The Republicans’ Comical “Young Guns” Rebranding

Posted by | September 1, 2010 00:00 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

Part of the Republican strategy this November to take back the House is to utilize their “Young Guns” to help lead them to electoral victory. The “Young Guns” were founded by Representatives Eric Cantor (R-VA), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Paul Ryan (R-WI) during the 2007-08 election cycle.  Their goal is to recruit a newer generation of conservative leaders and attract younger voters with fresh new ideas like… tax cuts. Well as a young voter myself I’d like to highlight several reasons why their “new strategy” to attract more young voters will fall flat on its face. Reasons besides how completely uncool Eric Cantor looks in their “Young Guns” campaign ad.

Young people are not nearly as homophobic as the current Republican Party base. Republicans loved using gay marriage as a wedge issue back in 2004 to help beat John Kerry, but that short-term political victory may create devastating long-term consequences with young voters if they continue their discriminatory policies towards gays. While a majority of voters are still opposed to gay marriage in this country, 60% of voters under the age of 30 are in favor of marriage equality and that number continues to grow. Until the Republicans stop demonizing gays, a large segment of young voters will continue to leer at their intolerance and vote blue.

Young voters also don’t like race-baiting. Conservatives revel in the fact that a majority of the country agrees with the Arizona’s “breathing while Latino law” immigration law, and support similar laws in their own states. The mainstream media continues to portray that general narrative, but no one mentions that the 18-34 age group remains evenly split on the actual Arizona law with a majority of them opposing a similar law in their own state. Race-baiting only works on scared white voters, and because of the changing demographics in this country, young voters are less likely to be white than the overall voting population. While 77% of voters overall in 2004 were white, only 68% of voters under age 30 were white. By 2008, that number was only 62%. The more the Republicans attack minority groups in order to score political points in the short term, the more long-term damage they suffer with growing demographics.

Finally, young voters actually care about the environment and are worried about climate change. In fact “if you are 30 or younger this climate issue is not a debate, it’s a value.” Those aren’t my words; they were spoken by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times back in February. According to a recent Pew Research survey, 74% of the 18-29 age group believe that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming, so Graham is right to be concerned about the direction the Republicans continue to move in with regard to climate change and the environment. If Republicans want to actually attract young voters, they need more than “Young Guns” and promises of more tax cuts (why does everything have to be a gun reference with Republicans anyway?). They need to appeal to an increasingly diverse, educated, and open-minded electorate or they will go the way of the Whigs.

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