In the days of Reagan, or even Newt Gingrich, conservative politics was philosophical and policy-driven. Theoretically at least, voters either supported the “Contract with America” or didn’t. Today, however, the Republican Party has abandoned the idea of even offering a platform: You either hate the cringey, crooked lying libs or you don’t. A left that already enjoys dwelling on the misdeeds of the Democratic elite — “denying” Bernie Sanders the presidency and so on — is an open door for conservatives to push. In time, Democrats devolve in the millennial leftist imagination from being “no better” to objectively worse; the GOP rises from “making some good points” to being actively necessary.
Fueled in part by anti-liberal animus, Sanders-to-Trump voters were a well-documented phenomenon that helped Republicans retake the White House in 2016. Many of those voters never came back, and the Sanders coalition became smaller and more ideological in 2020. Yet the Sanders-to-Trump migration continued, with some polls taken before the 2020 vote suggesting the number of converts could be as high as 15 percent. Doubtless this played a role in Trump increasing his share of the millennial vote by 8 percent.
Fast-forward a decade or two and imagine millennials in their 50s and 60s. Do you suppose we’ll find a crop of seniors still interested in being on the bleeding edge of left-wing politics?