Most of the Republicans my age focus more on fiscal issues, student loans, and national security. When I started meeting people at these conventions, we recognized the need to get more young people, more young millennials involved. We feel like our voice isn’t even represented within the Republican Party, and our voices get skewed in the media.
I was a newly elected member to the Savannah Young Republicans in October 2015. At that point, there were 18 candidates who could be our President! But at the time, we didn’t feel like one particular candidate represented us as millennials. To be honest, I started out torn between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and I hadn’t even given Trump a second thought.
I think I became a Trump supporter organically as the other candidates started dwindling down. I will say that, even though I wasn’t a stark supporter at that time, I wasn’t in the “Never Trump” movement. It wasn’t until the convention that I really got on board and got behind him. This didn’t happen just by interacting with him, it was also by interacting with his kids and listening to Don Jr. and Ivanka speak, that convinced me. And it was also because of my experience engaging with many individuals that felt they had been disenfranchised; whether it was because of the previous administration or the Republican Party establishment in general, that convinced me. Seeing how they related to him (and him back to them) became an eye-opening experience that this could be the change that we so desperately needed.
I met Don Jr. and he was genuinely the nicest, humblest version of himself possible. If you didn’t know who he was, you’d think he was just another person from off the street. And I think that says a lot; I’m not condoning anything that Donald Trump has said or done, because obviously the language surrounding the campaign isn’t anything I would say or want my future children to hear, but I do think that there is something to be said about how you raise your children. He didn’t have just one great kid. All four of his children grew into stand-up individuals, and I think that really says something about his morals and values that gets lost in the message sometimes.
I’ve had a couple of personal interactions with people I know calling me anti-feminist, and to that point, I have a very unique view on the subject. I’m a young white female, a newly licensed attorney in the political world, and all of these realms are male-dominated. I would never consider myself anti-feminist. I’m clearly trying to keep up with the boys; I’m surrounded by the good ol’ boys club!
I think that it defeats the purpose of the democracy that we have, and the rights we have to express differing opinions, to call someone an anti-feminist just because they are a woman who didn’t vote for another woman. In my personal opinion, at the end of the day, gender or race should never be the primary reason to vote for someone. You have to look at the issues, and that’s what it’s always been about for me.
I especially struggled with hateful slurs being used against me and my party when the Access Hollywood video came out. I hated the language that was exposed. But I think that there was so much at stake with this election, from the Supreme Court vacancy, to foreign policy decisions, to student debt and health care, that I really had to separate the Trump persona from the issues. I really considered what a Clinton presidency would look like, and I had to do a balancing test between the two evils that both candidates might bring to the table.
To some extent I would chalk his words, and his actions, up to “locker room talk.” But I also think it’s not your typical locker room talk, and I can’t say that I’ve heard that exact language being used whether in the court room or during my time spent on Capitol Hill.
In all honesty I have heard plenty of other alarming things being said, whether it’s talking about a woman’s looks or a male using his place of power on the Hill to get something he wanted from a woman whether it’s a reporter, a staffer, or an intern. I think there’s levels of locker room talk, and I think it got twisted when it came out. There were still women and men supporting him after the tape’s release, but the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media thought that his supporters would surrender after that. When it didn’t happen, they turned it into his supporters “condoning rape culture and sexual assault.”
I truly don’t think that’s what he meant, and I say that as someone who has met him and interacted with him. Was it deplorable language? Absolutely. Was it degrading? Yes. As a woman, was I offended that he would even use that language? Without a doubt. But at the end of the day, I don’t think that he meant it the way that it was spun. This is why I think it was easier for some of us, who had previously supported him, to continue to do so.
You know, I honestly have to say that I didn’t expect for him to get elected. I have a political science background, so I was playing with the electoral college mapping to find a potential path to reaching 270 electorate votes. I think we knew that there was a chance that he could get the votes he needed, but I don’t think that any of us saw him getting Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin. We thought he might get one or two of these states, which would put him on the path to 270, but he clinched multiple battle ground states. He even got Wisconsin, which hasn’t gone Republican since Ronald Reagan was alive. I think that speaks to the fact that the American people, whether Democrat or Republican, had something to say.
