Walking through campus yesterday, I saw what looked to be a very annoying sorority girl — the sort I would normally assume to be right-leaning politically — explaining to two boys why they should help out with her sorority’s fundraising efforts. It turned out that the sorority was trying to raise five thousand dollars to give to a stem cell research fund.
Later that day, I brought up the high speed rail plan (which would go through Rochester) with two Republican graduate students here. They were very excited about it, much more than I am. One mentioned that he thought it was crazy that Americans have to spend so long in their cars and wondered why our transportation system can’t be more like Europe’s. I didn’t have the heart to tell them they’re supposed to hate Europe as conservatives.
I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but seeing things like this makes me believe that cultural politics is very different among young people than among older people. I doubt that the sorority girl knew much about stem cell research or that the students I talked to knew much about rail travel. Culturally, though, they identified with things like scientific research and public transportation.
I have a feeling this kind of thing runs pretty deep. And that it’s going to be pretty damn hard for a party consisting primarily of older southern people to get on the right side of this cultural divide. This from McCain’s campaign manager, Steve Schmidt (via TPM), may be a harbinger of things to come, though:
Former top McCain adviser Steve Schmidt is planning to use a Friday speech to the Log Cabin Republicans to urge the GOP to drop its opposition to same-sex marriage.
“I’m confident American public opinion will continue to move on the question toward majority support, and sooner or later the Republican Party will catch up to it,” Schmidt plans to say according to excerpts provided to ABC News.
Schmidt’s push for Republicans to endorse same-sex marriage comes as his party is grappling with a string of gay rights victories in Iowa, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.
I’m not a fan of the politics of cultural identification. I think it tends to blur the detail out of policy and often involves issues that aren’t even the government’s domain in the first place (I agree with John that the government should only issue civil unions, not marriages, for all people). But it does seem like the era of God, gays, and guns may be drawing to a close, at least outside of Appalachia and the Deep South.