Last Saturday I did something I had never done before. I went to my county’s Republican delegate convention at 7:45AM – yes on a Saturday it was that crazy. (My boyfriend also came with me winning major points because it was his birthday.)
What I learned was simple – Republicans repel millennials. Here are 3 ways they do it so effectively.
Ignore All Newcomers Under 50 years old.
We made our way through the crowd of hundreds of people trying to find the right registration table and information – for the most part we were greeted with sharp rude words (minus a few people from my precinct) – we looked like outsiders among the sea of grey haired white men and women sporting red, white and blue.
I didn’t know a soul there, which is not that unusual for me. I’ve attended a lot of meetings and I’m very comfortable meeting new people. Usually I walk in and there’s someone there welcoming new people pointing them in the right direction – but not here. To make it worse, I showed up without the “proper” registration information. Turns out you have to request the paperwork well in advance, and they snail mail it to you (where is 21st century technology in that?). Never-the-less we were interested in seeing how the process worked; and frankly the idea of a possible national brokered convention this election made me want to see how delegates are actually chosen. I assumed the struggling Republican party in dire need of diversity in any form would embrace two millennials giving up their Saturday to join the process.
But I quickly realized they have absolutely no desire to bring new people into the party, and that realization became even more evident as the day wore on. Why they weren’t interested in getting a couple of millennials involved is anyone’s guess. Maybe they’ve never seen a young person at one of these meetings. Maybe they have bought into the idea that no one in my generation knows or cares about conservative principles. Or maybe they simply don’t want anyone new who might threaten the power and authority of those currently in leadership in the Republican Party. Maybe no one wants to give up their title or position.
Regardless of why, it was clear from my first Republican delegate convention that my generation may be more welcome at another party.
2. Disregard the Value of Time and the Adoption of Efficient Processes
I knew the Republican process was old school and I was prepared for some of that, but it was way worse than I imagined. It was almost as if we had shown up at a political meeting from 50 years ago. Registration lasted an hour and a half. The rules of how the meeting would be conducted were debated for three hours – just the rules! Then they spent another couple of hours discussing in committees who would be chosen for delegates.
I watched the convention chairwoman angrily debate those on the floor, or anyone who asked a question. If she represents the spirit of the Grand Old Party, then I realized this party seems to care more about the rules and the process than they do about the people and preserving the principles that the party is supposed to represent. This is scary. Is this the last bastion of defenders of the great principles of capitalism, free markets, personal responsibility, limited government. Because if it is we should be very concerned. To me it appeared no progress was made in the meeting – certainly no real progress, no progress by the people for the people. Instead, it was merely a circus of rules and procedures that accomplished nothing but taking up time.
This meeting was not structured in a way to make it easy for new people to join the great political process that has guided our nation for over 200 years.
I stayed as long as I could until I couldn’t take it any longer. So much for the 3:30 ending time on the brochure. The meeting that accomplished nothing lasted over 7 HOURS!
3. It’s Not About What You Know or How Much You Care, But Who You Know.
Ok, so I always like to look for at least one positive thing in everything. So here’s my one thing positive – they allowed us regular people to sit in on the delegate committee’s decisions regarding who would be chosen as delegates. I stood there dumbfounded as they read the rules for me to be in the room. I was not to speak. I was not to ask any questions or make any comments regarding the process or the people being considered as delegates. No one was to interrupt the committee for any reason.
Five minutes into the meeting a man walked in and immediately apologized for interrupting. He was a precinct chairman. He proceeded to explain to them why his daughter, who wasn’t even at the meeting, should be chosen as a delegate. The committee all nodded with affirmation and responded by saying they would “take care of her.” They obviously knew him. They were all friends, and that was all that was needed for his daughter to be chosen as a delegate. So much for those of us who for love of our country gave up our Saturday to engage in the political process to make a difference in our country.
I had a pit in my stomach. Why was I here with these unfriendly people in this 7-hour meeting that wasn’t going to produce anything? My parents don’t sit on any committees and they certainly aren’t politicians so it looks like there isn’t enough “I care” to make a difference in this party. One lady said to me, “well now you will know how to do this better when you come back in two years.” Right. Maybe it will all be better in two years.
This is symptomatic of what’s wrong and broken with the Republican party. They don’t embrace newcomers. They are stuck in an old school system resembling that of 50 years ago and for them it’s politics as usual – this from a group that claims to stand for and defend principles. Concerning.
The Republican party is dying. Millennials (my generation) make up over 83 million people today in the U.S. – the largest generation in our history. And it seems Republicans have no desire to reach us and no desire to change with the times. The Republican Party is repelling the millennial generation through their resistance to change and their love of politics as usual.
Oh by the way – if you are a millennial who has had a better experience with the GOP please tell me about it. I would love to know!