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Can Conservative Values Appeal to Young Americans?

I once heard Linda Chavez say in an interview, “If you’re a Conservative at 18 you have no heart. If you’re a Liberal at 40 you have no brain.” It was meant as a joke, but was intended to illustrate her point that many tend to become more conservative as they progress through life. If her statement is true, I guess I had no heart at 18.

Since the Democrats’ drumming of the Republicans in last month’s elections, there’s been a lot of speculation on what the GOP must do to once again become competitive. Some even believe the party will go the way of the Whigs and never again be a force in American politics. Noozhawk published the article, Mark Shields: The Republican Party Is Dead, a few days after the election last month. The title makes it obvious where Mr. Shields thinks the GOP is headed–the political graveyard. But, from the article:

Republicans are an aging party. While President Ronald Reagan attracted a generation of young voters to the Grand Old Party, eight years of Republican White House rule — along with six on Capitol Hill — has resulted in the alienation of the nation’s youngest voters.

Wait a minute. How did Ronald Reagan manage this? I’m a part of that generation who was drawn to the GOP during the Reagan years, so I think I can speak to this question. The answer–he inspired us. Not because he was a movie star. Shoot, I couldn’t have named a movie he played in at the time. He inspired us because he sold us on conservative ideals and values. He convinced us that we could run our lives and provide for our needs better than the federal government could.

According to the Pew Research Center, 66% of Americans under 30 voted for Obama in last month’s election. In each of the presidential elections from 1980-1992, Democrats didn’t even get half of this age group’s votes. Is it possible to make the Republican Party once again appeal to younger Americans?

I had asked myself this question numerous times following McCain’s defeat, and nearly convinced myself that it may not be possible. With the entertainment and education industries firmly in the hands of liberal Democrats, the challenge almost seemed insurmountable. Then I found Rebuild the Party (RTP) and its 10-point plan to reinvigorate the GOP. The plan’s focus on transforming the party’s strategies to make use of the internet and to put a younger face on the party by running younger candidates seemed a great place to start.

I joined the organization’s social networking site on Ning and began to participate in the discussions, becoming enthusiastic about the possible impact this movement will achieve. Much of my new found enthusiasm is the result of the following article, published on the RTP blog on 12/2/2008.

Note: The following article is published here with permission from the original authors. The fact that it is published here does not imply the authors agree with the views expressed on this website. Do not replicate this article without permission of the authors, who can be contacted at

Address to UConn College Republicans

Conservatism: What the Future Holds
I would like to take this time to thank all of the UConn College Republicans for their hard work and dedication this election year. Your time and effort have not gone unnoticed. This year we have grown the group to levels none of us could have imagined and that can only be attributed to each and everyone’s dedication to conservative values.

Last Tuesday we may have lost the Presidency and Congress, but let that motivate us to try even harder the next time around, let this be a wake up call for Conservatism. In recent years, we have begun to shy away from what has historically been the trademark of our party: smaller government, accountability, traditional western values, and personal and economic freedom. The past two elections are evidence enough of that. Our nation faces massive problems and challenges: from ever growing entitlements, secular progressivism, and a desire for peace at any price; many politicians have continually ignored the pressing need to attack these problems head on. Therefore, it has come to our generation to provide new solutions to the crises of our time.

The next election will be our opportunity to regain what was lost and renew the confidence of the American people on the ideals in which this country was first founded. The American people have elected a man who they hope will bring change for the better, let us pray this is so. Each and everyone one of us has a duty to be mindful of what our government is doing, what our president is saying, and the direction in which our country is heading. Let us not be hoodwinked by soaring rhetoric and promises made in exchange for votes. Remember when our opponents call this election a “Progressive Mandate”, it more notably verbalized the disenchantment of Americans that saw a party ignore its founding principles. As the lines have become blurred between Democrat and Republican, people sided with those who they believed would bring the country back to its base.

I believe the Republican Party will rise from the ashes and embrace once again the vision instilled upon us by Ronald Reagan of our nation as “A Shining City on a Hill.” After losing the Republican nomination in 1976, Reagan wrote to a friend, “We Fought, We Dreamed, and the Dream is Still With Us”. We know where we stand and we know what we want: and we must not lose sight of the “Dreams” and principles pursued by Ronald Reagan. We must be conservatives first and Republicans second. As conservatives on a college campus it is easy to follow the crowd and ignore the prodding of our hearts to stand for what we believe in. What do we believe in?

We believe in a government who will not falter in the face of perilous times, that will stand as a moral example to the rest of the world. We believe in having elected officials that never forget the people they represent. We believe in courts that uphold the constitution and laws of our nation without stepping outside the boundary of the judiciary. We believe that a good offense is the best defense, and thus we see the need for a strong military force that is both effective in peacekeeping as it is with combative action. We believe that a government is best which governs least, and the pillar of our industry is the strong entrepreneurial spirit found within every American. We believe in low taxes, fiscal responsibility, and a government that takes control of entitlements before we are bound to their restraints. We believe in traditional values that recognize the right of every individual to practice their religion without hindrance from the state. May we never lose sight of these core principles that make us proud to be conservatives.

In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, “evil is powerless if the good are unafraid”. We cannot cower in the face of great challenge. We must not fear what the future holds, but embrace everyday as if it is our lasts. These words may sound cliché, but they are truer today than ever before.

As Republicans and most importantly, conservatives on this college campus I ask you all to stand for what you believe in. Speak your mind during classroom discussions no matter the consequences. If you allow yourself to be silenced than the other side has won. Do your part in helping the conservative movement and to help transform this campus. This will not be an easy task, but if we all are willing to stand for those core principles and voice our opinion, we will make a difference. Write to the school newspaper, write to the President about liberal bias on campus, or even run for USG, no matter the circumstances, let people know you are conservative and proud of it. This year’s battle has just begun and we will need every person we can get to help in this fight. These next years will be a testament to the strength and perseverance of the conservative movement and philosophy and I ask you to join with me in carrying out this great challenge for the future of our family, friends, and most importantly, the future of this great country we proudly call the United States of America.

Tim H. Plungis
Vice President
UConn College Republicans


After reading this post, I realized that the seeds are already there for a resurgence of Conservatism. Even though college campuses are predominately run and staffed by avowed liberals, there are young Americans in colleges across the country who have the courage to organize in open support of conservative ideals! These guys and gals are the seeds needed to once again grow a true conservative movement in this nation.

Thanks Tim! For giving me hope that we will once again return America to a land where limited government, personal responsibility, and traditional values provide light in an otherwise dark world.

December 7, 2008 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , | Leave a comment