CPAC 2013: Can the GOP Ever Get the Millennial Vote?

The Republicans' biggest annual national convention, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), is coming up next week, and organizers are scrambling to figure out how to get the younger generations interested in Republican politics. Organized each year by the American Conservative Union, CPAC has a very traditional (almost stodgy) reputation. It has finally begun losing that image by welcoming bloggers and new media activists to a special bloggers area at the conference known as Blogbash.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are overwhelmingly Democratic. Born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, they vote for Democrats and identify as Democrats over Republicans by around a 20-point margin. They are more diverse than previous generations, with 39% identifying as non-white.

Their left-leaning tendencies is a result of the Democrats' increasing control over the educational system and mainstream media. The millennials have grown up indoctrinated by global warming, tolerance and diversity, world peace, feminism, and evolution in gradeschool and college.

The GOP is not going be able to fix this problem by reaching out to younger voters at CPAC. Why? Because the millennials are all hanging out on their smartphones and computers, they're not attending Republican events. In order to get them interested in Republican principles, the GOP needs to reach out to them on their turf. This means ramping up our social media presence and planning more flash mobs than legislative district meetings. Anyone who says they don't understand Twitter should not be in charge of anything. Whether you like Twitter or not, it's here to stay and it's where the millennials are. Graphic-sharing programs like Pinterest and Instagram seem like a waste of time but if you're not there, many of the Millennials won't be able to relate to you.

People like to associate with others like them. Instead of featuring the same older patriarchs and stereotypical families in GOP ads, literature and meetings, the GOP needs to reflect the diversity of the millennials and ensure that younger generations and minorities are included. There are some charismatic, brilliant young minority commentators like Ellis Washington, who writes for my website Intellectual Conservative, who are regularly overlooked. The GOP should be prominently including new blood like him alongside its well-known (and probably over-exposed) middle-aged white panelists you see at every conference and on every talking-head show. There are too many young people and minorities who the GOP looks past in favor of established, well-connected commentators who do not appeal to the younger generations.

There is no need to put minorities in Republican leadership positions through affirmative action; there are so many minority Republicans now that it is easy to find talented, bright individuals who can match the best of current GOP leadership. Republicans need to get over their reluctance to recognize youth and minority talent and give some new people a chance. The good old boy system is not working and is turning the party into a dinosaur. If Republicans do not change their ways, they may as well change their elephant logo to a dinosaur.

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Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander is the editor of the Intellectual Conservative.

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