Instead, what we found is that young adults clearly identify, and are often experiencing, the problems created by Democratic leadership. They see a stagnant economy that stymies their ability to get married, purchase a home and start a family. They agree that Washington is spending too much money, in no small part because they understand they are the ones who will have to pay the bill. They also realize that institutional entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security are on an unsustainable path. Indeed, the finances of these programs has grown so obviously dire that when asked what makes their generation unique, one respondent said, “[we're] probably not going to get Social Security.”
Each of these issues represents an enormous opportunity for the GOP. What this survey really highlighted is that we can’t be the party that will pat you on the back when you rise to the top of a big business, but won’t offer you a hand to help you get there.
So we need to change our sales pitch. Fortunately, our ideas are already grounded in concepts that appeal across generations: the notion of a free market, where effort is connected with reward and equality is discussed in terms of opportunity, not outcome. Now we just need to give those themes a humanizing context. For example, rather than talking about the perils of big government, it’s up to us to show how Washington’s spending habits are squeezing investment and innovation out of the country’s small businesses.
In short, it’s time to give our principles some perspective. We need to show how Republicans can be the party that supports bottom-up, opportunity promoting, people-led growth, rather than stimulus driven, top down, government-run solutions. That’s a winning message among young people, and it’s how College Republicans plan on reintroducing the Grand Old Party to a brand new generation.
Editor’s note: Alex Smith is the national chair of the College Republican National Committee.