On mornings when the surf is flat, I get the chance to tune in to CSPAN’s The Washington Journal, which features a moderator, fielding calls from callers on a particular topic related to the current political environment. Then, after the first segment, the show features segments from reporters, politicians, and experts on a particular topic, again followed by calls from the viewers to these interviewees. It’s an intriguing broadcast because it allows one to absorb the current political magniloquence from everyday people. I’d say about seventy-five percent of the callers are fifty and up, (which sadly, if you have read my other previous postings, play into my theory of where we stand with the younger generation). Every once in a while you get a rare call: a Millennial. To be candid, it’s always quite the call, usually split, either a “Republican” or “Democrat.” I know this because the call lines are specifically set up with phone numbers for Republican, Democrat, or Independent callers.
In recent years, during the Trump presidency, things have gotten pretty bizarre with the calls. Trump supporters who claim to be Republican call in and make their two minutes all about conspiracy theories, while Democrats praise the current Biden administration and condemn Trump. Independents just solely complain about both. What the show has taught over the last few years is the consummation that politics, just like the Climate, seems to be shifting to a state of chaos. I think everybody in this country can agree with that.
After weeding through the conspiracy theorists, I am always very much enthralled to hear a call from a “Young Republican.” Typically, the calls tend to be very measured, the caller 99 percent of the time a male. One characteristic of the call that is usually an undercurrent: the caller was formally a Bernie Sanders supporter or always a Republican that just doesn’t agree with Trump’s behavior. They spend their time hammering the faults of the Democratic party and usually focus on a topic related to the economy or a political figure (like why Chuck Schumer is awful). However, what stands out in these calls is the notion that this caller can have a civil debate without using falsehoods and poor terminology. In these instances, when the call concludes, I often ask myself: why can’t we have more people like this?
Some of my close friends and family will often tell me that there this no hope for getting along with Republicans and we should just move our “Democrat agenda” by following the example of the Republican party: just “force it through.” My debate, routinely: this is not the way the system works. Democracy is not intended to just have one party decide how the system will function and what its citizens will tolerate. Perhaps our prevailing landscape now calls for a more than a two party approach, but that’s a topic for another entry. Am I pledging that I want to see young Republicans take over? Am I saying that I agree with them? Of course not. I’m saying this: let’s find a median.
In Julia Summers’ article, titled, “Generation Z In The GOP: Young Republicans Reflect On The Future Of Their Party,” I found some very introspective theories on where I think those younger Republicans are headed:
“Research from CIRCLE, a research center at Tufts University, found that nearly 1 in 5 young voters who backed Republicans in 2018 plan to support Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this year.
Mike Brodo, a 20-year-old student at Georgetown University, suggested that young Republicans may be turning away because Republicans are not talking about the right issues. He pointed to things like the accepted science of climate change, LGBTQ rights and racial injustice.
Brodo was active in politics during high school but said he became disillusioned when he got to campus and found himself uncomfortable with the level of polarization. He and other young Republicans recently launched gen z gop, a group aimed at reaching disaffected young Republicans.”
Is this to say that the younger generation is refusing the framework of the traditional GOP? I’d like to think so. Perhaps these young constituents are looking at the Democrats, who are proving to be more progressive and forward thinking. I think this has become the common theme now with social media’s influence on Millennials and Gen Z. Younger people are indubitably concerned about the future, but tend to miss the boat when it comes to voting, while the older generation shows up.
Now, this still doesn’t help my argument related to a two party system; after all, we know that not all young Republicans are not going to jump over to the Democratic side. Most of these voters proudly reject the Democrats stance on abortion and gun control. We also have to ask ourselves: how much of this was brought about because of Donald Trump as the so-called “Republican” candidate?
