Thoughts on Texas from a Former Teacher

F Sad Alone Depression Depressed Young Loneliness

Teens today have more resources than time to connect with others.

Friday’s tragedy in Santa Fe, Texas marks the seventh high school shooting in the United States in 2018, and the fall semester hasn’t even started. The uptick in school shootings provides only a snapshot of the broader cultural despair that drives many teens to violence and suicide.

While many Americans debate what can be done to stop the carnage, more should consider why it happens so frequently.

After the shooting, a friend asked me why President Donald Trump could not sign an executive order requiring schools to better protect students and more strictly regulate their entries and exits. After all, his job description includes protecting Americans from enemies foreign and domestic.

Tragedies often cause people to forget niceties like federalism and the rule of law.

Without knowing all the details at the time, I told him that states could at least require public schools to have armed resource officers.

But Santa Fe High School did have two school resource officers on duty who engaged the shooter and prevented him from killing more.

Currently, 20 percent of U.S. public schools have resource officers, and multiple times this year they have prevented school shootings from becoming more fatal. Limiting students’ access to one entrance would no doubt make their jobs easier.

But the American school shooting problem is cultural, and one that better policies and law enforcement can manage but never solve.

Yes, schools should have metal detectors.

Yes, schools should have one resource officer per so many students.

Yes, teachers should have the option to carry in the classroom — provided they are licensed and trained.

But teens are more innovative than people give them credit for; and while skilled Halo players are not the tactical equals of trained soldiers, they come close enough to overcome trivialities like armed guards, metal detectors, and tighter student access policies. These policy changes are needed, but without a cultural mending, they will only control the damage—never end it.

Any effort to address the surge in school shootings should look at the stressful demands that teens face, which leads many to pathological loneliness.

Recent health insurance data show that depression is rising dangerously among all age groups, but the 63 percent increase from 2013 to 2016 among teens accounts for the largest spike. Unlike adults, many teens become irritable rather than sad when they are depressed. This often masks their depression and allows them to continue their daily activities like attending school.

Although today’s teens have more resources at their disposal to connect with other people, the limited time they have prevents them from taking advantage of these constructively. As a result, they find themselves overwhelmed in an impossible attempt to fulfill the social demands they face.

On the one hand, they feel that they must meet the demand of their peers by cultivating an image and building a following on social media. On the other, their parents and teachers — who come from a different century — still hold the same academic and extracurricular expectations that their parents and teachers held for them when they were in school.

But just as the rapidly changing economy negates the former truth that a good education guarantees a good job, a strong social media presence does not guarantee school popularity. Teens’ inability to excel at both, and the half dozen other tasks that society expects of them, often drive them to sacrifice the grades for the status.

Others give up on winning friends and exhaust themselves trying to make straight A’s, thinking their social fortunes will improve if they get into their dream college. This, in turn, drives them to an unhealthy scholastic perfectionism and isolation.

In “The Age of Loneliness,” George Monbiot observes that isolation “enhances the risk of depression, paranoia, addiction, cognitive decline, dementia, heart disease, stroke, viral infection, accidents, and suicide.” It drives premature death as surely as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

A recent study by psychologist Jean Twenge found a sharp correlation between social media screen time and the rise in teen suicide.

Teens today spend on average nine hours a day on social media. According to the nonprofit Common Sense Media, fifty percent admit to feeling addicted to social platforms.

The expectation that everyone should be a well-rounded achiever, coupled with the online expectations of peers, drives many teens to loneliness—a loneliness many drown in social media, video games, addictions, and — for some — violence against themselves or others.

American society once had churches, social clubs, neighbors — communities — to whom to turn in time of need. For many, social media have replaced these bastions of mentorship on which previous generations of teens relied. While social media can provide a temporary rush of companionship and feeling of popularity, gaining cyber friends and followers often fails to translate to empathetic relationships between people who are genuinely there for each other.

Emotion: The Deciding Factor in the Gun Debate

image via flickr.com

“Am I next?”

The sign taped to the front of a stroller in which a cute, innocent toddler sat, pushed by her activist father on 18th Street NW, in Washington, DC., relayed a sense of urgency. Is clinging to guns really worth having the blood of that sweet, little, blue-eyed girl on your hands? Guns kill. Supporting their availability makes you an accomplice to murder.

