Republicans: Stop the 'bathroom bills' and focus on winning millennials
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As our $20 trillion national debt balloons by the day, terrorism continues to rock the globe, and the nation prepares for Donald J. Trump to take office, Republicans have still found time to passionately make an issue out of … bathrooms.

The battle over America’s restrooms and who is allowed to use them has already injected itself into 2017, with conservative advocates in more than half a dozen states trying to enact “bathroom bills.” Such measures would require people to use restrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Advocates claim that the rules are necessary to prevent perverts from invading the privacy of – or worse, they say, sexually assaulting – women and children.

Opponents of bathroom bills claim they unfairly target transgender individuals, who may identify as a different gender than the one listed on their birth certificate.


Putting aside the fact that fears about male predators have not been borne out in places that support transgender people’s restroom access, it is in the GOP’s own best interest stop pushing bathroom bills. In order for the party to retain power and grow its appeal among young voters, who will make up an increasingly large percentage of the populous, the bathroom issue must be dropped. Immediately.

Yes, Republicans took back the White House – but their performance among young voters was pathetic. Had only millennials voted in the presidential election, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDNC warns campaigns about cybersecurity after attempted scam Biden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Stone judge under pressure over calls for new trial MORE would have received 504 electoral votes, and Trump just 23.

The next four years offer the GOP an unprecedented chance to show young people how conservatism can offer them a brighter, more prosperous future than the liberal policies touted by Clinton or Bernie SandersBernie SandersDNC warns campaigns about cybersecurity after attempted scam Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Biden looks to shore up lead in S.C. MORE.

The way to prove that is not by pushing for anti-transgender bathroom bills, especially since the millennial generation overwhelmingly supports LGBT rights. By nearly 2-1, voters aged 18 to 35 say transgender individuals should be able to use restrooms designated for the gender they self-identify as, according to a USA TODAY poll.

Put simply, millennials don’t care what bathroom transgender people use. And seven in 10 young Americans believe that discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation is a major problem in the United States.

Texas is one state with a bathroom bill on the horizon. The state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, recently asked if supporters of transgender rights “really want a man walking into a restroom with their daughter or mother or wife?”

This type of rhetoric only plays right into the negative stereotype of the GOP as being the dying, out-of-touch, geriatric party of yesterday that is only for rich, old, white men. Not exactly the image the Republican Party can afford as it desperately attempts to make its brand palatable to the generation that will soon make up the nation’s largest voting bloc.  

Many conservative policies possess answers to critical issues pressing the nation, particularly when it comes to fiscal issues. These policy positions should be highlighted, rather than overshadowed by front page news stories about bathroom debates.

The top issue by far for millennials is the economy, including concerns about the job market. Pew data shows that for the first time in more than 130 years, Americans ages 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than any other living situation.

Lower corporate tax rates and fewer regulations will allow business to flourish and afford more employees. It’s up to conservatives to convey this message to struggling young people, while showing how Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's Campaign Report: Gloves off in South Carolina 6 ways the primary fight is toughening up Democrats for the fall general election Bloomberg called Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme' as mayor MORE’s policies have caused the job market to stagnate.

Politics is all about picking and choosing battles wisely. As Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE enters the White House, Republicans are offered a clean slate to shape their brand and define what the party stands for.

But if their politicians keep squawking about bathrooms, millennials may never be receptive to the GOP’s uplifting messages of innovation, fiscal conservatism, and personal responsibility.

Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It." She was recently named one of NewsMax's "30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30."

The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.