The young elephant: How Republican millennials feel among their peers

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By Katherine Decker

Whether one is old or young, one probably has an opinion on politics. While some may picture Republicans as mostly older, many millennials identify as Republicans.

According to Pew Research Center, 39 percent of millennials identify as Republican or lean Republican. (Millennials are the generation born starting in 1981 and coming of age in the 2000s, according to Pew.)

Since the majority of millennials aren’t Republican, some young conservatives said these political differences can make it hard for them to identify with other people their age with opposite political views. 

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According to Pew Research Center, 48 percent of millennials are Democrats or lean Democratic, and 39 percent of millennials are Republicans or lean Republican.

At Arizona State University, the Arizona State University College Republicans seek to “empower college students to become active in the political process and to promote the ideas of individual liberty, free markets and peace.”

ASU College Republicans give away elephant stickers at a recent club meeting.

ASU College Republicans give away elephant stickers at a recent club meeting.

The club meets every Thursday to discuss upcoming events and internship and volunteer programs. ASU students and non-ASU students are welcome to join. They can be found on Facebook and Instagram as well as their own website.

Many young Republicans told the PIN Bureau they feel that they are stigmatized by their peers for being Republican.

Jason Chisato-Rodvik is an ASU student, member of the ASU College Republicans and social media director for Turning Point USA, a non-profit organization with a mission to “identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.”

“All the time, people are mad at me for not being a Democrat,” Chisato-Rodvik said. “Normally you just have to turn the other cheek and accept that they will hate on you, yell at you, call you names and you have to be the better person. I never yell, I never insult them. I take their insults and just return it with kindness and facts.”

He said, “My goal is to educate and inform, and I never try to offend any person in the process.”

Sebastian Hardy, a finance major at ASU and ASU College Republicans member, has had some verbal run-ins with classmates he disagrees with politically. When classmates learned through social media posts that Hardy was voting for Trump, they “got upset and lashed out” verbally.

He said he tries to handle backlash by “ending the conversation quickly.” Hardy said. “They’re always going to hold their beliefs, and I’m going to hold mine.”

Brent Brooks, the treasurer of the Maricopa County Young Republican Professionals, has not been shielded from negative accusations. Brooks said he believes Republicans get a “bad reputation” and his club tries to “combat” against this by volunteering, including helping refugees.

This year seems to be more head-on than others. Some have even lost friends because of political differences, like Cody Friedland, a member of the ASU College Republicans club. Friedland said, “Overall though, I would say that most of my liberal friends are (respecting) of my opinions or, at the very least, just don’t care.”

After Election Day, the ASU College Republicans member Sebastian Hardy said, “These election results could not have been better! Republicans are controlling all three branches of government, signaling a sign that Americans are rejecting the failed policies of the Democrats.”

Jason Chisato-Rodvik said he is very happy, but “to feel validation, I would need to see the anti-Trump people come around just a little bit and realize that the silent majority picked him.”

Chisato-Rodvik said, “Many of my former peers have now labeled me as racist. It seems now that Trump has won they feel betrayed by the country and have started lashing out more and more.”

But despite being castigated by members of their generation, the young Republicans hold onto their beliefs, feeling firm about their convictions and always ready to discuss them with outsiders.

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Some members of the ASU College Republicans club gather at a Maricopa County Young Republican Professionals event in Tempe. Pictured from left to right: Sebastian Hardy, Joe Mulligan, Kevin Calabrese and Cody Friedland.

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