Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post written by Ward Black. Ward lives and works in Atlanta. He’s has two degrees in Ag and Applied Economics from the University of Georgia. He thinks you can learn all you want about America by walking in a grocery store. You can following his ramblings at @ward_black.
To the Grand Ole Party,
Hi. We’re Millennials. Yes, them.
We’re your kids, kid’s best friends, nieces and nephews. We’re those “young” people that may or may not have a higher education degree. That may or may not have a permanent job. That may or may not have any sense of what in the world we’re going to do with our lives.
For those of us that consider ourselves to be “Republicans,” we’re already different from our peers. We different because not only have we chosen which side of the church to sit on, but also that we chose the red pews over the blue ones (though some of us sit closer to the center aisle than others). Most of us have had an experience in our lives that has warned us about the government’s role in our lives, mainly causing us to see a lot of issues in our country as the government’s problems that people can fix, not people’s problems that government can fix.
On top of all the liberal policies from President Obama’s eight years, we’ve seen the party that we closely identify with struggle mightily with its own identity. Time after time during the last eight years, opportunity after opportunity has presented itself to charge ahead in defense of common sense conservative principles, yet we self-combust in fits of rage, calling someone a “liberal” (GASP!) or a “RINO” (DOUBLE GASP!) in the deal making environment of governing.
Like it or not, a political party is an organism of our American culture. But like any other organism, it must adapt and change in order to grow. If it doesn’t adapt, it gets left behind. And if the purpose of a political party is to win elections, being left behind is a bad place to be (See: Electoral College, 2008, 2012).
For starters, I think you could begin a transition by getting to know the youngest part of your group. Here’s some ideas on where we’re coming from:
We understand that we will have to interact with people different from us in order to succeed. Since we were young, we’ve been exposed to many different cultures and viewpoints than our own. We know that people will disagree with us, but often times we’d like to at least try to bond over shared interests.
We embrace non-traditional styles…of just about anything. Any guidebook or online seminar may tell you that our generation is skeptical of any type of institutions, especially if they are old, boring, and/or ineffective (Doesn’t that sound a lot like the federal government?). Yet, we do respond well when we sense that great leaders are involved in any organization, from churches to political parties.
We have access to tons information on a daily basis. If we don’t know something, there’s Google. If want to learn something, there’s YouTube. If it’s good enough to like, share, retweet, or add a gif, it will probably show up on the screen we are reading it from.
We understand the importance and the duty associated with service. Many of in our generation lead service projects around the nation and world. Our peers are the newest crop of officers and enlisted soldiers. We also financially support nonprofits more than any other recent generation.
We get that we’re not the most experienced employees in a job setting. What frustrates us the most, however, is when we are not given the tools necessary to do a job effectively and efficiently (See: Military, American). We like to ask the question “Why?” in order to understand how things fit together and to test the reasons why things exist the way that they do.
There’s more to us that these statements, but maybe that’s enough to show that we can be an interesting bunch.
Since we’re the future of the party, we understand that you’re trying to do things to engage us. That’s great, but there’s so much more you can do beyond Snapchat. Please don’t change the fundamentals of limited government, lower taxes, or strong national defense, etc., but there may be some ways to make the party more lively (it’s a party…right?). Here are some ideas:
- Emphasize the responsibility and gift (right) that we have as voters to vote. What would happen if the GOP was the #1 civics education organizations in the country? What if every state party had a goal to visit every school system in their state to spread history lessons? If the problem is that so many people in our country doesn’t understand our government, why don’t we address the issue without a political agenda?
- Engage and Ask. Ask and Engage. While you may not use our ideas, we appreciate opportunities to participate in the process. The companies that have embraced the culture of collaboration are those that garner our attention. These are the companies that we want to work for and we want to be involved with. The same applies to political organizations.
- Please turn reminiscing about the glory days into excitement for the future. This transition could occur mainly in the different communication methods. As effective as they were, it doesn’t matter how many deceased presidents we quote, if we can’t succinctly articulate what the party stands for or how a policy idea ABC affects us or our peers.
- Crowdsource ideas for conservative solutions. Take problems like the federal budget. Each year, college students at the University of Georgia have “balanced” the federal budget by proposing solutions and persuading fellow students to “vote” for their proposals. What would happen if the GOP were the idea factory of millennial solutions?
- Please help us find candidates that encourage us, inspire us, and give us a reason to care. Yes, it sounds emotional, but I’d be willing to stack President George W. Bush’s Bullhorn speech from Ground Zero over any other political speech in our lifetimes.
Not to be too cliché about our present situation, but the presidential election this November is going to be special. An informal survey of some fellow Republican millennials says that we’re not too excited about voting for the presumptive (Yes, like Lloyd Christmas we know that one-in-a-million is a still a chance for something different) nominee this Fall. But if the party continues on its way, we’ll be a generation of young conservative voters with no party attachment at all.