A group of young conservatives have formed a new group in an effort to drag the Republican party into the 2oth century, a noble if frustrating task. Voices of Conservative Youth thinks that its pro-marriage equality stance will help convince young voters that the GOP isn’t a hopeless case.
“The thesis of our organization is that young people are not liberal,” Josh Nass, a Brandeis student and founder of the group, told Buzzfeed. “They vote for Democrats but that is not a function of their genuine political philosophy. And that’s not their fault, it’s ours. The party and the leadership has given them no attention, has done nothing in terms of outreach, and we’re going to change that.”
One way to change that is to break with the Republican ideology on marriage equality. Nass said he is aware of the risks involved of bucking the party line.
“I’ve been told by countless people not to do this — not because it wouldn’t improve the party’s image among young people, but because they said, ‘You’re gonna be met with a lot of resistance. You’re gonna create a lot of enemies for yourself,” Nass said. “And that’s true, but it will be all the right folks; the Ralph Reeds of the world, the Tony Perkins of the world, the people who have held the party back and have basically hijacked it.”
In the long run, demographics are on Nass’s side, since marriage equality is overwhelmingly supported by voters under 30. Just how much headway Nass can expect to make in the short term is another question. Success in the GOP these days for marriage equality supporters means surviving an attempted purge.
Nor has the group turned to the sharpest knives in the drawer for help. Among its board members is Jimmy LaSalvia, the former executive director of GOProud, the gay conservative group. GOProud just got around to endorsing marriage equality at the beginning of this year, or probably later than Nass himself did. So much for bold leadership.
As for Nass himself, he has been a good soldier in the Republican trenches, hosting a talk show and writing for a range of outlets on why young conservatives must support the GOP. He’s a protege of Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who spent $100 million on elections last year and singlehandedly kept Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign afloat. However, Adelson classifies himself as “a social liberal” and seems comfortable supporting gay rights. Of course, you’d never know that from the candidates he supports. Ditto for Nass. Last November, Nass wrote an article calling on voters to elect “a president with the skills and experience to truly turn this country around—and that man is Mitt Romney.”
New wine. Old skins.