The following post deviates a bit from the normal fare on this blog – it’s not on youth politics per se, but the gold/fiat debate might be increasingly important to understanding some young voters. Explanation: I just spent three days at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) – a conference filled with 18 to 29 year olds – and it seemed that everywhere I turned, I bumped into gold. In less than ten minutes in the conference’s exhibition section, I collected three books/monographs (A Guide to Sound Money by Judy Shelton; The 21st Century Gold Standard by Ralph Benko and Charles Kadlec; The True Gold Standard by Lewis E. Lehrman) and a dozen pamphlets on the merits of gold. On Thursday, I swung by one of the conference’s first break-out sessions: “The Need for a Twenty-first Century Gold Standard.”
When I asked CPAC participants what issues they cared about, “the economy” and “jobs” of course topped the list, but, bizarrely to me, “the gold standard” regularly came up as an issue of importance. This is likely due to the influence of Ron Paul – who has won the youth vote in most Republican primaries to date, and who won the past two CPAC straw polls – but, I had always envisioned Paul’s gold messaging as more of a liability than an asset (much the same way as Joe McClintock of AEI does here). Maybe not. On one level, “gold rhetoric,” could appeal to young voters because it presents a very simple solution to the question Millennials will face for the next 50 years: How to limit government spending. And on another level, “gold rhetoric” might appeal to young voters for the same reasons I named for Paul’s popularity among young voters: The return-to-the-gold-standard movement 1) can raise eyebrows, 2) is ideologically pure, 3) is contrarian, and 4) is almost surely not going to succeed any time soon.