Will Rand Paul Change How Millennials See Politics?

Will Rand Paul Change How Millennials See Politics?

There has been much grumbling about the superior Democratic ground game in the past two elections. The GOP is routinely criticized for operating its campaign from an out-of-reach place, further reinforcing the perception of stodgy old Republicans that are out of touch with everyday Americans. Rand Paul is determined to change that. He has been “boots on the ground,” visiting more than two thirds of the country in the past year. His continued focus on personal liberties, and in particular privacy, could ultimately help the Republicans to secure the much needed youth vote from Millennials.

Senator Paul has been traveling the country in a tireless campaign to reach out to those who are disaffected and historically overlooked by his party. He recognizes the disconnect between the traditional political model and the decidedly pragmatic views of today’s generation—the Millennials. It seems that, unlike his predecessors, Rand Paul gets it.

In reference to a speech that was (predictably) well received at CPAC and (surprisingly) met with a standing ovation at Berkeley, he recently stated “I think it shows people that the old politics of everybody fitting neatly in one category, Republican or Democrat, may not be where the country is.

“I think young people fit in that category. While they voted for President Obama, they’re somewhat disillusioned with his collection of their phone records, and I think they are open to somebody [else], regardless of parties. I think young people are up for grabs for either party. They’re not up for grabs if you’re not willing to defend their right to privacy.” (Politico)

The clapping kids at Berkeley strongly indicate that Paul’s message of protecting privacy and preserving fundamental personal liberties could translate to securing the youth vote in 2016.

There is no utility in the relentless comparisons between generations (i.e. Baby Boomers and Millennials). This is a different era, and although many of the struggles are the same—today’s youth have a vastly different modus operandi from their parents.

In a study conducted by political scientist Michelle Diggles, she states that Millennials “may be voting for Democrats in wider margins than Republicans, but there’s no indication that they have bought the ‘prix fixe’ menu of policy options historically offered by the Democratic Party, nor that brand loyalty to the Party will cement them as Democrats forever.”

“Yet while Republican claims that these voters are winnable in future elections are plausible, they, too, have been asking younger voters to agree to a multi-course tasting menu with limited options.”

“Millennials are pragmatic – they want to know what works and are willing to take ideas from each side. They eschew ideological purity tests of the past. In short, they are winnable by both parties, if only policymakers understood and reflected their values.” (National Journal)

Millennials are aware that there is little difference between Republicans and Democrats as they ultimately answer to the same corporate entities and both insist on violating personal liberties. The long-standing conspiratorial grumblings of folks on the fringe are now embraced by the younger generation as fact: that the two party system is little more than a divide and conquer strategy. Look no further than the missed opportunity of past presidential hopeful Ron Paul. Millennials are waking up to the trap set for them by both sides of the aisle. They no longer want to fight each other as politicians intend—they are instead bucking the establishment itself. Enter Rand Paul.

Millennials expected change as a result of the past two elections. Disenchanted Millennials understand that they only got more of the same. Young voters comprise a quarter of voting age Americans, and half of them refuse to align with either party.

“The days of political brand loyalty are over. Millennials are demanding politicians offer us a product we actually want.” (Rare)

Indeed, the build to order generation of Millennials has cast aside traditional blind loyalties in favor of a pragmatic sifting through of what works for them. They want action and results, not eloquent speeches to nowhere. Paul recognizes that the opportunity—and the need—to harness the youth vote is very real, and very urgent. Will Rand Paul connect with a generation of young Americans not content to go along with the tired and ineffective status quo? Share your thoughts below. Follow us on Twitter or leave a comment on Facebook.

Written by Adam Michael Hamilton

(Photo courtesy of Cliff, via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

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