With high millennial support for Democratic presidential candidates this election season, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, reached out to young voters Wednesday to encourage them to support the Republican Party.
In his speech at Georgetown University, Ryan asked college students to give the GOP another chance. Ryan said the values of the GOP align with the values of millennials, delivering a message promoting inclusivity and diversity.
“The America you want is the America we want — open, diverse, dynamic,” Ryan said.
Ryan addressed issues such as trying to solve the student debt crisis and the economy, and argued that bottom-up growth is a better system than top-down regulation because limited government helps businesses be more competitive and better serve the people.
Some millennials, however, are taking to Twitter to disagree with Republican policies, using the hashtag #RyansWrong.
— College Democrats WI (@CollegeDemsWI) April 27, 2016
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin said in a statement that these tweets indicate Ryan’s remarks fell on “deaf ears.”
Ryan’s comments did, however, meet the ears of University of Wisconsin College Republicans. In a statement written for The Badger Herald, UW College Republicans said they stand firmly with Ryan, as many young voters do indeed relate with Republican values. They said they support smaller government, increased opportunities and economic freedom.
“We believe that our generation is full of diverse individuals with diverse thoughts who are capable of making our own decisions and succeeding without government making those decisions for us,” according to the statement.
But August McGinnity-Wake, UW College Democrats chair-elect, said he does not believe Ryan’s call for action will be successful. He said most millennials still disagree with Ryan on important issues such as climate change, marriage equality and college affordability.
On whether or not Ryan’s more inclusive messages connect to people on a more bipartisan basis, McGinnity-Wake said he’s not convinced that Ryan’s statements are actually true. He said promoting diversity is something the Democratic party supports — not Republicans — and he’s skeptical Ryan will actually work toward achieving opportunity for everyone.
“[Ryan’s remarks are] more good talking points, but I have yet to see any incidence … where the Republican Party has done much of anything … in terms of legislation, to promote inclusiveness and compassion,” McGinnity-Wake said.
In their statement, College Republicans said the GOP is not the “evil group of old people” they are often portrayed as in the media. They said the GOP is a party of “inclusion and compassion,” which aims to give every citizen the opportunity to live the American dream, regardless of background.
Alex Walker, College Republicans member, said he believes Ryan has been successful in reaching millennials. He said not all millennials are Democrats, pointing to how Gov. Scott Walker nearly tied Mary Burke for voters aged 18-24 in the 2014 gubernatorial election. He said Ryan, like Walker, actually has a lot of support from millennials.
“The two of them have been, here in Wisconsin and across the country, making efforts to reach young people and we think that he [accomplished] that here,” Alex Walker said. “Here in Wisconsin, we’ve seen that when you reach out to other people, they’ll listen.”