Millennials, Debates, & The Future of the GOP.

Over the past few weeks, my life has resolved around the Millennial Advocacy Council PAC and our Inaugural Phoenix Summit. Between event planning, fundraising, and debate coordinating, I had very little time to sleep, let alone blog. Now as the dust settles and my routine somewhat returns to normalcy, I couldn’t imagine a better topic to break my radio silence with than MAC-PAC.

But first off, I’d like to thank everyone who helped make the Phoenix Summit a success, especially my fellow MAC-PAC founders (you know who you are) and everyone who volunteered their time and talents to help us make the summit a success! A big shout out to Tanner Hirschfeld, Alex Lemieux, Shion Fenty, Alex Chrupcala, Hannah Morris, Peter Finocchio, and our awesome timekeepers Nadia Elgendy and Lauren Keiser!

Thank you to our guest speakers (in speaking order): Erich Reimer, Thomas Turner, Garrison Coward, Kyle Robinson, Delegate Nick Freitas, Richmond City Councilman Andreas Addison, Chatham Town Councilman Will Pace, Williamsburg City Councilman Benny Zhang, former Bedford Town Councilman Beck Stanley, candidates for the House of Delegates Laquan Austion, Emily Brewer, and Adam Roosevelt, and our keynote speaker: former Governor Jim Gilmore.

Thank you to our awesome debate moderator, RPV Chairman John Whitbeck!

Thank you to all our debate participants: Ed Gillespie, Denver Riggleman, Corey Stewart, Frank Wagner, Glenn Davis, Bryce Reeves, John Adams, & Chuck Smith. And thank you to Jill Vogel, who had a prior commitment at the time of the debate, but was able to join us for our lunch event earlier in the day. (And to set the record straight- Mr. Smith informed me prior to him agreeing to participate that there was a possibility he would arrive late due to earlier commitments in the day. We were more than happy to accommodate this by allowing him to jump in late if need be, if order to have him participate.)

And thank you to our wonderful sponsors, without whom none of this would have been possible: Terry Kilgore for Delegate, Scott Goodman, Jerry Kilgore, Glenn Davis for Lieutenant Governor, Jill Vogel for Lieutenant Governor, John Adams for Attorney General, the Restoring Economic Fundamentals PAC, VA Mainstream Project, Rob Wittman for Congress, Jason Eagleburger, Adam Roosevelt, former Governor Jim Gilmore, Del. Nick Freitas, Steven Harvey, and Tony Pham.

It all began last spring when Elliott Harding, Savannah Rozier, and I met at Urban Farmhouse in downtown Richmond, where we discussed the future of the Republican movement. At the time, I was discouraged by the political climate, frustrated with the direction of the Republican Party, but yet still optimistic about the future. For years, the Democratic Party has held a monopoly over the youth vote, a reality we were all unwilling to accept.

Republican principles of limited government and free enterprise could undoubtedly appeal to a generation of voters whose very success has been crippled by overzealous big government. A government that has inflated the cost of higher education, burying Millennials in student loan debt. A government that caused insurance premiums to skyrocket while attempting to subsidize a substandard healthcare system on the backs of Millennials. A government that created a broken criminal justice system that incarcerates more Millennials than any other American generation. A government that has been reckless in its spending, leaving behind nearly $20 trillions in debt (and counting) for Millennials and future generations to inherit.

Republicans have always had the right message, but they haven’t done the best job at delivering it to a younger audience. In recent years, Republicans have been busy played their own form of identity politics, oftentimes limiting their focus to their traditional bases of support, such as middle/upper class voters, the gun lobby, and evangelicals. For too long, Republicans have written off America largest voting bloc, conceding them to Democrats.

We knew something had to be done, or else Republicans would lose our generation forever. And we cannot settle for a future of government dependency in a world where hard work and responsibility are not valuable enough to be the sole provider of basic life necessities. We knew that our generation needed an advocate within the Republican Party, and that the Republican Party needed an advocate within our generation.

And if not us, then who? If not now, then when?

And thus, the Millennial Advocacy Council PAC was formed.

8 months ago, a group of twenty-something year old Republicans came together in an effort to advocate for Republican solutions to the unique problems facing our generation and usher in the next generation of Republican leadership. When we founded MAC-PAC, we decided to be the change we wished to see in the Republican Party. We got off the sidelines and into the fray.

In the weeks leading up to a rally at the Vice Presidential Debate hosted by Longwood University, MAC-PAC visited college towns across Virginia, listening to younger voters and discussing the issues facing America’s future. We reached out to local officials and state legislators, sharing our vision to grow the party younger. We worked to build a foundation of support by joining forces with fellow Millennials. We made plans to host a summit in Charlottesville in order to unite a younger generation of Republicans, focus on Millennial issues, and highlight the next generation of Republican leadership.

Then this past weekend, fueled by sheer determination, MAC-PAC hosted every single Republican statewide candidate for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general during MAC-PAC’s Phoenix Summit. At a debate hosted by Millennial Republicans, Republicans showed up to discuss a set of issues that matter to Millennial voters, but aren’t necessarily mainstream in Republican politics. As the media marveled, the debate remained shockingly civil and issue-centric. As we endure a particularly negative political climate, this non-controversial debate was a breath of fresh-air.

The MAC-PAC/NextGen Debate was a great showing of Republican unity behind Virginia’s future. Republicans may not always agree on everything, but the issues that directly impact younger and future generations are among those we tend to agree on. In recent years, Republicans have lost every statewide election in Virginia, but now we have an opportunity to break that trend by standing united behind our Republican principles. By uniting behind the future, Republicans can (and will) turn Virginia red once again.

They say that, “decisions are made by those who show up.” But the truth of this statement depends entirely upon your own definition of “showing up”. If you think that your mere physical presence qualities, you need to think again. Being there is only the first step in the process. To “show up,” you need to be more than present physically, you need to then step-up to make your presence known and your voice heard. You can make a difference and facilitate change if you are determined enough. No prior experience or special skills required.

The future belongs to those who seize the opportunity to create it. Don’t let others chose your future for you. Join the conversation. Pay attention to politics at the local and state levels. Be active in your community. Join your local party unit. Reach out to your elected representatives. Write letters to the editor. Start your own PAC. Run for office yourself. The future is now.

Do something. Make yourself heard. 

Be the change.

Because if you don’t… who will?