Presidential Campaign

A millennial’s advice to Trump

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As a member of the massive collective of millennial voters, I should be treasured by the GOP. I should be their darling. At the very least, I should be on their radar. 

I believe in limited government, fiscal conservatism, and personal responsibility – all defining Republican principles. I’m exactly the kind of voter the GOP needs in order to avoid becoming the dying, geriatric party of yesterday. 

{mosads}Republicans fell flat with America’s youngest voters in both 2008 and 2012. This collapse was no coincidence. Rather than wooing millennials with its fiscally conservative platform, the GOP alienated us by focusing and making a stand on issues like abortion and gay wedding cakes. Ignoring younger sensibilities – beliefs that could form the nation’s largest voting bloc in 2016 — prevented Republicans from expanding their appeal. 

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump can change all of that. As a relatively secular candidate who has focused his campaign on the economy, he is a new brand of Republican that millennials could embrace. As such, here are a few facts Trump and the GOP should keep in mind ahead of November:

68 percent of millennials support gay marriage.

I have openly gay friends, and so does almost every other young American. Homosexuality is no longer taboo. It’s no surprise then, that to many millennials, Republicans appear heartless for opposing the right of committed gay couples to form legally recognized families. This perception is especially profound because “family” is so often touted as a defining Republican value.

The Party’s ostracism of homosexuals is anything but subtle. 2016 GOP candidate Rick Santorum once compared homosexuality to “man-on-dog” sex. Another 2016 presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, said that asking Christians to accept gay marriage is “like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.”

This mindset doesn’t belong to a few fringe candidates – it’s embedded. Consider how the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay conservatives, were denied a booth at the 2014 Texas GOP Convention. The official reason given for their exclusion? They “do not embody the Party’s platform.”

Trump can bring a fresh approach to the issue. The GOP nominee doesn’t emphasize gay marriage in his platform, but he is “the most gay-friendly Republican nominee for president ever,” said Log Cabin Republicans president Gregory T. Angelo. Trump has public friendships with gay people and has promoted many gay employees to prominent positions. He seems to understand that the days for excluding gay Americans and expecting that doing so won’t alienate millions of voters is over. 

56 percent of millennials think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

An increasing number of young women have had an abortion, or have a friend who has had an abortion. Even more have taken the Morning After pill. A majority of us millennials, both male and female, see abortion as a personal decision that should be left in the hands of the woman directly affected by that choice. 

I respect that many in the GOP continue to insist that abortion is “wrong.” But the tone must change. Millennials aren’t engendered to respect old men lecturing piety from the pulpit of social morality. Moreover, politics is about fighting the battles you can win, rather than expending value on the wars you’ve already lost.

Let me be crystal clear: Trump doesn’t need to endorse abortion. He has said he is pro-life, and it would appear morally hypocritical for him to suddenly change his stance just to curry favor with millennials. But Trump should focus his attention away from abortion and onto issues that he can win on: the cost of health care, the lackluster economy, and the absence of well-paying jobs. 

69 percent of millennials support legalizing marijuana.

It’s time for the GOP to give up the war on drugs – at least on marijuana. Not only has it been utterly ineffective, induced massive violence and criminality, and resulted in extraordinary levels of exceptionally expensive incarceration. It’s also unpopular among millennials. 

Considering that alcohol is responsible for as many as 88,000 deaths per year in the U.S. alone, and pot, effectively zero, it’s easy to see why weed’s criminalization has millennials scratching our heads. Initiatives to restrict all marijuana use reek of intrusion against personal freedom. And they blur caustically with other GOP diktats on gay marriage and abortion. 

And speaking of faith-based diktats, get this: The pro-pot movement is even gripping religious youth. Today, about 50 percent of young Christians favor legalizing weed. Furthermore, a recent study showed that six in ten Christian millennials “do not believe that new laws legalizing the use of marijuana signal widespread moral decline in the country.” 

Relative to other GOPers, Trump appears to be millennial-friendly on the issue of drug policy. Back in the 1990’s he was in favor of legalizing all drugs. During his campaign, he hasn’t discussed the issue much but said he’s in favor of medical marijuana. 

So here’s the crunch.

In 2016, my vote is up for grabs. So are the votes of most young Americans. The age of Obama has passed and the ordained era of Democratic power is over. At least when it comes to millennials. Trump can win those voters. But he must continue to move away from the GOP’s historical insular focus on social issues. He must woo us with conservative fiscal policies, which promote self-sufficiency and can offer young Americans a brighter, more prosperous future. Those policies will find effective persuasion for those millennials who are out of work and tired of paying taxes for a ballooning entitlement state. An entitlement state from which they expect no benefits.

The times, they aren’t a changing, they’ve already changed.

Kristin Tate is a Conservative Columnist and Author of the new book, “Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For A Ride and What You Can Do About It

Tags 2016 presidential campaign abortion rights Donald Trump Homosexuality Marijuana Millennials Republicans

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