The anti-Second Amendment demonstrations across the country on Saturday presented another example of the Left’s acute awareness of the power of emotion in human action. From an intellectual standpoint, classical liberalism and the 20th-century conservatism that carried its mantle are far superior to Marxism, Progressivism, or any left-leaning ideology that seeks to improve the human condition through government. But people rarely make spiritual, amorous, or ideological decisions based on intellectualism. Intellectualism serves a long-term purpose, but in the realm of politics, it’s nearly useless. The Left gets this, and that’s why it wins politically far more often than the Right.

As great as it would be to focus on policy from a strictly philosophical perspective, maintaining that idealism against those who cast political victory in terms of light and darkness—good and evil—life and death—means perpetual drubbing at the polls, and, dare I appeal to emotionalism? the loss of constitutional rights.

The National Rifle Association understands these stakes and has adapted its strategy accordingly. Its propaganda campaign that it rolled out after President Donald Trump’s election with Dana Loesch casts the Second Amendment debate in exactly those terms. Are the stakes really that high at this point? Of course not! Is the NRA appealing to emotion over reason? You betcha! But failing to do so equals bringing a butter knife to a gunfight (no pun intended).

The Right has more cause to cast this debate in terms of life and death and the survival of American civilization than the Left. Think of all the underage girls that will be raped because authoritarians decided to deprive their families of the right to keep and bear arms. Think of the children that will die defenseless in classrooms because their teacher couldn’t legally acquire a gun. Think of the babies shot through the neck in their mothers’arms by psychopaths because the lady that would have saved their lives could not legally obtain a firearm; and therefore, could only watch helplessly while the killer completed his work.

Ridiculous analogies, many would say. Those who want common sense gun control don’t want to take people’s right to self-defense away from them. Handguns will still be legal!

But do those 16-year-olds, who will vote in 2020 and every election thereafter, who are demonstrating against guns in general, even know what laws are on the books already? Do they care? They’ve been brainwashed to be anti-gun, not anti-rifle. Besides, the gun-grabbers abroad have already shown that they won’t stop until it’s almost impossible to obtain any firearm.

We certainly need to revamp civics and history instruction in schools so that future voters will understand the value of a constitutional democracy and why an assault on the Second Amendment would imperil every freedom. But that’s a long-term project. In the short-term, gun-grabbers need a good beating at the polls; and the only way to do that is to emotionally convince voters that those kids and their plump, professional handlers marching in the streets threaten their children’s life and liberty.

The Iran deal isn’t perfect, but it beats war

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Originally written as “America Should Uphold the Nuclear Deal with Iran,” Parts I, II, and III in The Millennial Review

As the October 15 deadline approaches for President Donald Trump to inform Congress if he will recertify the nuclear deal with Iran, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), his final decision presents a great opportunity for him to chart his own course in Republican foreign policy—one that puts Americans’ interests above the interests of their Middle Eastern allies, who consider Iran their greatest geopolitical threat.

Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) right after the JCPOA, requiring the president to inform Congress every three months if Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. If the president finds that Iran is not complying, the United States doesn’t automatically exit the deal, rather, Congress then has 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on the country.

During the presidential campaign, Trump often criticized the JCPOA as “an embarrassment to our country,” saying Obama should have treated the release of American prisoners in Iran as a prerequisite for any deal, and claiming Obama gave Iran the impression that it would not walk away from the negotiating table regardless of the outcome.

Trump told the Wall Street Journal in July, “If it was up to me, I would have had [the Iranians] noncompliant 180 days ago.” Then, in his speech before the United Nations on September 19, he blasted the Iranian government for masking its corrupt dictatorship, funding terrorists, “undermining peace throughout the Middle East,” and “building dangerous missiles.”

But Iran’s missile program can’t reach the U.S. Furthermore, even if it could, without nuclear warheads, it would be completely impotent against the superior conventional militaries of Israel and the U.S., not to mention the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In addition, Iran’s missiles don’t factor into the deal.

Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has also expressed outright hostility toward the deal and the nation of Iran itself. In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on September 5, she insisted that Iran has violated the deal. But the only two examples she could give were when Iran briefly exceeded its suggested limit of heavy water twice in 2016.

