Ronald Reagan and a New Generation of Republicans

rnldrgn2When I was growing up, there were two different political types of people. Those that thought Reagan was a genius and Democrats. If you are under the age of 30, there is a myth that surrounds Ronald Reagan. This myth is partly derived from a term you heard in your macro-economics class and from stories about how it was to be an adult during the eighties. This myth has carried on a legacy that is truly miraculous in modern day politics.

Current status quo Republicans who are elected (or are trying to be) carry with them the sense that they are the next pseudo Reagan. Why do you ask? Well because it’s what they (the hopeful elect and the GOP) think will save not just their party, but also America. It’s because they want to uphold that myth with a legacy of their own and bring back a new wave of smaller government ideals. There is a sense among the Republican Party that policies that thrived in the eighties would still hold true today. Notably, tax cuts to spur growth, an overall decrease in government intervention in private business and ramped up military spending.

This may seem like I am painting a broad picture over the GOP; but speaker Boehner agrees. “Before Reagan was elected president, the country was demoralized, adrift and staring into an economic abyss…Reagan’s faith in the American people — unshackled by government — to overcome any obstacle rallied supporters from every background to his side, and I believe it will continue to inspire us”.

Reagan’s policies of course have proven their merit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they translate decades later to a radically different type of voter population. I think it’s fair to say the GOP recognizes that they have an image problem in 2014, so this is nothing new; but as a registered republican under the age of thirty, I have a few ideas.

First, change the GOP website to something that doesn’t seem so blatantly segregated (GOP.com). Seriously, scroll to the bottom of that thing and see how if you were interested in supporting the party, you are spliced out into a group. The saddest part about that website is someone in the party thought it was a good idea to assume African Americans and young people have starkly different interests (when you can belong to both). I get what they are trying to do, but it’s a pretty bad look right. If liberal democrats are the party of everyone being equal and togetherness, this is certainly a contrast.

Next, get a simple straight message on large policy decisions within the party. This drum has been beat before, but I wanted to stress this point with the factor of technology and the younger generation of hopeful young republicans. Twitter is 140 characters max, information changes rapidly and the youth of America’s mind is already soaked with fifty other bits of information from Snapchat to Vines. I am all for differing opinions and the legislative process, but we don’t need dissenting opinions from within our own party all the time. Give those 19 year old college kids a stance. A line that says we support (or don’t) for these reasons, as a party; and we are serious about it. I get the tea party movement, I really do; but to a younger generation of voters, they can’t really understand why one party has multiple factions within it and the other seems to just want to spend money on them.

Lastly, the branding and image of the party is crucial for a younger generation. The face of the Democratic Party over the last decade is Obama and if I were pressed to pick one for the Republicans I don’t know who I would choose (Romney, Boehner, and McConnell?). Ostensibly, Obama may be fading from popularity, but he signifies his party taking a step forward when it comes to diversity. The Republicans need someone to do the same and Herman Cain does not count.

Ronald Reagan was a strong charismatic president that rallied likeminded people around strong conservative principles. He forged a massive new following of people down the path of being Republicans for life. The Republicans need to prepare for generating excitement for their party without such a larger than life figure to lead their party for the foreseeable future. I just wonder if they have already missed their chance.

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