by Josiah VanWingerden
The millennial generation is a new pool of voters for both the Democrat and Republican parties to consider. They care about the issues on the backburner of previous political campaigns. They are changing politics as we know it.
That’s right, millennials, you’re here to stay. The future of voting lies in your hands. This is your opportunity to have your voice heard.
What does this mean for you? With great power, comes great responsibility, after all. You’ve got work to do. Perhaps the better question is what does this mean for Democratic and Republican parties?
For Republicans only the liberals have been able to cater to young people. According to the Pew Research Center (PRC) 51 percent of young voters (18-33) are liberal or lean left. Conversely, only 35 percent solidly Republican or lean right.
Social issues create the biggest difference: the PRC found that young voters are most likely to vote on issues of race, gender, education and sexual orientation. Only 4-6 percent of millennials are solidly conservative on these issues, while 16 percent are solidly liberal.
There is an obvious discrepancy in those numbers and the Republican party will not stay afloat if the trend continues.
In order to maintain relevance and attract the millennial generation, the GOP must be willing to compromise with millennials and show them that they care about the same social issues.
According to the Washington Post, “millennials see the GOP as old-fashioned and prejudiced.”
In her book, “The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America…” political writer Kristen Soltis Anderson claims that the Republican Party could become obsolete if it fails to sway young voters.
“It’s no secret that the GOP has had a hard time winning over the millennial generation – the newest voters in the electorate – and that has made it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win elections,” Anderson said.
Never fear, young Republican! Not all hope is lost. There are still opportunities for the right to make a splash in the race for young voters.
I am not a political science major, but I think it is fair to say that first impressions are often hard to break. If millennials see the GOP as white, rich, close-minded and old-fashioned, they need to prove to young voters that they care about the same issues.
They could start by addressing college education, tuition and student debt. None of Republican candidates in 2016 have presented a substantial plan to young voters that tackles the issues. For example, the GOP could look into technology and online classes to address college tuition.
The GOP is often perceived as being afraid of addressing race issues. It did not help when Republican candidate Ben Carson said that race doesn’t matter. Young voters believe that race matters.
Mass incarceration and criminal justice have to be addressed. Liberals have confronted these issues, and have gained votes because of it. The GOP has to stop tip-toeing around these issues. Republicans hold to tough crime policies instead of acknowledging the race disparities of incarcerations.
Promoting justice system reform would show millennials that the GOP does care about social issues and promote action to significantly address them. If they do not, Millennials will continue to see the party as stale.
Perhaps the GOP needs to reflect on Justin Bieber’s words in an effort to get connected with Millennials, “What about the children.We’re the generation, who’s gonna be the one to fight for it?”