Under the agreement, Iran is only allowed enough heavy water as it needs, and the signatories estimated that 130 tones would be enough. The reason for this limit is that such water could be used as a moderator in nuclear power stations, which could then produce plutonium from the spent fuel of the reactors. Once Iran reaches that level, it’s supposed to sell its excess water.

Haley complained that when Iran surpassed its heavy water limit, former President Barack Obama, rather than declaring the country in violation of the deal, “helped Iran get back into compliance.”

But, Obama was not purposely looking for an excuse to rip the deal up like Trump and Haley. Furthermore, when the IAEA brought the issue up, Iran complied in a timely manner and shipped the excess water to the country of Oman.

Haley said the IAEA “does good work,” but pointed out that the agency is saying that “of the sites they’ve seen, the Iranians are in compliance.” She said that “no one is talking about the sites they haven’t seen.” She is convinced the Iranians are trying to develop a nuclear weapon at military bases, and has been lobbying the IAEA hard to demand the Iranians allow the agency to conduct intrusive inspections of those bases. She offers no proof for her suspicions, and bases her reasoning on nothing more than Iran’s history of belligerence toward the U.S., most of which predates her graduation from high school.

But as Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, recently noted,

The IAEA to our knowledge has not requested access to any site and been denied. Furthermore, the agency cannot and should not seek access to a site simply to test the Iranians’ cooperation. They must have a legitimate reason.

Nevertheless, Haley and others in the foreign policy establishment, who are urging Trump to decertify the deal, would not be satisfied if Iran was found in compliance after opening all its military bases.

from flickr.com

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) said as recently as October 3 that Trump should decertify the deal, even if Iran is complying.

But how bad of a deal is the JCPOA really, for the U.S.?

The deal provides Iran with over $100 billion, but that money is not foreign aid—it’s Iran’s own money that the U.S. and other countries froze when they placed sanctions on the country.

What does the U.S. get in return?

Americans get peace of mind, if they want it, that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. It may be decades before Iran’s government moderates and modernizes; but in the meantime, it would be much easier for the U.S. if it could focus on its citizens and on countries that actually pose a geopolitical threat, while letting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which inspects Iran for compliance, keep an eye on Iran.

Trump has so far recertified the deal twice, and the IAEA has confirmed eight times that Iran is complying with the deal. Furthermore, most in Trump’s administration have concurred with the IAEA, and see no reason for the U.S. to withdraw.

The nuclear agreement with Iran is by no means a perfect deal for anyone involved, but it offers a better alternative than the option that Haley and other anti-Iranian hawks prefer. Unless Iran clearly violates the terms of the agreement, the U.S. has no reason to abandon the deal.

It’s really about regime change in Tehran.

For many “conservatives,” however, it’s not about compliance, or even the “terrible deal” itself—it’s about regime change in Tehran.

Cotton, in fact, explicitly stated in June, “The policy of the United States should be regime change in Iran.”

from cspan.org

In a speech at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2007, General Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO during the 1999 War on Yugoslavia, claimed that the U.S. experienced a foreign policy coup after the 9/11 attacks.

“Some hard-nosed people took over the direction of American policy, and they never bothered to inform the rest of us,” he said.

He went on to recall that a general in the Pentagon told him in 2001 of a policy memo, that laid out a plan to overthrow the governments of seven countries in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran), within five years.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a presidential debate in 2015 that the U.S. should topple the Iranian regime, claiming the country “has declared war on us.”

Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo, last year as a Congressman, publicly called for congressional action to “change Iranian behavior, and, ultimately, the Iranian regime.”

As head of the CIA, Pompeo has approved new authorities for U.S. intelligence officers to begin placing funds in secret accounts belonging to Iranian officers to create the impression that those officers are working for foreign powers.

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Politico reported, that the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a D.C.-based think tank, circulated a seven-page memo throughout the National Security Council and the White House, urging the new administration to enact regime change in Iran.

“Iran is susceptible to a strategy of coerced democratization because it lacks popular support and relies on fear to sustain its power,” the memo read. It reminded Trump that no one has greater power to foment dissent abroad than the American president, stating that the goal in Iran should be “a tolerant government that adheres to global norms.” It suggested Trump “use trade unions, student organizations and dissident clerics to highlight the economic, political [and] moral shortcomings of the Iranian regime.”

