Social media is brimming with opinionated conservatives and Republicans of all ages; there is no shortage of young conservative and young republican organizations across the nation; campus activism is vibrant thanks to groups like Turning Point. Yet, we see few new conservative faces in the public arena. There’s approximately a dozen or so well known young journalists, pundits, and activists who appear at various events and various fora time after time; most conservatives stick to being busy with jobs or attending political meetings and working as campaign managers or running for elections.
Young conservative movement appears to be splintered or non-existent; there is little drive for registering new voters, for aggressive recruitment of staffer placement, or the kind of cultivation of talent that the Democrats have become known for. Part of the reason, of course, is that Republicans and conservatives gravitate towards the business world and professions, which leaves them with little time for consistent publications, TV appearances, intellectual salons and other such activities that do not necessarily lead to immediate outcome (winning races, for instance). Nevertheless, few seem to be available even for part-time commitments; fewer still are those who do not already come from politically connected families. There is no shortage of conservative writing, but a striking dearth of innovative ideas coming from rising voices. Finally, the Republican party is shrinking – and it’s unclear what’s happening to younger voters.
To some extent, the left-wing extremist attitudes on campus are creating a counterreaction. Conservative-leaning college students, in response to pressure, tend to vote more Republican. This represents a perfect opportunity for identifying, recruiting, and training promising future thinkers and doers. Yet conservatives as a whole are failing in this endeavor. The litany of the way talent hunting is being mishandled is mile-long. Some of these failures are easily fixable. They include the failure to encourage and elicit creative ideas on promoting conservatism or interpreting conservative values and thought in an informed way.
There are, perhaps, essay contests and debates, but the names of the winners never make the news, not even in the conservative outlets. Similarly, few young thinkers and planners, who are not involved in political races, are seen speaking out at conservative conferences or other significant events. On the contrary, established figures, members of administration, and high level think tank employees share their views. The desire for acclaim is understandable; yet, what is the attraction to someone in their twenties or early thirties to be involved in “extracurricular” conservatism, beyond serving in an administration if there is no opportunity to contribute to bigger ideas and broader discourse in any significant way?
Besides cultivating the next generation of thinkers, however, there is also another strategic reason for stepping up the recruitment game. Progressives manage to insert their pundits in just about every publication, TV channel, or other public appearance opportunity possible. They are overwhelming the discourse with their plants. Conservatives, by contrast, may occasionally recognize some brave young conservative academics or journalists at some internal event – yet fail to encourage integration within the mainstream community. Thus we see that the idea of “conservatism”, as such, is becoming increasingly dominated by poorly educated, unthinking, and confused polemicists, who may be quick to respond with a succession of talking points, but contribute nothing to winning the larger cultural battles, whether though ideas, or presentation.
There is likewise little to no funding for young conservative-led initiatives that are not traditional outreach organizations, which are focused on every stereotypical conservative activity or type of discussion we think of. Where is the backing and patronage of media aimed at millenials? Where’s the encouragement of originality, creativity, humor, and paradigm shifting? At best, many young conservatives who undergo any sort of training strive to imitate the failing Hannity, Limbaugh, and other conservative models, who have been good at riling up anger, not so great on promoting internal diversity of ideas and the break out from comfort zones and groupthink within the conservative movement. Likewise, there is a general patronizing sense that younger or rising conservatives have not done anything important, and therefore they are not worth the effort. They are left on their own to break out in whatever way they will – and quite often, the people who most succeed in that effort are those who already come from politically active familial backgrounds. Continuation of family traditions is not in itself bad; what’s worse is that conservatism by rote kills motivation, effort, and enthusiasm.
There are currently no organized efforts to recruit new members to the movement, not just for the sake of voting in the next elections. Conservatives appear to have given up completely on winning hearts and minds in blue states. Their focus is almost entirely on strengthening the base; there is little outreach to purple communities, unless the election day is around the corner. Trumpian backlash against the progressive version of identity politics appears to have killed much of the growing momentum in finding and building up allies in diverse communities beyond Trump’s base. Indeed, it is possible to reach out to new immigrants from assorted state, minority communities, seemingly apolitical or mixed church groups, and disaffected individuals without losing sight of core values, or compromising integrity.
Yet none of that is really on the agenda. Republican party has become a clique welcoming largely only to the like-minded on a visceral level that has little to do with ideology or experience. It has become a self-congratulatory club, where little is being accomplished beyond echoing the chorus surrounding the assorted politicians and commenting on every move they make or don’t make. This obsession with politicians (of any sort) as symbols of conservatism and centers of life has served us a poor turn. We have come to relly on their judgment on what conservatism is or should be; rather than developing a thoughtful approach that our elected officials could rely on to promote ideas in the legislatures or executive branches.
