My Isthmus colleague Larry Kaufmann wrote a piece the other week that was as thoughtful as it was wrong.
It was titled "Liberals must see light on smaller government" and it implied that the future belonged to conservatives the likes of Paul Ryan. He even tossed down the ultimate gauntlet, using a Dylan line against the left, writing: "Bob Dylan's lyrics from nearly 50 years ago are even more appropriate today: Your old road is rapidly aging, please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand."
Ouch. I'm sure Bob didn't have Karl Rove in mind when he wrote that.
But if Larry was trying to argue that the future belonged to conservatives he should think again. An op-ed in last Sunday's New York Times argues that young voters don't get what all the fuss is about on gay marriage and immigration, want their government to tackle global climate change, and want more attention (and money) paid to education. Doesn't sound like a Republican agenda to me.
Significantly, even poignantly, they're also, despite the Great Recession that has hit them harder than anyone, more optimistic about the future. The GOP's (and even some local officials') "get off my lawn, you rotten kids!" approach does not resonate with the young.
Problem is, of course, the young don't vote nearly as much as the old. But the old eventually move on and then the young become older. And then they change things.
But wait, there's more. Lest conventional Dems get all complacent, they need to take note that the kids don't follow Dem Party orthodoxy down the line. For example, they tend toward a touch of libertarian, so Dems need to watch their nanny state tendencies, especially as it regards all things online. And they don't think that Social Security is sacrosanct, so finding a solution to the long-term challenges there that doesn't just pander to their grandparents will be crucial.
In previous posts, I've called for a new politics, a new political language, and a revamped Democratic Party. The old road is rapidly aging. The attitudes of young people give hope that the Dems can travel well on a new one, but they first need to jettison the old ways of thinking and the old ways of talking.