by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democrats have won votes by alleging that Republican positions amount to a “war on women.” Yet politicians and pundits are now saying that a constellation of liberal policies favored by Democrats, on issues ranging from entitlements and healthcare to education and the economy, constitutes a war on youth.
Jeb Bush, for example, told the Washington Examiner on the campaign trail in New Hampshire that leaders need to “make sure the next generation isn’t saddled with all of our contingent liabilities on their backs.”
Marco Rubio, meanwhile, has talked about the need for generational change. “The world is different than it was five years ago, not to mention 50 or 60 years ago,” when programs such as Medicare and Social Security were designed, he said in Iowa. …
… The Democrats’ presidential front-runner is 68. Her main primary opponent is 74. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are both 75, as is third-ranking House Democrat James Clyburn. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is 76. The hot new Democrat on the national scene, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is 66.
Rubio and Ted Cruz are both 24 years younger than Hillary Clinton. That’s bigger than the age difference between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in 1996 and almost as much as the generational chasm between Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008. Paul Ryan is 45, making him the youngest speaker of the House in 150 years.
And the Democrats’ hold on the youth vote is slipping. Obama won 66 percent of those aged 18-29 in 2008 and 60 percent in 2012, while Republicans won their biggest majorities among voters age 65 and up each time. When Obama won his first term, voters under the age of 30 supplied 7 million of his 9 million-vote margin of victory. …
… This has touched off a debate over whether demography is destiny or Obama pull on youth represents the last gasp of a welfare state constructed for the economic needs of previous generations who are now at least middle-aged. Republicans say Democrats are fighting to prevent reform of a status quo that is storing up big trouble for America’s younger generation and others not yet born.