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October, 23rd 2007

Not to lend credence to anything that People For The American Way does or anything...

– Liz Mair

... but, tonight I stumbled across Right-Wing Facebook, one of their productions.

I strongly encourage you to check it out. There are two reasons for this.

First, it's pretty funny (see items like Thompson's status: "napping," Rudy's political views: "9/11" Romney's interested in: "conservative voters with short memories").

Second, it offers an interesting insight into the kind of themes on which liberals seem to be trying to reach out to voters who can be persuaded by funny stuff on the internet (so, then, probably 18-35 year-olds, fairly independent, but probably inclined to read this stuff because they have a problem with Bush, even if they're not Nancy Pelosi clones). Take a look at every candidate except for Giuliani's page. Virtually all the actual issues, and many of the personal qualities, that are highlighted, and designated for parody, relate to what I'd put under the broad heading of "social issues": abortion, gay marriage, intelligent design teaching, and generic religiosity. Nowhere that I can see (and please someone email me if I've missed this) do the "facebook" pages mock the GOP frontrunners on the basis of their stances on economic issues, items like education (bar where intelligent design is involved), health care, or the environment. They don't even really touch on foreign policy matters. Nope, it's all social issues.

This should tell anyone paying attention something important. Whoever the Right-Wing Facebook is designed for (and I think my description above is probably pretty close to the mark) are people who get pissed at Republicans over their stances on things like abortion, gay marriage, and separation of church and state-- and perhaps, where Giuliani is concerned, constant 9/11 references. Their "anti-GOP" button is evidently not pressed by things like Republican support for lower taxes, lower spending, privatizing Social Security, or even drilling in ANWR (or at least the PFAW and Right Wing Watch folks don't seem to think so).

Are PFAW and Right Wing Watch right, that what a lot of younger people trawling the internet for funny stuff that relates to politics in some way, are pissed about is Republicans looking like the dudes preserving the values set of the 1950's? The research I've done in the process of setting up Maximize Liberty, my new non-profit, which focuses on libertarian-ish policy and advocating it to 18-35 year-olds, indicates that they probably are. Sure, a lot of engaged younger voters are outright liberals (which explains to some extent the Obama youth phenomenon). But a lot also fall into the genuinely fiscally conservative, deeply government-skeptical, reduce-the-size-and-power-of-the-state, socially moderate mold, too.

Why does anyone care? Well, according to a couple of high-quality and very credible surveys, 18-25 year-olds, specifically, have demonstrated a much greater level of political involvement early in their lives than, say, the Generation Xers (of which I am one), ever did. They're plugged in. They're paying attention. They're voting and developing deep political loyalties early.

In other words, whoever gets their attention and earns their devotion can count on what I think is a pretty solid block of voters-- so candidates would be stupid to ignore them.

And, if a lot of them want generally libertarian-ish policy implemented, candidates would be stupid to ignore that, too. I think the PFAW guys, as much as I totally disagree with them on many issues, understand that. For a generation that looks much more socially moderate than the more conservative generation past (sadly, I have to claim that as mine), the GOP looks crap on social issues, whereas the Dems look crap on economic ones (hence all their "fiscal responsibility" chat, which doesn't jive much with the majority of their party's actions).

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