The Kids Are All Right
"American college kids grew up in an era that witnessed both communism's fall and the unchained U.S. economy's breathtaking productivity surge. They've seen that anyone willing to work hard--regardless of race or sex--can thrive in such an opportunity-rich system. 'I'm only 20, so I don't remember segregation or the oppression of women--in fact, my mother had a very successful career since I was a kid,' one student observed in an online discussion. 'I look around and don't see any discrimination against minorities or women.' Left-wing charges of U.S. economic injustice sound like so much BS to many kids today."This, perhaps, is the crux of the generational gap; there's too great a gulf between our experiences. Older professional liberals plying their agenda do so largely on the fuel of the memories they had of when Times Were Bad and the righteousness of the struggle to Change Things. Well, they succeeded in changing things, and part of the result was to introduce new Bad Things that had a direct impact on the generation now coming of age. So the rhetoric ends up about what the older generation thinks and remembers; that makes it a little difficult to engage the younger generation as allies with the same language. (This also explains to me why some of the young who have been converted do so on such knuckleheaded themes like anti-globalization and Bush=Hitler memes.)
My addition to this little piece is the role of abortion. Steve Horwitz, a commenter at Left2Right, anticipates that Best of the Web will cite the Roe Effect. Taranto treats the effect as the result of conservative parents not aborting their children and thereby transmitting their culture in greater numbers than liberals who had abortions might. But I still think there's something more than that.
January 22 will mark the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The practical consequence is that for all of us alive younger than 32 or so (and I turn 30 in February), it was legal to kill us before we ever saw the light of day. It's personal. When pro-choice supporters try to explain away the fetus as mere tissue or a parasite or some stranger leeching off a woman as mere abstractions, we are the abstractions. Those of us who are alive to talk about this, naturally, come from mothers who didn't embrace those euphemisms. But it is nonetheless odd that we survive and others didn't because of a classification decision, that two fetuses at the same stage of development nevertheless have their human status and very existence dependent on the choice of another.
This, I think, is another aspect to the greater degree of conservatism of college students: it's hard to make common cause with those who would classify you as a thing in order to dispose of you, especially when they don't seem to realize the magnitude of what they do. As I continue to say, the abortion question will become even more relevant as those of us who were eligible for the procedure come into our political own.