BOOK REVIEW: 'American Individualism': The Best Hope for the GOP May Be Millennials

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'American Individualism': The Best Hope for  the GOP May Be Millennials
In "American Individualism: How A New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party" (Crown Forum, 272 pages, $24.99)  Margaret Hoover makes the point that the best hope for a Republican victory in next year's Presidential election may just be the participation of the  people who swept Barack Obama into the White House in 2008: the Millennials.

She defines Millennials as people born between roughly 1980 and 1999. I've seen them called "Generation Y," with the start date 1982. Hoover, the great-grandaughter of President Herbert Hoover (who served from March 4, 1929 to March 4, 1933), was born in 1977, so she's either just outside the Millennial generation or just inside -- depending on who is counting.


In this fast-paced book -- I read it in one sitting -- Hoover says while Millennials are often considered to be solidly in the Democratic Party camp,  rarely identifying themselves as Republicans, the  young men and women who helped elect President Barack Obama are sympathetic to the fundamental principles of conservatism.
Margaret Hoover
Margaret Hoover


Although she takes a few digs at her generation, including their self-absorption and getting trophies for just showing up (somewhat like the premature Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Baby Boomer Barack Obama in 2009), she sounds sincere in her belief that these socially liberal Millennials uniquely understand the problems facing America and the world and can find a place in the Republican Party.


 Hoover makes a compelling case for Millennials going for the GOP, but the biggest obstacle that she sees -- and that I agree with -- is that the party is too conservative to accept voters who believe in acceptance of gays -- including gay marriage -- and freedom of choice in abortion and family planning. She admits that she has been the target of "RINO Hunters" for her embrace of socially progressive ideas like gay marriage. (RINOs are what more conservative -- hide-bound, if you will -- Republicans call those who are "Republicans In Name Only").


Millennials, facing unemployment in the 24 percent range -- the highest of any generational grouping -- are positioned for a GOP argument of "It's the economy, stupid" (even though Baby Boomer George W. Bush helped push the nation into a recession. Hoover worked in his 2004 re-election campaign), 


I was especially appreciative of Hoover's assessment of the crisis facing American education. People in her social group -- the affluent -- benefited from first-rate schools and universities like Bryn Mawr College that she graduated from, but blacks and Hispanics in the millennial generation generally weren't as fortunate. 


She makes the valid point that, despite massive educational expenditures, American education has fallen way behind the rest of the developed world, especially in math and science. The numbers speak for themselves: Millennials are 40 percent nonwhite and they're being shortchanged in the education marketplace in large part because Hoover says organized labor in the education industry keeps underperforming teachers on the job. I'm not so convinced, believing that parents who are involved in the education of their children, including Amy Chua's famous -- or infamous --  "Tiger Mother" -- are a major part of the equation.


I'm not as optimistic about GOP chances capturing voters from the 50 million strong millennial generation, if only because of the hide-bound nature of the Republican Party. Hoover herself believes that the Republican Party  has fallen dangerously out of step with the rising generation of young Americans. Furthemore, I believe the GOP is too entangled with socially conservative evangelicals and stuck-in-the-past older white voters, both male and female. GOP feminism may be an oxymoron, with Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann appealing to the very socially conservative voters that  Millennials abhor.


Hoover will turn 35 in 2012, making her eligible for the Presidency. She would appeal to a wide variety of socially progressive voters, much as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and, yes, Al Gore and George W. Bush,  attracted members of the boomer generation. Another President Hoover could be in our future!


About the author


Margaret Hoover, born in 1977, is the great-granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover and  was raised in Colorado. She received a B.A. in Spanish Literature with a minor in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College in 2001. She also attended Davidson College for two years. She worked for Bush-Cheney ‘04, Inc. and was the Deputy Press Secretary to Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart on Capitol Hill. She then held a White House appointment in the Bush Administration, and also served as a senior advisor to the Deputy Secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. Most recently, she has worked as Deputy Finance Director to Rudy Giuliani’s Presidential Exploratory Committee. She is a frequent contributor to Fox News's O'Reilly Factor. She married John Avlon, a former Rudy Giuliani speechwriter, in 2009 and they live in New York City. Her website: www.MargaretHoover.com.
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