I’ve written quite a few times about the disconnect between older and younger conservatives. Locally, this conflict was highlighted when they were shut out of the County Republican nominating convention in 2012. It seems as if I’m not the only person interested in this divide.
The College Republican National Committee produced some fascinating reading for political junkies this week, titled “A Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation.”
While Republican incumbents are wary of Tea Party challenges this next election, this report suggests that perhaps they should spend time addressing younger voter (under 30) interests. While older people tend to vote more, younger voters are developing voting habits and party loyalties that will linger for future elections, warns the report.
Much has already been made about the low tolerance of young people with the Republican party’s closed-minded social agenda. But what I find interesting is the revelation that young Republican voters are just like all young voters when it comes to issues. They are mired economically, saddled with debt and worried about their careers and economic future.
Not surprisingly, the Republican party’s focus on taxation and business issues has left many young voters, even Republican voters who want to start businesses, “thinking they will only reap the benefits of Republican policies if they become wealthy or rise to the top of a big business. We’ve become the party that will pat you on your back when you make it, but won’t offer a hand to help you get there.”
I couldn’t agree more.
And while “big government” continues to be a concern for young Republicans, they don’t see government as Doctor Doom.
“Focus on fixing the debt, on tackling long-term problems, on reforming institutions that are broken, absolutely. But realize that railing against “big government” isn’t the most effective way to win the hearts and minds of this generation.”
I think that’s a message shared by most young people, regardless of party stripe. We want action; we want results. Start addressing the problems that need addressing and give us the opportunity to get on our feet and prepare for the mess you leave behind.
This is one of the reasons why the hard-line conservative stance being taken by our state Republicans is not going to win them any votes. Do young voters, no matter their political stripe, care about a five cent tax on bottled water? Not really. Do they care that the summer work program is getting slashed? Heck yes, that’s job experience and pay in your pocket. Young conservatives see the connection between, say, sound economic investment in STEM programs and “wasteful government spending.” I only hope they can persuade their older counterparts before too much damage is done.