Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=127585
Story Retrieval Date: 5/23/2013 6:41:26 AM CST
WASHINGTON – Angelica Sabintsev has a message for the next generation of young Republican women: Toss out the cardigans and put the pearls away.
“Our challenge as young women right now is to show that we’re more than just standing behind our husbands,” said Sabintsev, the 19-year-old president of the Women Republicans at GeorgeWashington University. “We have to break the stereotypes….We have our own brains, our own minds, our own voices.”
The stodgy old man perception of the Republican Party may be coming to an end as a new generation of women shape the party’s image.
“Our challenge is overcoming the old-school GOP stereotype of the white, wealthy male being the primary leadership of the Republican Party. Behind every Republican male is a better Republican female,” said Sarah Rossier from Indianapolis, who was one of nearly 200 women Republicans in town this week for an event hosted by the Excellence in Public Service series.
The annual event brings Republican women from across the country together to discuss ways to strengthen women’s role from within the party -- and to encourage women to take on more leadership in politics and government.
“Republican women are the life of the party. That’s what we are, and that’s what we’re trying to educate young voters, especially young women, about,” said Rossier, 27. “There are opportunities out there, and we need to educate [women] better on what the platform really stands for, because it’s becoming lost in partisan politics.”
Clearing up misconceptions about the GOP platform, especially for young voters, is the No. 1 priority for the Republican Party, the women said. They realize that clear, simple messages on key issues will resonate for a generation used to transparency.
“The platform has gotten lost,” said Ashley Gibson, 24, one of the event’s attendees. “People have their view of what our platform is and the reason why they’re Republicans, but I think we need to have a unified voice for us to get back on track and to start winning back seats and gaining respect again.”
Central to changing minds is pushing a message of inclusiveness. Wynita Wozniak , a 24-year-old from Homewood, Ill., called the party “a benefit for young people.”
“It’s the message that connects them to the party [that’s] missing,” said Wozniak. “For a long time, the stereotype has been of the older white guy, but in actuality there’s so many different things that shape it, and a lot of the values of the party cater to not only young people, but also to minorities.”
As these young women look to take on more leadership within the Republican Party, they hope to put more emphasis on the themes of personal responsibility, equality and diversity.
“We’re hoping our voices are heard, and the next candidate does a better job of reaching out and being a better communicator,” said Maura Hoff, a 29-year-old lawyer from Indianapolis.
These are not necessarily women’s issues, but Wozniak believes women should be the ones to lead the charge.
“With more women legislators and more women in influence, it would attract more diversity,” she said. “It will encourage other women and other nationalities to get involved. It will bring more people in because it breaks down the stereotypes.”
But Nehal Pandya, a 21-year-old college student at George Washington and a member of the College Republicans, worries the party might get in its own way.
"I don’t know if I see a change happening anytime soon," said Pandya. "The Republican Party is pretty disorganized right now, and until changes are made on the national level, we can’t expect change on the small level."
Being a young Republican is taboo in a “Generation Obama” world, Pandya said, but it could be the 75 million strong Milennial Generation that lifts the party back up.
“Things will start changing when young people start getting into office,” she said. “We need to change the way we conduct business and update ourselves at the same time. We can’t make these changes until the next generation.”
And the change begins with making the party’s message clear, at least according to Kaitlyn Smith.
“I think we have a message. I think we have a good message, but I don’t think we’ve sold our message so we need to focus on candidates who can accurately and succinctly get it across,” said Smith, a 24-year-old New Hampshire political consultant. “The Democrats say it in a page, and we say it in a 100-page manual. And I don’t know about other people, but I’d rather read a page.”