I am always wary of those who purport to speak for their respective generation, and a recent New York Post op-ed by a self-espoused libertarian student at New York University put on full display exactly what the Republican Party must abandon in the years ahead.
In close to 700 words, writer Rikki Schlott calls for the GOP to “compromise on social and environmental issues and stand up to leftist extremism,” ignoring that these two are different sides of the same strategic coin. Schlott concedes a talking point that merely assists the left in its campaign to smear Republicans — especially those in Gen Z — as operating in “extremist fringes” who need to be like their predecessors and champion old neoconservatism.
“As the GOP rebrands in the post-Trump, post-pandemic era, it has a huge opportunity to make inroads with this new, open-minded contingent,” she writes. “But appealing to Gen Z will require significant modernization — and compromise. Calls for progress are coming from young voters of every political persuasion. In fact, while Gen Z Democrats are almost politically identical to their older counterparts, generational differences among Republicans are far more stark.”
Even if we are to submit to polling that finds Gen Z is “driven by anti-Trump backlash” and more Independent than categorically conservative “appealing to Gen Z” and its supposed more moderate nature should be far from the primary, secondary, or tertiary objective of the Trump-shifted GOP. As Evita Duffy pointed out in The Federalist last year, polling indicates Gen Z, even while in their likely most liberal youthful years, are significantly more socially moderate than millennials.
Thus, the idea that “appealing to Gen Z will require significant modernization — and compromise” is ill-supported, and a losing strategy. Conservatives who wish to target the left’s institutional monopoly and overhaul of morally shared principles would lay themselves a booby trap by continuing to compromise with the radically left Democratic Party of today.
The GOP ought to instead focus on reinforcing social conservatism as advantageous. Not doing so is a naive rejection of the last four years, which proved there is a massive constituency for taking on the culture war rather than conceding it. Republicans in the past have neglected these voters in favor of the same old fiscal promises that never materialize.
“If the GOP can deliver viable, free-market alternatives to the restrictive environmental policies coming from the left, their appeal to Gen Z would skyrocket,” Schlott argues. “Pushing for innovation and offering economic incentives to businesses fighting climate change is just one way the GOP could show it’s on team green.”
The very last thing Republicans should be doing is keeping government’s dead hand on the scale to push one scientific understanding of climate change and its effects, which Democrats have universally campaigned on as a means to expand government and harm the American worker. Worse, Schlott also claims it would be wise for the GOP to join this effort to destabilize the energy industry and provide more opportunities for corporations to yield even more power. In making this claim, the writer cites John Olds, the president of the essentially liberal group Gen Z GOP.
Olds says, “If the GOP were to reshuffle its priorities a little bit to address generational issues and present conservative solutions, they would make huge progress with Generation Z,” producing a blanket statement all too familiar from the work Gen Z GOP does.
As Saagar Enjeti rightly pointed out last summer upon the group releasing a promotional video, Gen Z GOP is “basically Bidenism-lite” and a product of the corporate elites who have run the Republican Party for far too long. More than just playing the old game of conservative defense, Schlott and Olds essentially call for Republicans to not be conservative at all. In all this, one wonders as always what is the point of being Republican if it is, as Phyllis Schlafly once said, merely an echo of Democrats rather than offering voters a clearly different political choice.
“Meanwhile, Gen Z Republicans say society does not do enough to accept gender non-conforming people at a rate three times higher than some older Republican generations,” Schlott writes. “Many Gen Z voters imagine Republicans as rigid, evangelizing traditionalists. By adopting a more live-and-let-live philosophy in favor of cultural conservatism, the GOP would appeal to more young people.”
A “live-and-let-live” philosophy is exactly what propelled America into the mess we find ourselves in today. While American jobs got shipped overseas, leftists manipulated language, sexual anarchy took over the country, and Big Tech and Big Business grew into oligarchies, Republicans pushed tax cuts and never seriously cut federal spending.
If “appealing to more young people” means forfeiting a moral society in favor of worshiping the application of market activities through open borders, the killing of the unborn, and allowing critical race theory to hijack the education system, you can count me out. If a “free market” means putting the force of law behind constituencies that demand “bake the cake, bigot,” it’s clear once again that libertarian slogans are being deceitfully deployed to destroy historic American freedoms.
“In short, the GOP should work on rebranding as the modern, reasonable, solutions-oriented party,” Schlott concludes. “If Republicans succeed in crafting this new identity, it will make enormous strides with young voters and secure its future.”
Schlott is operating on a very different definition about what is “modern” and “reasonable” than those seeking a GOP that works for more than just Wall Street. The way to solve America’s issues and connect with conservative voters is not to parrot libertarian talking points.