Dear Young Republicans,
I hope this letter finds you less than utterly disgusted, disillusioned, and distrustful of the Republican Party. In the course of political events, it on occasion comes to pass that the party experiences a systemic identity crisis, throwing its members into fits of angry declarations, malice, and a mean-spiritedness resembling the sort of things you might see and hear in a middle school locker room when no authority figures are present.
This is natural and it’s been a long time coming.
Political Parties are supposed to stand for something greater than themselves. For a while now, the Republican Party has increasingly stood for nothing greater than the Republican Party itself – and while the terrifying philosophies of the liberal-left has forced the American People to give our governments over to the GOP, we have done so with very little enthusiasm, since we aren’t entirely sure what the GOP stands for anymore.
The GOP has from inception been a remarkable force for good in America. Birthed from the abolitionist movement, the Republican Party has always tried to be a party of the people – all the people. The GOP fought and defeated slavery, fought and defeated Jim Crow, and fought for and secured Civil Rights. We’ve fought for limited government, constitutional integrity, and a strong national defense.
We have not always been perfect. Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover experimented with populism and protectionism and the government grew while our economy shrunk. We’ve had our share of corrupt Presidents. We’ve advocated for some bad foreign policy from time to time – but, as a national party, I think the Republicans would be more than happy to put their record on policy up against the Democrats any day of the week, and twice on a Sunday news show.
However, over time, the Republican Party appears to have fallen in love with something they call “governing”. They believe that they are intelligent enough to use government to accomplish good things. They may, as hard is it is to believe sometimes, even have had good intentions. Alas, they have failed to tackle the debt, spending, corporatism, waste, overreach, and bureaucratic corruption. In other words, the Republicans have failed to stop the Democrats from expanding government into every aspect of American life. They’ve tried to be wise stewards of these increasingly broad levers of power, but these are levers of power which the government ought not to have ever had in the first place.
Last year, the many factions within the Republican Party all ran their own candidate. 17 of them. Few of these Republican candidates had a different vision for the Republican Party – but Republican Voters are tired of the same old, same old, and quickly began weeding out the old names from elections past.
This did not stop the election from becoming one of the nastiest in my lifetime (not that previous primaries weren’t nasty – they always are). Even now, we are faced with two final candidates, both anti-establishment, but who’s supporters appear on the brink of going to war with one another. Hashtags litter our social media with all kinds of contentious drivel. It’s enough to make people walk away from the party and politics all together – especially young people who hoped that the political process was better than this.
To be fair, the political process has never been civil – and from many different points of view, we’ve truly come a long way… in a good way. Still, if you’re turned off, I understand.
Understand however, that this is a difficult time for the Republican Party. Searching for meaning in the political universe isn’t easy once you’ve lost it and everyone is trying to fill the vacuum with their own ideology. That everyone feels as if they have a shot at reshaping the party in their own image is partially to blame for all the chaos you see before you. In the past, few people felt like they could have any influence whatsoever. More people are voting in Republican Party Primaries than ever before, and they aren’t all Trump Democrats either. Many of you are libertarians and constitutionalists.
In a world where attention spans struggle to comprehend more than 144 characters at a time, it is easy to forget our very long history in this country and the very long history of government in general.
The fact is, in the Republican Party today, you do have an opportunity to influence the meaning and purpose of the party going forward, which is why we need you young Republicans more than ever. Your parents and grandparents have lived remarkable lives and they’ve seen dramatic changes in the world. Unfortunately, they have not handed over a better country or a better world to their children – and I think it is safe to say that this is one of the few times, over the course of a generation, that this has happened in American history.
Therefore it is your right to tell your parents and grandparents, “Thank you. Good try. We’ll give you an A for effort, but we’re going to have to step in now”. That is, if we want to make sure that we don’t spend the entirety of the rest of our lives paying off our parents debt.
Do not think of the turmoil in the Republican Party as something to be disgusted by or something to run away from. The chaos is a green light screaming, “Come! Take it!”.
Young people. Drive around to your local TEA Parties. Go to your local Republican Parties. Tell me what you see. I’ve been there already and I can tell you – what you see is an opportunity.
The Republican Party isn’t getting any younger. It’s time to step up, my young friends, and take an active role in the Republican Party. It takes more time than you’ll probably like. You’ll face discouragement, exasperation, and, from time to time, disgust. But in twelve years we’ll have a Republican Party that is whatever you decided to make it. I see young people already starting to get involved and it encourages me every day. I know it isn’t easy, nor is it fun. But it is worth it and we need you now, more than ever.