What Fraternities Can Teach the GOP About Winning Over Millennials


Imagine you are a college freshman hoping to rush. At a Greek fair, you walk up to one fraternity’s table. The president tells you about benefits of joining. Within seconds, the communications chair interrupts, and starts describing other benefits. The president glares at him angrily and begins talking over him.

While it would provide you with certain benefits, joining an unstable organization full of drama hardly seems worthwhile. You stop a few tables down, and talk to several friendly members of another fraternity. They offer fewer benefits, but the members make you feel welcome.

Which fraternity do you join?

This is a question many young people ask themselves when joining a political party. Both parties have rampant infighting. On the left, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) was not alone in not endorsing Obama in 2012 and voicing opposition to Obamacare. Increasingly, congressional Democrats have had strained relations with the White House. On Thursday, Senator Joe Manchin also supported delaying Obamacare. The Democratic establishment has also faced increasing friction with the Democratic base over issues like NSA surveillance and rumors that Obama would appoint Larry Summers to chair the Federal Reserve

However, Democrats do not highlight nor harp on their own infighting, and they frequently deny it even happens. On the contrary, Republicans too often highlight infighting and publicly attack each other for differences in perspective or even tactics.

Republicans can tout their smart fiscal policy, innovative health care policy, and more as better for young people and their futures. However, just as millennials would be hesitant to join a fraternity led by students who fight publicly, they are surely hesitant to join a party with public infighting, regardless of the party’s merits on policy.  

All factions of the Republican Party are guilty of spurring infighting and shrinking the big tent. Until the cycle breaks, public demonization of fellow Republicans will continue to hurt the party’s ability to attract young people, while helping Democrats electorally.

Simple fixes exist. The phrases “RINO” (Republican In Name Only), “true conservative,” and all other determinants of who is or is not a “real Republican” have to go. These words are used inappropriately by false authorities on the matter to demonize innumerable conservatives because they respectfully and rationally disagree on tactics.

Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona (has a 100% Club for Growth rating), Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (has an American Conservative Union 100% rating), John Cornyn of Texas (ACU 93% rating), fiscal hawk Tom Coburn of Oklahoma (96% Club for Growth rating), along with any Republican who disagrees with one particular strategy to defund Obamacare strategy, have been branded RINOs. These senators have worked against Obamacare for years, and demonizing them solely based on their opinion of a particular tactic is bizarre. The Senate Conservative Fund, formerly Flake’s biggest fan, is running ads against him and other Republicans, while not criticizing Democrats — the ones responsible for Obamacare.

Somehow, even the publications National Review and the Wall Street Journal have been the victims of the anti-RINO crusade. National Review columnist Avik Roy, has also extensively discussed this problem, and was consequently labeled a RINO.

Republicans don’t need to agree on everything, as Republicans are human and humans are fallible. Rational people following the same ideology can disagree on both policy and tactics. If Republicans do not focus on common ground, they cannot expand the party to include others who would benefit from Republican policy and ideals. Witch hunts for “RINOs” must end. This is not Soviet Russia, and people can disagree on tactics without committing treason. Democrats frequently disagree with each other, but do not demonize, nor do they spend millions attacking each other. Republicans need to follow suit to attract millennials, or watch them walk to the next table.