The Young Conservatives of France

- - Nelson Lewis

If you’re under 30 and conservative, as the saying goes, then you have no heart.  But if you’re over 30 and a liberal, then you have no sense.  Indeed, followers of the political left tend to be a lot younger than their counterparts on the right.  There’s a reason that “young person getting into a political argument with their conservative older relatives at Thanksgiving” is a trope.  But across the pond in France, something crazy has been happening: the far right is getting younger.  

Leading up to the French Election, nearly 40 percent of French voters between the ages of 18 and 24 supported Le Pen.  Compare that to Le Pen’s far-right counterpart in nearby Holland, Geert Wilders, who only got 3 percent of the vote from that same demographic.  

french youths national frontUnemployment among youths has been on the rise in France, and is currently more than double the average for the rest of the EU.  In France, it’s around 25 percent, more than double the average rate for the EU.  The youth of France are frustrated and looking for answers.  As the more established and traditionally powerful parties fail to provide those answers, they’re starting to listen to the party that points out the root of the problem, immigration and the EU, and promises to fix it.  A study from two years ago showed that the youth of France had a better opinion of the National Front than the general population.  While Le Pen is in her late 40s, the party has been attracting younger politicians; Le Pen’s niece. Maréchal Le Pen, is the country’s youngest member of parliament at just 27.

While the National Front lost this most recent battle, they aren’t down for the count by a long shot.  Macron’s supporters aren’t getting any younger, and as a moderate, the French left hates him just as much as the French right.  I’m imagining a French version of a mercifully hypothetical Clinton 2.0 Administration, where a strongly disliked political leader can’t gather enough support to get anything done, and I doubt he’ll do a damn thing to address the concerns of the National Front’s supporters, who will only get angrier and louder while drawing more support.

This offers an interesting lesson to American conservatives.  I’m a lifelong conservative, and still pretty young, but most Americans in my age range aren’t.  Liberals are the “hip” party in the US, with celebrities from Madonna to Lena Dunham throwing their support behind the Dems this past election.  Trump ultimately won, but what’s going to happen in four years when his supporters’ children walk down to the voting polls with heads full of Soros-funded media propaganda?  Children, as the cliché goes, are the future, and if American conservatives cannot court their vote, then they risk going the way of the Bull Moose Party.  

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