A Letter to Young Voters

According to conventional wisdom, the older the person, the less young people are inclined to listen to him or her.

This is probably true for some of you. But I do not believe that it is true for most of you.

Most young people have tremendous respect for older people’s views. I saw this firsthand in my own life. I began lecturing publicly at the age of 21, and I give you my word that young people (and certainly older people) are far more respectful of my views today than when I was their age. All things being equal, it is very rare for a 25 or 35-year-old to command the respect that a 50 or 60-year-old commands.

So, I am not afraid that that you will dismiss what I have to say here as the irrelevant thoughts of an older person.

But just in case you need an argument to take an older person’s thoughts seriously, ask any adults you respect whether they have more wisdom and insight into life now than they did ten years ago, let alone when they were your age. The answer will always be yes. (And any adult who has not gained wisdom over the course of a lifetime is not worth listening to.)

Which directly leads to my point: Did you ever wonder why people are far more likely to become conservative in their views and values as they get older?

When this rather devastating question is posed to liberals, leftists, progressives, Democrats — you choose the label or group — they answer that people get more selfish as they get older.

Progressives have to give this answer. There is no other response that enables them to avoid confronting the quite embarrassing fact that just about every adult, at every age of life, thinks he/she is wiser than when younger — and as they accumulate wisdom they become more conservative.

So the liberal explanation — that people get more selfish as they get older — is not only insulting but also nonsense.

People get worse as they get older?

If you were walking in a dark alley at midnight, which would you fear more — a group of teenagers or twenty-somethings or a group of senior citizens?

Do older people or younger people give more of their time to charitable institutions?

Are our prisons filled with young people or old people?

The fact is that not only do people get more wise and more conservative as they get older, they get more kind and more generous, too.

But what about “idealism?” We are told that young people are more “idealistic” than old people.

Let me respond by asking: What does “idealistic” mean?

Presumably it means having ideals — a kinder, more peaceful world, etc. Well, who told you that as people get older they lose these ideals? This is so untrue as to constitute a lie. If anything, we older people yearn for a peaceful world even more than young people do. We are the ones who lost friends or relatives in some war. We are the ones who have lived a lifetime of seeing and reading about human suffering. And, we, not you, have children and grandchildren whom we ache to see alive and healthy.

So, let’s put to rest the self-serving myth that young people have greater ideals than old people.

What the term “more idealistic” really means when applied to young people is that young people are more naive, not more idealistic, than older people.

Examples are legion.

Here’s one: Young people believe that when the government gives more money and benefits to more people, it helps them. This is naive. As you get older and wiser, you realize that when people are given anything without having to earn it (unless they are physically or mentally incapable of earning anything), they become ungrateful and lazy. They also become less happy. Every study shows that people who earn money are far happier than people who win many millions of dollars in a lottery. Happiness is earned, not given.

Here’s another: Young people are far more likely to believe that world peace is achieved when nations lay down their arms and talk through their differences. But this has never been the case. Of course, good nations stay peaceful when they talk to other good nations. Bad nations — that is, nations ruled by evil men — are never dissuaded from making war by talk. They are dissuaded only by good nations having more arms than they do. That is why the Marine Corps has done so much more for world peace than the Peace Corps.

If you want to vote Democrat, don’t do so because that is the party that cares more for the poor and the hungry. We older conservatives (and young ones, too) care just as much for the poor. But after living a life of seeing the naive only make things worse for the poor, we are no longer seduced by caring rhetoric. We are seduced by policies based on the awesome American value of individual initiative combined with liberty to create and retain wealth. It’s now called conservatism.

And, finally, you should know this: the “idealists” that many of you find appealing are the ones leaving you with a national debt that will render it very difficult for you to attain the material quality of life that these people have had.

The next time President Obama goes to a college to get your vote by promising you more and more benefits, ask him where the money will come from. And when he says “higher taxes on the wealthy,” know that this is exactly what they tried in Europe, a continent ruined by such “idealism.”

  • rlpincus

    Old people just get crotchety and jealous of youth.  Bernard Goldberg is a perfect example.

