GOP Must Reflect Diversity Of Millennial Generation to Appeal to Young People

Since the loss of the 2012 election, the GOP has talked a lot about changing its message to all kinds of minority groups — but it’s not talking about changing the messengers. Defeating the stereotype of “old, white, rich men” is crucial to attracting the votes of not only minorities, but of young voters in general.

If the Republican Party is going to be effective in getting their message across to racial minorities and women, they have to first prove that racial minorities and women believed in the party enough to run for office within it. 

Michael Steele, who served as the Republican National Convention Chair from 2009 to 2011 and is one of few black Republicans to hold a high-ranking office, said as much to C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” only days after the election:

“We need messengers who look like me,” he said. “We need messengers who are Hispanic, Asian Americans, women, a cross section of folks who represent communities across the country.” 

The 2012 campaign for the Republican Party was fraught with complaints from undecided voters that they “couldn't connect” to Mitt Romney. His status as a wealthy, white businessman threw up a roadblock that many voters just couldn't get around — not that Romney did much to knock it down.

Assuming that Republicans perfectly craft their message to minorities going forward — and I have my doubts — those messages will fall on deaf ears when racial minorities and women realize that Democratic women more than triple the number of Republican women in both the House and the Senate; that of the 43 African Americans in the House, only 2 are Republican; that of the 29 Hispanics in the House, only 8 are Republican; and of the 12 Asians in all of Congress, only one is a Republican.

While the message is crucial — rising Hispanic Republican star Ted Cruz (R-Texas) only received 35% of the Hispanic vote in Texas even after heavily marketing to them because his message was totally off base, for instance — voters will see right through all the pretty language if the party does not reflect the same level of diversity the message contains. 

This outward appearance will have the biggest effect on the millennial generation, which has a larger percentage of racial minorities than any other age group before it. According to Pew Research, racial minorities make up 38% of the millennial generation, compared to 32% of Generation X and 23% of the Boomer generation.

In 2012, the Republican Party chose to bet on millennials staying home — a tragic mistake, as we turned up to the polls in even larger numbers than in 2008. It’s time for the Republican Party to realize that we aren't staying quiet: We’re going to come back louder than ever. And if they want the noise on their side of the aisle, they need to reflect the values of a generation that’s a lot more colorful than the current Republican Party.

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Jessica Huseman

Jessica wrote for Mic.com until Feb. 2014. Now she's an investigative reporter at The Teacher Project, writing articles on K12 education for Slate.com. Her work has appeared in ProPublica, The Atlantic, Slate, The Dallas Morning News and Chalkbeat and more. Find her contact info and her recent work at www.jessicalhuseman.com.

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