Lesson from Nixon: Heed the Great Silent Majority

By Danny Zeng | November 27th, 2012

Republicans have debated for weeks now after the election – and indeed for the last two election cycles – as to the direction of the Party. The internal strife between the so-called conservative ideologues (often people with distorted understanding of conservatism) and the moderates (or disparagingly known as RINOs, Republicans in Name Only) is threatening the thin coalition that the Party currently holds in the electorate. Social conservatives almost succeeded in nominating Rick Santorum during the nomination process (In fact, The Weekly Standard reports yesterday that Santorum has his eyes on 2016). A large swath of the Party loyalists and frankly the media have discredited and dismissed the libertarian-based Ron Paul movement in this election. The collective exasperation on the day after the election for some vocal conservatives: well, we should have elected a more conservative candidate.

However, if history were of any guide, I would urge the Party to reconsider its race-to-the-bottom inclination to out-of-touch extremism. The better strategy is to do what Nixon so ingeniously did in 1969, in invoking the “great silent majority.” In present terms, this would include those hard-working middle-class, working-class Americans who prefer to watch football on weekends with cold beer or venture into the outdoors, those who attend dinner parties during weekdays to catch up with friends on the latest gossip, those college graduates who can no longer find jobs that match their skills, and those young parents who help their children with homework and take them to sports and music practices after school  You get the drift. In short, those average Americans who do not have grand theories about politics or ideology but indeed who are simply trying to work, raise a family, attend community functions  and socialize with friends in dwindling leisure hours. Most Americans are not political ideologues; they have a life in the private sphere. As conservatives, we should respect that. Out of all people, we should be most inclined to understand that people would rather be more active in their private and local communities than the behemoth that is the federal government. Recognizing this fact means that conservatives, too, need to detach ourselves from political hubris and not so readily claim the mantle of speaking for all Americans in the public sphere.

Continue reading

Half of the Youth Vote Left Untapped: Potential Game Changer for 2016?

 

Let’s look at the numbers from the election in an attempt to make some sense out of it. In 2012, Romney won Texas with 57.2% of the vote versus Obama’s 41.4%, close to 1.3 million more votes than the President, that is a 15.84% margin. This is not surprising, considering that last time Texas went for a Democratic nominee was in 1976 – Jimmy Carter.  Close to eight million Texans casted a ballot in this election. Republicans have gained a two-percentage lead in the state from 2008.

Now looking at Travis County: 385,081 voted in Travis County this year in the presidential race, 60.1% went for Obama and 36.2% for Romney. There are 635,300 registered voters in Travis County, bringing this year’s countywide turnout to 61.3%.

Back in 2008, the President won Travis County 63.5-34.3. Over the last four years, the President’s advantage eroded more than three percentage points. [Interesting Side Note: My native Harris County in Houston was split down the middle, essentially tied, with the President edging a win with a mere +585 margin. Jefferson County is another close win for the President, 50.4% over 48.8%. Texas is all red except Travis County, Dallas County, Harris County, Bexar County, counties in the Valley, and a few counties in West Texas]

The youth vote (19-29) went to Obama 60-36 in this election. That is a 24-percentage point gap that Republicans need to close in coming years. However, this can be viewed as improvement from the 66-31 ratio in 2008. Nationally, the Obama coalition lost five percentage points in youth vote. This has to be one of the most under reported statistics from this election (all we hear about is that Latinos overwhelmingly voted for Obama). Obviously, the Republican Party can do more to include young voters into its fold.

To provide you with an idea of how important – or rather, how underrated – the youth vote is to this year’s election: according to CIRCLE, “In Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, if Romney had won half the youth vote, or if young people had stayed home all together, he would have won those key battleground states.  A switch of those 80 electoral votes would have also changed the presidency, electing Romney as president.” 

This speaks to the strength of the youth vote in the years to come, particularly in the next presidential election. 23 million young voters turned out to vote in this election, which is only one half of eligible young voters, meaning the other half is left untapped by political organizations. In toss-up, or leaning states, youth turnout was as high as 55-58%. There are 3.7 million youth voters in Texas. That is 23% of the state’s eligible voters. Turnout is under 40%, so more than 2 million young people do not turn out to vote. If 60% of them do turnout and vote Democrats in future elections, Texas might become a blue state. That is how big of a deal young voters are to the future political landscape.

