There’s a blog over at Forbes dedicated to following young people and their attitudes. The whole thing strikes me as a tribute to the clichéd feitishization of youth I discuss in my book. The bulk of Steven Richer’s argument is that Republicans have hurt themselves today because young people are in favor of gay marriage and so one day young people will hold it against the Republicans. This is a very commonplace argument. It amounts to saying, “if the youth are for it there’s no point being against it.” This is s a pretty undemocratic and unrealistic way of looking at politics because it assumes attitudes are baked into the cake and there’s no reason to try to persuade young people they are wrong. The upshot is that we must therefore bend politics and policy to the fashionable attitudes of the least informed, least experienced and least mature voting demographic. It’s amazing how everyone understands in their own lives that young people are a mixture of naivete and passion, but if you multiply their numbers into a whole age cohort, suddenly they are wise beyond their years. Given this logic, why not skip ahead and just pander to toddlers now?
Richer also asks a telling question:
Just one question for the conservatives: How is using the government to impose your vision of “the good” — no gay marriage — any different than when President Obama uses the government to impose his vision of “the good” — universal healthcare?
This is shockingly silly. Look I’m a lot more open to gay marriage than most of colleagues around here, and I’ve been for civil unions since before they became so uncontroversial on the right. But the comparison is absurd. First of all, when it comes to gay marriage, the imposition is from the left, not the right. The status quo definition of marriage is what pro-same-sex marriage advocates want to overthrow, imposing their vision instead.
As for ObamaCare and gay marriage, I think the absurdity of the comparison should be largely self-evident. A vast new federal program running roughshod over the Constitutional order is not quite the same thing as various states reaffirming the longstanding definition of marriage. But here’s a different way to think about it. As Ryan Anderson put it in the Corner the other day, gays are free to call their relationships anything they want. They can say they’re married right now if they want. What the gay marriage movement wants is to compel everybody else, starting with the government and taxpayers, to recognize that relationship as a marriage too. Ryan writes:
What’s at issue is whether the government will recognize such unions as marriages — and then force every citizen and business to do so as well. This isn’t the legalization of something, this is the coercion and compulsion of others to recognize and affirm same-sex unions as marriages.
Now, again, I think there are good arguments on both sides of the issue. But the notion that keeping the longstanding definition of marriage in place is indistinguishable from ObamaCare is nuts. And it doesn’t become less nuts just because young people believe it.