I found a little more of my answer in a piece by Swathi Kella, titled, “Confusion, Alienation, Invigoration: The American Youth on Three Years of the Trump Presidency”:
“In addition to its conflicting impact on Republican youth, the Trump administration has alienated young centrists. Roughly 40% percent of young moderates and those who identify as independents say that they have a worse view of the Republican party because of Trump, while only 7–11% of the same demographic report having a better view. Young people who identify as independents also have a worse view of Trump on the issues, considering that 77% of this demographic disapprove of his handling of climate change, 70% disapprove of his handling of health care, 57% disapprove of his handling of the economy, and 63% disapprove of his handling of coronavirus.”
“These views encapsulate the genuine alienation among swing voters who might otherwise be drawn to the Republican party during the 2020 elections. One in four moderates reported that they would be more likely to identify with the Republican party if Trump were not associated with it. And even moderates leaning right on the political spectrum are wary of Trump — 75% of them are uncertain whether they’ll vote for him in the general election. This doubt leaves a large portion of the moderate voting base open for either candidate or an independent.”
Here is another substantial change I see for the Republican party in the future, and it reinforces my argument. These young Republicans support policy, but I believe they never supported the harsh and unwarranted rhetoric Trump exuded. What I expect will change is the timorousness of these younger voters in the party to stand up to all the destruction Trump’s behavior caused; and, quite frankly, is still causing.
So the answer for the Republican party and its younger voters is to find candidates that will represent their party in a suitable manner. They have to rid their party of the Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Matt Gaetz-like representatives. Difficult task, especially when you look at the districts those candidates are from. This will be their enormous challenge, and I think a challenge that can only be solved with the younger constituents.
Perhaps what the younger Republican voters are learning now, (especially the voters who still voted for Trump) after an election that went very poorly, is that the person who was “representing” their party was not really in it for their needs. He was in it for his needs, and the money that could come with it. That’s not not what a political leader represents, but what a “con-man” embodies.
I think, as we see the development of technology, the endless disenfranchisement of minority and poor communities, as well of the effects of Climate change, both parties will further evolve. The Trump presidency represented archaic tenets, falsely portrayed as “revolutionary,” by a very inadequate president. The Democrat party currently sits in a position to embrace the changing events, to use technology to benefit society, and to combat some of the planet’s greatest threats. The question I ask myself most of the time: can the Republican party do this as well? Again, I turn to Kella:
“While young Republicans are likely to avow the political views of their parents through approval ratings, responses to deeper questions suggest that their internal feelings are more conflicted than that. This pattern may be the result of a shift within the ideology of the conservative youth: A 2016 study conducted by Gary C. Jacobson in the midst of the prior election cycle found that Republicans were extremely splintered by generation, with youth party affiliates identifying as much less conservative than their elders. Similarly, Wired contributor Issie Lapowsky found that young conservatives view both the president and his ideology as “relics of the past,” representing older Republicans more so than the youth. This trend would explain young Republicans’ professed support for the presidential incumbent, despite harboring more conflicting personal feelings regarding Trump’s direct impact on their lives.”
The answer will materialize with who the party elects to lead next. If they continue down the same road, then I don’t see how they will be able to amass younger voters, who may just find the Democrat party more in line with their views. I also don’t see how the Republican party will keep their party afloat, if they disregard these voters.
But in the meantime, I will keep my ears on The Washington Journal the next year to see if the callers can evolve past the conspiracy theories and the rambling; and, perhaps, if we are lucky, the young people will emerge…
Summers, Julia. “Generation Z In The GOP: Young Republicans Reflect On The Future Of Their Party.” NPR. September 2, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/09/02/908350700/generation-z-in-the-gop-young-republicans-reflect-on-the-future-of-their-party. Accessed February 11, 2021.
Kella, Swathi. “Confusion, Alienation, Invigoration: The American Youth on Three Years of the Trump Presidency.” Harvard Poltical Review. April 23, 2020. https://harvardpolitics.com/confusion-alienation-invigoration-the-american-youth-on-three-years-of-the-trump-presidency/. Accessed February 11, 2021.