Originally posted December 1, 2008 – worth a repeat!
I ran across this excellent article by Mark Tapscott on the DC Examiner website that gave me, a designated conservative of the Republican Party, some hope for the future. What is that hope? The “NetGen.” Who are they? As Tapscott notes:
The NetGeners are the future of the conservative movement because they are the heart and muscle of an historic opportunity to restore and reinvigorate our ideals of individual freedom and limited government.
Who are the NetGeners? And why do I believe they hold such promise for the Right?
Because the NeT Geners are at the confluence of the Internet as the dominant communications tool, economic platform and social connector, the demographic reality of a generation growing into adulthood whose numbers exceed even that of the vaunted Baby Boomers, and the intrinsic contradiction between the politics of centralization that currently defines politics and governance and the culture of choice that defines the coming majority of Americans.
The NetGen are usually defined as Americans born between 1977 and 1997. Tapscott goes on to note in his article that research has found that this rising generation of Americans hold several conservative-oriented values in common, including freedom, customization, and collaboration.
“Net Geners expect freedom, especially in the workplace. ‘They prefer flexible hours and compensation that is based on their performance and market value, not based on face time in the office.’ But the insistence on individual freedom doesn’t just impact the workplace. Net Geners expect choice everywhere, and why not when they have grown up with a multitude of consumer choices in their daily lives. Think iPOD and the multiplicity of songs available through iTunes.”
“They also love having the opportunity to adapt, to customize products to suit their particular needs. Think TiVo, which allows individuals to watch what they want when they want, and to skip through the commercials while doing so. Is a generation that demands the freedom to choose from among thousands of widgets that provide infinite adaptability likely to be satisfied with a government-run health care system that by definition can provide few choices and for whom customization controlled by individual customers is intrinsically alien?”
“I believe the culture of collaboration among Net Geners is the norm that most threatens the liberal moment. A generation that expects to be free, to be able to customize and to be able to scrutinize authority is also a generation that is discovering a multitude of ways in which the Internet empowers what used to be called the “thousand points of light.” (T)hat is exactly why liberals are doomed to fail in the Internet age – because the dominant values of the Net Geners empower individuals, not collectives.”
Tapscott also offers the most concise definition of conservatism I’ve seen in many a moon:
“Conservatism is all about individual freedom, decentralizing government and empowering local communities to solve their own problems.”
If these children of the Baby Boomers get together with the Reagan Generation (those of us old enough to have voted in 1980 or ’84), there is no stopping a rejuvinated conservative movement. So, those of the rising NetGeneration, let your light shine forth in the darkness of Obamanation, and become the next designated conservatives for the republican party!