Korobov: Rand Paul could mobilize a disenchanted generation


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On April 9, I had the honor of not only attending but volunteering for Sen. Rand Paul’s visit in Iowa City. The event generated nearly 500 people at the IMU. I was impressed by both Paul’s presentation and the relevancy of his issues to students at Iowa. To those who missed it, I encourage you to listen to the speech online.

Although the presidential election is approaching, our generation is growing less and less satisfied with the status quo produced by both parties. A survey produced by the Harvard Institute of Politics in 2014 deduced that millennials’ trust in government is continuing to tank. Fewer than a third of 18- to 34-year-olds trust the federal government. Nearly two-thirds believe that their representatives in Washington are encouraged to act based on their own “selfish reasons.” 

Paul convincingly articulated in his speech that he may be able to break through this distrust. The banner behind him depicted in enormous letters “Defeat the Washington Machine.” Paul promised to be and sounded like a different kind of candidate.

To connect with students, Paul had to explain why he chose to run for office at all. He spoke of his work as an ophthalmologist, calling these years of his life a “dream job” and said “Mondays were the best days of the week.” The concerns he saw in Washington encouraged him to run for office.

Several students who were apolitical prior to the speech told me that they were moved by what they perceived as Paul’s genuine reasons for getting into politics.

Instead of the typical pandering to the right or left, Paul vowed to alter existing institutions entirely. He talked about changes that are commonsense but neglected because of poor and irresponsible leadership in Washington. Some of these include instituting term limits for those in Congress, ensuring that representatives read the bills they sign, and amending the Constitution to force a balanced budget.

Paul touched on issues that were particularly relevant for college students. Your emails, Facebook posts, and electronic information would be safe with a President Paul — he would stop all unconstitutional collection of this data by the government. Referring to the high incarceration rate in America, he called to eliminate jail time for nonviolent offenders. He assured the crowd that he would fight for legalization of medical marijuana on the federal level.

Republicans typically struggle in winning over college students on fiscal issues. Many students don’t work and consequently don’t pay taxes. However, Paul made the issue personal in a way that made sense. Speaking to students’ struggles to find work after graduation, he said “taxes and regulations do affect your ability to get a job.” Instead of discussing the debt in abstract terms, he spoke of studies that showed just how many jobs were lost because of it.

Paul’s final words were a call to action, telling “the Instagram generation to get up off their sofas, leave their dorm rooms, and vote.”

My own experience among college students fall in line with the Harvard analysis. Our generation is wary of government and tired of false promises.

This apathy translates to both decreased political awareness and voter turnout. Paul delivered a fantastic speech and articulated a compelling argument for college students. The coming year will determine whether his message will resonate further with America.

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