Zachary Burns, a babyfaced redhead, has only been on this earth 19 years, yet he knows enough to want to go back to the good old days in America.
“I read in history textbooks that America was once expanding and booming,” said Burns, whose dress shirt and tie clashes with his American flag patterned pants. “Now all I see is gridlock.”
Burns, a student at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, was part of a predominantly college-aged crowd who recently attended the largest conservative conference of the year, eager to have a say in the political process.
In a totally unscientific method, The Daily Signal interviewed multiple college students at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, outside Washington D.C. to find out what issues they care about going into the 2016 presidential race.
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The consensus? On the surface, it seems that few of the interviewees want the same things.
Some of the young people, the job seekers, simply want employment when they graduate college, and they hope their (often expensive) education provides them the tools to be competitive. Others, the innovators, crave an economy free of regulations so they can pursue their dreams unimpeded.
And still others, the world weary, just hope to be safe, to feel protected and to see their country use its power to overcome threats.
But though the college students see the world differently, they really want the same thing.
They want a leader who can carry out their vision for America, and they came here to find that person.
Create and Innovate
Burns is clear about what he would like in an ideal world.
“I like free enterprise,” said Burns, listing Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as potential Republican presidential candidates who impressed him at CPAC.
“I like innovation. I like straight-forward, to-the-point guys. I don’t care about age. I just want someone who can get the job done.”
“I just want someone who can get the job done,” says Zachary Burns, 19.
Mike Battey, a 21-year-old conference attendee, argues that Republicans should avoid talking about things that “don’t necessarily matter.”
Namely, Battey says, that means leaving alone the sensitive issue of same-sex marriage.
“Government should be out of marriage because it’s not a legislative function of government,” Battey said. “Whoever someone else decides to marry doesn’t impact my life.”
Concerns: Home and Abroad:
Briana Jamshid, a 20-year-old student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, is ready to fight for what she believes America’s role in the world should be.
Jamshid is enlisted in the Army National Guard. She’s honored to serve her country, but she hopes to do so in the right places.
“ISIS needs to be eliminated,” says Jamshid, who claims to be open-minded about which politician she would support in that mission. “We definitely should be boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. But we should stay out of the Ukraine conflict.”
Aaron Hass, a 22-year-old student at State University of New York at Oneonta, is similarly concerned about the Middle East.
“The Middle East is vital to our trade,” says Hass, who is a fan of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “It is vital to defend the nation of Israel. They are a minority in the world and they need to know they have a friend. America is the big dog in the world. If you pet the big dog it will be your friend. If not, it will bite.”
Before Audrey Rusnak, 21, can fret about taking on the world, she has a more top-of-mind concern.
“College is too expensive,” says Rusnak, who admirers Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s rags-to-riches story. “I just hope it pays off in landing me a job.”