Young voters in the millennial generation have a troubled relationship with the GOP, in spite of sharing many of its fiscal orthodoxies. Fortunately, where many GOP politicians and pundits see a crisis in the making, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul sees an opportunity to create a newer, more vibrant Republican party.
To that end, Paul took to the millennial-focused political website PolicyMic to defend his recent filibuster, arguing that he did it at least partially out of a desire to help young people, and to make their voices heard within the GOP. His reasoning may surprise you. Here are the most relevant excerpts from Paul's article (emphasis added):
Last week, a Senate colleague of mine said that when I questioned whether or not the president could order a drone strike on American citizens on American soil, I was just catering to "libertarian kids in their dorm rooms." Standing up for the Bill of Rights and the Fifth Amendment was not a political stunt designed to appeal to certain audiences. I took an oath to protect the Constitution and it is an oath I intend to keep.
But we do need a Republican Party that addresses the concerns of young people. We need a different kind of GOP, a party that speaks to the rising generation, who may have unique interests and concerns.[...]
I believe a Republican Party that is more tolerant and dedicated to keeping the government out of people’s lives as much as possible would be more appealing to the rising generation. We have a nation of 300 million people who all harbor very different opinions on various policies. We have a Constitution that allows, even requires, many of these decisions to be made at the state and local level, which could accommodate the diversity of opinion in this country. Most young people I encounter simply have no desire to tell other people what to do or how to live.[...]
There are blue parts of the country where Republicans haven’t fared well, and yes, a more libertarian-Republican might be able to start winning in those areas. The youth vote could play an integral part in this.
Young Americans — conservative, libertarian, independent — are as fed up with big government as their parents and grandparents. A Republican Party willing to address their unique concerns could build a new majority that might finally turn this country around.
Paul's argument might well find resonance with some young voters who are looking for a political alternative to the Democratic party. As TheBlaze has reported, a Republican message focused on economic freedom, without the baggage of social issues, has potential to succeed with young voters.
Nevertheless, there may be obstacles. Along with the op ed, PolicyMic opened the floor to their commenters to ask questions of Senator Paul, with the most highly rated being asked in a follow-up article. Some of the questions currently on the page present a challenge. For a sample:
While I respect your economic opinions, Millennials are also extremely concerned with gay marriage and reproductive rights - neither of which you have fought for in any capacity and have, in fact, voted against. Do you believe you can truly fight for the will of Millennials if you choose to ignore the social half of our demands?[...]
Senator Paul, thank you for your time.
I, and many of my Millennial friends over at the Roosevelt Institute, think that arguments framed by the terms "big government" and "small government" undermine what could be a much more productive argument about "good government" and "bad government."
Do you think that "bigger government" is inextricably linked to bad governance, and why is that? Are there any functions of government that you believe can be expanded and increase the value provided to the American people for their dollar by its institutions?[...]
I think you did a very courageous act when you questioned about drone strike on American soil.
But when you said "keeping the government out of people’s lives as much as possible would be more appealing to the rising generation," please be specific as in which area government should be out of their lives.
As far as I can see, consumers need protection against unscrupulous people like New England Compounding Center which caused people to die of meningitis.
Also, because Americans have clean air and other anti-pollution laws, people enjoy a much healthier life than people in China who have in recent years seen a sharp increase of cancer morbidity. Ordinary people of all generations here want more government protections, instead of less.
However, there is one comment that might be inadvertently encouraging, despite its hostility:
I am offended that the last paragraph states " Young Americans — conservative, libertarian, independent — are as fed up with big government as their parents and grandparents." This presumes that young Americans - liberal, progressive , independent - are not "fed up with big government. " A Republican Party that has already decided to only speak to one sector of Young Americans is a Republican Party that will not win the young vote.
The idea of progressives and liberals being fed up with big government is counterintuitive, but if it's accurate in the younger generation, Senator Paul might have a more winning message than he expects.
If you want to ask a question of Senator Paul in the PolicyMic thread, you can do so here.