My grandfather always hated politics, and by extension, politicians. They were all crooked, or soon would be, and he didn’t look favorably upon the fact that his grandson was interested in pursuing a career in politics. This distaste for politicians compounded when I informed him that I not only loved politics, but that I wanted to be a lawyer as well. You can imagine the dismay in his voice when he asked me why on earth I would want to be a lawyer *and* a politician.
My response to his plea was simply, “If good people don’t get involved in politics, who’s left?”
Although my grandfather was not satisfied with that rationale, I hope that everyone reading this will be. Too often in politics, especially if you’re young and inexperienced, you’re expected to be quiet, wait your turn, and do as you’re told. You shouldn’t voice opinions, you shouldn’t be heard, and you most certainly should never ruffle feathers.
Often enough, young people are forced to remain silent for fear of upsetting a future employer, or being on the “wrong side” of an issue. At the beginning of my college career, I prescribed to this line of thinking. I thought that if I just remained quiet, didn’t voice my opinion, and went along to get along, I would make it in politics. As many of you may be aware, I have availed myself of my former position and realized just how wrong I was.
With increasing regularity, young people entering politics, ones that genuinely love and have a passion for it, don’t feel comfortable voicing their opinions. They feel pressured to withhold their points of view due to repercussions from older individuals who may or may not agree with them. The result is a GOP that doesn’t hear from young folks because we are all worried about saying the wrong thing or angering the wrong group of people and never getting a job in the field we love.
The truth is that every other person in politics was young once. They made mistakes, they took the wrong positions, they ticked off the wrong people, and they lived to tell the tale. The consequences of sitting on the sidelines and allowing a small vocal minority to determine the local, state, and national political direction is dangerous and unacceptable.
I think this directly applies to the current presidential race. Young Republicans have been told time and time again that the GOP is the party of principle, the party of conservative ideals, and the party of limited government. The GOP is a color blind party that believes in opportunity for all. The GOP believes that a proactive foreign policy, a pro-growth domestic agenda, and the elimination of government bureaucracy leads to greater prosperity for all Americans. While the Democrats may appeal to emotion, the GOP puts forward solutions that address the nation’s problem of skyrocketing debt, healthcare costs, energy policy, and infrastructure woes. How many times have we been told these things?
And yet, when the party has a chance to choose from 17 people, we choose the one man that has lived his life and advocated in direct opposition to everything I mentioned above.
My message to young people is this: if you don’t like the direction the party is headed under Trump, raise hell. Let your local party officials know that you are a key constituency that won’t shy away from voicing your opinion. Let them know that you have a problem with Trump and his know-nothing blather. Let them know that you think transit is a key solution to your state’s transportation problems. Let them know you believe that talk of banning an entire group of people based on their religious beliefs is contrary to the American tradition. Let them know that student loan debt is an issue that the GOP must address. Let them know that you are there, you are active, and you are vocal.
I’m tired of being drowned out by every person that rails on a non-existent “establishment,” or calls anyone under the age of 30 a brainwashed Bernie-lover. I’m not going to shut up. I’m not going to stop fighting against Trump. I’m not going to stop advocating for real solutions proposed by serious public servants who want to actually legislate in a pro-growth, forward-looking way.
Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, church, college organization, or your place of employment, don’t stop persuading people. Don’t stop advocating for what you believe in out of fear. Do so respectfully, do so after having done adequate research, but do not be silent. Furthermore, if you have candidates at the local level that are doing a good job, support them. If you want to brave the quagmire of local GOP politics, get involved and run for something. During the state legislative season, go down to the capitol. Meet your legislators and let them know that you are informed, that you care, and that you are committed to helping them.
Barring a miracle, Trump will become the nominee. Barring an even greater miracle, he will lose to Hillary Clinton in spectacular fashion. That’s why it is imperative that we start changing the party from within. If we don’t make the effort to get active now, there will be no one to pick up the pieces left in the wake of a Clinton landslide this fall.
Our communities have seen enough silence from those of us unwilling to dirty our hands in public discourse. Our state has seen enough of individuals waiting in the wings and refusing to engage “the crazies”. Certainly, our nation has seen the ramifications of our poor choices in leaders. It’s time for all of us, young people included, to say enough is enough.
Because if we stay silent, if we say nothing, if we wash our hands of every political fight to come, we will reap the inaction that we chose to sow.