Frank Luntz
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

I don’t know if Frank Luntz has fully emerged from his post-2012 despondency but he showed up in Cleveland and found time to chat with the South Carolina delegation. To tell you the truth, he still sounds pretty despondent to me.

“We have lost. It’s not like we are losing, we have lost that generation. And I don’t care if you are a Democrat, Republican, independent, none of the above. The fact that 58 percent [of millennials] say socialism is the better form of economics, that is the damage of academia,” he said at a breakfast event here.

“The No. 1 priority to me is what happens at universities. And yes, Capitol Hill matters, yes politics matter, but a whole generation is being taught by professors who voted for Bernie Sanders. That’s a problem that begs for a solution.”

Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, identifies as a democratic socialist.

As Luntz spoke, one delegate muttered under his breath, “We are screwed.”

What’s odd is that he’s still so stuck on how our children are being educated rather than on how his party is diverging from millennials on a much broader set of issues than just capitalism versus socialism.

Since I have two millennial stepsons, I do have the opportunity to interact with this generation, and they reject the Republican Party primarily because of the perception that they’re religious prudes and scolds who are opposed to pluralism.

Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us.– GOP Autopsy

It’s not like the Republican National Committee’s 2012 post-mortem autopsy report was wrong when it stated that Republicans could not get millennials to listen to their economic message unless they became more accepting of the LGBT community and less overtly hostile to Latinos.

Yet, the Republicans have responded by nominating Donald Trump, a birther who beat out more than a dozen better credentialed candidates by calling Mexicans ‘rapists’ and promising to deport them en masse while forcing the Mexican government to pay for a wall on the border to keep them out.

The Republicans have nominated a vice-president who is most famous for signing a law in his home state of Indiana that would allow people to discriminate against the LGBT community without fear of legal consequence.  In fact, Republicans have passed similar laws in several states and are currently obsessing on the possibility that transexual people might be using the “wrong” bathroom.

To say that millennials are focused on other problems than Mexican immigration, gay wedding cakes and transexuals’ potty preferences would be a massive understatement.

If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.– GOP Autopsy

They’re focused on the fact that college has turned into a debtor’s prison and housing is completely unaffordable on today’s entry level wages and salaries.  That’s where the appeal of socialism comes into play.

As for capitalism, it may still be a popular word but bailing out the practitioners of capitalism on Wall Street was no more popular on the Tea Party side of the divide than on the Occupy side.  It didn’t take college professors to convince people that a bunch of greedheads had engaged in enough fraud to tank the global economy, costing them their jobs, and often their houses.

Other than skirting their responsibility for enabling the stock market crash of 2007-8, what have Republicans done to help clean up the mess or ensure that we don’t have a repeat?

Frank Luntz doesn’t ask these questions, perhaps because he doesn’t want to face the answers.

Instead, he cracks jokes.

“Bernie Sanders is so old, it takes him an hour and a half to watch “60 Minutes.” … He is so old, the only time he doesn’t have to pee is when he’s peeing,” Luntz quipped.

On Clinton: “Clinton chose to live in Chappaqua, New York. Did you know that Chappaqua is Indian for separate bedrooms?”

“I know that I’ve got reporters in here — I just want to say to reporters that I do actually have a ‘Run Hillary Run’ bumper sticker on my car,” he said. “I just put it on my front bumper.”

Hardy, har, har, am I right?

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at