To no one's surprise, The New York Times decided to follow up on the Sen. Ted Cruz vs. Donald Trump row over "New York values" and the question of whether many "conservatives" come out of New York City.
But before we get to that story -- "Young Republicans in New York" -- let me make a few comments that are central to my take on this Times feature.
When if comes to "values" issues, not all Republicans are "conservatives." At the same time, not all values "conservatives" are Republicans. There are still a few cultural conservatives in the Democratic Party and many of them are people of color.
Meanwhile, not all religious believers are Republicans or "values" conservatives. It is quite easy, these days, to find young evangelicals who are not "values" conservatives, or at least not on every issue. It is very hard to fit pro-Catechism Catholics into either major political party these days.
To name one specific policy complication linked to this Times story: There are many conservative religious believers who support same-sex marriage, or same-sex civil unions, but also support efforts to protect the First Amendment and the free exercise of religious beliefs in settings outside the doors of religious sanctuaries.
So with all of that in mind, does it surprise you to know that the one and only place the Times team when to find New York City "conservatives" on "values" issues was a political gathering? This is especially tragic in light of the fact that New York City is, these days, a vibrant city in terms of religious congregations appealing to young believers.
But first, here is the overture:
On a recent Wednesday evening, a young woman wandered, alone, into the dimly lighted basement of the Penny Farthing, a bar in the East Village, and cautiously asked one of the few people there, Jen Saunders, 36, if she was a Republican. She nodded; the woman looked relieved. “It’s almost like we’re a secret society,” Ms. Saunders said later, laughing.
Soon enough, the group swelled to around 60 for the New York Young Republican Club’s monthly social. It was an informal, meet-and-greet-style networking event with political undertones, as strangers in suits mingled and debated candidates over drinks. ...
The millennials (members’ ages ranged from about 18 to 40) who turned out know they are not typical New Yorkers. According to recent Board of Elections data, of the 8.4 million residents of New York City, the number of registered Republican voters hovers just over 470,000 -- compared with 3.1 million Democrats. The state is undeniably blue: In 2012, nearly 63 percent of New York voters chose President Barack Obama, and in New York City his re-election tally was even higher.
Interviews with a dozen or so members of the club, the oldest Young Republicans chapter in the country, made it clear that being so outnumbered can pose serious challenges. Some believe that they have ruined job interviews by disclosing their Republican leanings; others said they lie about their political beliefs to avoid confrontation. Out of fear of retribution in their industries, several members refused to be interviewed or would give only their first name.
Later on, the story does veer away from GOP identity, toward actual questions about issues on the "values" side of American life. However, once again, the Times team acts as if political views, strictly defined, are all that matter.
The GOP, of course, needs to find young people and people of color. That fact is described in the following manner:
Therein lies a conundrum for the Republican Party. Data from the Pew Research Center shows an incoming generation of voters that is more culturally liberal, and demographically diverse, than any previous age group. For many younger Republicans, their libertarian-leaning stances on social issues, such as abortion and gay rights, have made them outsiders in their own party.
“Show me someone under the age of 30 who is against same-sex marriage,” said Alexandra Fasulo, 22, who during her time at the State University of New York in Geneseo worked as a social media intern for Republican representatives in Albany. “It’s tough!
“I have friends who are Muslim. I have friends who are black, and Latino,” she continued. “For me, I don’t know what it’s like for them to hear what Trump has to say.”
OK, might I suggest that if members of the Times squad wanted to find "conservatives" on these "values" issues (it helps to recall that many young Americans do not support abortion, especially after viability), they may have wanted to hunt in some other settings?
Let me suggest a few, as starters, each easily found with a few clicks of a mouse.
How about one of the locations (downtown, east side or west side) for the booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church, led by the Rev. Tim Keller, one of America's most articulate evangelical authors and public intellectuals? Redeemer has grown to the point that many bright young moral conservatives are overflowing into similar congregations all over the city.
Of course, people in churches of this kind do not agree with one another on every single issue. That's one of their strengths. But looking for some brainy New York conservatives? You'll find them at Redeemer -- lots and lots of them.
How about the young adults ministries of St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral? Now, as I stressed, it is impossible to jam Catholics into one political mold. However, I would imagine that there are quite a few people in this setting who support the moral teachings of the Catholic church. That would make them "values" conservatives, for sure.
Or how about the midtown ministries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? You might find some pro-family folks there. Or how about visiting a few of the thriving ethnic congregations in the Assemblies of God, all over New York City?
Once again let me stress: we are talking about "conservatives," which does not equal "Republicans"? Correct? And we are talking about people who are concerned about "values" issues, as opposed to politics strictly defined. Right? Might there even be some morally conservative young Muslims in New York City? Orthodox Jews?
Why did the Times choose to focus on the Young Republicans, alone? Is politics the only thing that matters in this life?