Anti-Trump ‘Gen Z’ Republicans look for a home

Young group seeks to build a Charlie Baker-style GOP

WHEN MIKE BRODO chaired the Massachusetts Teenage Republicans in 2017-2018, he was getting increasingly frustrated by the “Trumpism” dominating the national party. But Brodo said he looked to the more moderate Gov. Charlie Baker as a reason to stay with the GOP.

Then the former state rep. Jim Lyons, a Trump-backing conservative, became chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, moving the state party apparatus away from the social moderation and measured discourse of the governor. “I no longer had the state party to point to and say this is why we’re still Republican,” Brodo said.

Now, Brodo, a Georgetown University student, is part of a group of four Massachusetts high school and college students calling themselves “gen z gop” who are creating a new podcast and organization that aims to provide an ideological home for young Republicans who oppose President Trump. The group plans to launch with an op-ed in the Boston Globe on Saturday, a social media event Sunday evening, and the release of their first podcast Monday morning.

“The goal is to provide an example of what ideal dialogue and discourse is supposed to look like, in our view, going forward,” said Sam Garber, an entering freshman at Bates College who worked for Baker’s campaign and chaired the Massachusetts Teenage Republicans last year. “The party of the future, we believe, is not listening to cable news, it’s not quick hit attacks and zingers and one-liners. It’s about being able to dive into facts.”

Garber said he wants to provide a political platform for discussion “for people who don’t have a home in Trump’s America, in Trump’s political echelon, but don’t have a home on the left with AOC, Ayanna Pressley, and the like.”

The founders include Brodo, Garber, George Washington University senior John Olds, and high schooler Ryan Doucette. Doucette is the current chair of the Massachusetts Teenage Republicans and has worked for both Baker and former Republican US Senate candidate John Kingston. Olds is a former Baker intern who is now the campaign manager for state Rep. Lenny Mirra, a West Newbury Republican.

In ideology, they all sound like Baker Republicans, focusing on policy rather than personality and taking a middle of the road approach to many issues. Olds calls himself “a little politically homeless,” which is what he is trying to change.

“We need to address policy solutions in a nuanced way that affect our generation,” Brodo said. Brodo said if Republicans do not address the issues affecting young people, “they’ll keep voting for the left.”

For example, Brodo said Democrats are proposing climate change solutions that are not feasible – but Republicans are not proposing any solutions. On health care, Brodo criticized Republicans for wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement – but said Democrats’ Medicare for All proposals are too expensive and unworkable. He wants to see a compromise on immigration.

Meet the Author

Shira Schoenberg

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

“So much of it is made to be binary choices, you support cops or support Black Lives Matter. How about both?” Doucette said. “We can legitimately make policy changes that police agree with and will better the black community.” Doucette said although the group is “four white guys,” they support racial equity and LGBTQ equal rights, and hope to attract a diversity of voices.

The group says part of the niche they hope to fill is a need for civil discourse. “To throw out terms like ‘illegals’ or ‘the blacks,’ that’s not helpful as Americans, that’s immoral, and leads to bad policy. We need to start embracing discourse in way that’s productive,” Brodo said.