Enthusiasm, Excitement, and Ron Paul: The Young GOP Delegates

Kevin Glass

8/30/2012 12:01:00 AM - Kevin Glass
Enthusiasm runs high amongst some of the younger official delegates to the GOP 2012 convention. They stand out in the crowd of predominantly older Republican activists by their brisk pace and infectious energy.

Another way they're easily distinguishable: they are on the Ron Paul team in far greater numbers than their older colleagues. They were also in a hurry - Wednesday night's activities kicked off with a Ron Paul tribute video, and Sen. Rand Paul spoke shortly afterwards.

Luis Larotta, a young Ron Paul-supporting delegate from Texas, said "we're the new face of the party. We're the new blood, and we have a lot more in common than people make it out to be."

While every delegate pledged to support the Romney-Ryan ticket in November, there was a distinct tenor that the Republican Party was risking its cachet with an energetic base by ignoring the Paul partisans.

Tom Bolling isn't a Ron Paul supporter, but what drives him nonetheless is shrinking government and individual liberty. "There's been a very strong movement within the Republican Party for smaller government and more limited government, and that's popular with a lot of young people these days," he says. Bolling is a 22-year-old delegate attending his second convention, having been to Minneapolis in 2008. "I think you see a lot more younger delegates than you saw four years ago."

Younger delegates also see a much wider range of issues that they can agree on. "The platform is our platform," Larotta says. "95% of that platform was built by Ron Paul supporters... we're penetrating further and further into the GOP. This is our party."

Romney partisans aren't invisible among these young Republicans. Evan Kenney, an 18-year-old delegate from Massachusetts, put in some sacrifice to be at his first convention. "I wouldn't say it was easy - it took a lot of hard work to win. We had to make a lot of phone calls... it's nice to be young, though."

It's not all peace and harmony amongst the delegates. Jake Severence is a 29-year-old delegate from Minnesota and a veteran of the United States military. "Seven of those ten Maine delegates who were thrown out were military veterans," he says. "They say support the troops? Support the troops by giving us a voice. I came out of the Navy and got involved in politics because I saw that there's something wrong with this country."

While libertarians have been tamping down on the idea that Paul Ryan is even a small win for the limited-government crowd, Kenney thinks it's a step in the right direction. "As a young person, I'm happy to see adults finally having an adult conversation about entitlements."