Who are the young voters? Well 1 out of 11 youth voters self identify as LGBTQ, that is more than double the proportion of the electorate as a whole. 1 out of 10 youth voters are Hispanic young men. About half of the youth voters (44%) are Hispanics, Blacks, or LGBTQ, groups that voted overwhelmingly for the President. 90% of youth have family income at or below $50k. The youth vote has gained 17 million new members since 2008. While fewer young voters identified themselves as Democrats this election, almost none moved into the GOP rank – more identified as “independents.”

A particular stab at young Republicans’ failure in messaging this past election: overwhelming proportion of youth (67%) blamed the economy on George W. Bush. Young minority women voted overwhelmingly for the President, with young black females voting 98% for the President. Not all youth groups supported the President though; young white males and young white females supported GOP by a slim margin. Young females have a slight better turnout than young males. Mobilizing young males to go to the polls may help Republicans in the future. Also, the GOP needs to do more to explain the role of government to non-whites. There is a 20-point gap between non-White young males and white young males on their view of the role of government. 66% of youth with college experienced turned out to vote, versus 35% of youth without college experience. GOP needs to do a better job reaching out to youth without college experience. That requires a new way of thinking about social media outreach and campaigning beyond mere college campuses, as college aged (18-24) young voters make up only about one-fourth of the youth vote.

Sources: CIRCLE, Travis County Clerk, Politico Election Results, Dave Leip’s Atlas Election Results

Tagging School Children Like a Boss

By Danny Zeng

Courtesy of Google Images

Using RFID technology to track students whereabouts is about the most perverse way to reap the benefits of the RFID technology imaginable, but that is exactly what two schools in San Antonio are currently doing according to the Texas Tribune – and they are thinking about importing that concept into ASID! These schools will have data and knowledge about whom students contact, what they do, whom they hang out with, etc. Sounds like big government yet? The alleged goal is to reduce truancy, but if we are willing to sacrifice privacy rights and common decency of treating school children as human beings, by frankly tagging and tracking them like animals, then what is the point of sending students to school in the first place? Schools will in effect evolve from a center of gravity for civic education, where students have opportunities to gain community service experience, learn social skills, hone on leadership abilities, practice communication and organizational savvy, to a indoctrination factory that campaigns against personal liberty and privacy. Instead of educating students about personal responsibility and care for one’s community, we are introducing students to a new world of technocracy, the worst kind, where we cultivate this notion that every problem can be solved by heartless, brainless, emotionless machinery and gadgetry for cheap.

Currently, the program affects more than 6,700 students. If successful – seems to be framed purely on a cost ground – the program can be potentially expanded to 112 schools with a reach of over 100,000 students across the state. According to the schools, the new “smart” chip intends to increase safety and security, increase attendance, and to provide “multi-purpose” student IDs to students. The schools emphasize the cost-saving potential of the technology and the improvement to safety. I call that unnecessary playing with emotions; parents can be easily demagogued into throwing money and liberty away in the name of safety for their children. These goals simply ignore the real issue: encroachment of privacy rights. I would go as far as to argue that there should be constitutional cause of concerns for these types of programs, namely First and Fourth Amendment violations. If we have a truancy issue, I say we try to resolve that by engaging the parents. If we have a safety issue, I say we encourage more PTA actions, student awareness and collaboration with neighborhood police. If we are bleeding money away as result of truancy, I say we self-reflect and go after the root cause of the problem – how to draw students back to school – and to not ignore the tough issue and make a weak attempt at curing the symptom and not the disease all the while poisoning the civic culture of next generation of leaders for our state and our country.

Yes, We CAN Believe in America: Vote for Real Change

Governor Romney has been performing well in the polls leading up to the Election Day on Tuesday.  The Gallup poll last week from 10/22-10/28 had Romney leading Obama by five points! Governor Romney is up in Florida by 6 points according to a latest poll in the state. Romney is up slightly in Virginia. Rasmussen reports on 11/1 that Romney is tied in Ohio and Wisconsin. Rasmussen also reports a Romney lead in Colorado by 3 percentage points and Iowa by one percentage point. The latest poll in New Hampshire has Romney tied with Obama.

For more than a year and a half, young Republicans like myself have grown accustomed to hearing the inevitability of Obama winning re-election here on the UT campus. Not long ago, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi came out and smugly dismissed the chance of Mitt Romney ever winning the White House.  Well, good thing we know the former speaker doesn’t really have a track record of reading the public mood. This narrowing down in the polls speaks more to the will of the American people who are disillusioned with what they were sold in 2008 and are ready for real change.

Continue reading