“Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains.”
Winston Churchill’s witty statement continues to remain relevant in todays society as political ideologies seem to shift and shape in relation to age. Many have pointed out that young men and women tend to support same-sex marriage, stricter gun laws and environmental legislation—markedly Democratic platforms. Still, there is evidence to suggest that many of this Millennial generation may in fact support conservative ideals, certainly when they grow up.
People of different generations usually form ideological and political identities based on key events in their lifetimes.
This theory however clashes with Churchill’s sardonic claim that most young people are liberals and older men and women become conservative, or at least that’s how they should develop. On the contrary, David Leonhardt of the New York Times suggests that ideology has much less to do with age and more to do with political events occurring at a certain point in one’s life.
“The youngest eligible voters in the next presidential election… are too young to remember much about the Bush years or the excitement surrounding the first Obama presidential campaign. They instead are coming of age with a Democratic president who often seems unable to fix the world’s problems,” states Leonhardt.
His account also supports the idea that although some millennials may be open to liberal legislation like marijuana legalization or same-sex marriage, they will most likely turn from Democratic ties and perhaps identify with a new ideology. Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center sums it up with, “We’re in a period in which the federal government is simply not performing and that can’t be good for Democrats.”
Leonhardt believes that the Democratic Party will struggle in the future with current teenagers who have lived through the less eye-catching moments of the Obama presidency. He insists that improvements in this Democratic stint need to be made for the Party to succeed in future campaigns, at least with this younger generation.
“The Democrats face challenges with today’s teenagers that they did not face with today’s 25- or 30-year-olds,” Leonhardt states, “We may not know who will be running for president in, say, 2024. We do know that Mr. Obama, like his predecessors, will cast a shadow of the campaign.”
The issue of teen ideology is not one of the heart or mind but, as Leonhardt suggests, it is an issue of political influence. The success of a party’s future in the younger generation is decided in the present as young voters turn towards successful and appealing issues, platforms and methods.