Millennials will determine if Donald Trump is the new Goldwater

Why is Donald Trump the chosen candidate for young Republicans? Same reason why he’s the chosen candidate for many other Republicans …

“It’s emotion. It’s a lot of emotion.”

That’s from Anthony Rodriguez, a 28-year-old who adds that his rhetoric cuts “across age” and “across the ideological spectrum.”

I’m not so sure about “ideological spectrum” yet (hard to tell without a general) but the age factor is true, per this Politico article by Kyle Cheney. Trump’s attractiveness among the Millennial Republican base is his blunt honesty, however it lands. He’s not afraid to speak out about anything; moreover, he’s not staying civil for the sake of civility. Or, as Paul Mittermeier, 21 and not a Trump supporter says: “He doesn’t play the civility game.”

That was my news column Tuesday – Trump is a successful brand, the most successful brand of our time, and the brand is so strong that it breaks through established rules. We have to remember that the “civility” established in presidential elections isn’t very old. It really stemmed from the first televised debates in 1960 but came of age after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s controversial “Daisy” ad in 1964. “Daisy,” which ran once (during a telecast of “The NBC Monday Movie” just two months before Election Day) married Republican nominee Barry Goldwater with the idea of nuclear Armageddon by showing a little girl in a field of daisies just before a major explosion. Johnson pulled the ad amid much controversy, but the damage had been done: Everyone was talking about “Daisy” and Goldwater was toast.

“Daisy” established a certain boundary candidates could meet. For decades following it, candidates never quite approached the “Daisy” level of competition. A George H. W. Bush supporter would in 1988 run another damaging attack ad against Michael Dukakis (the “Willie Horton” ad), but it was nothing compared to the striking fear of “Daisy.”

As an aside, it’s interesting to look back at Goldwater, who helped spark the conservative movement and, as an extension, the libertarian movement. His 1964 campaign slogan was “In your heart, you know he’s right.” Johnson countered with “In your guts, you know he’s nuts.”

Goldwater was immensely intriguing. He spoke candidly about his view of America’s future (“We, as a nation, are not far from the kind of moral decay that has brought on the fall of other nations and people”), stood by state’s rights, was pro-gay rights and was extremely pro-aggression, especially in regards to Communism. He didn’t have ties to the KKK but was endorsed by the organization. In turn Goldwater denounced the KKK.

Now we have Trump, who isn’t pro-aggression (his anti-entanglement style is actually part of his Millennial draw) but is an interesting parallel to Goldwater. Trump obviously speaks candidly, has been endorsed by the KKK (Trump just denounced the KKK in the most recent Republican debate) and is shaking up the Republican party. In fact, he could very well move it away from the extreme-right-wing conservatism that Goldwater preached and Ronald Reagan championed.

That depends on the Millennials. If young Republicans are really into the Trump style (no-holds barred, anti-foreign-entanglements, social “traditions”), you’ll see the effects in about 12-16 years.