David Davenport: Conservatives: Beware the Wrong Message

Conservatives’ message was individual liberty and limited government, but it’s been narrowed to a defense of capitalism and free markets. This message is a dead-end for younger voters, especially.

Young people view both government and markets with suspicion but they think government is fairer. Having lived through 2008, facing student debt, wage stagnation, lower-paying jobs — they dislike the harshness of markets.

A 2017 Pew poll found that 57 percent of younger Americans want a “bigger government with more services,” which is what liberals offer.

There is a larger point to conservatism than just free markets and capitalism. Young people love their individualism and resent being told they have to wear helmets and pads through life. They can still be reached with a message of individual liberty and limited government, which is where conservatives need to begin.