As this economic picture comes into view – fewer jobs for younger voters, crushing student loan debt exacerbated by ham-handed political gestures and greater costs for an unworkable health care system – the GOP still has an opportunity to overcome its inherent challenges and make decisive gains among these voters. However, it will require a top-down commitment to another idea that seems to have been forgotten lately – rediscovering itself as the party of ideas and innovation.
In the same manner that groups like The Heritage Foundation provided the intellectual and policy basis for an incoming generation of Reagan conservatives, the GOP must begin directing some of its energies away from just winning the political and messaging battle and toward finding solutions to health care, generational debt, entitlement programs and other issues that will not just resurrect that time-tested warhorses of policy battles long past, but earnestly seek to develop answers for this generation. These contributions cannot come from one sect however – it will take a concerted effort from both movement conservatives and establishment Republicans.
Both grassroots and the donor class should find practical solutions and then actively mentor the best and the brightest young minds to help solve the issues that will face Millennials and those who follow them.
There is still time for the Grand Old Party to offer young Obama voters solutions to the unique financial difficulties hampering their launch into the real world. However, without a serious commitment to crafting new policy ideas, Republicans will find that their ideas of a shining city on a hill have faded into sunset.
Opinions expressed in this piece are those of Joe Brettell and are not endorsed by ABC News.
Joe Brettell is a former Capitol Hill aide and GOP strategist. On Twitter at @joebrettell