Finally, informational and educational efforts have failed. We are crying out about the crisis on college campuses, while forgetting that the crisis actually starts in high schools or earlier. Where are our conservative book clubs? Gathering of constitutionalists? The funding for conservative artists of all stripes? THere is no shortage of Republican political donors; yet their main concern – campaigns – is short-sighted. And ideological conservatives, in their disgust about the party and movement takeover by crude populists, have failed to provide a vibrant, appealing, accessible, and viable alternative. Engagement of the young people should be a top priority. There is something to be said for allowing conservatives to find their own voices, rather than steering them in a particular direction. Yet, left to their own advices, those of us who have not yet fully formed our views, are easy bait for demagogues and reactionaries. Discernment comes with mentorship and investment.
None of what I outlined above is fatal. Developing conferences aimed at bringing together young conservative intellectuals, creators, and community builders, that go beyond the Ra-Rah speeches by shallow pundits is not difficult to develop. We have successful models of hackathons and workshops from the savy young tech community; and progressives have led by example with a proliferation of creative outlets, fun and engaging gallery openings, and evenings of mentorship for the uninvolved with appealing celebrities. While conservatism may not offer the equivalent of Hollywood stars to come bond with the youngsters, there is no shortage of exciting scientists, tech innovators, professionals with non-traditional twists and specialties in their careers, and others who can become brand ambassadors for conservatism, and serve as models for the rising stars.
The battle we wage is not just a battle of ideas, but quite as much a battle of branding, bonding, and breaking stereotypes and ceilings. That means that we should be attracting new followers with humor and satire, theatrics, emotional connections, the power of life-affirming and thought-provoking narratives, and a sense of passion coupled with commitment, openness, and determination. Dry lectures, moralizing, and shallow conservative virtue signaling will only repel the skeptics, and annoy the growing minds, eager for involvement, input, and impact. I suggest starting with something simple – perhaps, with sponsorship of low key discussion/book clubs around campuses, religious institutions, and other social gatherings, which are not aimed at propagandizing or “selling” conservative ideals – but rather at a thoughtful examination of different perspectives and experiences. Wars are won with both passion and preparation. We have fallen far behind on both counts – but knowing what’s missing will help us rise again.
A Tale of Two Shootings
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Charles Dickens probably never thought of a shooting as the best of times, nor would anyone else. However, if you HAVE to have a shooting, then the obvious “best of times” is one where only the gunman dies. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
Today we had yet another, preventable shooting at a soft-target school, where the best defense the government can come up with is making the school a gun-free zone, and occasionally a couple of cops.
The facts will continue to play out, but while two police officers acted heroically today (take note, Broward County Sheriff’s Office) what we do know is that there were still far too many innocents killed. The first officer was shot before he knew what was happening, and the second seems to have moved as fast as he could, though no one can be everywhere at once.
This will obviously be a story that is played out in the press for days, while the talking heads on Fox News and CNN spout various “solutions” to the problems of mass shootings. Most of these talking heads won’t have the first clue what they are talking about.
I am a former military and civilian firearms instructor. I still teach friends and family who want to learn, but I don’t charge anymore. I was a Texas Concealed Handgun Instructor. I know the law in Texas. A 17 year-old having access to his father’s weapons like what happened today is a felony for the father. Yes, there is a DEFENSE to this charge if the gun was used in self-defense, but this was not the case here, and so the father can not use this defense in court, though I’m sure his lawyers will try if they’re paid enough. The father of today’s shooter (I won’t use his name and give him the fame so many of these killers desire) WILL see time in prison, if Attorney General Ken Paxton has anything to say about it. The father may have obtained his guns legally, but in no way was a 17 year-old legally using them.
Obviously, today’s shooting was the worst of times.
The best of times happened just yesterday in Dixon, Illinois, when a school resource officer shot a would-be school shooter. There were snippets about this in the NY Times and other major news outlets, but that story has already gone away, while this one will not. It SHOULD be talked about just as much as today’s shooting. We need to talk about successes in stopping school shootings just as much as we talk about failures. We need to have an honest conversation about what DOES and what DOES NOT work.
I’m not going to use this piece to go into a great detail on the gun-control debate, though I’m sure that’s where the Left will continue to take us, even though they admit there are no additional laws they want that would stop these horrific tragedies. I DO want us all to come to some common ground on this issue of school shootings though.
1. ALL of us (we, the common people) want these to stop. I say we the common people because there are a great number of politicians on both sides of the debate, but particularly on the Left, who make a great deal of hay when these incidents happen.
2. We have to have an honest conversation about what does and does not work. An HONEST conversation, by the way, Lefties, does not mean what levels of gun control we’re willing to accept. And for those on the Right, yes, we need to talk about gun control. It’s our job to demonstrate to those who are ill-informed why gun control has not and never will work.
3. We need to approach this with logic and facts, not emotion.
This honest conversation has to begin with certain undeniable facts:
1. The shootings with the lowest body counts are those stopped by a good guy with a gun. It’s not ALWAYS a cop. Arming responsible teachers who both desire to carry and have demonstrated that they can handle a gun is something we need to talk about. I’ve heard good arguments for this, and one or two reasonable concerns against.
