LTE: A Response to “Winning Over Millennial Republicans”

I read Nicholas Hissong’s Feb. 1 op-ed, “Winning Over Millennial Republicans,” with interest; while I am not sure if I (having been born in 1997) count as a “Millennial” (my dictionary gives a 1994 cut-off date, but Neil Howe and William Strauss, who coined the term, give it as 2004), I am a young Republican, and I concur and sympathize with Mr. Hissong’s statement that “A young Republican is an increasingly difficult thing to be.”

When I first glanced over Mr. Hissong’s piece, I thought that he was a libertarian (vide “Many Millennials who prefer Republican economic policy…”) —something that I am not, but all well and good for him. Surprisingly, however, he is no libertarian, which he goes out of his way to point out in his third paragraph. Pourquoi? Well—“They [Millennial Republicans] adhere too firmly to the proactive social reforms of the Left…”

While I agree that many young Republicans are, unfortunately, wed only to the call of lower taxes and free markets at the expense of the rest of conservative principles, they do tend (I have found) to be libertarians rather than rabid social-justice warriors of the Left. But no!—the surprise is that these “neo-neoconservatives” (honestly, “neoconservative” was a silly enough contradiction in terms. Need we augment the problem by adding another “neo”?) “…are…shaking their heads at Republican climate change denial and cruel, reactionary immigration policy.”

I will pass over the implications of the words denial and reactionary, but accusations of “climate change denial” and “reactionary immigration policy” already betray a deeper liberalism. Think of it this way: say that Hissong is completely right on these issues (he’s not). He wants the government to do something about them (“proactive social reforms”). That would imply a powerful, progressive government that could work against conservatives who disagree. It would need high taxes and increased spending, taking away rights from Christians and imposing Almighty Progress (and possibly putting Kim Davis in jail again)—and, voila, we have orthodox liberalism!

Now, of course, Mr. Hissong’s piece does not endorse the party platform of every liberal in modern politics—I can’t see Hissong voting for Bernie Sanders, with his anti-business agenda—but it seems in accord with the majority of modern- day liberals. Former Senators Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.), both of whom I admire, would be too conservative for Mr. Hissong’s taste.

It is difficult and ultimately untenable to be a “fiscal conservative with passionately liberal social leanings,” especially if those passionately liberal social leanings spill over into passionately liberal economic platforms as well. The problem is not that Mr. Hissong is a liberal. He has a right to it as much as I have my right to be an unrepentant conservative (on all issues, not just those pesky fiscal ones). The problem is that we already have a party that tends to be liberal and “progressive.” But they’re not called “the Embarrassed Republicans” (although it might be more fun if they were)—they’re called the Democrats.

Karl Salzmann

MCAS ’19

Featured Image by Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo