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The rage of innocents

To end its losing streak, Washington's GOP should adopt the old Ronald Reagan strategy and think young.

(Page 2 of 3)

More to the point, they argue that the Republican brand of politics and policies must change. And many see themselves leading that transformation.

UW sophomore Kyle Curtis is also gay, part Yakama (he left White Swan in the heart of the reservation to attend school) and secretary of the Washington State Log Cabin Republicans (LCRWA). Curtis agrees with Washington’s newly-elected Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the sole Republican to win statewide office last fall: “We need to be more principle-based and less platform-based,” says Curtis who is hopeful that Republicans’ recent losses at the polls “will cause us to reflect on what we’re doing wrong.”

As a self-proclaimed “moderate” Republican, Lauren Pardee believes that “the national party has to rebrand itself, become more inclusive and more moderate.” Pardee is a Republican because she believes in personal responsibility. She would like to see the party get back to its roots and focus on economics. She is skeptical of federal government solutions. “Decisions closer to the people who are affected is best,” she says.

A 2011 UW graduate, Pardee says she “was always willing to put myself out there as a Republican. It’s not very popular to do that.” Kyle Curtis, by contrast, often leaves his Republican affiliation off resumes and job applications.

While friends who are Democratic Party volunteers find jobs in government offices and progressive nonprofits, Republican volunteers like Pardee return to work at retail stores and restaurants.

Tony Williams, chair of a Bellevue-based Republican political consulting firm, served as chief of staff to former Sen. Slade Gorton. Back then he recalls employing 20 young people who were learning government as well as politics. "Team Gorton" was a formidable force in local politics, and its alumni went on to powerful roles within Microsoft, Boeing and other Northwest organizations.

"Today we don't know what to do with our young people,” says Williams. “They are attracted to movements and Rob's campaign (we thought) was a movement.” But what started as a movement fizzled by late summer.

“It was crushing to be honest,” says Pardee, about the loss. “It’s hard to get involved unless you really believe. When Rob lost it was like the air went out of the room.”

Asked if the loss made her more determined or less determined, Pardee pauses. “If you asked me three days after the loss I would have said I’m getting out of politics," she says. "Rob (McKenna) became grief counselor to everyone. He wants us to stay involved. Rob pushing is something that helps.”

In the wake of the 2012 election season, Kyle Curtis and his Collegiate Republicans got together to ask themselves two questions: Why did we lose? And what does the party need to do in order to survive?

There were predictable suggestions about more outreach to minorities, and about avoiding hot button social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. There was a sense that McKenna did not need to challenge Obama’s health care reform policy known as Obamacare, and support for Paul Ryan’s balanced budget approaches. And there was lots of frustration about being outclassed by the Democrats in campaign technology, something especially frustrating for younger workers.

A document written by UW's Collegiate Republicans noted that Democrats were better organized and resourced, especially from a technological standpoint. The Democrats provided UW students with a hotel room equipped with high tech phones, a set-up that completely outmatched the Republican phone-calling capacity.

A source familiar with the GOP's national campaign organization told Crosscut that there is a group of underlings in national headquarters who are interested in technology but that the party's leadership doesn’t really get it.

“They know they need to infuse technology into campaigns,” says the source, “but they are not yet in positions of authority to really make the budget shifts.”


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Jan 10, 8:11 a.m. Inappropriate

I think a big difference between conservative youth and liberal youth is in the expectations associated with their advocacy. Conservative youth see their activisms as independent, outside government. Liberal youth see their activisms as more inside. Liberal activists anticipate paid positions - be it in government or in a "non-profit" - as follow up to a period of activism that amounts to internship. For very many, what seems like public service, hides a self-service; an expectation that - if I march as a good foot soldier - the Party will reward me with a paid position. For very many, this has proven the case. Thus the growth of government and the EXPLOSION of "non-profits".

I also think very many young people are put off by the proselytizing of the left. Young people have rebellious streaks. The left - as represented by their unionized school teachers - teaches buzzwords and mantras. Critical thinking is discouraged; issues are pushed with slogans and opposition is countered with same. Question liberal authority and one is a racist, a homophobe, a sexist, pick a name. I think many young people are beginning to stand up to this intellectual bullying. Those that simply parrot The Party will be seen as the weak, group-dependent. Those that aspire to intellectual independence will despise the buzzword mind trap and - likely - those who submit to it most vocally.

BlueLight

Posted Sun, Jan 13, 1:44 p.m. Inappropriate

I attended high school in the late 70s, and already the liberal baby-boomer hippie generation was looked upon by most of my friends and acquaintances as the "establishment." To a large extent, we rebelled against them, "The Granolas". But we weren't conservatives. By and large we were, and still are, libertarians. A pox on both their houses was our philosophy. But we grew up in what was still largely a rural area (although it was showing signs of suburban gentrification with the tremendous influx of Californians). In many urban zones, especially Seattle, that leftist establishment is still the establishment, calcified and sclerotic though it may be.

dbreneman

Posted Thu, Jan 10, 12:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Even if the Republican Party put aside its focus on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, many younger voters still would be put off by the party's other policy positions -- anti-immigration, big military, security surveillance, lower taxes on the rich, no health care security, reduction in education funding, opposition to climate change actions, opposition to protections against discrimination for women, gays, and minorities, etc. etc. etc. The bottom line is that the party needs to change its fundamental positions, not just the rhetoric.

Posted Thu, Jan 10, 9:59 p.m. Inappropriate

The far-sighted Ronald Reagan expressed his solidarity with young folk by pioneering the practice of dying his hair orange -- long before it became the popular rage. Not aware of any tattoos or piercings, though.

woofer

Posted Thu, Jan 10, 10:48 p.m. Inappropriate

Furgit it, see? Ain't gonna reed it, see?
An rytin stuf iz an evun dummer thing ta do, see?
Yor librul idears ain't no good for nuthin, seeea?
De-mock-crazy librulizm ain't no good, seeez?
Yew an yur guvrnmint so an so Beez.
Furee Markits an coughie pleez.
Tee hee.

Wells

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