Dear Republican Party,
So I hear you guys are looking to “re-brand” after getting trounced at the polls last November. I hear that you’re looking to hook young kids like myself into some sort of “New Conservatism,” a term that you guys haven’t had the foresight or decency to iron out and define yet. One of your own party members, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, went so far as to refer to your constituents as the “stupid party” in January. In fact, some talking heads have been claiming since the presidential election that if your ragtag team can’t move anyone besides the wonkiest and oldest of white males to vote for you, you’ll all but go extinct within the next few election cycles.
If these statements are true, then I guess I’m the perfect candidate for experimentation, seeing as I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic that abjectly refuses to align himself with a concrete party and agenda. You have my attention for the moment, but you should know that Information Age children like myself don’t respond well to rhetoric like, “Young voters have always been a part of our plan for America, and we have a vibrant future in kids like you and we need to secure your life in order to keep on blaaaaah.”
The only thing that will work on us is a real, marked commitment to new people and new ideologies.
So in short, you need my vote, and these are the things that I need from you.
I need a commitment to science. And not just a verbal one. I need to trust that your new leaders, like Marco Rubio, will finally stop telling me things like, “Our government can’t control the weather,” when referencing global warming. That’s like dynamiting the side of a cliff and claiming no responsibility for which houses the ensuing rockslide destroys. I need the chairman that you appoint to head the House Science Committee to have some background in real science, not just in practicing Christian Science on his off days, like Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) does currently. He has every right in the world to believe what he believes, but Christianity and science are not some sort of surprisingly delicious, chocolate-and-peanut butter-style combination. If you guys plan on sticking with that “strict constructionist” Constitution bag, then you must cede that a man that believes that all sickness can be treated with prayer has no place deciding which experimental procedures can be legally administered to cure my grandmother’s sarcoidosis.
You get one or the other. Young people need rational, objective studies and thought about the future of everything in this nation, from health care to gun control. We’ll rally behind the party that gives it to us.
I need a commitment that you aren’t going to keep making reproductive decisions for the women in my life. I have countless female friends that I care deeply about, not to mention a beautiful little sister that is about to enter her freshman year of college. I am deeply worried by the sexual and gender issues that unfold in front of me whilst spending the weekends on a college campus, from mild molestation to flat-out, Rohypnol-induced date-rape, and I am supposed to willfully allow my only sibling to walk alone into the wilderness that will be her own collegiate experience this fall.
As such, the bill that your party passed in the Alabama state house of representatives on Feb. 19 to cripple abortion clinics in the state is not a step that brought more women and young people on board. I cannot let your party control this country if it means that my sister cannot control her own body.
Most importantly, I need to know that a gaffe like the Hurricane Sandy aid package is never, ever going to happen again. I am still sickened by John Boehner’s steadfast refusal to even vote to aid those that merely were in the way of an inordinate amount of rain. You cannot politicize rain. If a massive meteor strikes the epicenter of Seattle, am I supposed to withhold sending them care packages because they believe in flannel and I don’t? If I cannot rally around your party in a disaster, I cannot rally around you at all.
Kids of the 21st Century are a multifaceted, thriving, interconnected organism that crosses all genders, races and sexual orientations. I’m sure it seems like we want a lot of things. In reality, we just want facts from someone, somewhere.
Jerry Iannelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jerryiannelli.