Mainstream press outlets have been fixated since Election Day on Barack Obama’s decisive win in the Presidential election among younger voters, particularly Millennials.
A Google search, in fact, for “Obama youth vote” returns nearly 81 million hits, many of which analyze how Obama won 60-70 percent of that constituency, depending on the poll.
Where the analysts and pundits have it wrong, however, is in asserting that the Republican Party and the conservative free market movement somehow have no hopes of attracting these Millennial voters in the future. A recent decision by the D.C. City Council illustrates how, in many ways, old school Democrat special interest politics are incompatible with the values held dear by the Millennial generation.
Millennials, with their iPhones and iPads and independent desire for technology which makes their lives more enriching, have been a huge driver of the success of Uber. Uber is an app that anyone can download for free on their smart phone and use to immediately hail a private car and driver — at any time, in any of a number of American cities. The rates are reasonable, the service reliable, the experience enjoyable. Gone are the days when only the rich could afford a private car.
What’s not to like, free market conservatives ask? Uber has created a new market for entrepreneurs and consumers alike and helped give people more choice in how they maneuver America’s most congested cities. Enter the D.C. City Council, that hotbed of liberalism. Last week the Council voted to, in effect, kill Uber in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to protect the powerful taxi cab lobby from pesky competition. Here we see machine politics at its worst: a Democrat-controlled body using the levers of government to quash the competitors of one of its political benefactors.
And, how is Uber’s presumably Millennial-driven customer base reacting to the Council’s decision to snuff out this technological innovation? Well, let’s just say ‘not well.’
In a mere matter of hours, Change.com’s “Save Uber DC” petition has received nearly 7,000 signatories. This is a generation of people whose lifestyles are driven by technological innovation. How are they going to react when some hotel workers’ union tries to shut down airbnb, which Millennials use to make affordable overnight reservations in other cities, bypassing hotels? It’s easy to see how the future is filled with more and more such examples of entrenched, big city Democrat political machines going to war with the free market forces of technological innovation which have become part-and-parcel of the Millennial experience.
One decision by one city’s Council regarding taxi fares is a small thing, I’ll grant you that. But it’s potentially telling in that it shows how Old Style machine liberal politics are incompatible with the lifestyle the Millennial generation has come to expect. And, if the implications of that conflict are inconvenient to Millennials, it should be cause for some political optimism among conservatives.
Gregg Keller is the Executive Director of the American Conservative Union