Reporting from Iowa, Chris Johnson of The Washington Blade uncovers the thoughts of young, gay Iowa caucus attendees, who they support in the GOP, and why.

The common themes:

“the candidate’s business background”
“limited government”
“what really made this country, and what made us who we are”
“core values of the U.S. Constitution”

Framed Iowa flagGiven eight years of Bush-Cheney, and given some current GOP presidential candidates’ support for global corporations that use government to tax and manipulate the American people — progressives may chortle at young Republicans’ blind assumption that the GOP favors limited government and the Bill of Rights.

But whose fault is that?

I know of few if any prominent progressives who celebrate “entrepreneurship, “limited government,” or “American values.” Instead, most folks are talking about some “99 percent” mathematical mumbo-jumbo. What next — square roots? Exponents? (I say that as someone who favors a restoration of Clinton-era taxes upon the upper class.)

I also know of few progressives who celebrate the ability of public-school children to pray as they and their parents wish, without interference from pushy rival churches or cults. Instead, we are quoted siding with religious “minorities” against “Christian students” who are inaccurately portrayed as champions of religious freedom (albeit only for like-minded Christians).

We are not celebrating the freedom to learn and protecting historic truths, so much as we are “opposing bullies” (allowing the GOP to redefine bully) and “changing curricula” (allowing the GOP to pretend it’s not changing curricula and revising history to erase all minorities).

Progressives also are not explicitly celebrating individual responsibility, entrepreneurship and initiative. We are not communicating the protection of our own families’ wealth and achievement from redistribution by either ruling party to its donors.

Many of us may assume these values have been self-evident in our actions — but they haven’t. People ranging from Mitt Romney to Tim Tebow to Fox News exploit our failure to communicate with the language and customs of middle America. So long as they are the primary source of talk about these values, we allow them to own the conversation.

Until we rethink and translate our language of economics and values, the progressive message will continue to be framed by others. Progressives and young moderate midwestern Republicans might as well be distant tribes speaking different languages, both ripe for mistranslation and political exploitation. Under present conditions, the young Republicans who will likely lead large swaths of America in 10 to 15 years will continue to tune out progressives’ sometimes-dated foreign language of (socialist?) equality, (LGBTQIA?) alphabet soup, (Gloria Steinem?) sexism, (transvestite?) gender norms, and so forth. Certainly, public understanding of sex and gender must be advanced — but in plain English, not Ivy League lingo that is so easily twisted by yellow journalists.

So long as we dismiss or ridicule flyover country instead of speaking their language, we dismiss our audience — and deny ourselves access to many of our future leaders.