washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Can Youth Move Democratic?

Andrew O’Hehir has a long interview in Salon.com with Danny Goldberg, author of the new book, Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit. This really should be required reading for all Democrats. Goldberg doesn’t pretend to have the answer to how exactly the Democrats can capture the youth vote, but he says a lot of things that ring true about young voters’ lack of enthusiasm for the Democratic party, especially the lack of a clear vision and ideology that such voters might find compelling.
He asks with good reason why it is that the Republicans frequently seem more idealistic than the Democrats. Youth, he argues, needs inspiration and something to believe in, and most Democrats just aren’t providing it. No wonder Howard Dean is making such an impact; he seems to stand out from this crowd.
Interestingly, though, recent polling data, from both the 2002 election and since then, seem to indicate that youth (18-29 year olds) are starting to favor the Democrats. Perhaps they see the Republicans as just having gone too far in their militaristic fervor, anti-environmental zeal and drive to de-fund the government. Whatever the reason, Democrats should heed Goldberg’s advice and seek to build on these tendencies to awaken a full-fledged pro-Democratic idealism among young voters.