Several decades ago the Army intelligence school taught us young officers to “be brilliant, be brief, and be gone.” So, this will be a short and concise read.
A few years ago, I wrote a series of Bull Elephant articles on populism, in which I listed several populist objectives that I believed could be enacted over a reasonable period, such as:
- Building the southern border wall (Trump tried).
- Developing a non-woke social media platform (Thanks, Elon).
- Limiting the number of media outlets that any person or corporation could own (No progress).
- Reforming the tax code to make it more middle-class friendly (Trump helped).
- Pushing for parental school choice (GOP too cowardly to take on the teachers’ union).
In the past year or so, it occurred to me that not only did any of these objectives resonate with the under 30 generation, but much of what the GOP has advocated in my lifetime has not been geared in tangible ways to directly benefit younger Americans. “Make America Great Again” and “across-the-board tax cuts” can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, much of it meaning very little to those in the 18-29 age bracket.
It also occurred to me that we Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) should be more empathetic towards the challenges facing our children and grandchildren. We had it good, growing up in a time of increasing median incomes when manufacturing jobs were plentiful, and car and housing costs were not budget busting. For example, in 1979, as a 24-year old E-4 in the Army, I bought a new Ford Mustang for $4,200. Fourteen years later, in 1993, I had a modest, three-bedroom home built on a lake in a middle-class section in Virginia Beach for $139,000. In 1998, I moved to Stafford County into a four-bedroom house with a finished basement for $205,000. Now that same house is going for $565,000.
Tucker Carlson has it right. When college graduates with technical degrees who have been in the labor force for over five years and still cannot afford to buy a new car or a house, we should not be surprised when they consider viewing socialism favorably. Perhaps then, for a change, we should craft policies that will primarily benefit college bound students.
One of the concrete policy objectives that should be a hill to fight on is the overhaul of the higher education system. In short, college today is too long, too ideological, and too costly. The four-year degree is an anachronism, which in most cases can be replaced with a two-year technical certification program. Given the outrageous costs of the average four-year degree, there is absolutely no reason to burden students with having to take 128 credits, when most college majors, counting all prerequisite courses, require only half of that amount. For example, my bachelor’s degree in meteorology (mostly math, physics, and synoptic weather courses) could have been achieved with 64 credits. But I had to take another 64 credits in “electives” such as economics, tennis, history, languages, ethnic studies, et al. Of course, the entrenched academia progressives will fight tooth and nail to maintain their jobs and stranglehold over the minds of our youth, but given the prospects of cutting tuition by 50%, I think a majority of current and college-bound students would welcome and support this proposal.
For that to happen, populism must become the driving force of the GOP, just as woke progressivism has taken hold of the Democratic Party. Populist leaders must forge a coherent and compelling set of policy proposals, such as the one I have just discussed, that will not only attract newer, younger voters, but resonate as well with rank-and-file conservatives and moderate liberals.