Meet the future of the Republican Party.
They are members of Generation Z, or perhaps it’s iGen — the experts haven’t exactly figured out what to call the generation close on the heels of the milennials.
Four of them go to Catholic schools. Two are home-schooled. Two more go to Biloxi High. Only one is old enough to vote.
And despite their membership in the Harrison County Teen Age Republicans, they don’t consider themselves establishment Republicans. Oh, and they are solidly behind President-elect Donald Trump. They have been for a while. About a dozen of them came to a watch party sponsored by the adult Republican Club to hear Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican Convention.
Shortly after the election, they met with the Sun Herald following one of their meetings to talk about the reasons they back Trump. Some answers will be familiar to those who followed the bruising campaign that went on for more than a year and a half.
“You can hold him accountable,” said Kloe Lloyd, the TARs chairman and a 17-year-old student at Our Lady Academy who lives in Gulfport. “He a businessman. That’s his job. He employs people.”
Fed up with the left
But other answers are a little edgier.
“We’ve had 30 years, decades, of the left running things and this undercurrent of social Marxism and cultural Marxism running our institutions,” said Leona Craig, an 18-year-old home-school student from Saucier. “We finally had everyone stand up and say we’re not going to take it anymore, we’re done, and elect Donald Trump.
“You can call us racists, you can call us sexists, whatever you want us to say. We’re just going to laugh in your face.”
She said her father fought in Iraq, only to see some of the cities he fought for fall to ISIS.
“That is deeply disheartening to someone who’s fought for their country,” she said. “I think what we need to do with ISIS is basically what Donald Trump is saying. We need to either get out and never go back or we need to defeat them and make sure they never come back again.
“I don’t think the Middle East is a fight we can win anymore. I think it was in 2003 when we went in with the objective of defeating Saddam Hussein. That was a definable objective. Now there is not really one.”
And the teens are tired of protests by the losing side; of safe spaces on college campuses; and participation trophies.
“It’s immature to me to not accept the results,” said Boyd Housey, a 17-year-old from Pass Christian who goes to St. Stanislaus. “I’m hopeful the nation can become more unified. That’s how we’ll do better as a nation. Standing in the streets and being destructive about it is not going to change anything.
“Talking about it would do more.”
He went to New York after the election and stayed near Trump Tower.
“There were people surrounding our cab, beating on the windows,” he said. “But there was a section that was peaceful, too.”
Cameron Oberlies is another 17-year-old from Pass Christian and son of Sun Herald publisher Shannon Wall. He observed there was an uh-oh moment among some of the establishment senators when it became apparent Trump would win.
“The newer senators always talk about how they’re not corrupted,” said Oberlies, also a St. Stanislaus student. “When you’re new, you aren’t corrupted but you get up in Washington and you lose touch with who elected you and who you are up there to represent.
“That was a big thing for Donald Trump: ‘I’m not a politician. I’m new and I’m going to fight for the American people, not special interests.’ ”
Hoping court tilts
Michael Raymond, a 16-year-old from Diamondhead, said he hopes Trump will tilt the balance of the Supreme Court toward the right so it would overturn or temper Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion.
“The reversal of Roe v. Wade will be a very big thing because those crybaby liberals will be coming out because their late-term abortions are killing a life,” he said. “I think it’s something that needs to be addressed.
“I think it will be left to the states.”
Others said liberals use the argument that women need legal abortions to protect their health but “no one uses it for that.”
“Only about 1 percent are because of that,” Lloyd said. “The left just uses that as a little nudge.”
“Women complain that it’s their body, but it’s not just their body,” said Ty Peavy, a 17-year-old Biloxi High student who is vice chairman of TARs.
Yes, it’s clear these teens don’t like liberals or their policies.
“Everyone gets a participation trophy,” Oberlies said of liberals. “They can’t accept loss and can’t accept reality.”
The teens said they believe they, as conservatives, will be better equipped to enter the workforce.
“We’re going to be able to take criticism,” Leona Craig said. “And when we win we’re going to be glad we won and if we don’t, we’ll be able to learn from it but we’re not going to cry about it.”
In real life, the teens argue, there are no participation trophies.
“The generations before weren’t raised like that,” Oberlies said. “They’re the ones who will decide if (liberals) get the job. So reality is going to hit them.”