Rick Santorum and Ron Paul: The past and future of the GOP

Rick Santorum's exit marks the decline of the old GOP. Ron Paul is the only future it has. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON DC, April 10, 2012 – On Tuesday, Rick Santorum announced that he was suspending his Presidential campaign. This event not only signifies Rick Santorum’s exit, but the fading popularity of his brand of conservatism in the Republican Party.

It is no secret that social conservatism, a large part of the Republican Party platform, is not popular among young voters. They cannot stand the idea of being told what to do in the bedroom, or with their personal lives. However, many of them are intelligent enough to know that this is not the philosophy of true small-government conservatism. A Communities colleague probably said it best last month when he wrote, “Social conservatism is the least conservative of all conservatisms. Economic and small-government conservatism are born of hope and a confidence that people will usually do the right thing. Social conservatism is born of the fear that people will do the wrong thing and the urge to impose on them the right decisions.”

If this is the kind of big government philosophy that social conservatives wish to impose on young voters, they have a big surprise coming their way.

The Grand Old Party will also need to address concerns over the old-fashioned homophobia which still exists among many in its ranks. Young people do not respond well to the anti-gay message from Republicans like Senator Santorum. Right or wrong, being gay has become more socially acceptable in the past decade, and this is especially true for young voters.

More importantly, this hasn’t just been a trend among Democrats. The new generation of Republicans don’t care about same sex marriage like their parents and grandparents did, and this could spell trouble for social conservatives in the future.

Foreign policy will also need to change if Republicans wish to keep their base from eroding among those under the age of thirty. While most of the party still agrees with Santorum on what a conservative foreign policy is, that is changing faster than any establishment Republican wishes to admit. Young people (even young Republicans) are beginning to question why we constantly go to war without a declaration, or why we have troops stationed in over 130 countries around the world. Republican politicians will also have to explain to these savvy young voters why spending trillions of dollars overseas to expand the American empire is considered a conservative position. Odds are that most establishment Republicans will not have an answer. Voters under thirty are more concerned about their civil liberties and the fact that they are being saddled with more and more debt every day. They are smart enough to know that this will be their problem and not their parents’ or grandparents’.

Ironically, the man responsible for leading this fast growing movement among young voters is the oldest Republican running for President, Ron Paul. Dr. Paul has energized a new generation of young and dedicated followers who will continue the work he started long after he is gone. They are running for public office, starting political groups, and educating voters.

Young voters do not like to be patronized, which may be why Ron Paul does so well among this demographic. They respect a man who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth instead of some one-liner about making Barack Obama a one term President.

The Ron Paul movement is slowly starting to take over a large wing of the Republican Party, and they’re not going anywhere. There is nothing to indicate that this movement will get any smaller. It has only grown larger in the past four years, and every sign points to an even larger libertarian wing of the GOP  in years to come. If the Republicans don’t wish to go the way of the Whig Party, they would do well to adapt and listen to their growing new constituency. While these new voters may be less than half the age of their representatives, they are the future, they are the only future the GOP has, and they know it.

 


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Conor Murphy

Conor Murphy is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in political science. As a former radio talk show host on WVCW, Conor hosted two popular shows, Murphy’s Law and Son of the Revolution.

In addition to this, Conor was also a contributor to the Commonwealth Times and a founder of the Broad Street Journal.

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