By CJ Pearson, 13
I like to consider myself an optimist, giving those the benefit of the doubt even if they don't deserve it. However, I also value honesty, “giving it straight” and refusing to sugarcoat the truth.
As you could imagine, when it comes to the Republican party’s chances of ever capturing the youth vote, I'm torn. Should I remain optimistic, believing that one day they may actually pull it off? Or should I give it to them straight and lay out every reason as to why they may never even have the opportunity?
Grudgingly, I've chosen the latter because at the end of the day, sometimes people have to hear the truth, regardless of if they actually want to or not. So, giving it to you straight, I can -- almost without a shadow of doubt -- say if the GOP maintains its current course, it may not win the support of America's youth for decades to come.
It's a horrible, but not necessarily shocking reality.
This past year, leading GOP contenders have consistently and constantly disparaged young people. This included everything from calling them “greedy," “entitled" and “needy." The list goes on. In the last GOP debate of the year, Governor Mike Huckabee slammed young people for asking him about issues like free college and medical marijuana.
Well, I'm sorry to break it to you Governor, but these are the issues that matter to millennials in America, who are one of our country's largest voting demographics. Governor, you can either be responsive to their concerns or ignore them, ultimately succumbing to crushing defeat. However, I personally don't think you need any help in that regard.
When it comes to capturing the youth vote, it also doesn't help when the frontrunner of your party is running on policies like a complete halt to Muslim immigration, making false and utterly bigoted statements like Mexicans are rapists and criminals, and retweeting tweets from white supremacists slamming black people while using false statistics on crime in America.
It doesn't help your case. It incinerates it.
Millennials are the most racially diverse generation to date. Young people believe strongly in the premise of equality, so having a person like Donald Trump representing your party with a campaign fueled by the fires of fear, xenophobia and hate just doesn't play well. And if you think it does, you're deeply mistaken. I'd like to remind you that it's 2015, not 1960. Progress is forward -- not backwards.
Winning the youth vote is an intricate process. It requires listening. It requires responsivity. And most importantly, it requires authenticity.
We're not looking for someone who can pander. We're looking for someone who genuinely shares the passion for the issues we care deeply about. We're also not looking for the candidate who ruins the “whip” and “nae nae” on national television, attempting to “connect." (Yes, that shade is for you, Secretary Clinton.)
We are the generation that can decide whether or not you make it to the White House. We did just that in 2012.
President Obama captured 67% of the youth vote, while Mitt Romney only managed to pull in 30%. According to a study done by the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, President Obama won at least 61% in the states of Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. If Romney had somehow managed to split the youth vote in those four states, he could have easily managed to switch those states to his column, therefore winning the election.
So as we go into the new year and get ready for a slew of primaries and caucuses, remember that we hold the keys to a successful campaign.
Try us if you want, but remember: “Hell hath no fury like a pissed off millennial's thorn.”