Steamboat Springs “We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive and free.”
— Ronald Reagan, Sept. 29, 1981
This quote jumps out at me the week following my first attendance at a tea party event. I admit I entered as a skeptic, uncertain if I was ready to be labeled in any direction, and unsure whether I could find relevance and meaning in a fringe political party. I was surprised. The people I met at the 1773 Club meeting were busy. Many of those present own multiple companies and have far less time than I to be stepping out of the box. I did not meet anybody whom I would classify as a “radical.” No guns were shot, no discrimination present and no animals harmed during the course of the evening. What the group did lack, though, was youth. I accounted for about one-third of the individuals younger than 30. For a group aiming to change the direction of a nation, the problem of youth recruitment is no small problem.
For too long, the mantra of the conservative party has pushed the graduating generations away by proclaiming that we should aim backward at the “good old days.” If you listen to 10 minutes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, or any of the other conservative commentators, you instantly will be referenced to the “post-war era,” the “Greatest Generation” and the Founding Fathers. Conservatives these days are scared, and they have reasons to be, but we must remember to look forward with excitement. If you can recall the feeling of graduating and entering the world, you were excited. The beauty of America is in its freedom and the opportunities that freedom provides. It is critical that all conservatives keep this point in mind when appealing to the younger generations. A graduate is not interested in hearing that the world is falling apart. They are looking to their peers and mentors for guidance. If conservatives want to be that guidance, they will have to show the youth that it is conservative policies that lead to prosperity.
The argument is a simple matter of alternatives. Liberals will tell you they’re going to take care of you. They will tell you that government can provide, and it can, for a while. Government can mandate and enforce and punish. Government can regulate, and liberals love to regulate. But the consequence of regulation is stagnation. As America has transitioned away from manufacturing; we have remained leaders because in America you can invent, create and prosper. We have succeeded by the freedoms we hold so close. Liberals will tell you that greed has resulted from that prosperity. Are there some who take advantage? Yes. Should they be punished? Yes. Is the answer to enforce blanket regulations across every industry? No. Is the answer to nationalize global companies? No. If left alone, liberals would find that after all the mandating, enforcing and taxing, the small percentage that pays for all the public entitlements eventually will quit. At this point, liberals would tell you they did their best, and they tried really hard, but they just can’t figure out why no one will work without profits. Liberals want you to hope. They have made “hope” and “change” stand for giving up control. The conservative way avoids hope and relies on a plan for change. That is why the world is always an open book to a conservative-minded youth.
If you are young and looking for guidance, consider this: The greatest generation has yet to live. The Industrial Revolution changed America into a manufacturing machine and created a new era of productivity and efficiency that was before unknown. We are experiencing the same leaps right now. The upcoming generations will be more efficient and productive than any that have existed. Graduates today can do more with a smart phone and an hour of spare time than could be done with five men and a day 50 years ago. We are, and will continue to be, the leaders and pushers of the most productive era ever known. Under conservative polices these improvements in productivity and efficiency will flourish, and that is something to be excited about. That is the reason a graduate should be a conservative, to ensure that every coming generation is the greatest.