The Republicans have to do everything they can to fight in any way they can to retain power now. Their future is bleak; if it’s not the Blue Wave this year, they know they’re going to be crushed by a demographic wave during the next 10 years.
Among other things:
(1) Young people are less judgmental about sexual preferences and identities, and drug use—while anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry and pot prohibition have been drivers for the cranky, Fox Propaganda Network watching Republican base.
(2) The Parkland students and now youth across America are correctly apoplectic about growing up with “lock down” drills and NRA-enabled mass murder about which the “grown ups” have shrugged their shoulders during the students’ entire lives. Young people watch Republicans serve as apologists for the NRA and deploy talking points to distract from the crisis of gun proliferation; they’re not buying any of it.
(3) Since the great recession, young people have been graduating from college with more debt and less financial opportunity (other than the few at the top of the best colleges and professional schools). In addition, younger Americans (like the rest of the population) haven’t been fooled and recognize that the Republicans’ incessant proposal for more tax breaks for the rich (and their recent obscene tax giveaway) aren’t helping people other than the few at the very top—and do nothing for hard working young adults.
(4) Young people are more likely to be non-white or bi-racial than the population as a whole—and will identify less and less with the demographic and age cohort of the Republican party.
And (5) several Pew Foundation reports make clear that young people are growing up substantially less religious (while bible thumping remains a big part of the older Republican base).
Young people aren’t yet identifying themselves as Democrats as much as we’d like them to. That’s on us, and we have to work harder to convince younger Americans that their values are Democratic values. We haven’t accomplished it so far, but we won’t fail for much longer.
Given the changes coming at the Republicans, they have to lock democracy down and take advantage of as much power as they can grab for as long as they can. Not only will Kris Kobach and his ilk of anti-democratic (small “d”) zealots make voting as difficult and expensive for poorer, browner, and younger Americans as possible, they’re going to fight like hell for every close race. Power doesn’t give way easily. It has to be taken away, and (among many examples (from the 2000 election theft of Bush/Gore to the recent recount in the Simonds election last November) Republicans come armed to the teeth to every fight, they expect the Democrats to show up with pocket knives (which too often occurs), and the Republicans are willing to fight dirty as hell. Democrats shouldn’t get into the gutter or fight dirty—but we have to lawyer up and be ready to fight to the death like the Republicans do. It’s not ideal, but it’s the real world.
To the young people who protested today, here's my message:
Thanks for taking to the streets. Glad to see you out there and hear you so effectively making your demands heard.
If someone hasn't already made this clear, you need to register to vote -- but that's just the start. Our grass roots activist group, Virginia Democracy Forward (VADF), doesn't have a youth division. We just have members. If you're willing to roll up your sleeves and devote time to our mission, we want you to join, help, and lead efforts as full/equal members of our organization. If we need to make special arrangements to accommodate younger members (such as arranging for transportation), we promise to make it happen.
On the gun issue that's driving you out into the streets now, you surely understand that the Republican party is subservient to (if not a wholly owned subsidiary of) the NRA. If you oppose proliferation of firearms, you're Democrats. Hard stop. As such, you need to fight in the trenches with us.