As the Iowa GOP gets ready to host the Iowa Straw Poll this week, Margaret Hoover, great granddaughter of Herbert Hoover, is coming to town tonight to promote her new book, “American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party.” She will speak, answer questions and sign books at Barnes and Nobel, 4550 University Ave, West Des Moines at 7 p.m.
“American Individualism,” published last month, will appeal to fiscal conservatives, but the book will not appeal to social and religious conservatives who vote Republican.
Hoover says the Republican Party is out of step with young Americans and if the party is going to win them over, the GOP must focus on jobs and the economy and abandon its positions on traditional marriage and abortion.
Hoover is a life-long Republican. She worked in the Bush White House and is a Republican political commentator on cable and networks news programs. But Hoover parts company with social and religious conservatives within the GOP, believing that government should have a limited role in the personal lives of Americans.
Hoover’s book aims to explain “millennials”—the generation born between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s—to the Republic Party in the belief that the GOP must evolve and move closer to those who have come to age in the new millennium in order to survive and stay relevant. This millennial cohort, some 50 million strong, is sympathetic to the fundamental principles of fiscal conservatism, but, according to Hoover, they are not on the same page with social issues. This is the generation of “tattoos, iTunes, texting and Twitter…born between the beginning of the Reagan presidency and the end of the Clinton presidency.”
The title of Hoover’s book is drawn from a pamphlet written in 1922 by her great-grandfather, a native of West Branch, Iowa who became the thirty-first president in 1929. Hoover refers to her book as a “field guide for modern American conservatism” and it aims to educate the social conservative guard of the error of holding on to its principles.
Chapters address the tribalism within the conservative camp and how millennials see all conservatives as so-cons and are “unimpressed.” One chapter discusses the “generational theft” caused by the nation’s debt and, quoting Barry Goldwater in a chapter on freedom, Hoover stridently argues in support of same-sex marriage. Millennials, she writes, “have strong and consistent ideas about what constitutes moral behavior. And the majority of them just don’t see a correlation between sexual orientation and morality.” Equating the civil rights movement and the women’s suffrage movement with the gay agenda for same-sex marriage, Hoover looks at the Republican Party as the “natural home” to embrace and champion this issue.
The Republican brand, she says, was damaged by a Republican president who led the nation into the war in Iraq, the Republican response to Hurricane Katrina, and Republican Congressional scandals. The GOP has to win millennials over before it’s too late, and to do this, Hoover argues, it must drop the social issues from the party’s key talking points and focus on pragmatic ones, such as jobs.
In a July Wall Street Journal op-ed, Hoover wrote, “Millennials voted two-to-one for Barack Obama and also broke hard for John Kerry in 2004—and partisan identification typically solidifies after three presidential election cycles. Thus the next presidential election is critical. Republicans have 16 months to make their case before millennials cast the vote that could make them Democrats or independents for the rest of their lives.”
According to Hoover, if the Republican Party can steer away from the party line on social issues and focus on job recovery (37% of millennials are either unemployed or underemployed), the GOP may have a future.
Hoover serves on the board of GOProud, a tax-exempt 527 organization based in Washington, D.C. that focuses at the federal level primarily on conservative fiscal issues of concern to the gay community. The organization supported the repeal of Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell, supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and resists a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman.
Hoover will be at Barnes and Nobel, 4550 University Ave, West Des Moines this evening at 7 p.m. for a talk, Q&A and signing.
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