Andrew Griffin: Why millennials are vital to the survival of the GOP

andrew griffinLast week I had the opportunity to speak to the Appomattox County Republicans. One of my opponents’ representatives used his platform to take a personal swipe at my age, indirectly encouraging me to wait my turn and let the older generations with more experience take the helm. The irony in his statement is that our nation’s fourth President and the father of our Constitution was none other than James Madison – who was the first person to represent Virginia’s Fifth Congressional district at the ripe age of 29.

The dismissive tone of this person is of no concern to me. What was alarming however, was that despite a political landscape that is shifting in unprecedented ways, the Republican establishment continues to disenfranchise a huge voting bloc in millennials. This generational gap could prove detrimental to a party that has been losing its identity now for decades.

Among the most pressing issues that I frequently highlight is the fact that student loan debt is just below $1.5 trillion and continuing to rise – as is the number of young people defaulting on loans each year and the number of recent graduates unable to find good jobs. The Department of Education has continued to overreach on its authority thereby incentivizing colleges to increase enrollment and raise tuition, all while holding little accountability to adequately prepare future graduates to contribute to an evolving workforce in areas where there are huge skills gaps in the market. It is also important to remember that unlike mortgage or car loans, student loans are based off of future income so the ability for repayment in today’s economy is much more uncertain.

I also routinely address issues such as social security solvency for future generations because this has always been a program based off of inter-generational support for one another. What we are seeing now is the retirement of the baby boomers without having an adequate workforce of millennials to sustain this flawed pay-as-you-go system. On that note we have a government that has exponentially increased the debt leaving tens of trillions for future generations – i.e. millennials and beyond – to pay back.

While these issues are not as appealing to highlight during a national debate, they are growing concerns to an age bracket of voters who have been increasingly neglected. In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau found that at over 25% of the population, amassing 83 million people, millennials have surpassed the baby boomer population. As such, it only makes sense to begin bridging the gap between those who will be dictating elections for decades to come. The rise of Bernie Sanders is a testament to the willingness of young people to get involved, but they need to hear ideas and solutions about issues that most directly affect them. This is where the problem begins for the GOP.

The Republican Party was once the party of ideas and unity. Democrats are quick to forget that it was a Republican President in Lincoln that abolished slavery. With this, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 rode a wave of Republican support, far exceeding Democratic support in the process – before being signed into law. Senator Aaron Sargent, a Republican from California, is credited with first introducing legislation that instituted the 19th amendment – thereby allowing women to vote. Over the years however, Republicans have gradually veered away from the ideas that once separated us from the left. The inclusiveness of our agenda has not remained steadfast and we are on the brink of losing the next wave of American voters.

It is time for Republicans to begin moving back to the conservative principles that once differentiated us from the Democratic Party. This movement would re-establish a party that finds solutions to problems that have led this nation into the fray, regardless of race, gender, or age.

​Andrew Griffin​ is a candidate for the Fifth District Republican congressional nomination.



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