One recent study has revealed a truth that should cause the Republican Party to take notice if it wishes to continue winning elections. The Harvard Institutes latest youth poll reveals the GOP has lost a startling amount of support among voters aged 18 to 29 since the year 2000; if these findings are any indication, the party will need to take drastic steps to widen its base if it is going to remain relevant.
With the increasing indoctrination of college students and the progressive hold over the media, it is clear that the conservative movement has an uphill battle when it comes to earning the votes of younger Americans. To gain some insight into youth politics, Liberty Nation spoke with millennial conservative activist and YouTube personality Mahgdalen Rose, who consistently speaks out on the importance of the youth vote.
Rose told LN that she had always had an interest in politics, but “it was the mobilization of Liberal Youth following Parkland, and the failures of Young Conservative Leaders to combat the push for gun control, that got me into making videos, and forced me into becoming active.” She recently spoke at the #WalkAway March in Washington, D.C.
Why the Shift?
Harvard’s survey found that Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 support the Democratic Party at a rate of two to one. These numbers indicate a drastic decrease of youth support for the Republican Party since the early 2000s, when this particular demographic was more evenly split. But what accounts for this downturn?
Rose believes the GOP has lost support among young voters for a variety of reasons, one of which is the progressive stranglehold on America’s educational institutions. She addresses a college culture that is oppressive to right-leaning views. “The domination of the education system by Liberals, Democrats, and Socialists has come to a head with my generation,” she said. “We are in a position where the parents of my generation have already in large part been indoctrinated … The systematic shaming that goes on if you are not a Liberal, or if you are a Trump supporter by teachers has caused young people to either toe the liberal line out of fear or simply because of the overwhelming indoctrination.”
But Rose doesn’t place the blame solely on progressives, she also points out that the Republican Party’s youth outreach endeavors have not been up to par: “They don’t run voter registration drives, they don’t strategize, the infighting (sabotage of each other) is so rampant that they can’t unify against anything, and they look at the fight against Socialism as a game.”
She also points to some of the failures of young conservative leaders in attracting the support of their peers. As she intimated during our interview, some have used the movement more as a means for self-promotion than actual activism. “Often young conservatives with new ideas or questions will be bought off by these young leaders with offering of access to DC in exchange for conformity, and loyalty,” she said. “The power, and absolute backing invested in them by very powerful adult conservative leaders has caused an almost cult of career, and social climbing. If you are young and you want to be in politics, or network you have to get in good with, and be loyal to the main five young conservative leaders.”
In any major campaign, there are both opportunists and true believers, but in the case of the GOP, Rose believes that those who are involved for self-aggrandizing reasons are holding back the movement. “We can never hope to win the youth vote with the young conservative leaders we currently have at the helm,” she said. Indeed, she attributes diminished support for the GOP among young Americans to an “abdication of responsibility” on the part of conservative leaders.
Can the GOP Regain Its Influence?
The Republican Party has made serious missteps in its youth outreach efforts, one of which is an excessive focus on college speaking tours. Rose states that “this isn’t 2016,” and that these type of events have become “played out.” She also points out that the GOP has not crafted “a specific youth platform that surrogates can go out, and sell to young people across the nation in both non-election years, and election cycles.”
According to the millennial activist, the most important issues to young voters are “student debt, climate change, and whatever social issues are the most in the news at the time.” She also noted that if a matter “doesn’t clearly impact them (like student debt does) or if it’s not trendy and cool, then most don’t care.”
If the GOP is willing to put forth the effort, it can still win over young voters – but it’s going to take a new approach. Rose made some suggestions on the steps Republicans can take to change the negative perception that millennial have of the party. “Launch a coordinated national voter registration project led by non-politicians,” she said. “Also, develop a complete, and marketable ‘young voter policy platform,’ then go out and sell it on social media, concerts, and the streets.” Her approach would “shift resources from college tours and go straight to young people in their own environment.” Lastly, she recommended that conservatives “create a GOP student ambassador program” that would have young conservatives on college campuses who can answer questions about the party and register a quota of voters each month.
Can it Happen?
One of the fundamental weaknesses of the Republican Party has been its inability to appeal to a wider audience. While the GOP has dominated suburban and rural America, it has often neglected other voting blocs, and this flaw in the party’s approach could become fatal in the future.
Rose discussed the mistakes that Republicans have made in their attempts to reach young voters, but they are making the same missteps with minority and LGBTQ communities. The demographics of the country are changing, and if the GOP wants to continue to have political power, its leadership must realize the importance of and taking a longer-term approach and reaching out to new groups of voters.
Is it possible for the party of Lincoln to gain more traction with a wider variety of voters? Rose thinks so, at least for now: “Yes I do think it’s possible, but the clock is rapidly running out.”
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