Letters to the Editor

Garland S. Tucker III: Winning the battle of ideas

Regarding the May 2 column “The GOP’s lost generation of millennial voters”: Catherine Rampell warned the GOP not to follow Speaker Paul Ryan’s advice to young conservatives to “ignore the political personality and look instead at the ideas. Look at the platform that is being advanced. We win idea contests.”

What terrible advice. Just because young voters are spouting nonsense, the GOP should not pander to them. As Margaret Thatcher once said, “First, you must win the fight for ideas, and then you win the elections.”

Rampell perceives that young voters are suddenly more receptive to socialism than their elders. Bernie Sanders’ conquest of the college scene certainly supports this, but it was Bret Stephens who characterized this phenomenon more appropriately: “a ’60s radical preaching warmed over socialism to people too young to know what it was or too stupid to understand what it does.”

Contrary to Rampell’s prescription, there is no reason for Republicans to join these young radicals. Churchill’s statement rings as true as ever: “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy.” Besides, time is on the side of the GOP, for, as Thatcher reminded us, “The problem with socialism is that eventually socialists always run out of other people’s money.”

On social issues such as marriage, millennials demand a radical redefinition. But again, time – and logic – are on the side of the GOP. There are good reasons (both pro-creational and societal) that marriage has been defined for thousands of years as a union between one man and one woman. In “What is Marriage?” Harvard Law Professor Robert George argues, “Marriage understood as the conjugal union of husband and wife really serves the good of children, the good of spouses, and the common good of society.” Such a defense of marriage, as George points out, does not prohibit any consensual relationship. However, it does not confuse such relationships with marriage.

Next, Rampell turned her sights on fiscal policy. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, young people seem to have concluded there is no link between low tax rates and economic growth. Never mind that Presidents Coolidge, Kennedy and Reagan were convinced to the contrary – and had the economic results to back them up.

Millennials appear dead set against enforcing our immigration laws. Somehow they are convinced that illegal immigration does not undermine the rule of law – or maybe it’s that the rule of law is just not important.

The lesson for the Republican Party is not to reinforce the folly of millennials’ thinking by being “willing to change its ideas.” Instead, the GOP needs to challenge these fallacies and misconceptions with well-thought-out policies based on sound historical and economic evidence.

If the GOP can win the battle of ideas, it will win elections. If it loses the battle over these ideas, it won’t matter who wins the elections.

Garland S. Tucker III

Chairman, Triangle Capital Corporation


The writer is author of “Conservative Heroes: Fourteen Leaders Who Changed America – Jefferson to Reagan.” The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the column.