was just how many smart young conservatives out there seem to think that there are no important differences between Bush and Kerry--whether this election really matters was a question that came up repeatedly. I find it hard to fathom how someone can think that, but there you are...

It says a lot about the National Review that Lowry sees a bigger difference between Bush and Kerry on issues that matter to the Right than college student conservatives see. I think the students, less wedded to being partisan supporters of Republicans in power, have a clearer view of the politicians in Washington DC than do NR staffers. If you want to read conservatives who haven't lost their conservatism then I would suggest you read The American Conservative instead.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 August 26 01:19 PM  Politics American Domestic


Comments
Matra said at August 26, 2004 5:10 PM:

Although Lowry and others at NR say they oppose open borders, quotas, gun control and the rest, the only thing they seem willing to go to the mattresses over is foreign policy. If Bush sold out the interventionist Right on Iraq or Israel I wonder what they would say about him and his differences with Kerry. NR was willing to declare war on "unpatriotic conservatives" over the Iraq war but I doubt they would do the same over immigration or even fiscal policy. Clearly the hierarchy of values at NR are different from those conservatives in the rest of the country.

Randall Parker said at August 26, 2004 5:44 PM:

Matra,

The Jewish neocons care about Israel first and foremost. They will make deals with the Left on other issues that the rest of us on the Right care more about. They will do this in order to build support for their Middle Eastern foreign policy positions. Of course this shafts the rest of us on the Right. But now they are facing opposition on the Right because they have botched US foreign policy so badly.

The non-Jewish neocons are kinda between the Jewish neocons and the rest of conservatives on a lot of positions and their ranking of the importance of various issues.

Also, the neocons basically disagree with real conservatives on the National Question. Heck, many of the neocons aren't even particularly bothered by large government. They pay lip service. But they do not feel all that strongly about it.

birch barlow said at August 26, 2004 5:56 PM:

Interesting post. It's good to see that more college students are becoming conservative/libertarian, and are not just adopting a Bush cheerleader version of "conservatism." I'm a college student who's conservative and highly critical of Bush for his support of loose/open borders, his fiscal wrecklessness, his support of surrogate racial preference programs, his general poltical correctness, and his questionable foreign policy. I'm also not a fan of all the pseudocons out there who are all to willing to forgive Bush for his critical shortcomings (or who celebrate his shortcomings and actively promote open borders, h-bd denial, and fiscal irresponsibility).

Invisible Scientist said at August 27, 2004 6:09 AM:

One dilemma with the anti-Bush conservatives who want more immigration control, is
the fact that in this new age of communication, the labor arbitrage is becoming more
and more sophisticated, and foreign workers no longer need to immigrate to the US in order
to "steal" the job of a good American citizen, because the "good" American conservative
capitalists will happily employ a foreign manufacturing company somewhere in Asia to outsource
and totally build the merchandise they are planning to sell in the USA, even if this means
firing American workers. Let's note that these are the anti-Bush conservatives who are
talking about preventing immigration, while they are selling the US national security
by having even militarily significant component manufacturing abroad. At this rate, most of the
US money supply will be owned by foreigners who are potentially hostile to the USA, all in the
name of capitalism. This kind of double-faced conservatism
is as pernicious as the Soviet spy Hanssen who sold his country
in the name of capitalism.


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