Editorial: GOP’s psychotic break with the future

File Photo by Sophie Oppfelt/Cronkite News: Students walk across the Arizona State University campus in Tempe on Aug. 24, 2022.

Column By John Young

The largest mackerel ever caught tipped the scales at 93 pounds.

Imagine one of those across the face.

No need for Republicans in Wisconsin. They felt it last month in what was touted as the most important election of 2023.


In the vote for a seat on the state supreme court with abortion rights and redistricting on the line, Democrats staged a 10-point blow-out.

The biggest rout? On college campuses.  Students queued up like carnival-goers to ring the bell for reproductive rights and repudiation of MAGA.

Across 10 campuses listed by The Washington Post, Democrat Janet Protasiewicz averaged 86 percent support amid a massive turnout comparable to the historic 2020 presidential election. For a court race?

As one student organizer told The Post, “Students in college today came of age in the 2016 election when people didn’t vote and we got Trumpism.”

So very true. The Electoral College didn’t elect Trump. Apathy did.

Those students are waiting for their chance to defeat him in 2024. They have a good reason.

Trump and the Republicans have essentially sworn off the future that young people face, whether the menace is climate change, gun violence, college debt, name it.

Instead of addressing real threats to all, GOP leaders insist on culture-war priorities like bleaching American history, banning books, putting targets on the backs of transsexuals, and of course giving states power over women’s reproductive organs.

Every one of these issues is a loser on college campuses and among the young in general. Most young people are far more accepting of a world of difference than are tone-deaf culture warriors. As pertains to the planet, the young understand the stakes and dynamics of what we are doing to it.

The biannual Harvard Institute of Politics poll of young voters found Democrats with a 2-to-1 advantage, and Donald Trump is the biggest reason.

By and large, young voters look at Trump as a circus act and not someone to lead us to better days.

He mocks the realities of climate change. Yes, they are realities – measurable and affirmed over and over in real-time.

Trump downplays sea-level rise, absolutely butchering the facts. He’s taken to saying that current projections are that sea levels will rise a microscopic one-tenth of an inch over the next 300 years. A fact check by CNN found that figure to be “off by more than 1,000 times.” Meaning what? Well, using a highly optimistic scenario and a projection tool by NASA, the sea level near Mar-a-Lago is expected to rise nearly three feet by 2150.

Of course, Trump will be long gone then, leaving future generations to deal with perils MAGA dismisses.

By then, if we are to judge the desires of tomorrow’s voters, we will have our first trans president; AKs and ARs will be relics of an era when nightmares stalked school halls; the coal industry will not dictate energy policy; and Black Lives Will Matter.

All of this explains why the Republican Party has made it its mission to tamp down the college vote.

Several red-state legislatures have taken steps like forbidding the use of student IDs at voting places and disallowing out-of-state students from voting.

Just as we’ve seen with laws targeting black and brown voters, these initiatives are framed as “ballot security.”

But, of course, that’s not the reason at all.

Someone with a recording device spilled the beans when top Trump attorney Cleta Mitchell told GOP donors that conservatives must band together to limit voting on college campuses.

In particular, Mitchell denounced pre-registration in states that allow 17-year-olds to register ahead of their 18th birthday so they can vote as soon as eligible.

The last thing we want is for more people to vote. Right, Republicans?

It sounds as if the GOP has sworn off the future entirely — its own.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email him at jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.