Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Jul 22nd, 2008

Candidate Questionnaires

Barely one week into the campaign, I’m being inundated with questionnaires from special interest groups.

Considering the limited resources of my self-financed  campaign to research the full array of issues important to diverse constituencies, my inclination is to decline these solicitations — at least for the duration of the primary campaign — and to define myself in terms of the core issues on which I’m challenging the incumbent. However, I want to be transparent and accessible, so I will keep an open mind as I meet with Sixth District residents in the coming weeks.

As I scoured the national media today for important stories, I was struck by an article in this morning’s Washington Post, from which I excerpt below.


Young Republicans, Blue About the Prospects Ahead

By Krissah Williams Thompson
The Washington Post
July 22, 2008


David All glanced around Top of the Hill bar and saw the future of the Republican Party. It looked dim. A who’s who of young conservatives had gathered, but they were few, and they were frustrated. […]

It’s … poor communication on the big issues such as Iraq and the economy, that have caused the GOP brand to slip with younger Americans, even as they have grown more political.

Voters under 30 are more than twice as likely to identify themselves as Democrats, according to the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. […]

“I think the Republican Party is staring down a very long, dark, quiet night,” All says.

“It’s always darkest before the dawn,” says Mindy Finn, 27, who ran Romney’s site.

“It’s a challenging time right now, and I think there’s a lot of people searching for a new identity, new leaders,” says Robert Bluey, 28, a blogger who is editor in chief of the Heritage Foundation’s Web site and director of its Center for Media and Public Policy. “Sometimes it will take some cleansing before it gets better.” […]

“Conservatives haven’t been in the right place to get the message to young voters,” Austin Walne, 22, says, sipping his beer. “Young people who just got into the workforce don’t care about the tax rate, but they have to fill up their gas tank and turn on the AC in their studio apartment. Energy is a big winner for us if we can communicate it well.”

Walne, just one year out of the University of Tennessee, helped staff former Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson’s Web site and now works for a small PR firm in town. He has taken some teasing from Democratic friends, who predict this year will see a tidal wave for their party. He nudges back at them. “Congress’s approval rates are [approaching] 19 percent, so nobody’s thrilled,” he says. “People that didn’t grow up under Jimmy Carter don’t remember the stagflation of the ’70s or the Iran standoff. Our job is to educate them on the failed policies of the past.” […]

Still, many of the party’s newbies are preparing for the worst. Matt Lewis, 33, is hoping a trouncing in November will force the old guard aside and give his generation a shot. He was one of the committed young conservatives who came to Washington during the Bush administration, eager to push the politics of limited government and compassionate conservatism. He worked for the Leadership Institute, which teaches youngsters about the principles of classic conservatives such as Edmund Burke and Frederic Bastiat, as well as William F. Buckley Jr. and Barry Goldwater. He now blogs full time at the conservative Web site

He’s happy with Bush’s Supreme Court picks but disappointed by the administration’s failure to curb the ballooning deficit and bloated government.

“When everything is working well there is no hunger for new ideas,” Lewis says. “Maybe there is room for some new up-and-coming thinkers to get a shot now. There is a bright side to seeing the Republican Party go through travail.” […]

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