The Republican Party desperately needs to attract young people if it wants to survive. Yet, the recently released Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project report signals that the party doesn’t understand how to reach young voters. One has to wonder if the RNC even consulted young people before putting the stamp of approval on its election “autopsy” report.
The RNC deserves props for acknowledging that the Republican Party has trouble connecting with young people, and for dedicating a section of the report to fixing this problem. The RNC hasn’t always been concerned with winning the youth vote, as evidenced by the mistreatment of Ron Paul delegates at the convention in Tampa last year.
The RNC refused to seat Maine delegates that pledged to support Ron Paul, did not announce Ron Paul delegate votes from the podium, and revised the candidate nomination rules mid-way through the convention.
Most of these delegates were under the age of 30, enthusiastic, and new to being active within the Republican Party. The way these delegates were treated was a shameful welcome to Party politics.
For grassroots activists, it’s hard to forget how Republican leadership used dirty tactics to shift power from the state parties and the grassroots to the RNC and the GOP presidential nominee. House Speaker John Boehner was caught red handed as he announced the controversial rules changes at the convention podium, with a pre-written teleprompter message reading, “The ayes have it.”
The “ayes” still didn’t have it on that pre-determined voice vote, John Boehner.
Instead of embracing these high-energy young people that care deeply about liberty, the RNC basically told them to “go away!” Is it any surprise that Mitt Romney only received 36 percent of the youth vote?
Millions of young people watching the convention felt snubbed by the Republican Party. They can’t give citizens a seat at the table, but not allow us to speak. Perhaps the RNC learned its lesson and now realizes that it needs young, liberty-minded people to win elections. It shouldn’t have taken a brutally embarrassing election loss for that to happen, but it did.
Now the Republican Party seems more welcoming towards young people. To be fair, some of the youth outreach strategies in the RNC report make sense, like more social media activity and supporting more positive policy proposals.
The Republican Party should be for something, not against everything. But some of the suggestions are downright cringe-worthy.
Julie Borowski is a Policy Analyst at FreedomWorks, an organization dedicated to lower taxes, less government, and more freedom. Her writings on economic policy have appeared in numerous newspapers and online outlets. She is on the Board of Advisors for the Coalition to Reduce Spending and she launched an independent YouTube channel called TokenLibertarianGirl in June 2011.
She was previously selected to be a Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow with the Institute for Humane Studies where she worked at the Center for Competitive Politics. Most recently, she was a government affairs associate at Americans for Tax Reform.
Julie has volunteered for political candidates in Kentucky and in her home state of Maryland. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Frostburg State University in May 2010 where she studied political science, economics and international studies. She is now located in Washington, D.C.