What do millennial conservatives care about?

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What do millennial conservatives care about?

It's common to hear that millennials, particularly those on college campuses, are part of an overwhelmingly liberal generation.

But last year, a study found that millennials are more likely to identify as conservative than their parents were at the same age. The paper also claimed that millennials are even more polarized in their political identities than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

Millennial Republicans may differ ideologically from their older counterparts, however. Leaders of the College Republicans groups at UNC and NC State say their members tend to be less socially conservative than traditional GOP voters.

Will Rierson, chairman of the UNC College Republicans, calls himself a traditional conservative. But he has witnessed a surge of Libertarian-leaning ideas among young his peers.

"They don't care that their neighbor is gay," Rierson said. "They don't even go to church as much as their parents did. But they still want to make sure that the government is run in an efficient manner that keeps government out of the lives of people who are trying to do what's best for them."

Harrison Preddy, chairman of the College Republicans at NC State, echoed the idea that young conservatives are more concerned with fiscal than social policies. He used the forthcoming Supreme Court case involving a private business' obligation to bake cakes for a same-sex marriage as an example.

"Is a baker legally bound to make a cake for a homosexual wedding?" Preddy asked. "I think a lot of Republicans on campus would be like no, they're not. But you can't deny them the marriage."

Although some young Republicans have softened their stances on social issues like same-sex marriage, others still remain unpopular. Rierson mentioned the belief that genders exist beyond male and female, while Preddy said nearly all of his conservative peers remain anti-abortion.

Both students find that the campus student body can be hostile toward members of their party. Rierson said that the environment in Orange County and especially the UNC campus is a bubble left-leaning thought.

"When you're a Republican on the college campus, you can expect that you're never going to have a professor with the same beliefs as you," Rierson said. "If we are reading books that are by a bunch of Socialists, or by a bunch of Democrats, and then we never read anything by a Republican, then we are being taught a very one-sided story about how the world works."

Preddy recounted instances of vandalism and slashed tires on vehicles sporting Trump stickers, but still believes the NC State student body is more centrist than UNC due in part to its strong STEM and agriculture presence.

When asked which issues were most important to young Republicans today, both students placed an emphasis on economic policies.

"The issues most important to millennial Republicans are probably fiscal policy, tax reductions... abortion," Preddy said. "Gun rights, that's a big one."

Rierson mentioned the need to "get more people off the government dime."

"We've got a lot of money due to creditors because the government keeps borrowing money to support welfare," he said. "Unfortunately, that's something that we're going to have to take a hard look at."
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