Young Republican groups are criticizing National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg after he claimed the voting age is too low and that the supposed fact that “young people think socialism is better than capitalism” is evidence of their “stupidity and their ignorance” which needs to be “beaten out of them.”
In a videoclip from an interview with the conservative website The Daily Caller, Goldberg affirms from the beginning he is “not particularly enamored with the youth,” that youth politics is “not something very special or enviable” and he believes the voting age should be much higher. He makes it quite clear young people, in his opinion, are “so frickin' stupid about some things.”
“It is a simple fact of science that nothing correlates more with ignorance and stupidity more than youth,” Goldberg says. “We're all born idiots, and we only get over that condition as we get less young.”
Goldberg's views sparked harsh criticism from leaders of young conservatives and young Republicans groups.
Brian Matos, spokesman for Chicago Young Republicans, said he understood Goldberg's frustration, but did not agree with his idea for change, citing the need for military personnel to be able to vote.
“About half of the enlisted military personnel are under the age of 25 and so when somebody suggests they don't matter, that people are too young in their judgment, 18-year-olds, 19-year olds; well if they are old enough to serve our country overseas in two wars, they have the right to go to the polls,” he said. “They do deserve the right to go to the polls.”
He also noted: “To say they are not important because of their age is short-sighted.”
Christopher Sanders, president of the Atlanta Young Republicans, stated: “Mr. Goldberg has the right to express his opinion. However I disagree with him on an age increase. It is our civic duty to help educate those younger than us about the issues, not strip them of their right to vote.”
For John Horton, spokesman for Young Conservatives of Texas, Goldberg was “off-base.”
“He is fundamentally off-base in his characterization of young voters,” Horton said of Goldberg in a phone interview. “The majority of young voters are college students who are constantly surrounded in the academic environment, arguing their own views while simultaneously being introduced to a constant stream of new knowledge and views.”
Then there is Emanuel Patrascu, president of Orange County (CA.) Young Republicans, who said young voters are well-informed.
“Our organization doesn't see that,” Patrascu said when asked about Goldberg's views. “All of our members are very well-informed, many of our members have just joined recently, young people who have finished college and are getting into new jobs and realizing the economy is bad.”
Asked about raising the voting age, Patrascu added: “I don't think that's a good idea, we need to make sure to reach out to young people and make sure they know what the issues are. If we do that, they will get it. Young voters do understand what is going on.”
But at least one prominent young conservative group, Young America's Foundation - which merged in 2011 with Young Americans For Freedom - seemed to support Goldberg.
Ron Meyer, program officer for Young America's Foundation, said of Goldberg: “He gets it: Young people must be exposed to why conservatism works--they're the ones who are going to run the country one day. And, if we're going to leave it to the leftists on campus to instruct them, get ready for socialism in America.”
The Young America's Foundation website identifies Goldberg as a “frequent speaker in the Young America's Foundation campus lecture program.”