Trump officials were careful to tell Politico that the administration relies more on internal, rather than external proposals, and mentioned they had also consulted the Brookings Institution for foreign policy advice. But Brookings has also called for regime change in Iran. In 2009, it issued a report entitled, “Which Path to Persia,” which prescribed a deceitful war of aggression. It argued that the U.S. should create a situation to make Iran look as if it’s blowing a chance for a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue. This would then allow the U.S., or Israel, to attack the country, “in sorrow, not anger.” The tactic, the report stated, would convince at least some in the international community that “the Iranians brought it on themselves.”

Newsweek reported that Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under former President Richard Nixon, also visited the White House shortly after Trump’s inauguration to advise the president on the Islamic State (ISIS). Kissinger cautioned that defeating ISIS could lead to a “radical Iranian empire” across the Middle East.

Kissinger’s viewpoint mirrors that of an influential Israeli think tank, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), which the University of Pennsylvania has

ranked one of the three top think tanks in the Middle East and Africa. BESA released a paper on August 2, by Efraim Inbar, political science professor at Bar-Ilan University, entitled, “The Destruction of Islamic State is a Strategic Mistake.” In it, Inbar argues, “IS can be a useful tool in undermining Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East.” ISIS, he states, should be weakened but not defeated, adding,

The West yearns for stability, and holds out a naive hope that the military defeat of IS will be instrumental in reaching that goal. But stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests.

When Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon was the White House chief strategist, he asked former U.S. ambassador to the UN and senior fellow at AEI John Bolton to draw up a game plan for Trump to withdraw from the JCPOA. Bolton obliged, and in it, urges the president to “expedite delivery of bunker-buster bombs; announce U.S. support for Kurdish national aspirations, including Kurds in Iran, Iraq, and Syria; provide assistance to Balochis, Khuzestan Arabs, Kurds, and others—also to internal resistance among labor unions, students, and women’s groups.”

Cotton, proposing along the same lines as Bolton, has noted that Iran has numerous minority ethnic groups, including Arabs, Turkmen and Balochs who “aren’t enthusiastic about living in a Persian Shiite despotism.” He too advocates a combination of economic, diplomatic, and covert actions to pressure Tehran’s government, and “support internal domestic dissent.”

To wage war on the Iranian regime is to wage war on the Iranian people.

from Wikimedia Commons

But, what those on the warrior bandwagon fail to understand is that any attempt to wage war on the Iranian regime, regardless of how dissatisfied most Iranians are with their backward government, would necessarily wage war on the Iranian people.

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani won all the major Sunni-populated provinces by overwhelming margins in this year’s election. This says something about Iranian religious minorities’ view of Rouhani, considering voter turnout in those provinces exceeded the national average. Furthermore, Iran is not an artificially created country, like Iraq and most African countries that were colonies of the West. Iranians of all religious affiliations and ethnicities can trace their history in Persia back three thousand years.

But a more pressing problem for the would-be saviors of the oppressed Iranian people is the fact that there is no serious opposition to empower.

Iran’s only operational dissident group is the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), with roughly 5,000 to 13,500 members. The fact that most of them are dispersed outside of Iran means that MEK could not possibly destabilize Iran’s government. Furthermore, the group sided with Saddam Hussein in the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran that cost hundreds of thousands of Iranian lives; meaning MEK is not even popular with the Iranian people. Some may argue the U.S. could heavily arm the group the way it has done with dozens of dissident groups throughout history. But the State Department has already designated MEK as a terrorist organization.

In addition, claims that the Iranian regime’s policies—particularly concerning its nuclear program and aid to fellow Shiites in the region—lack popular support is void of evidence. A recent poll shows that 81 percent of Iranians believe it is “very important for Iran to develop its nuclear program” and 68 percent thought that Iran should “seek to increase the role it plays in the region.”

Another argument for regime change is that all Iranian politicians must be hard-liners, because they have to support the revolutionary philosophy of the Islamic Republic to get elected.

But this kind of thinking automatically assumes all Iranian politicians take their constitution more seriously than American politicians take theirs.

But the U.S. has already been down this path before.

In 1953, the U.S. overthrew Mohhamad Mossadegh because he started drifting a little too far to the left for Cold War sensibilities. A quarter century later, in 1979, Iranian revolutionaries cited that grievance more than any other as the reason for their 444-day occupation of the U.S. embassy.

Regime change sounds like a noble goal to pursue when it is on paper and in theory, but it is because of regime change that a nuclear Iran is an issue in the first place.

