I’ve seen a lot of commentary on how the Republican Party needs to reach out: reach out to African Americans, Hispanics, Millennials, etc. Perhaps rather than trying to reinvent ourselves to meet arbitrary demographic requirements, maybe we should look at ourselves and see how we can be more inviting.
I see a lot of ink spilled and electrons bothered on how we can get my generation to be more involved with the Republican Party…because, you know, “we are the leaders of the future”. Or something. You know, I get tired of that phrase. That means, sometimes by folks my age or younger, that we are on the outside looking in. Here’s news for you: if you’re 18 years old, vote Republican, and not involved with a College Republicans (if applicable) or Young Republicans chapter and working your way into leadership in your local county GOP and griping about how the GOP “doesn’t understand you”, then you’re not doing it right.
I’ve been involved with the Republican Party for over a decade now, and I’ve been able to work my way up through leadership. It wasn’t easy. A lot of time volunteering for various things like door-to-door, phone banking, stuffing envelopes, going to meetings, networking, and seizing opportunities allowed me to have a seat at the table in terms of state leadership. Just because you’re a young conservative with little experience doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to automatically have a seat at the table just because you fit the profile. Earning the trust and respect of Party stalwarts takes time.
Even if you are involved with your local GOP organization and work diligently in growing the Party as a volunteer and/or officer, then these things take time….kinda like the Bonzai tree kit that my wife got me, but that’s a different story for a different day. The GOP won’t change over night, nor should we expect it to. Donald Trump’s presumptive nomination was a culmination of stoking the anger of the conservative base (or at least the smaller vocal “silent majority”) by folks like Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and the numerous TEA Party and conservative groups. Some of that anger is justified, but a lot of it is to stoke the fires of their media personas and continually line their pockets with ad dollars or donations.
I believe we have the basic ingredients to be attractive to folks of multiple generations, ethnic backgrounds, races, and religious beliefs. The conservatives ideals of free markets, using tax money efficiently and effectively to keep rates low, and a representative government of the people should appeal to many people. We aren’t perfect at the execution. A lot of times we over-promise what we can deliver, and sometimes situations look different from the outside looking in, but that’s what we elect our representatives to do: analyze and make the best choice even when it’s a tough choice.
I trust my congressman, senators, state representative, and state senator to do what’s best for our state and community. Sometimes they do what I don’t want them to, but sometimes we don’t all agree on everything, but neither does our Party. That’s why you see heated discussions on here, on the news, on Facebook among politicos regarding different policy issues (differing opinions between Republicans RFRA, as an example).
There is no silver bullet to make yourself appealing to new members. It will take hard work. One place to start, honestly, is that we can be more welcoming. There are a lot of nice people I have met in my years going around the district and the state, but I’ve met a good number of unfriendly, and quite frankly, rude people (both “activists” and candidates). I’ve seen them in my own county and across our state, and I have a feeling that’s a contributing factor to why good people don’t get involved with their local Party. Who wants to be involved with an organization with a handful of people sucking on lemons who bring the mood of the whole meeting down? Yes, the world sucks (it’s sucked ever since the fall of man), but I’m tired of hearing and saying how awful the President is. Rather than keeping a negative connotation (you know, the Party of “No”), we should frame the problem honestly and present alternative policies that reflect an optimistic tone.
If we, as a Party, try to continually be the moral yardstick by which everyone else is measured, then yes, we won’t attract a younger generation. For one thing, Republicans tend to get burned when elected Republican officials who run on a moral and just “family values” platform get burned when it turns out they aren’t as prim and proper as they say they are.
Millennials will have a growing opportunity to shape the Republican Party as time goes on. It’s only natural, but I have a feeling that in our instant society, we expect it to happen now. There’s a lot of things I want to, but some things take time. If you’re a College or Young Republican who is aspiring to lead in our Party and only active for a few months or years, then don’t despair. Your time will come. Just remember the Georgia Republican Party elects new leadership next year, so be willing to offer your name up for an officer position if you don’t think leadership is listening to you or your generation.
Now get off my lawn.