As a young conservative, I can say with absolute certainty that the GOP has lost me. I am not alone in this.
For as long as I can remember, I have always identified as a Republican. Throughout middle and high school, I would constantly get into political arguments with my Democrat friends, even though we didn’t completely understand the topics we were discussing. I do, however, remember constantly telling my friends that the GOP was not racist or bigoted, that it was an inclusive party. 2016 has proven me wrong
It’s not just the nomination of Donald Trump, but it is the wholehearted embrace of a man and his ideas that are the antithesis of what conservatives claim to stand for. Young conservatives like myself had an opportunity to help drive a Republican platform, but instead were steamrolled in favor of Donald Trump’s ridiculous and dangerous policies. Young conservatives are the fastest growing group in politics, and the GOP royally screwed themselves by choosing to ignore them.
Whether it’s marriage equality, criminal justice reform, immigration, you name it, the young conservative base differs from the Party to the point that many, like myself, have left the GOP. Those that have remained are being chastised for their beliefs by older Republicans, and sooner or later it will drive them away.
It’s why I, at only 20, am sometimes afraid to mention my age. I know it discredits most of what I say before I have even spoken a word, even though my opinions and insight are just as valuable as those 30 years my senior.
Already we see the youth flocking to the ideas of libertarianism, but even those that won’t identify as Libertarian refuse to be a part of a Party that does not and will not ever represent them. Republicans spend 20 seconds pretending to care about conservative youth in order to sway votes (although that has been relatively non-existent in the era of Trump), but then belittle them when they have opinions.
Many of their opinions are not far off from what the majority of people believe, but their youth is used against them as if age makes someone more or less superior. This is a mindset that has been killing the GOP, even before the emergence of Donald Trump, and it is up to the older generations to change their approach or risk losing the youth for good.