Where does President Trump really stand on Iran?

from icij.org

Trump’s motives for his opposition to the JCPOA are a bit harder to pin down than most politicians. For starters, the president is no ideologue, and takes practical conservatism to a level unseen in recent American politics.

But while the virtues of homespun, practical conservatism are many, it can just as easily produce dangerous, homespun ignorance.

In a televised speech at the Rose Garden with the Lebanese prime minister, Trump praised Lebanon’s government for fighting Hezbollah—a militia with representation in the Lebanese parliament. A former U.S. official, in fact, has told Reuters that Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq have been “very helpful” in recapturing vast swaths of the caliphate that ISIS declared in 2014.

Then on Sept. 26, Trump tweeted,

Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!

The tweet was in response to a video of the test firing of a Khoramshahr missile that aired on Iranian state television. The only problem is that the video footage was from a failed Iranian missile test last year.

But bombastic gaffes and seeking out advice from militaristic ideologues doesn’t automatically make the president and his administration militaristic.

Unlike Ted Cruz, who promised to rip the deal to shreds “on the very first day in office,” candidate Trump promised to honor America’s word to its allies, who also signed the deal with Iran.

Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in 2015, “We have a horrible contract, but we do have a contract.” He added, “I would love to tell you…I’m going to be the toughest guy in the world, and I’m just rippin’ it up, but you know what? Life doesn’t work that way.” Instead, he promised to enforce the terms of the deal “like you’ve never seen a contract enforced before.”

In Bannon’s recent ‘60 Minutes’ interview, he said, “President Trump wants to get out of the deal and either go make a better deal or just view it from the outside.”

This doesn’t imply that Trump, or his economic nationalist support base are interested in pursuing a costly, covert, or overt crusade to topple the Iranian regime.

Trump views his image above all else. If he thinks it will help his image to remain in the deal, he will. If he feels it would make him look like a strong leader to tell the rest of the world to take a hike, like he did with the Paris Climate Accord, he will do that instead.

Government officials recently told the Associated Press that “the future of the Iran nuclear deal may hinge on a face-saving fix for President Donald Trump so he doesn’t have to recertify the Islamic republic’s compliance every 90 days.” Likewise, White House sources have confirmed that Trump feels the periodic reviews mandated by Congress are a “source of embarrassment.”

The fact that Trump hates being forced to recertify a law he railed against fits his broader persona. Trump dislikes the nuclear deal with Iran for much the same reason he dislikes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)—they’re not his deals.

Trump’s tirades against the JCPOA could be his way of railing against the INARA, which requires his personal stamp of approval every three months on his predecessor’s legacy. 

If Trump decertifies the JCPOA, what then? 

If Trump decides to declare Iran in noncompliance on October 16, would Congress be willing to reimpose sanctions unilaterally without the support of America’s allies?

The objections of the deal’s critics don’t make sense without any grand vision of forced regime change in Iran. Although the IAEA inspections are not as intrusive as people like Haley would prefer, at least the West gets to monitor Iran’s nuclear program—a luxury we don’t have with North Korea.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said recently, “if the U.S. leaves the treaty and Europe follows, then this deal will certainly collapse and Iran will go back to what it was before and, technically speaking, to a much higher level.”

The U.S. will never force Iran to give up its nuclear program, a program more than 80 percent of the Iranian population supports, without declaring war on the country and launching a full-scale invasion. But if one believes General Wesley Clark, such a plan would not fall beneath many in the foreign policy establishment.

But even if Trump decertifies the deal and Congress reimposes sanctions, U.S. allies would likely not do the same.

After Trump’s remarks at the UN, 78 European officials signed a letter to his administration, expressing great concern over “reports that the U.S. Administration might unilaterally declare Tehran non-compliant with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.” The letter quotes the IAEA’s director general who declares Tehran in compliance and states, “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.” In addition, more than fifty Asia Pacific political, diplomatic, military and civil society leadership figures also signed a joint statement urging the U.S. to uphold its end of the bargain.

This is a recipe for a trade war between the U.S. and the rest of the developed world if Washington tries to impose secondary sanctions on other countries’ financial institutions for not bending to its will.