  • Larry Linn

    and insight is not restricted by age. There is insight in the same message presented
    by two people with very little in common.


    1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower at 71 years of age gave the nation a dire
    warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government.  “In the councils of government, we must
    guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or
    unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous
    rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”


    1962, a scruffy, young 21 year old poet and songwriter by the name of Robert
    Zimmerman wrote :

    you masters of war
    You that build the big guns
    You that build the death planes
    You that build all the bombs
    You that hide behind walls
    You that hide behind desks
    I just want you to know
    I can see through your masks.

    You that never done nothin’
    But build to destroy
    You play with my world
    Like it’s your little toy
    You put a gun in my hand
    And you hide from my eyes
    And you turn and run farther
    When the fast bullets fly.

    Like Judas of old
    You lie and deceive
    A world war can be won
    You want me to believe
    But I see through your eyes
    And I see through your brain
    Like I see through the water
    That runs down my drain.

    You fasten all the triggers
    For the others to fire
    Then you set back and watch
    When the death count gets higher
    You hide in your mansion’
    As young people’s blood
    Flows out of their bodies
    And is buried in the mud.

    You’ve thrown the worst fear
    That can ever be hurled
    Fear to bring children
    Into the world
    For threatening my baby
    Unborn and unnamed
    You ain’t worth the blood
    That runs in your veins.

    How much do I know
    To talk out of turn
    You might say that I’m young
    You might say I’m unlearned
    But there’s one thing I know
    Though I’m younger than you
    That even Jesus would never
    Forgive what you do.

    Let me ask you one question
    Is your money that good
    Will it buy you forgiveness
    Do you think that it could
    I think you will find
    When your death takes its toll
    All the money you made
    Will never buy back your soul.

    And I hope that you die
    And your death’ll come soon
    I will follow your casket
    In the pale afternoon
    And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
    Down to your deathbed
    And I’ll stand over your grave
    ‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

    • ph16

       No doubt Larry, every generation has had some wonderful young people who have plenty of wisdom and insight in their time, but generally I do think the older people get, the more wisdom and insight they get seeing as they have had more experience and have done more. Nothing against young people you understand, but they haven’t had a lot of the experiences and haven’t done a lot of the things older people have had.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PPL2AXPXJMWPEJWFN34MPC5RNY terry


  • Count_E_Limerick

    I may grow hair in my ears, a large jowl,
    But I also have the wisdom of a Wise Owl.
    Peace Movement way too glib,
    Ditto Labor, Women’s Lib –
    The only Movement I push for now is my bowel! 

  • Count_E_Limerick

    When you point out their inexperience and follies,
    Young people don’t want back-and-forth volleys.
    To protect actions basest,
    They’ll call you a racist –
    So you don’t Selfishly prevent them their jollies.

  • Kathie Ampela

    Mr. Prager: As a 45 year old, I guess I’m somewhere in between “young” and “old” but I have the wisdom to agree with your article. However you are posting it on a conservative website. Try putting it up on HuffPo and read the comments there. Think the response might be a bit different.

  • SendTheClunkerBackToChicago

    Here is a message to young voters, this President is a fraud, a felon and a usurper.  The Headline on Drudge today spells out the proof that all the above is true.  POLITICO also covered the SECOND Sheriff Joe Arpaio Press Conference from which you can access the videos that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his lead investigator Mike Zullo presented to those present.  Their evidence is very, very convincing and it should be made available to all the young folks so that they can see the dangers of not vetting politicians, especially if they want to be POTUS.  By not vetting this man we have open the door to the horror of having a usurper step into the position of Commander in Chief.  How sick is that, especially with the Marxist, Communist, Radical Progressive, Domestic Terrorists connections this man has.  I am shocked that people do not realize that this man has become our most dangerous National Security risk.  Congress needs to act quickly before he does something terrible 

    • rlpincus

       A perfect example why old people should be ignored.  Also, people named Drudge.

  • Worldbuilder

    Mr. Prager: Speaking as a “young” 40 year old, thanks for the insightful  article.