This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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5.6%. What does this dismal percentage represent? Unlike most statistics in the news today, 5.6% has nothing to do with COVID-19, protests, or presidential approval ratings. 5.6% has to do with the United States 116th Congress. Only 5.6% of Congress is made up of members under the age of 40.
Broken down, no senators are under 40, and only 30 House members are. Out of this, 12 are Republican. Only 12. This country only has 12 people representing the conservative faction of millennials and Generation Z. This has got to change, and it is. Who’s leading the change though? Young, conservative activists who will grow into tomorrow’s leaders.
This past August, the country wrapped up its two national conventions. At the Democratic National Convention, we saw many familiar faces like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Hillary Clinton (who was probably having some deja vù). At the Republican National Convention, however, America got a nice, much-needed breath of fresh air, fresh faces and fresh messages. One of those messages: America needs its young people. The Republican Party showed that they meant this message in two parts. In one part, they had older, Republican leaders speak on how young people fit into their vision of America. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley was eager to speak to this. Ambassador Haley said, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America. It’s time to keep that blessing alive for the next generation. This President, and this Party, are committed to that noble task.” This commitment to America’s young citizens is not just another rhetoric. The Republican Party means it.
Commitment to Young Conservatives
The party displayed the commitment by inviting young conservatives, all under the age of 35, to speak at the convention. Charlie Kirk, Nicholas Sandmann, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and three of the under-40 Trump children were invited to speak on why they are supporting President Donald Trump. All of these leaders have been criticized for their conservative values and told they do not represent the views of young people.
It is not easy being a young conservative. Our ideas and views are attacked by so many. However, our views are not ignored. In fact, they are recognized for their difficulty to share. In a speech to Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit in 2019, President Trump said, “You’ve paid and paved your own way to get here. And, in some cases, it wasn’t easy. And you’ve done it for all of us. You’ve done it for one simple reason: you are loyal to our nation, you are devoted to your fellow citizens, and you will always put America first.”
This is the definition of young conservatives. People who will always put America first. The convention’s young speakers’ presidential choice is not the only thing that reached viewers. These moving speeches showed the country that not all young people are radicals or progressives; these speeches showed that there is a conservative generation. A generation that will take up the mantle of the Republican party when their time comes. A generation that will support our troops, our police force, and our conservative values. These were things the country desperately needed to hear.
More Representation Needed
There is a huge faction of 18-40 year olds who are conservative, level-headed people, but they are not overly represented. When people think of a young, Republican leader they often think of Candace Owens or Ben Shapiro. While these activists are leading young Republicans in the media and the social aspect of activism, there are not many who are leading in the government.
Leaders like Matt Gaetz (38, FL-01) and Dan Crenshaw (36, TX-02) represent conservative 18-40 year-olds very well in Congress, but are drowned out by those representing the 18-40 faction of the Democratic party. Not all young people align with the views of leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (30, NY-14) or Eric Swalwell (39, CA-15). These young representatives who demand radical things like police defunding, fully open borders, and higher taxes on the working class are not representing all young people. The citizens of this country need to know that they have a younger generation who will represent the Republican Party after the current generation is done leading.
This year, we have many young conservatives running to represent young, conservative voices in Congress. Madison Cawthorn (25, who, if elected, will be the youngest member of Congress) in NC-11, Lauren Boebert (33) in CO-03, and Kimberly Klacik (38) in MD-07 are running to make sure that young, conservative voices will be heard for many years to come. These leaders will change the narrative that all young people aren’t conservative. This change will give hope to the young, conservative Republicans who are waiting for their turn to lead.
“if you don’t think young people can change the world, then you just don’t know American history. – Madison Cawthorn, RNC Speech