(Centennial Staffer) How can we build a robust, inclusive, and dynamic conservative strategy and agenda, conducive to the 21st century? This blog is the second in a three–part series exploring that challenge. I invited some comments from a friend of mine, Jim Banks, who currently serves as Executive Director of the Responsible Youth PAC.
The two questions I posited to him are: 1) How should conservatives appeal to our generation? and 2) How can conservatism be dynamic, so as to appeal to our generation when we come to maturation in 2050, with all the demographic change between now and then?
Here is the reply from Jim Banks:
1) How should conservatives appeal to our generation? This question is simple when considering the status of our country right now. The debt our country is incurring will be a financial burden on our generation for not years, but decades to come. If you need any proof, just take one look at our debt on www.usdebtclock.org. When we’re tens of trillions of dollars in debt, It’s going to take a whole lot more than the 112th Congress to fix things.
So our generation faces a decision. We can choose to support the ways of past congresses and maintain a dedication to spending, government handouts, and irresponsibility, or we can choose to actually tackle this debt head on. Our generation is still fairly young, but the sooner we realize what a financial storm is on the horizon should we not confront this debt, the likelier we are to be able to handle it.
It is the responsibility of the conservative movement at large to inform our generation of what is on the way. There are many people our age who can’t relate with what the debt means to our country and the sooner they learn the better. Conservative, Liberal, Moderate, Libertarian, apathetic, it doesn’t matter who it is. We need to begin this conversation now so that we are prepared for what’s to come when we come of age.
Liberals and progressives are the ones who are perpetuating this spending and thus cannot be expected to be the ones who commit to resolving it. We need to send this message of fiscal responsibility far and wide and people will come.
That is not to say that social conservatism or national defense based conservatism is less important. But I know people who have recently graduated and are about to graduate. While they may be passionate about pro–life causes or what’s going on in the Middle East, their one commonality is that they are all looking for jobs. And in this tough economy jobs are hard to find. In a perfect world, we could convincingly market all the branches of conservatism to the youth and expand the movement as a whole. But with what is going on financially in the country we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good and we must prioritize promoting fiscal responsibility first to grow the conservative movement youth.
2) How can conservatism be dynamic, so as to appeal to our generation when we come to maturation in 2050, with all the demographic change between now and then?
This is an interesting question. One thing I think must be realized before I address this question is the fact that I honestly cannot tell you what this country will look like in 39 years. And anyone who tries to tell you that they do is either lying, has an agenda, or is honestly a genius well ahead of their time. I don’t say this out of spite, but because our world is ever changing. Nobody during the space race of the late 60’s and early 70’s could have predicted that in 40 years we wouldn’t have been back to the Moon since. If you watch a movie from the 90’s you’ll see the old mobile phones which look like a massive block of plastic and electronics. Now you have touch screen phones with internet access which exceeds the capabilities of some of the computers of the time.
What conservatism brings to our country’s culture and heritage is an appreciation of our nation’s roots. The conservative movement is based on a respect and reverence for our Constitution and the beliefs of the Founding Fathers. This gives us a perspective on the issues of the modern day which is grounded in what made our country what it is today.
These traditional beliefs and values are universal and convey the message of freedom, limited government, personal responsibility, and a pride in our unique system of government. This is a message which can appeal to anyone of any age, of any demographic. There is a reason people immigrate to the US to start a new life. You don’t tend to see citizens leaving the US for opportunities in other countries and there’s a good reason for that.
Conservatism is dynamic in its nature in that it is solely based off of a universal philosophy which does not put one demographic above another. Everyone has an opportunity to succeed, and it is up to them to choose how they want to use that chance. We need to do outreach to people of all backgrounds not because we need those people to make us a legitimate movement, but because there are many people who are conservative, but have been taught otherwise. Our ideals transcend demographics and we must make people realize that. Not only would it give us new opportunities to expand our movement, but it would give new life to the discourse about what makes us conservative and the issues of today. And this is just as true for 2050 as it is for today.
Note: Jim Banks currently serves as Executive Director of the Responsible Youth PAC and is a sophomore at American University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (973) 600–5457. More information on the Responsible Youth PAC can be found at www.responsibleyouth.org. Eric Garza of Texas contributed the first blog in this three–part series. Read it here. The culmination of the series will be commentary from the Students for Mitt campaign.