Op-Ed

Millennials seeking change should help shape GOP

Chambers
Chambers

By Jason Chambers and Michelle Stansbury

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama promised change, and America's youth supported him overwhelmingly.

Obama had a 66 to 31 advantage over John McCain among 18- to 29-year-olds. In Kentucky, that age group supported Obama 51 to 48.

In the six years since, the promises of change kept by Obama haven't lived up to the promises made. The president has done more to demonstrate the ineptitude of big government than conservative thinkers William F. Buckley and Frederick Hayek ever could.

A recent Reason-Rupe survey of millennials shed some light on the type of change they want. Reason polling director Emily Ekins in her analysis describes millennials as unattached to either party and "social liberals and fiscal centrists with the potential to become more fiscally conservative as they age."

Millennials are favorable to business, free markets, entrepreneurship and government — but support for activist government declines as they learn its costs.

They are still in search of change and should turn to the GOP to get it. Only the Republican Party is in the midst of significant change internally. Last year the GOP issued its Growth and Opportunity Report, noteworthy in its transparency about the party's faults and in its willingness to change.

The broad principles of the GOP remain intact: limited government, personal responsibility and a strong national defense. But the implementation remains up for grabs.

The time leading to the 2016 presidential election can shape the GOP for a generation. How Republicans address urban development, crime and justice, growing debt and Social Security remain in flux.

Will the GOP introduce creativity and new ideas to address public policy issues, or will it continue to be viewed as the party of no?

Sen. Rand Paul is proving to be the exception to the idea that the GOP can't be a party of change. In March, he received a standing ovation in Berkeley, Calif. — Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi's backyard — and in July he wowed a group of Obama-supporting Silicon Valley entrepreneurs with his version of libertarianism.

Other potential GOP presidential candidates have innovative ideas: Louisiana's Bobby Jindal on health care and education, Florida's Marco Rubio on immigration and Wisconsin's Scott Walker on pension reform.

In stark contrast, the Democratic Party will resist change for at least the next two years, and possibly the next 10. For Democrats, it appears to be Hillary Clinton or nothing.

Millennials can influence the GOP platform for a generation to come. And that's why Lexington's youth. and America's youth, should flock to the GOP.

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