How can we build a robust, inclusive, and dynamic conservative strategy and agenda, conducive to the 21st century? This blog is the first in a three-part series exploring that challenge. I invited some comments from a friend of mine, Eric Garza, who currently serves in a dual capacity as vice chairman of the Latino National Republican Coalition of Texas and executive director of a group called CONSERVO (Council on Service, Education, Representation of Values, and Opportunity).
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?
Eric Garza responded:
Being a conservative in American has never been as popular within the last decade. Since the time of President Reagan, America has seen its share of both a liberal and conservative agendas. Yet never before, has the United States seen so much unprecedented growth of the federal government and such an increase in our federal debt. Our generation, from the 1980s - early 1990's, and though still young, finds itself right in the middle of the economic turmoil caused by the current liberal agenda in Washington. Many in our group lack employment or have endured long periods without sustaining income. This generation of Americans is full of incredible potential and a true hope for our nation's future.
As the future leaders of the both the public and private sectors, conservatives have their work cut out in appealing to this unique group with policies that cultivate economic growth and sustainability. Fiscal responsibility, a high point of conservatism, needs to be practiced in order for our generation to live by example and adapt. After all, an economically sound country opens room to deal with other domestic policies such as education and health care that directly affect this generation. Conservatism that is far-right leaning regarding social and economic policies and that does not take into account a wider range of ideas, will merely grow the distance between our generation and conservatism.
Conservatives need to realize the rapidly changing population in the American electorate and in our own generation. Hispanics are the largest increasing demographic and while conservative at heart, they often vote for liberal agendas and candidates because of the lack of appeal from the conservative arena. Far-right rhetoric that refuses to come center on issues such as immigration alienates this important sector of the population and in large part our whole generation of young Americans. Apart from Hispanics, our generation has seen growth in young professionals who have already begun to cultivate their own belief systems. The most crucial aspect in appealing to this generation is to put a walk to our talk. No longer is conservative rhetoric enough to entice our generation but a conviction to act on our behalf and implement initiatives we can live with and that in the long turn, benefit us.
Conservatism is a good thing when used appropriately to draw in voters of all ages, more specifically of our generation. We often times mistake conservatism for a far-right agenda. Yes, at times it can mean that, but more importantly it means a way of life that many can adapt to and ensure this ideology remains alive and well for generations to come. Limited government, fiscal responsibility, and strong national defense, are all significant facets of being a conservative. Lets embrace a dynamic shift in these ideas like never before, live by them, and then, only then, will we watch our generation (comprised, in large part, of Hispanics) come into the fold and remain well past 2050 and beyond.
Eric Garza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (956) 465-8499. The Latino National Republican Coalition of Texas’ website is www.lnrctexas.org. My next blog in this three-part series will explore the same questions with young leaders in Students for Mitt Romney.