Millennials are an interesting bunch.
A voter bloc heavily touted by and sought after by pollsters, the members comprising my generation are quite unpredictable in their voting patterns. A poll commissioned by Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that 32% of Millennials polled believe George Bush killed more people than Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin did. Then you see studies like one published by San Diego State University in September suggesting Millennials are far more conservative than their predecessors.
When right-minded Millennials have opportunities to go on TV, many fail to adequately represent our values well. Effective youth outreach doesn’t consist of elevating 13-year-old politically mercurial kids who don’t hold well-defined beliefs or elevating pretty chicks more concerned with amassing millions of views than bolstering conservatism. Effective youth outreach entails elevating activists and influencers who have invested their personal time and money to the cause.
There are many hardworking, proactive Millennials out there positively impacting their local communities. Worst of all, they go unnoticed. Understandably, soundbites sell and lead to more clicks. But there’s more to life than page views and sensationalism. It’s time to be substantive again.
What are Millennials passionate about? I asked some Millennial influencers and activists from conservative and libertarian circles to spout off on the important issues.
They believe politics stems from culture
The late Andrew Breitbart said, “Politics is downstream from culture.”
Demetrius Minor, youth pastor and author of Preservation and Purpose, agrees with Breitbart’s sentiments. He says people are losing an opportunity to win by reneging on their commitment to fighting cultural battles.
“As someone who has been heavily involved with church ministry, I am persuaded that the greatest influence one can have is on a moral and cultural level. Morality affects every area of our lives. If we can persuade people to make moral adjustments for the better, we will see a cultural revolution, which in essence, would lead to a political revolution,” Minor said.
Comedian Tim Young said there’s a huge deficit of funny people on our side, largely because people fail to make our ideas relatable to our intended audiences.
Young said, “There’s very little comedy in the conservative movement and the GOP… for multiple reasons: first it’s because folks on our team focus so much on policy and get so angry at what’s going on that interjecting any personality whatsoever into things is forgotten. And second, unlike the left, we really don’t have mainstream funny people on our side. I come from a background in comedy and policy at the same time which, I don’t think anyone else has… so it’s an odd space to be in.”
Both hit the nail on the head with respect to culture.
They believe in constitutional conservatism all across the board
Although a good chunk of Millennials were salivating over socialist Bernie Sanders this election cycle, many are still skeptical of big government policies.
Blake Johnson, who works with radio talk show host Doc Thompson of The Blaze, said the following:
“Socialism is one of the least diverse philosophies of all time because – well, for one thing – it continues to do the same thing over and over again: it gives power to the elite, takes power from “We the People,” and instead leaves us destitute.So let’s not repeat the age-old mistakes of the past (i.e. socialism, Communism, secularism, all that) and instead why don’t we embrace the past successes for the future (i.e. capitalism, free market stewardship – and of course, judeo-Christian values as the foundation)? Why don’t we return to those principles?”
A libertarian fundraising professional, who wished to remain anonymous, said the current state of politics makes it harder for limited government ideas to get the attention they deserve.
He said, “I’m tired of the hypocrisy, people who claim to support the constitution and its principles of limited government and individual freedom and natural rights, but only pay lip service to it. They piecemeal what they want to support and what they don’t. They’re no better than the liberal left.”
Principles still matter to Millennials? Imagine that!
They are entrepreneurial
A recent Wall Street Journal article made a great point about conservatives and Republicans choosing their words carefully with respect to economics. Stop calling our economic system “capitalism”; use “free enterprise” instead. (FWIW: Crony capitalism is the perversion of free enterprise by government.) Even polling suggests people respond more positively to free enterprise:
Strip away the titles of “capitalism” and “socialism,” and the responses become drastically different. A 2015 Reason-Rupe pollfound that college-aged respondents are far more supportive of a “free-market system” (72%) than they are of a “government-managed economy” (49%). In reality, millennials—regardless of party or ideology—have arrived at a surprising consensus: We support free markets, are very much unhappy with the current state of affairs, and are still looking for change.
They demand consistency from political leaders
Given the tumultuous nature of the 2016 election, lines have been blurred and conservative values have been greatly distorted–even by those who claim to hold the conservative mantle. Millennials like Shoshanna Weissmann see through these inconsistencies.
“Millennials have been born into an environment of increasingly open information. Knowing whether or not a politician flip-flopped on an issue was once more difficult to ascertain. Now, those able to navigate social media are more easily able to learn when a politician has changed his position,” says Shoshanna Weissmann, who serves as Weekly Standard’s web producer.
Going forward, if our efforts still merit attention after November, it’s important to actually do things and rally more people–especially young people–to our cause. Failing to share the gospel of conservatism effectively will pull us into further obsolescence.
What can you do? Start to think local, find good stories, and elevate inspiring, younger, effective communicators.