Much time has been spent by political pundits and consultants knocking their heads together to decide how the Republican Party can start to win the youth vote. Many of the suggestions involve changing our core beliefs, or becoming more socially liberal: “We’ve gotta support same-sex marriage!” “We’ve gotta become more compassionate towards the poor!” I, on the other hand, would arguing not to change our position, but to pull other people towards our position. If we really believe in what we stand for, than we should try to convince people why our position is best.
And what is one thing that young people tend to desire? Freedom.
Young people generally want independence and freedom. We go to college so we can eventually have a job and provide for ourselves and our families. We like being away from home because we can finally feel like adults who make decisions for themselves. When we start living on our own, renting our own apartments, buying our own groceries, and paying for our own cars, we should be proud of ourselves. We should take joy in every day we can pay for something with our own money.
The Republican Party and conservatives should stand up for the working teenagers. Many of my friends were shocked this summer to find out how much the federal and state government’s take out of their paycheck. In addition, I live in Cook County, Illinois, so even more of my paycheck is diminished through high taxation.
This summer, I worked at a family-owned pet supply store. It wasn’t a cushy internship at a law firm or a laid back job working as a pencil pusher for a major corporation. It was a 30-40 hour a week job. I worked weekends. I unloaded pallets, I stacked bags of food and I cleaned the store.
Was the job fun? Of course not. But it made me appreciate the people who work 40 or more hours a week, EVERY week. Sometimes I would work at the store and then go tutor for two more hours after work. At the end of the day, when I would finally get home and have a few minutes to eat and watch some TV, I was grateful. There is something about putting in a full day’s work and finally getting home and feeling grateful. There is a certain dignity to being able to put in a full day’s work, and for this reason, I honestly feel sorry for the millions who have found themselves unable to find full-time work due to the Obama economy.
We must always be the party that stands for more jobs, less taxation, and less inflation. Youth today who are fortunate enough to find work are seeing their paychecks diminished by inflation and higher taxation. We are being defrauded by liberal politicians who raise taxes on all of us to pay for social programs for their loyal voters. We are told that it’s the compassionate position to see our paycheck disappear in taxes to help care for the elderly or poor. But all this does is deprive one generation of future savings in order to pay another.
Young people have the most to lose. We’re going to pay in to a Social Security system which will probably not last more than another generation without serious reforms. It is worth noting that Paul Ryan, one of the youngest House members, is leading this charge instead of an older politician.
The other week, I went to the grocery store. Because I try to save as much money as possible, I was trying to limit myself to only that money to buy groceries. I didn’t feel ashamed that I only had a small amount of money to buy food with, but was proud that I was finally able to buy something I needed with my own money that I had earned. I understand that there are situations where people can not afford food, or where they have families to take care of (I only have to provide for myself). I also understand I’m not completely independent yet, because my family still helps to pay for my education. But the standard we should thrive for is to be able to be independent of the government for help.
My goal is to eventually be wholly financially independent, because that is what freedom is. And while the last Presidential election showed a youth gap between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney of about 20 to 25% for 18-29 year olds (http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/results/race/president), I think the rest of the polling numbers suggest that–if we properly sell conservatism to younger voters–ore and more people are going to buy on to the conservative message, as each successive age group voted in greater numbers for Romney.
Conservatives shouldn’t abandon their principles to make youth voters like them. Instead, they should be making the case for why their policies best serve the interests of youth voters: by giving them the greatest opportunity to benefit from their own work and become truly independent.
Matthew Lamb | Loyola University | @mlmb24