It was surprising for both parties.
As a practitioner of the law, I think surrounding himself with good people is the best thing that he has going for him. Throughout the campaign, he’s recognized that politics is a new front for him, so he surrounded himself with experienced politicians like Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and Jeff Sessions. I think having people familiar with foreign affairs, national security, financial issues, as well as legal issues, will benefit him from a policy standpoint.
As a woman, I think that he has to take a step back and really think about what his presidential voice is going to be. And I really do think, at the end of the campaign, that we saw a different Trump. Hopefully going forward, we will see more of that as he decides what kind of President he wants to be in the next four years.
So, why not Hillary? The big issues for me are the size of government (I want a smaller Federal government), as well as state’s rights. This is the same for a lot of millennials, and when it comes to same sex marriage and abortion and legalizing marijuana, we see this as a state’s right issue rather than a national issue. These are the primary issues with me, but it boils down to the trust factor, too. This was huge. When you look back at the election, you can see not only the Clinton dynasty dying, but the Bush dynasty as well. People completely rejected it! The people are genuinely ready for a change, for new ideas, to move the country forward. We needed new blood in there.
Two years ago, before the election even began, I definitely thought that there would be a change in the country. I thought so because of what I heard from the people I’ve had a chance to interact with and the things that I’ve seen on social media. The majority of American people, regardless of political party, were ready for a change. And I think that they wanted a candidate who wasn’t involved or controlled by the establishment of either party. Going into the election, no matter the political position, people were looking for candidates that were from outside of the Beltway that could come in with fresh ideas and change things up.
I think Trump will push for change and will push the boundaries as far as he can go. It’s who he is as a person, and who I think he will be as a President. He has a good group around him, and some of the people in the GOP who kept their distance are starting to come around, like Paul Ryan. I think he will be the go-between for the White House and senior Republicans who weren’t ready to give in to a Trump presidency. This connection will help us enact the change we want to see.
It was never about gender: to the other women who call me antifeminist. If we vote for a woman, just because of her sex, it isn’t moving us forward. You have to look at the issues. To me, a feminist is someone who stands up for what she believes, no matter what that might be. A woman who works to get things done, to make things better for women, that’s a feminist. There’s a lot of ways women can empower other women, whether that’s working for equal pay or working toward affordable child care.
If we’re going to call each other names and degrade other women, simply because we don’t like the fact that they didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, we’re really only hurting ourselves. We have to come together. We have to stop the bickering. If we don’t stop, we won’t move the country where it needs to be until we find some common ground.
I want people to know that the Republican Party is often painted as exclusive, as a good ol’ boys club, with a bunch of uneducated rural Americans and a few high-paid good ol’ boys in there. But we really are the party of the people. We’re inclusive in ideas; whether it’s freedom of religion, same-sex marriage, and other hot button issues. It’s not about exclusivity, it’s about thinking about it a different way, especially with millennial Republicans.
We’re a new generation and new blood for the party. A lot of us are fighting for state’s rights, for women’s issues, national security, and other issues that people often don’t think of when they think of the Republican Party. At the convention we had our own delegation, the National Republican Youth Caucus, because this was the first time that a large enough percentage of delegates were made up of under 30 year olds. It was so neat to see all of us in one place, and we had the first openly gay delegate from Texas. What a typical Republican looks like is changing, and I hope people can see that as we move forward.
I also want everyone to know that I’m a young woman in a man’s world. Some people may see my vote for Trump as anti-feminist, but I think it’s only going to move women forward. It’s going to move the party forward. It’s a good time to be a young Republican, and in the next coming years you’re going to see a lot of young millennials working for President Trump and on the Hill in various offices.
We’re going to bring a lot of fresh blood to the party, and it’s going to be a very good thing.
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