After over a year of perhaps unprecedented election woes, it’s time to move forward.
I spoke to two of the most prominent members within the young conservative movement, Danielle Butcher and Stephen Perkins, on how they believed the conservative movement could best be advanced after 2016.
Danielle, Future Female Leader Outreach Coordinator and OUTSET Magazine Marketing Director, spoke with me about how she plans on advancing the conservative movement among millennials.
On moving forward post-election:
“After such a roller-coaster of an election, it’s going to be incredibly tempting for conservatives to give in to the I-told-you-so mentality, regardless of the outcome. I sincerely hope that’s something we strive to avoid because the sooner we get over the placing blame stage, the sooner we can look forward and get on track to a better and brighter future. All in all, we need to stop demonizing those who hold views other than our own, whether they’re on the right or the left. We should definitely call people out when it’s warranted, but we need to learn to confront people in ways that don’t embarrass or alienate them. We’ve become entirely too dramatic and I’m looking forward to returning to rationalism and level-headedness.” – Danielle
On building back up:
“Something I’m really going to be focusing on post-election is building up new leaders. I feel very strongly that my generation has talent to offer, so I’m going to be putting a lot of my energy towards giving others the resources and knowledge they need to succeed in their personal goals and in advancing the conservative message. I firmly believe that if you have a platform you should be using it to pull others up. I’ve said for a while now that conservatives focus too much on trying to be “the next big thing,” but miss out on opportunities to actually DO big things. I want to empower those who want to do big things. So many people have the potential, but not the know-how or the guidance, we should and can change that. I’d be ecstatic to have more people thinking this way, more people building a community where maybe we don’t agree on everything, but we’ll hear each other out and encourage one another, and give credit or recognition where it’s due.” – Danielle
On a winning strategy:
“We need to spend time really looking at culture, because that’s where we lose elections. A great example of this is abortion. I myself am extremely pro-life but I can recognize that simply changing the law, while a step in the right direction, isn’t enough. We need to also be education people. When you look at culture, many times you’ll realize that conservatives are so focused on winning battles that they lose the war. As conservatives we need to take the time to explain our convictions and humanize ourselves. The whole “catchy phrase/buzzword” brand of activism has it’s place, but if it’s all we’re doing, we’re no better than the “social justice warriors” some of us so openly mock. I hope we can prove that there is real logic and emotion behind our activism. That means stepping away from activism that aims only to “trigger” people and producing real, meaningful dialogue. Instead of being argumentative we need to be conversationalist, because that’s where you find common ground with people and are able to change hearts, which ultimately creates an understanding that goes on to influence culture; thus winning the war and not just a battle.” – Danielle
We also spoke with Stephen, the Editor-in-Chief of OUTSET magazine, on what he believed should be done in order to preserve the causes of liberty.
“How Republicans act after election day will be key to the direction the party will take over the next few years. If Trump supporters (even the soft supporters), focus their energy on attacking Never Trump Republicans (or just Republicans who weren’t Never Trump but still did not vote for him), the post-2016 GOP will have a hard time rebuilding. Likewise, Trump critics in the GOP should be equally careful in how they interact with Trump supporters. There are plenty of people who supported Trump because they saw him as an imperfect conservative, but better than Clinton – an argument that I find flawed but understandable.” – Stephen
“I also foresee a lot of young conservative – many of who this was their first election – becoming dissatisfied with the GOP and the right-of-center movement in general. But what many young conservatives don’t seem to fully understand is that, at the core of conservatism, there is a dedication to self-leadership. In other words, we believe that individuals are best led by themselves, not by a government and certainly not one man or woman at the top of an executive branch. Secondly, they need to understand that the place to make real change is on the local level. While national elections are more exciting, if you aren’t involved in pushing conservative change in your immediate community, you aren’t really helping the movement.” – Stephen
“The GOP has to modernize by reassessing everything it does – from communications and party leadership, to outreach strategies and policies. To be successful, the GOP needs to understand the political trends among the next generation of voters – millennials – and embrace a more liberty-minded platform that prioritizes individual liberty and a consistent dedication to free markets and the Constitution. We have to understand that we need all Republicans in order to rebuild the GOP, which is the most effective vehicle for conservative thought. HOWEVER, because doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, there has to be a clear understanding that the Rhetoric and strategy used by the Trump campaign has no place in the post-2016 GOP. The direction has to change, as does the language and even the policies.” – Stephen
“As I said above, the GOP’s best path forward has a few components:
“The party’s platform needs to become more liberty-oriented. We can do this by adopting stances that respect free markets, free trade, a push for more states rights (especially for things like religious freedom and marriage), a commitment to privacy and the protection of all amendments and all of the Constitution.
“A rebranding in which the party starts talking about WHY we believe the things we do, not just WHAT we are against. Also, we need to be the party that stands FOR things, not just AGAINST things. A good template for this type of branding is Paul Ryan’s #BetterWay Agenda.
“Outside of the party mechanism, conservatives should actually start being involved in culture. We need writers, artists, academics, entertainers, and thought-leaders. Building on this, we have to return to our intellectual roots by education each other on the root of our ideology and beliefs. Without an understanding of our root values and principles, we will easily be fooled again.
“The big key is this: we need to be conservative in our ideology, but moderate in our temperament. In other words, we need to be willing to work across the aisle, we need to stop trying to trigger people because it’s funny, and we need to stop dumbing down our incredibly beautiful ideology to catch phrases and slogans.” – Stephen
With activists like Stephen and Danielle to lead the liberty movement, there is no doubt that conservatism can flourish.