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Winning a New Generation of Young Conservatives

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government. – Thomas Jefferson

The political paths of young adults are often guided by the environment they were raised in. The “Roaring Twenties,” with Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, created a conservative voting bloc that remained staunchly Republican. Franklin Roosevelt’s charisma and plan during the Great Depression created a group of lifelong Democrats. The Reagan Revolution built a nationalistic excitement based in unprecedented prosperity…and produced a new batch of Republicans along with it. The Bush years (the only president on the list whose era lacked a catchy nickname) left many young adults disenchanted with the perceived tone deafness of the executive branch and threatened to lose a generation of potential Republicans.

It is clear that the economic environment and the president’s response have a direct effect on the political ties of an entire generation. Obama should consider himself warned. A new Rasmussen poll shows that a vast majority of young adults aged 18-29 believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. By a 68% to 23% margin young adults believe the United States is on the wrong track rather than the right direction – the highest margin of any age group polled.

During the campaign Barack Obama appeared as if he was going to capture the hearts of a generation. Hope and change resonated with young adults who were completely fed up a Washington removed from their cares and concerns. But President Obama is not the same as Campaign Obama and Republicans stand ready to reap the rewards.

Democrats failed to understand that they were elected to change Washington. Well young adults have now given up on changing government and simply want to minimize its role in their lives. A straw poll , taken at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference with 56% of respondents being 25 years of age or younger, confirmed this desire. When asked for the top two issues that matter to you personally reducing the size of the federal government and reducing government spending were far and away the top two choices.

Somewhat surprisingly young conservatives are willing to overlook things that will benefit them immediately – stimulating the economy and lowering taxes – because of a greater understanding of the long term threats of the deficit. President Obama, by focusing on big government initiatives such as health care and big ticket items like the stimulus, is losing the support of young adults.

Millennials have very few examples of government success in our lifetimes. Medicare is heading in to the red. We don’t believe we’re going to see a dime of Social Security benefits. The list goes on. Medicaid, the Post Office, the response to Katrina – simply put, we have been presented with little evidence that the government is equipped to handle our problems. The natural reaction to a federal government headed in the wrong direction? Make it smaller and have it spend less.

Listen up Republicans. Our generation is not lost to the pretty sounding words of a charismatic president. In fact, if new polls are any indication, we’re trending conservative. And we represent the next generation of the Republican party, the foundation of the conservative movement going forward.  The boots on the ground today, and the votes in the ballot box tomorrow. But you must understand what President Obama clearly doesn’t – we’re not willing to mortgage our future for a slight benefit today, we don’t believe the government is the answer to our problems, and we are legitimately scared by the ballooning debt. Do this right and Milllennials will become your biggest ally.

- Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee. Read more: www.collegerepublicans.org

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