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Young conservatives unite!

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: May 12, 2008 2:50 a.m.
Updated: July 13, 2008 5:02 a.m.
It's no secret that Ronald Reagan is my hero. For as long as I can remember, I have appreciated the ideals of the conservative movement, and I sincerely believe that if more voters my age (the coveted Gen-Xers) truly understood those values and the long-term implications of the policies generated by those positions, more would support conservative causes and candidates.

But recently, I've noticed many of my colleagues and contemporaries have swung so far to the left that conservatism has become a naughty word in their vocabularies. So I have to ask, where are all of the young conservatives?

California has not exactly been a bastion of political conservatism in the last decade, but lately, the statistics are becoming alarming. According to the California Secretary of State, about half of Los Angeles County's four million registered voters (51 percent) are Democrats, while only 27 percent are Republicans. Statewide, the Democratic Party currently has an advantage of 1.3 million voters over the Republican Party (6.7 million to 5.4 million), or 8 percentage points (42.5 percent to 34.2 percent).

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, of newly registered voters in the County, 55 percent are identifying with the Democratic Party, while only 31 percent of first-time registrants are Republican.

Another factor contributing to the dramatic political pendulum swing is the significant increase in the number of voters registering as independent or "decline to state." Between the 1988 and 2004 presidential elections, the share of California voters registered as "decline to state" doubled (9 percent to 17.7 percent). Further, Independents (23 percent) have more likely voters in the 18-to-24-year-old age group than Democrats (17 percent) or Republicans (14 percent).

Recently in Ventura County, more than a few conservative eyebrows were raised when it was reported that the county had seen 12,000 newly registered Democrats from June 2006 to March 2008. For the first time, the traditionally "red" county turned "blue" — along with the general mood of the Republican leadership in the state.

So my question to the conservative leaders of this state is: What are we going to do about it? What needs to be done to win back our majority of registered voters in Ventura County? How do we reclaim a majority of elected representatives in the California Legislature? Whom do we need to convince?

I truly believe that the future of the Republican Party rests with the young voters of this nation. For years, the GOP has been viewed by my fellow Gen Xers as "the party of our parents," older voters, and those who favor the status quo because they are afraid of change. But this is not the party I know and love. I love change! New ideas are what make this country unique and successful.

But change for change's sake is not a good plan — or political platform. A deliberate purpose and direction for change is necessary to ensure that the goal is achieved.

This is where the 2008 young conservatives come into play. Conservative issues like immigration reform, stabilization of our capitalist economy, and a strong national defense are all issues central to the upcoming presidential election, and all are important to voters.

If conservative leaders set a goal, uses these issues to their advantage, and successfully appeal to young voters' concerns with purpose and direction, those young independents and declines–to-state will identify with the conservative policies, come out and vote, and ensure that conservative initiatives and candidates win in November.

So this is my call to action — young conservatives, unite! We need to make this nation stand up and take notice of our activism, of our beliefs, and of the platforms that we love. Let's put a new spin on the Grand Old Party and reclaim the past glories of the party of Reagan!

Brian Koegle is a local attorney and Republican activist. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. Right Here Right Now runs Mondays in The Signal and rotates among local Republicans.


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