American citizens do face existential threats. Among them: hurricanes, floods, a madman leading a brainwashed regime in North Korea, and rising insurance premiums because of the Affordable Care Act that prevent people from getting the healthcare they need. But a nuclear-gagged regime with a limping economy in the Middle East and a few hundred rockets, that can’t even reach Western Europe, is not one of them.

“This could be the calm before the storm,” said Trump at the White House on Friday.

“On Iran? On ISIS? On what?” asked a reporter.

“You’ll see,” came the subtle reply, with a wink, as the president and first lady posed with military leaders and their wives for a photo-op.

If Trump is as swayable on Iran as he was on

Afghanistan, then Americans have already seen.

They saw for eight long years as thousands of lives and millions of dollars sank in Iraq. They saw as the most left-wing administration in the nation’s history rose from the frustration Americans felt toward a senseless, so-called “conservative” foreign policy. Then, they saw as ISIS rose from the ashes they left behind, to become a greater menace than the original evil they sought to depose.

Obama nailed it in 2012.

“The 1980s called and they want their foreign policy back,” he said, mocking Mitt Romney’s boorish, Cold War-lite statements.

Apparently, they’re still on the phone.

Nationalism is the Future of the Republican Party

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Ronald Brownstein’s recent article in the Atlantic reveals that millennial, Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson is losing faith in her party because of its growing nationalist wing. The cause for Anderson’s growing disillusion is real and reveals a genuine shift in the power behind the GOP. Instead of fearing and fighting the awakening giant of nationalism though, Anderson and others should embrace it in a way that doesn’t compromise their values.

Anderson is a very adept young woman who managed to strike success in Washington D.C. while still in college and is part of the millennial wave of data miners — or “data dummies” as Van Jones called them, over the perception that they remain aloof from personal voter connection—who view themselves as the future of political management. She worked for eight years with the D.C.-based opinion research and communications firm The Winston Group before co-founding Echelon Insights. After Barack Obama destroyed Mitt Romney with Millennials in 2012 (which cost Romney the election), Anderson helped formulate a guideplan on what the Republican Party needed to do to capture the Millennial vote in the future. In 2015, she released a book along the same lines: The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America (and How Republicans Can Keep Up).

Anderson says she arrived on the right of the political spectrum after a history teacher in high school taught her class about the Cold War. “You had these examples of countries where the government had tried to manage the economy really intensely and it ended up being bad for the citizens there,” she said. “I found myself beginning to lean more right on economic issues.”

But, when Obama captured the imagination of the overwhelming majority of Millennial voters in 2008, Anderson, like many right-leaning millennials made the mistake of thinking that if only the GOP turned more leftward on social issues it could cut into the Democratic Party’s gains with young voters. This was the basis of the post-mortem guideplan: Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation, which was based on polling and a number of post-election focus groups with millennial voters. When asked what came to mind when they thought of the Republican Party, one group of young, “winnable” Obama voters in January 2013, replied with words like “racist, rigid, and old-fashioned.”

Anderson sees the growing ethnic diversity in America as a prime reason why the GOP must change its tactics and even modify its message. Romney won the white Millennial vote by seven percentage points but lost the overall millennial vote by 23 points. Part of the reason for this is that more than 40 percent of the Millennial population is non-white. Furthermore, most of the Millennials that voted in the 2012 election leaned liberal on social and domestic issues like immigration, marriage, federalism, and government involvement in healthcare.

One key point though about the 2013 guideplan, or any political guideplan formed post-election, is voter turnout. The groups sampled were all voters in the 2012 election. Nearly half of eligible Millennial voters didn’t vote, which is not uncommon for the under-30 demographic in any presidential election. In 2016, Trump managed to galvanize millions of Americans who have either never voted or haven’t voted in years out of frustration with their options. Many of these voters were Millennials in middle America who either stayed home in 2012 or were too young to vote then.

While it’s true that the millennial generation is more liberal than their parents and grandparents’ generations, much of that is circumstantial. Millennials, more than previous generations have been through a college education system that is ideologically geared toward churning out liberal foot soldiers. They also came of age during the worst recession since the Great Depression—a recession overseen by a Republican administration. Most also had greater aspirations for themselves and their country than spending trillions of dollars and thousands of lives, fighting endless wars to spread democracy. They overwhelmingly depart with the conventional, Cold War foreign policy that John McCain and Mitt Romney offered.

