Michael Fontneau

Age

29

Location

Southern Connecticut State University

Occupation

Vice President of Front Porch Strategies

Twitter

@michaelfontneau

BIO

Michael Fontneau serves as vice president of Front Porch Strategies. He is a seasoned political operative specializing in strategic relationship building, constituent communications, political strategy, and advocacy. Fontneau has years of experience with local, federal, and statewide political campaigns, as well as nationwide non-profit and corporate affairs campaigns. He also serves on the board of Soldier Socks, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the men and women who are or have recently served in the United States Armed Forces.

 

Why is it important that at this particular point in time, right-of-center youth become involved publicly, whether in politics, media, their communities, or another capacity?

It is an opportune time to be involved, especially if you are right of center. Many young people are oriented to the arguments of the left, and let’s face it, the right has not done a good job of making their arguments to people my age and younger.

We are living through a time of enormous change. I believe center-right ideas are more exciting and innovative than those offered up by those on the left.  During this time of social media dominance, young people have never had a better opportunity to get to the centers of influence, whether in politics or media. Young people have historically had a very hard time being heard, but for now, the powerful are paying attention.

 

What must elected officials and others in positions of leadership do to make a right-of-center message resonate with the Millennial generation?

Talk about freedom and the future. The center-right’s history has been one in defense of freedom, from Abraham Lincoln forward. And, political success has always been tied to a vision for the future. Government is being outpaced by the modern world. We have a slow, bureaucratic federal government that is out of touch with how young people think and act. The bureaucratic mindset is to control everything, but the mindset of young people is to pursue possibility. These two mindsets for my generation are on a collision course. Those who defend the status quo in Washington will be on the losing side, and those who want to innovate government will be on the winning side. Yes, there are many things wrong with America now, but there are many things that are right, too, and young people are optimistic and hopeful. I believe that despite all of the problems, the future is amazingly bright. Leaders should talk about possibilities and less about problems.

 

Where would you like to see the conservative movement in 10 years — and how can it get there?

Despite what many think, our generation is not self-centered. We want to be part of a greater community that serves others. I’d like to see the conservative movement lead my generation with the idea of a lifetime commitment of service to others. Conservatives are often stereotyped as old, white, and boring. I’ve found that the opposite is true, but the perception remains. Many young people, including minorities, are attracted to the conservative message, perhaps because today it is, in many ways, countercultural to be a conservative. But I also think young people are attracted to an ideology that values family, respects traditions, and serves a greater purpose. The conservative movement has to re-imagine itself. It must position itself as the innovators, the ones who are inventing a better future.

Thirty Under Thirty – 2014

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