The millennial Republican: A deeper look at the next generation of conservatives at ASU

Updated on Friday, April 28

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated Jennifer Custis’ position on the war on drugs. She did not explicitly share her position on the war on drugs with the PIN Bureau. The earlier version also incorrectly reported Custis’ class standing. She is a junior. 

By Megan Amandio

Throughout the past year, there has been a lot of conversation of politics both on and off campus. The Arizona State University College Republicans organization worked to support President Donald Trump and the Republican Party — but they don’t agree with every Trump or GOP position.

Members of the group also say there are social and political differences between millennial Republicans and the Baby Boomers and Generation X. 

While many may perceive the Republican Party to be one dominated by men, Jennifer Custis, the newly elected president of ASU College Republicans, said that for the first time,  Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona all have female presidents leading their college Republicans organizations at the same time.

Custis is a junior in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She said she is stereotyped by her peers for her political views. When she shares her political beliefs, she said she has been called a bigot, racist and careless of others’ feelings.

Custis said she finds many topics on which she and her parents, who are part of Generation X, disagree. “I would argue that younger millennial Republicans tend to lean a little more libertarian, whereas older Republicans tend to lean more into that really hard conservatism value base,” Custis said.

And that’s supported by research, too. A Pew Research Center study found that 51 percent of Republican millennials had mixed political values. 

Sebastian Hardy, a sophomore in the ASU College Republicans, is very active in politics. He helped the Arizona GOP with Trump’s campaign in 2016, and considers himself a “Trumplican.”

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Sebastian Hardy is a sophomore who volunteered with Trump’s presidential campaign in Arizona. (Photo by Megan Amandio)

“I publically announced that I was supporting Donald Trump from day one,” Hardy said. “I’ve come to the point that I don’t care what people think.”

During the election, he felt he was carefully considering what to post on social media in fear of losing friends. He said this made him become a better news consumer because he now reads multiple articles a day from news sources both left and right wing to receive a variety of information on political issues.

He feels that young Republicans are less conservative than other generations before. “A lot of Americans are coming to terms with ‘the middle,’” said Hardy of the political spectrum.

Hardy is right. According to a Pew Research study, only 8 percent of Republican millennials said they were consistently conservative, while Generation X responded 18 percent and Baby Boomers were 27 percent.

He said Trump won the election because he wasn’t focused on social issues. “I love his policies and America first,” Hardy said. 

In contrast to Hardy’s viewpoints of Trump, some members of the group were not so keen on him taking office.

Ken Klein, a senior in the ASU College Republicans organization, considers himself a “Trump tolerator.” His family is equally split into Democrats and Republicans, but he identifies as a moderate conservative. He said before he forms an opinion on President Trump’s policies, he must look at it twice and then make a decision.

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Ken Klein seeks a future in politics and actively participates in political events across the state. (Photo by Megan Amadio) 

“I try to be very open to other people’s views,” Klein said. “If people know who I am, they usually say that he is political and he is conservative, but he’s not close-minded.”

Klein greatly disagrees with Trump’s choice of Stephen Bannon as the White House chief strategist. “They say he represents the majority and the base of Trump,” Klein said. But he believes Bannon isn’t qualified to be an advisor to the president.

Klein is very active in the organization and keeps his focus on policy issues.

Cody Friedland, a senior in the ASU College Republicans, said that he “doesn’t look like your average Trump supporter.”

Friedland said he doesn’t feel like people don’t want to converse with him about politics because he’s a Republican, but rather a Trump supporter. “I can’t wear a Trump shirt without a million people staring at me.”

He feels that Trump is doing a good job, but he doesn’t agree with all of his policies. “I didn’t like how the travel ban included Green Card holders,” Friedland said. “I also don’t like the new health care plan.”

Friedland considers himself pro-life, but he doesn’t have a problem with birth control. He said as long as the taxpayers aren’t paying for birth control, he supports it.

He’s not alone. According to a study conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 57 percent of millennial Republicans have a positive view of birth control.

Speaking with millennial Republicans, the future of the Republican party, has brought to light the issues on which young conservatives differ from older generations.

 

How Millennials Voted in the 2016 Election-2

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