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c-span.org

Another factor to consider is that voters born after 1996, known as Generation Z could tend to be more conservative than millennials.

Professor Jeff Brauer of Keystone College, who has studied the political habits of this up-and-coming generation believes that unlike Millennials who mostly assimilated into the Democratic Party, Gen Z-ers tend to resemble libertarians or socially moderate fiscal conservatives.

There are several reasons for this generation being more conservative than the last. Part of it is the gig and freelance economy that has given them an entrepreneurial spirit that many millennials were only forced to discover as a means to pay off their college debt before they retire. According to Forbes, 77 percent Gen Z-ers earn their own spending money by doing“freelance work, a part-time job, or earned an allowance.”

Furthermore, these people have grown up on the internet and are much more likely to research an issue themselves and form their own opinion rather than take the word of a professor, politician, media pundit, or their favorite comedian. They also grew up under the unbelievably dull and economically-stagnating administration of the first minority president. So, all this millennial nonsense about white privilege kind of falls flat.

Last, but not least, they’ve gotten a front row seat to the decline and fall of what was once the world’s greatest university system. Most Gen Z-ers are not too anxious to go tens of thousands of dollars in debt to hear some aging hippie rant against his or her country’s history and tout the values of socialism, without at least being guaranteed a decent-paying job upon graduation.

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Anderson wonders “whether Donald Trump’s GOP has a place for people like her, who want a party that marries support for less government and robust national defense with a commitment to racial and social inclusion.” The problem though is that there aren’t enough Americans that want that policy combination to win a presidential election. That was proven in 2008 and 2012. Anderson and her fellow “moderates” got the candidates they wanted in John McCain and Mitt Romney and Obama drubbed them both.

When one side gets its teeth kicked in twice in a row, it usually helps to find reinforcements the next time around–which is exactly what Trump did in 2016. He tapped into the silent, frustrated American majority that cares a lot more about rising healthcare premiums and economic opportunity for American citizens than statements or shows of racial and social inclusion. The overwhelming majority of voters on the right wanted a president who was going to put the country first at home and abroad, uphold the rule of law (i.e. crack down on border security and deport illegal immigrants), and stop trying to turn the U.S. into a social experiment.

Most people who want the government to make a big deal about racial and social inclusion also want a government that will commit to providing free college tuition, debt forgiveness, and free healthcare for all. The coalition that Anderson wants simply doesn’t exist.

According to Brownstein, she doesn’t want to join the Democrats but is open to a potential third party with the Republican policies in the mold of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

In 2016, the U.S. got the third way it had been craving for a long time. Trump is hardly a conservative. For many years, he supported Democrats. He is the most fiscally liberal Republican president since Theodore Roosevelt and he trounced Hillary Clinton with Independents. He was practically an independent that took over the Republican Party.

Anderson is disappointed that only one-in-four Republicans disagree with Trump’s response to Charlottesville. The shocker should be that a quarter of Republicans bought the media lie that Trump made a moral equivalence between fascists and anti-fascists. He didn’t. He made a moral equivalency in the violence perpetrated by both sides, which as dozens of videos on YouTube show, the leftist protesters started.

Moderation and ethnic inclusion are not antithetical to nationalism. The reason the nation is seeing such a rise in ethnic separatism and white nationalism is because the Republican Party and the conservative movement as a whole have failed to forge an American nationalism that unites all patriotic citizens. In one of the New York Times’ recent attempts to discover whether Trump is an actual racist, Katrina Pierson, a black lady who was a spokeswoman for the Trump presidential campaign summed up this concept fantastically:

“Just because you’re a nationalist and you’re white doesn’t make you a white nationalist. Putting Americans first makes you a nationalist and in that case, I’m a nationalist. I think we should take care of our families and our children first.”

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Mankind is nationalistic by nature. The growing nationalism of Americans that found a voice in Donald Trump is not old or dying out—it’s growing stronger. The Democratic Party has already picked the politics of tribalism over Americanism and the Republican Party won’t win any brownie points from voters if it tries to keep playing sidekick to the DNC’s ideals. People on the right aren’t going to support a party that just wants to lower the top income tax rate from 39 to 35 percent and pour another billion dollars into a bloated military. If it weren’t for the appeal of nationalism, Hillary Clinton would be president and the Republicans would be in the minority in Congress. If for no other reason that shows that nationalism is the future of the GOP.