I happened to listen the other day to then-Sen. John F. Kennedy’s opening remarks in his debate with then-Vice President Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential election cycle.
Kennedy, the Democratic Party candidate, recalled that Abraham Lincoln, in the 1860 presidential election cycle, said the great question facing the nation was whether it could exist “half-slave and half-free.”
In the 1960 election, said Kennedy, the issue was “whether the world will exist half-slave or half-free.”
“Whether it will move in the direction of freedom, in the direction of the road that we are taking … will depend in great measure upon what we do here in the United States,” he said.
How things change. The Democrats’ candidate in 1960 headlined freedom as the issue defining his campaign. Now, 60 years later, Democrats are moving down the road to nominating a socialist, pushing freedom as an American ideal out of the picture.
It is astounding that many Democrats are ready to cast aside the core value that has defined our nation, for which so many have fought and died.
One major part of the story is our youth.
Support for the two parties is divided by age.
In 2016, a majority of those under age 44 voted for Hillary Clinton. Fifty-five percent of those ages 18-29 voted for her, compared with 37% for Donald Trump. Trump received the majority of those 45 years and above.
It is our youth that is enamored with socialism and the socialist candidate.
In a recent Pew Research Center poll, 40% of Democrats ages 18-29 expressed preference for Sen. Bernie Sanders to be their party’s candidate, compared with 25% of those 30-49, 13% of those 50-64 and 10% of those 65 and over.
In a Gallup poll, 51% of those ages 18-f39 expressed a positive view of capitalism and 49% a positive view of socialism. Among those 40-54, 61% were positive about capitalism compared with 39% for socialism. And those 55 and over, 68% were positive about capitalism compared with 32% for socialism.
What’s driving these young Democrats to the far left?
Niall Ferguson of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and consultant Eyck Freymann suggest, in an article in The Atlantic, “The Coming Generation War,” that the capitalist America that worked for earlier generations is not working for these youth.
“They face stagnant real wages” and carry a large burden of student debt, they say.
It’s a generation “to whom little has been given, and of whom much is expected,” they continue.
I think it is just the opposite. It is a generation to whom much has been given and from whom little is expected.
When Kennedy ran for president in 1960, America’s youth still faced a military draft. In 1960, 72% of Americans over 18 were married, compared with 50% today.
According to Pew, 78% of those ages 18-29 say it is acceptable for an unmarried couple to live together, even if they don’t intend to get married.
Over the decade 2009-2019, there was a drop of 16% among those ages 23-39 who identify as Christian and an increase of 13% of those self-identifying as religiously unaffiliated.
And that age group doesn’t vote. Since 1980, the percentage of eligible voters in their 20s who voted in presidential elections has averaged between 40% and 50%, compared with 65% to 75% of those over 45, Ferguson and Freymann report.
We have a generation of American youth today who have grown up in a culture of legal abortion and same-sex marriage, with little sense of responsibility to God and country.
Freedom is about personal responsibility, and these youth do not seem to be interested. They appear, rather, to be very open to the idea of turning their lives over to be run by a 78-year-old socialist.
Such values among our youth do not bode well for our future.
Meanwhile, the best near-term solution is keeping the nation under Republican control.
Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and author of the new book “Necessary Noise: How Donald Trump Inflames the Culture War and Why This is Good News for America,” available now at starparker.com