I have not been a part of the political world for very long. I was always interested, just not involved— until the election.
During the summer of 2016, I became a Trump supporter, a Milo adorer, and a frequent purveyor of far right news and conspiracy theories. My political experience occurred almost entirely on Twitter. I was not exposed to the many intricacies of the Republican Party on Twitter’s platform, but then I went to Forge Leadership Summit. I met true, principled conservatives there— something I forgot I once was in my quest to get Trump elected by all means necessary. I didn’t fully return to my Christian conservative roots until after election night.
I grew my new political ideology on Twitter. I was originally influenced by Milo, Cernovich, Paul Joseph Watson, Ann Coulter, and other commentators. I also sought out people my own age, often times college students fighting the good fight on their campuses. This is where I fell into place, battling online for the rights and liberties of students. When classes started up again in the fall, I began to lay plans to start a Turning Point USA chapter at my school. I debated people online and in person. I lived in the land of countering liberal arguments and using philosophy to change minds.
The only political life I had lived so far had been on campus and on Twitter. That is until I went to the Montgomery County Lincoln Day Dinner and was really introduced to the Republican Party. Suddenly, I understood why everyone thought all republicans were old and white. The only person of color in the room was the main speaker. The other thing was there was no discussion of philosophy, there was no talk about safe-spaces, there was no mention of the growing support for socialism.
Generally, the tragedy happening on college campuses was left to rot in the dark. I was unsettled to say the least. Here I was, a front-line fighter for this party, and everything I had worked towards, every idea I had fought for or against, wasn’t even mentioned. It really was a few hundred old people patting themselves on the back for a good year of campaigning.
Seats are obviously important in order to change policy and help people, but surely winning new minds is just as crucial.
There was an obvious generational disparity. I was one of maybe five college students in attendance. In hindsight, I don’t know why I would have thought that these people would care about college students and the war that is taking place on campuses across the nation. They should care, but I don’t know why I thought they would. It crossed my mind that they just might not know about what is happening on campus.
My reasoning was confirmed when I was asked by a fellow dinner companion (being so young made me a popular person at the table) how I have been able to cross the generational line and connect with older members of the Republican Party. I fumbled through answering because, truthfully, I didn’t know. I never had to deal with anyone in the Republican or Libertarian camps who was over 30, or wasn’t dedicated to the ideological war on campus. Obviously, my dinner-mates didn’t know how to cross lines either. Clearly, something was wrong with this picture.
The Republican Party, though appearing strong on the surface, and rest assured we are more put-together than the democrats, is being torn from all sides. There are the establishment Republicans, the true free-market conservatives, evangelicals, and the newest members: Trumpian conservatives.
The party has had an identity crisis since the election began.
Everyone thought it was solved with the nomination and election of Trump, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Trump’s election bought his supporters more foothold in the party and it was purchased at bottom dollar from the establishment, to the chagrin of the evangelicals, and free-market conservatives. Clearly, the party is in need of some major overhaul, lest it die and be replaced by one or multiple parties. The focus must shift from just winning races to stay alive, to governing correctly and changing minds. These are equally important ideals. The more minds we can save from leftist campus indoctrination, the more seats we can win; and the more seats we can win, the more we can loosen the hold democrats have on inner cities and universities.
These are very basic ideas that all republicans can get behind. The only thing standing in the way is ourselves.
I don’t know if I’ll ever fit in at a Lincoln Day Dinner and the generational gap may never be overcome. The Republican Party might fracture and split. Trumpian conservatives might take a commanding presence, but I am confident in this: As long as we can get, and stay, on the same page, conservative policies and ideas will save the country.