Young conservatives add important perspective to March lobbying
By Caroline Martin
It can be difficult to get conservatives involved in the climate conversation, although I personally don’t see why this has to be the case. As a young conservative, I’m passionate about market-based, limited-government solutions to climate change, such as carbon fee and dividend. This policy enjoys meaningful conservative support, and I am committed to empowering other right-of-center voices in advocating for this approach to combating climate change.
In my capacity as a Conservative Fellow for CCL, I decided to organize a group of young conservatives to participate in March Lobby Day and share conversations with the offices of Republican members of Congress. It can mean a great deal to Republican elected officials when they hear the future of their party voicing their concerns over climate change and asking them to take action on it. Attempts to sway Republican members of Congress will often fall flat if they don’t know other conservatives will stand behind them if they take a stronger stance on climate. Sharing our personal experiences and perspectives as young conservatives adds a new level of depth to existing conversations with these offices. We’re able to deliver a pro-climate, pro-carbon pricing message in a conservative-friendly way.
Young conservatives, assemble!
To recruit young conservatives, I started with my own network here in Michigan. I also reached out to various College Republican chapters and conservative organizations on college campuses looking for students who might be interested in the opportunity to lobby. Some of our recruits brought in more young conservative voices by spreading the word and engaging their own friends. The key to recruitment is using your existing connections, reaching out to the right places, and offering an enticing opportunity for emerging political activists looking to build their networks and resumes.
To identify the offices we wanted to meet with, I spoke with Michigan State Liaison Coordinator, Lisa Del Buono, who connected me with the liaisons to Republican offices in the state. With the support of these liaisons, we decided that we would meet with three offices: Representatives Bergman (MI-01), Huizenga (MI-02), and Walberg (MI-07). The young conservatives who participated were myself (Caroline Martin), Kelsey Grant, Aidan Martin, Jasper Schieber, Bea Acosta, Sander Eizen, Logan Davis, Nathaniel Moss, and Raj Aryal.
Prior to lobbying, every participant went through several trainings, with a focus on lobbying and conservative messaging. We also hosted a preparation session with each liaison to strategize and decide what the most effective message for our meetings would be. Additionally, we incorporated our own personal experiences. Logan Davis, a constituent of Bergman’s district, planned to discuss the impacts of climate change that he has seen in his everyday life in northern Michigan. We also tailored our talking points to the office’s unique strengths. For example, given that Rep. Walberg is an ordained pastor, Raj Aryal and Kelsey Grant brought in their own Christian backgrounds to explain how that calls them to steward the Earth. It’s critical to connect with these offices on a personal level to build long-term trust and relationships.
Memorable moments with Congress
The lobby meetings went great! As young conservatives, we brought a fresh, new perspective into these lobby meetings. The offices responded particularly well to our discussions on pursuing an “America First” (former President Trump’s agenda initiative) climate policy, our hunger for a GOP climate strategy, and our belief in a market-led, free-enterprise solution to climate change: carbon fee and dividend.
Our most effective and memorable moments in these meetings, however, were our personal appeals for action. I spoke to the conservative legacy on environmentalism, which I cherish. From Teddy Roosevelt’s establishment of the National Parks System, to Ronald Reagan’s Montreal Protocol, to the Great American Outdoors Act which Donald Trump signed into law, Republicans have demonstrated that conservation is a conservative principle. I conveyed my hope that Republicans will reascend the mantle of leadership by championing responsible and effective solutions, like carbon pricing. These are just some of the topics and messages Republican offices need to be hearing.
Bea Acosta, President of College Republicans at the University of Illinois—Springfield, said, “This experience reinforced my sentiments that we need to take responsibility for our planet. Knowing that there are similar people who believe this means to me that our goal of getting the climate on the Republican agenda is achievable.”
Jasper Scheiber, former Co-President of the bipartisan organization WeListen at the University of Michigan, agreed. “It was great getting to advocate for a conservative solution and bring forth a bipartisan approach on an issue that really affects everyone,” he said.
Our presence in the lobby meetings didn’t only impact us — it seems to have impacted the offices, as well. Patrick Schoen, liaison to Rep. Walberg, reflected: “I can’t quantify the receptiveness of the staffer who met with us this March, but I could swear that when the young conservatives introduced themselves and their credentials as Republican volunteers, I sensed a willingness to truly listen to our message. In my opinion, CCL should actively seek out young conservatives to lobby Republican candidates.” We want to thank Patrick and the other liaisons who consulted on this project — the success of these meetings would not have been possible without the diligent efforts of CCL’s liaisons.
This incredible, hard-working team of young conservatives provided a critical perspective for these MOCs and their staff, and we hope to see the results! If you would like young conservatives to join your next lobby meeting with a Republican member of Congress, reach out to CCL’s Conservative Outreach Coordinator, Kelsey Grant. If you’re a young conservative and are interested in these types of opportunities and many more, please also join our Young Conservative Caucus here and stay tuned for our upcoming launch event!
Caroline Martin is a CCL Conservative Fellow and graduating senior at the University of Michigan.