Rand Paul Prioritizes Youth Outreach

Jedediah Bila, Red Eye, 11-21-12

By Jedediah Bila

Senator Rand Paul has taken the lead on something that many in the GOP have ignored for far too long: youth outreach. In a piece at PolicyMic, Paul speaks to millennials directly, defending his filibuster and addressing the need for a GOP that “speaks to the rising generation”:

Most Americans, and especially young people, worry about our country’s $16 trillion debt. This deficit is a burden that is guaranteed to grow more as time passes, and as Washington continues with its reckless spending. The number one contributor to our debt — entitlements — is something most young people simply don’t expect to see. We need to have serious reform to save Social Security and Medicare so that those who’ve paid into these systems all their lives can receive their benefits. But for young Americans, they need a way to opt out or at least something very different.

Most young people will tell you the same, if those in Washington would only listen.

The thing that many young people value above and beyond anything else is choice. They want options. They want to control their futures. They don’t like being bossed around. However, in the entitlement-reform debate, they are often ignored. Where are the GOP-sponsored forums engaging young people in what solutions they believe in? Where is the effort to show young people that the GOP cares about what they have to say?

Paul continues:

I believe a Republican Party that is more tolerant and dedicated to keeping the government out of people’s lives as much as possible would be more appealing to the rising generation. We have a nation of 300 million people who all harbor very different opinions on various policies. We have a Constitution that allows, even requires, many of these decisions to be made at the state and local level, which could accommodate the diversity of opinion in this country. Most young people I encounter simply have no desire to tell other people what to do or how to live.

Another part of our debt woes is the trillions of dollars we spend fighting decade-long wars and sending foreign aid all over the world. America must always maintain a strong national defense, but young people can imagine a world in which the United States doesn’t have to be involved in every part of it. We can’t continue borrowing money from China or spending ourselves into debt to protect the entire globe. We simply cannot afford it. It is not what’s best for our country. It makes us less secure, not more.

As many of you know, I’ve taught students of diverse ages. My mom ran a performing arts school for many years where students of all ages attended. I’ve been a high school Dean and Adviser. In other words, I’ve spent a lot of time around young people. I have also spent a good deal of time interacting with young, politically-engaged people these past three years.

Most of the young people I’ve dealt with are big on people living their private lives as they see fit. They strongly believe in the freedom to live and let live. When it comes to national security, many are tired of our financial aid and other assistance being distributed to those who can’t be trusted to have our back. They prefer a far more cautious approach to U.S. foreign-policy involvement.

That’s not to say that all young people feel this way. Of course we are a country of diverse opinions, thankfully. But from my experiences, Paul’s assessment is pretty accurate.

Regardless, what I deem most important about Paul’s piece is that he bothered to speak directly to young people, to let them know that he’s listening and values their input.

It’s about time someone in the GOP did.

Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila

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9 years ago

Excellent article! Rand Paul understands that young people, especially those in their 20’s and 30’s, need to have the option to either partially or fully opt out of Social Security and control their own retirement savings. With a little bit of guidance and financial education, they can achieve returns on their money that are far better than what the government provides. It’s called personal responsibility and accountability. Both traits found far more in conservatives and most Republicans, than in the cradle-to-grave, nanny-state Democrat Party.

The government, I think most of us can all agree, does an abysmal job of managing what is arguably the largest legal Ponzi scheme, masquerading as a social safety net, in the world. When a financial fund, even one managed in a very conservative fashion, is only able to generate real annualized returns in the range of 1.5 to 2 percent over the last 30 years, you know it wouldn’t take much for the average person to earn significantly more.

Of course the Social Security system must be preserved for those already on or near retirement, but it is insanity to try and perpetuate this farce on future generations is ludicrous. Most young people already don’t expect Social Security, in its present form, to be around when they retire. So this kind of massage from Rand Paul will resonate with them. If more members of the GOP actually spoke in this clear, straight-forward fashion, the Party couldn’t be painted as “out of touch” by the mainstream media, which is simply shilling for Obama and the Democrats.

9 years ago

The GOP must do a better job of winning young people to the cause of limited government. However, they should not throw the baby out with the bath water. Older Americans have knowledge and wisdom that can only be gained from the experiences of life. Senator Paul must remember that freedom without responsibility or virtue will fail.

Diana Erbio
9 years ago

I agree. We must focus more on outreach to young people. They are America’s future and they want the freedoms past generations have enjoyed. Rand Paul is speaking out on individual freedom and the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Our young generation needs to hear this and get engaged to preserve their freedom.

9 years ago

Unfortunately the operative word in Grand Old Party is “Old”. I’m old and set in my ways but there comes a time when changes must be made to ensure survival. I think that the GOP still hasn’t learned that the youth coming out of our institutions of higher education have been endoctrinated in an overwhelmingly liberal, socialistic system. On campuses where conservative is a dirty word. Social change procedes at a glacial pace and the last 50 years have shown us how easy it is to slip into a socialist society without most people even noticing. I hope Senator Paul can reach enough pepole to produce a meaningful change in the nation’s direction.

9 years ago

On the right we can seem so damn cynical and realistic that it scares away idealistic youth. That’s a big part of what Paul tapped into.

Obama tapped into the desire of young people to be a part of something greater than themselves. Yes, on the right we’re realists, but we’ve also got to help people believe.

I go into more detail on how Paul did this, and why we need to do more of it, here: http://alphaisassumed.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/wacko-bird-realism/

9 years ago

I hadn’t seen this. Thanks for highlighting.

9 years ago

Excellent article. Big fan of Paul.

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