At meetings, happy hours and impromptu political conversations across Washington, D.C., the mood on the right is often gloomy, dour or even angry. As the GOP’s polls have gone down—and federal spending has gone up—Republicans have been left with little reason to hope or to care. In some quarters, though, the enthusiasm for Republican ideals—and politicians—holds fairly steady, manifesting itself in young blood hoping for renewal.
Last Thursday, the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) held an event aimed at smacking liberals and, more importantly, kindling the flames inside of young conservatives that may have dimmed as of late.
Just Look at the Dow
Need a reason for optimism? “Just look at the Dow,” said Paul Gourley, chairman of the CRNC.
Given his exposure to Republican events nationwide, Gourley has reason to be hopeful. According to him, turnout at College Republican events is up over 2002, the last time when Republicans felt truly threatened. “College Republicans from New Jersey to California don’t believe the pessimism,” Gourley said.
The students showing up are more interested in the economy than anything else, hoping Republican economic ideals such as lower taxes and less regulation will help them in their search for success.
Attendees, many of whom have not been heavily exposed to Washington-centric GOP intra-party squabbles, were similarly sanguine. Joyful at the bashing of Democrats by conservative comedian Evan Sayet, those present took solace in accomplishments under the current leadership, but looked to future leaders to fix mistakes.
Representative of a new wave of younger, bolder Republicans is D.C. City Council candidate Tony Williams, son of outspoken left-leaning journalist Juan Williams. Williams is an example of what many on the right are clamoring for—change from within.
“Earmarks we’ve got to take care of. We need to eliminate them,” said Williams. “We’ve lost perspective. We’ve got to be the party of better government.”
Dissatisfied with certain aspects of the current formation of government, Williams is nevertheless devoted to the GOP. “This race isn’t just about me in Washington. I hope they don’t think this is a one-time thing,” said Williams. “This is a race about the Republican Party in D.C., New York, Chicago,” he continued, checking off Democratic strongholds wherein future Republicans could compete.
First Things First
But, with the current majority threatened, how is an expansion possible? The majority is the more pressing issue, and step one of the process.
The ingredients of the CRNC get-together are ones to which Republicans in power should pay attention. Young, loyal candidates willing to say what is wrong and what needs to be done combined with even younger, enthusiastic foot soldiers willing to keep the grassroots (and majority) strong.
Only from within can the Republican Party renew itself and return to a day where a conservative ideology informed lower taxes and less spending. That’s what America elected in 1994, and that’s what they’d vote for again if given the chance.
The tasks of changing while maintaining power are daunting ones, and only the youth of the GOP has the energy and the belief to do both at once.