This author had a very interesting experience speaking to an Advanced Placement Government class at a High School in a New York City suburb. Most of the students in the class are seniors in high school, meaning they are within one year of being able to vote.
I spoke about my background, how I became a fiscal conservative, my experience on the 2008 Presidential Campaign as well as the events around the 2012 election. I also shared my belief that the country remains over 50 percent conservative on economic issues and that the GOP needs to adopt a stance that, based on the 10th amendment, divisive social issues (abortion, same sex marriage) should be left to the states to decide. It was at this point that it became obvious that there were few, if any, potential GOP supporters in the class.
Unfortunately for the GOP, the current demographics of young voters are somewhat parallel to my personal experience – they skew heavily to the left. Of course, everyone has the ability to choose their political affiliation and beliefs for themselves, but that doesn't mean that political parties and movements should not try to appeal to each potential supporter. It is troubling that we as the Republican Party are unable to make the case for conservative ideals to the generation which will be voting for this first time in 2014.
The key question is why. The answer seems to go back to the GOP's continued alienation of swaths of current and potential voters by taking an "anti" something stance on social issues. "Anti" does not mobilize the youth.
As we saw in the Obama campaign of 2008, an ability to inspire goes a long way with first time voters. No matter how much I disagree with the president and think that his "hope and change" were empty unfulfilled slogans, it is unquestionable that they worked to motivate such voters. The reason is that they were positive – his campaign was "pro" hope and change, and it didn't matter that those terms were left undefined.
The young vote is not a lost cause for Republicans, we just need to use inspiration to attain it. The GOP is pro–success, we are pro–achievement and pro–opportunity.
Let us focus on those characteristics of conservatism, and maybe when I give the same talk next year there will be a few more young voices agreeing with me when I talk about low taxes, small government and national security.
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