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Time not on GOP’s side

If Republicans think their present situation is bleak, they ought to avert their eyes from the future, because the GOP’s problems with young voters are staggering.

The 18-29 crowd voted for Obama by a margin of 66-32, and polling shows that this age cohort is the most tolerant of people of different races, nationalities and sexual orientation. Who’s not tolerant of all sorts of different people? The Republican Party.

Moreover, young Americans strongly believe in the role of government in making people’s lives better. In other words, they possess “empathy” — the quality that so enraged Republicans in the opening days of the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings.

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These stark facts should be chilling for Republicans hoping to maintain viability into the future. GOP domination in the ’80s and ’90s was built on strong youth support for Ronald Reagan; in fact, Generation Xers still identify themselves as Republicans more than any other generation, according to Gallup polling. The heavily Democratic Millennials should likewise provide Democrats with huge advantages for years to come, especially since some members of the generation have yet to attain voting age.

In a rational world, organizations like the Young Republicans would aim to make their party more relevant to young voters, and would try to persuade the national party to take a more youth-friendly posture. But the modern GOP is far from rational.

On Saturday, the Young Republicans elected 38-year-old Audra Shay as their new president. Thirty-eight simply isn’t “young.” I’m 38, and I’m considered a movement elder by young progressive leaders. The irony of it is that 24-year-old Rachel Hoff was also on the YR ballot, but she had a fatal flaw — like most Americans of her generation, she suffered from a case of tolerance and supported civil unions.

“As one of only a very few Young Republicans nationwide in favor of Civil Unions, Rachel Hoff attempted to convince the [Young Republican National Federation] in 2007 to adopt a stance IN FAVOR OF CIVIL UNIONS,” read one attack piece circulated among Young Republican committee members before the vote. “Although Rachel was not wearing a dress like her female counterparts, but her typical suite [sic], her attempt was met with ridicule and frustration.”

This gay-baiting wasn’t an isolated incident by overzealous supporters. Shay’s personal racism and homophobia littered her Facebook page before she scrubbed it clean. During one chat, a user named Eric wrote (misspellings preserved), “Obama Bin Lauden is the new terrorist ... Muslim is on there side ... need to take this country back from all of these mad coons ... and illegals.” Shay’s response to this? Gleeful approbation. “You tell em Eric! lol.”

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That wasn’t all. As documented by the Daily Beast, Shay also featured jokes about President Obama and gays in a noose, and posted conspiracy videos about Obama’s supposed crusade against white people.

Meghan McCain, daughter of the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, could only shake her head at the antics of the Young Republicans. “Is it so implausible that people in their 20s (or even early 30s) could join the Republican Party — or have we just completely given up on their vote?” she wrote.

Well, Meghan, the answer is pretty obviously yes. As you went on to write, Shay’s election reinforced the idea that “young Republicans” appear to be “racist and more middle aged than youthful. In short, disconnected from the real youth of this country.” That about sums it up.

And that means the Republican Party, as a whole, can look forward to decades of disconnect not just from the youth, but from the rest of America as well.

Moulitsas is founder and publisher of Daily Kos (www.dailykos.com).

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