National Harbor, MD–Fox News host and former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino hosted a panel discussion on reaching the Millennial generation with conservative principles at the Conservative Political Action Conference, with the Daily Signal’s Rob Bluey, Independent Journal’s Benny Johnson, and our own Katie Pavlich.
Perino lamented how a majority of Millennials no longer believes in the American dream. Bluey mentioned that they have no faith in institutions, they don’t trust the news media, and for the first time–this generation will probably not be better off than their parents. That’s quite the buzzkill. Johnson noted that reaching this “fickle” group, whether they are conservative, Democrat, Pepsi, or Coke, is very hard. He then went into a hypothetical, where he came to Perino about a cat that had an under bite, which could make them millions. Perino said that she would have call Johnson crazy, but that was the birth of Grumpy Cat.
Johnson later said that Rebecca Black, the infamously bad singer of YouTube fame, has no talent, but certainly has more money and video views than anyone in the room collectively. And that’s the point. She may be awful, but she has reach.
Pavlich is a “grumpy Millennial,” who says that young Americans are great on the concepts of individuality and fostering innovation, but somehow aren’t so serious about other issues. For example, if they were serious about researching what socialism is, they would find that it’s a system that crushes choices, liberty, and individual freedom. Yet, they are concerned about terrorism. She noted that many Millennials see 9/11 as an historic event. They know terrorism is a problem, but they don’t like the ways the country has fought it over the past ten years. Iraq and Afghanistan have tainted the nation building, spreading of democracy social engineering agenda of the neoconservative movement. They’re also very concerned with the civil liberties angle of this fight, and the National Security Agency’s past surveillance and data gathering operations that lacked oversight. Lastly, she said that while Republicans have made major gains at the state and local level, it’s time for them to hold their educational institutions accountable, have audits; so to speak, about the quality of education they’re giving to students.
The first ten years of whatever you pick as a career could determine your earnings for the rest of your life. Some of these degrees that college students are receiving aren’t paying the bills. Bluey added that it starts with personal responsibility; get the government out of the college loan business; and maybe not everyone needs to go through a four-year college institution.
Benny added that there could be a shift towards economic freedom, using Chris Christie’s stoic appearance at Donald Trump's press conference on the night of Super Tuesday as an example. The look of controlled, internalized dread that many Millennials exhibit once they receive their first paycheck. You work yourself to death to have a good chunk being taken out due to Social Security and Medicare taxes. Bluey added that student loan debt is one of the many things driving anxiety over American dream. Why wouldn’t you have a pessimist view of the world via payroll taxes, which is why Sen. Bernie Sanders’ free college seems to be appealing.
Yet, if there’s a silver lining, it’s that Millennials are more pro-life than their parents’ generation. Technology has played a part in that. Bluey mentioned the proliferation and improvements to sonogram technology, while Johnson said it was interesting foil in a debate, to ask why someone believes in global warming. If they say, it’s because the science confirms it, follow up by asking when does life begin; Benny said you should leave it an open-ended question. Pavlich touched upon the extremism on the left, who mock the right for not embracing science, but go bananas over a Doritos commercial, like what NARAL did over the Super bowl, which featured sonogram technology humanizing a human baby.
The panel closed out, with Perino asking the all three panelists what they would do if they could take over the Republican National Committee’s social media for the week. Johnson would follow all the Kardashians, Pavlich gave a hat tip to the RNC for saying they’ve been expertly trolling the Clinton campaign; and Bluey would put Benny in charge. For Millennial outreach, the science of viral content is key, and the right has some work to do in that department.