For Republicans in Congress, millennials are fertile ground to advocate for lower taxes, fewer regulations and smaller, smarter government, writes S.E. Cupp in the April issue of Townhall Magazine.
With the Conservative Political Action Conference come and gone, the throngs of young, hopeful conservatives in and out of the doors, it’s a good reminder for us all to get in touch with our younger selves.
We’ve long suffered from the caricature of being the party of the old and out-oftouch, dismissive of pop culture, foreigners to cool. And though we always enjoy a healthy turnout of young libertarians and conservatives at CPAC, we might want to consider ways in which the party can best appeal to a voting base that is only growing in size and influence.
It surprised and dismayed me to learn that at the ripe old age of 34 (in my defense, my birthday was just last month), I am no longer considered a “millennial,” and haven’t been for about four years. But perhaps putting me at a slight advantage over some party elders is the fact that I know what Twitter is (as well as how to “tweet”), I have seen an episode (or all the episodes) of “Girls,” and I know who Jay-Z is. Vaguely.
But more convincing, I just read David Burstein’s new book, “Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World,” and if conservatives are interested in shaping policy with a whopping 80 million people in mind, it should be required reading.
Millennials are the most diverse, and largest generation in United States history, and by 2020, they will account for one out of every three adults. I talked to Burstein for an hour-long interview that will air this month on CSPAN, and what he said about millennials was instructive, even if—as a 24-year-old filmmaker out of NYU—he probably isn’t as concerned about increasing Republican membership as I am.
Nonetheless, this is a generation that came of age in the midst of permanent war, a housing boom and bust, a recession and staggering unemployment, skyrocketing costs of education, and most recently, a government that seems paralyzed and ill-equipped to see to even the simplest of tasks, like balancing a budget and keeping itself operational.
Whether they process it as such or not, they have served as witnesses to President Obama’s failed economic policies and an administration that has made being young in America a very expensive proposition.
In many ways, they’ve been chastened by our mistakes and the mistakes of our parents. They’re taking on less debt, they’re renting instead of buying homes they can’t afford, they’re not buying cars or other big-ticket items. They’re starting their own businesses, making use of technologies that render brick-and- mortar overhead costs and risks less daunting. And they’re attempting to solve problems in their communities that the government has been slow to act on.
Now, this risk-averse behavior is not without its perils. When suddenly no one is buying homes or cars, the long-term impact on the economy will be disastrous.,
But at least in the short term, millennials should be rewarded, not punished, for making good, responsible financial decisions. Instead, burdensome regulations make it harder for them to start a business, and the current tax code essentially charges them extra for being unmarried, small-business owners and renters. How’s a young go-getter supposed to build a life that way?
These are behaviors that society should reward, and for Republicans in Congress, millennials are fertile ground to advocate for lower taxes, fewer regulations and smaller, smarter government.
For decades, young people have been told Democratic policies are good for them. Instead of maligning millennials as lazy and apathetic, or condescending to them as naïve liberals who will one day learn to be conservatives, we should capitalize on this moment, when we know that liberal policies are strangling them and conservative policies can empower their innovation and reward their responsibility.
It’s been a hard narrative to shift, but if ever there were a time for conservatives to try, it’s now. If we do this right, we could tap into an 80-million voter base that is desperate for our vision. Even if they don’t know it yet.