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Paul Ryan: Can the GOP leader make fiscal responsibility sexy for the iPod generation?

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Wake up, it's your future

In a phone interview a few weeks ago, Mr. Ryan confirmed to me that youth support is vital to the passage of these reforms. We should give it to him.

Ryan hopes to stop my generation from hitting the snooze button every time a politician mentions the looming debt crisis. The Roadmap enthralls us to “[l]ook at what the government is doing to you and your future, look at where we’re headed, and know it can be avoided if we turn this around.”

On the surface, the Roadmap looks like a boring policy document. Ryan’s most formidable challenge is communicating terms like Medical Savings Accounts [MSAs] and unfunded liabilities to the iPod generation. Let’s face it, we college students don’t have the longest attention spans.

Young people like to organize for ostentatious issues like legalizing marijuana, protecting the environment, or stopping a war. They don’t rally behind such un-sexy causes as fiscal responsibility.

The sky-high future taxes my generation will have to pay in service to the debt should shock them into action. But Ryan’s communication strategy goes beyond appealing to logical self-interest. He follows the examples of other politicians who inspired youth action by appealing to their larger cultural ideals.

Look at the candidates younger voters supported in 2008: Barack Obama and Ron Paul. Young people love ideals and a flashy cause. We embrace broad principles simple enough for us to understand in our distracted lives.

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