On April 29th, I, along with State Committeeman TC Ryan, attended a young conservatives forum hosted by Joe Beffer in Washington County with guest Congressman Jim Bridenstine. There were roughly 30 young conservatives in the crowd representing a variety of young Republican divisions: high school Republicans, college Republicans and young adult Republicans.
In many ways, the forum was incredibly encouraging. These next generation conservatives understood issues better than most voting adults. But the one thing that stood out the most is one of the first topics of discussion. When asked why it so difficult to get involved and encourage others to get involved the answer was: We didn’t feel accepted.
Several of the twenty somethings discussed how difficult it was to initially get involved because they were treated differently. At times, the GOP still treats kids like they are kids, making derogatory comments about college kids in their dorms. But we can’t have it both ways. We can’t get upset that the Democrats win the youth and then not treat them equally when youth show up.
There is an idea that youth today just don’t care. They are too busy and uninformed. I challenge ourselves to go beyond this stereotype by looking at those who are activated. Right now, there is an emerging generation who is wired differently. We are a war weary, distrustful generation surfacing with college diplomas in a jobless economy, saddled with thousands in debt. We see through promises of government support and realizing we are bankrupting ourselves faster than ever before. We are excited by the idea of opting out of social security and other forced programs. We value privacy and independence. We tire of the lies from empty promises and yearn for the truth. I think it’s time we let these young folks in.
These people in the room had ideas, drive and enthusiasm. They were excited by hearing their Congressman ask their opinion on issues. They are a force the GOP needs to understand before they can embrace. And know that they are waiting. They are waiting to be brought into the fold and waiting to be heard.