GOP Pledge: Life, liberty, and steak! But where are the young Americans?
The photos in the House Republicans' new Pledge to America booklet show what conservatives love about America – and reveal a huge hole in their agenda.
Modern politicians are masters of imagery. That's why you'll rarely see a presidential speech these days without a sea of citizens right behind the podium.Skip to next paragraph
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So it was no surprise to see House Republican leaders put forward their new "Pledge to America" yesterday at a lumber store in Virginia. With open-collar shirt and sleeves rolled up, all that would-be Majority Leader John Boehner (R) of Ohio lacked was a tool belt and a hard hat.
What was surprising was the array of photos GOP leaders chose to sprinkle throughout their new booklet.
Heavy on the patriotism
Much of it was standard fare. Between shots of Mt. Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, and American flags, it doesn't take a "Harvard symbologist" like Robert Langdon to see that Republicans set the patriotism dial to a Spinal Tap level 11 (see video clip at the end of this post). Other photos reveal that Republicans love:
• Cowboys and horses.
• Red meat. No, really, the third image is a shot of a butcher shop case full of mouth-watering steaks.
• Showing off this chart to illustrate the complexity of health-care reform. (Did the GOP secretly hire the "Where's Waldo?" illustrator to make it?)
• The way Washington's most iconic buildings look in morning light.
Missing in action: young people
But after reviewing the 50 or so images in the "Pledge," I couldn't help but notice: Where are the young people? Not just kids, teens, and millennials. There didn't appear to be anyone under 40. In all the shots of Republican members listening intently, the constituents were well into their AARP years.
This is not just an artistic oversight. It reveals a potentially big hole in the Republican plan to restore trust in Congress: establishing a covenant with future generations.
Politicians frequently invoke "our kids and grandkids" and the GOP Pledge does, too. But one of the deepest causes of the severe challenges in Washington is the tendency of politicians to overvalue the present and undervalue the future – because the voters who care the most represent the past.