With Chairman Michael Steele’s announcement that he will run for a second term at the helm of the Republican National Committee, the contours of the race for the chairmanship became much more defined. With so many experienced and qualified candidates running, the RNC is sure to end up with a proven leader. As a political junkie, I look forward to observing a spirited race.
Even at this early point in the race, we’ve seen a substantive debate between the candidates on ways to improve the RNC’s communications program, revamp its GOTV infrastructure, regain its standing among major donors, and empower state and local parties. But, I humbly submit that one more issue needs serious discussion: How do we communicate the Republican Party’s compelling vision to the next generation of voters and leaders?
Two-thirds of those aged 18-29 turned to President Obama in 2008, a key demographic for the future of both parties. The Left knows how crucial young voters are to their long-term success and has invested massively in organizations like Campus Progress, Organizing for America, College Democrats of America and Young Democrats of America.
The College Republican National Committee has successfully pushed back against this massive assault from the Left, and we know that as a youth-centric organization it is our responsibility to continue doing so. However, successfully bringing younger voters to our side will require the entire party actively working toward that end.
Today’s young people are worried about their future. The prospects of getting a job are bleak for today’s graduates. They are concerned about the enormous debt that the president and Congress have piled on them with impunity. They see the dynamics of the world economy changing and aren’t sure how to adjust.
In a political culture dominated by the 24-hour news cycle, the sound-bite reigns supreme. This has forced the political debate toward sensationalist stories that lose all relevance in a day or week, only to be replaced by a new “outrage.” Debate on America’s long-term future is obscured by this culture, leaving many young people feeling as if neither party is addressing issues, like the national debt, that will truly affect their lives.
The Republican Party has the right policies to appeal to young people. They are focused on the long-term fiscal health of this country, and ensuring the American dream to every future generation of Americans. We’ve got the right policies, but need a more comprehensive messaging strategy to capture the ear of young generations.
I believe it would be of interest to the more than 200,000 members of the College Republicans, and their parents as well, to hear how each candidate for RNC Chairman can, with the help of our elected officials nationwide, break through the noise of the 24-hour news cycle and communicate a hopeful, universal message of responsible government to today’s young people. Doing so is vital to the long-term health of the party, and I sincerely hope it is a part of the debate.
We have the policies for the future. Let’s make sure we’re the party of the future.
Zach Howell is the Chairman of the College Republican National Committee. The CRNC is the nationally elected governing body for over 200,000 College Republicans and over 1,500 campus chapters. Zach sits in the same chair that Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, and Morton Blackwell once sat in. He holds a BS in Political Science from the University of Utah.