Ever since the RNC’s Growth & Opportunity Project was released after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss, a large part of the Republican Party’s mission has been to reach out to millennials, women, and minorities in an effort to diversify the party.
"Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents," the report stated. "When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us."
In her recent article for ELLE Magazine, Not With Her, But Not With Him: The Women of the New GOP, Rachel Combe interviewed eight conservative, young women who are “looking past November and are already at work building a Grand New Party,” on how they plan to appear more inclusive and empathetic.
"The goal is to show that Republicans have a heart," Alex Smith, CRNC National Chairman, said during her interview. "Look at Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute, House Speaker Paul Ryan's new agenda when it comes to addressing poverty. There are many different stripes of Republicans. Right now, I think we sometimes get in the way of ourselves in telling our story to young people."
That habit of getting in our own way has culminated in a presidential nominee who seems to constantly put his foot in his mouth, making offensive comments about race, gender, religion, and ethnicity regularly. This has made it difficult for the GOP to appeal to fast-growing voter groups that have traditionally rejected the conservative platform. But, the "Women of the New GOP" hope that with this crazy election cycle and a possible Trump loss comes the chance to rebuild and rebrand.
“Among a certain set of young, forward-looking conservatives, a Trump loss, especially a yuge loss, offers an opportunity,” Combe wrote. “Look at it this way: Imagine you're living in a collapsing old house that's proving unfixable no matter how much work you do. And then, out of nowhere, that house burns to the ground. It's horrible and upsetting, yes — but…now you have the chance to build your dream house.”
Smith suggested altering the GOP’s messaging to better present conservative arguments to young people. For example, many millennials struggle to see the problem with big government, so the GOP is working on new ways to convey how an overreaching federal government can be dangerous.
“Look at it from this generation's standpoint: Big is not a bad thing. Big connects us with the whole world,” Smith said. “It's being able to send a tweet out in a second, being able to learn anything we want from YouTube. Big is only bad if it's intrusive. So now we say we don't want government that's in your business."
Mindy Finn is another young, female conservative who is optimistic about the post-2016 election era. She is the founder of Empowered Women, a nonprofit that is organizing women under a bipartisan feminist banner, and hopes that the party will be able to refocus on its Growth & Opportunity goals next year.
"Only when you hit rock bottom do you rebel," Finn said in regard to Trump’s nomination. “If you think, as I do, that there's a lot of value in a strong, center-right party that's more free market, focuses on a free society, Constitutional principles, this is your time, assuming he loses, to step up and be a leader.”
Republican pollster, Kristen Soltis Anderson, echoed this sentiment at Mitt Romney’s E2 Summit in June when she told Republicans to continue ignoring millennials at their own demise and pointed out areas in which conservatives could better connect with young voters. After all, a party that refuses to change with the times has a small chance of survival.
"I don't think it will just come naturally to pass that a Trump defeat ushers in [the Arthur Brooks] brand of conservatism," she told Combe. "I think part of the reason I'm not deterred — and this could honestly be a disastrous flaw, but I'm pretty darn convinced I'm right. I've done my research. Twenty years from now, I'm going to be proved right."