2. In nearly every incidence, mental health has played a factor, and could be seen BEFORE the shooting.
3. In MOST (not all) incidences, there were already mechanisms in place within current law that COULD have and SHOULD have stopped the gunman from obtaining firearms. Take today for example. Daddy is going to go to jail, and he should, for not having his firearms secured where his son could get them. I’m speculating here, but I’m willing to bet a lot of money as the investigation goes on, that the father of the gunman knew his son was disturbed, and should not only have kept his firearms secure from his son, as is the law in Texas, but also should have been seeking mental health for his son.
4. The Left is going to hate this one, but it’s an undeniable fact. Almost every one of these mass shootings, and ALL of them in schools, are in gun free zones. Those who know little to nothing about guns may think this irrelevant, but it is one of the most important points. They are soft targets that are chosen because most if not everyone there is completely defenseless.
There is more we could talk about on today’s shooting. We could talk about the explosives, the fact that neither of the guns used are ones the Left (currently) claims it wants to ban, or the instant calls for gun control. I did see something just yesterday that I found interesting from the Left. They were complaining that Parkland was disappearing from the news and it wasn’t getting any attention anymore, a month later. They wanted to push for gun control and nothing else.
Well, I have a solution for this. Adhere to the above rules for a conversation, and accept the undeniable facts above, and then engage us with logic and reason, instead of pure emotion. The kids from the Parkland shooting got famous not for their calm reason, but for their rage.
And before you think I’m not emotional ENOUGH about all this, just keep in mind I have two little boys in public school here in Texas. Yes, I’d love for the teachers and administrators in their schools (those who want to be) armed and willing to protect my kids. I’ll donate the time on the range to help them become proficient. I’ll even pay for the ammo and range time.
Hidden History: Colonial Rebellion Against Corporate Oppression
Was “The Boston Tea Party” truthfully all about taxation?
It started with a famine-
Eight years after the Battle of Plassey in 1757, when British Major-General Robert Clive defeated the Nawab of Bengal (India), Clive granted British governmental powers of civil administration to the British East India Company in Bengal (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
As the functioning government over Bengal, the East India Company imposed taxes on goods, land taxes, and trade tariffs. A monopoly over tea and grains was achieved (Cambridge Forecast, 2006).
Laws were also passed prohibiting the Bengalese from “hoarding” goods, such as rice. “This prevented traders and dealers from laying in reserves that in other times would have tided the population over lean periods,” (Cambridge Forecast, 2006).
When a semi-regular dry spell, causing a decline in crop production, came upon the region in 1769, the peasantry’s surplus of staple crops proved inadequate for sustaining the population (Strasser, 2010).
Famine struck in 1770, “killing at least 1.9 million people – this was equivalent to half the population of the 13 American colonies at the time” (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
A plethora of bad press soon haunted the British East India Company.
The horrified public of Great Britain rightfully cast blame upon the East India Company for the man-made disaster.
Horace Walpole, the 4th Earl of Orford, wrote:
“The oppressions of India…. under the rapine and cruelties of the servants of the company, had now reached England, and created general clamour here,” (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
The American Colonies were slated to be next-
In 1773, the Crown devised a plan to aid the now economically flailing British East India Company in ridding itself of 17.5 million pounds of excess tea (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
The Tea Act was passed by Parliament in May of 1773.
The act imposed no new taxes.
Rather than imposing a new tax on tea, the Tea Act merely reinforced the taxes already in existence, put in place years before with the passage of the 1767 Townsend Revenue Act. Instead of imposing a new tax, the Tea Act of 1773 granted a full monopoly on the import and subsequent sale of tea in all American colonies.
This monopoly was granted to the British East India Company.
Americans feared that they too would suffer the fate of the Bengalese under the ruthless, corporate despotism of the East India Company.
“As Americans were well aware, the East India Company had turned itself into the actual government of east India, and there, the Company‘s irresponsible, ruthless, and inhumane greed had been directly responsible for millions of deaths in the Bengal famine of 1770” (Charleston Law Review, 2012).
In an impassioned objection against the East India Company, John Dickenson, a Pennsylvania lawyer, wrote:
“Their Conduct in Asia, for some Years past, has given ample Proof, how little they regard the Laws of Nations, the Rights, Liberties, or Lives of Men… cast their Eyes on America, as a new Theatre, whereon to exercise their Talents of Rapine, Oppression and Cruelty. The Monopoly of Tea, is, I dare say, but a small Part of the Plan they have formed to strip us of our Property. But thank GOD, we are not Sea Poys, or Marattas, but British Subjects, who are born to Liberty, who know its Worth, and who prize it high,” (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
For Americans, the issues at hand were quite simple:
“Would they allow England to press down upon America the corrupt class of royal toadies who would rule America by force, as they did east India? Would they allow England to siphon off the productive wealth of Americans and gladly watch Americans die in order to enhance their own corrupt profits?” (Dave Kopel, Charleston Law Review, 2012).
Their answer? No!
And so, on the evening of December 16, 1773, approximately 100 Bostonians –“supported by a crowd of thousands who safeguarded them”- boarded three ships filled with East India Company cargo and dumped 46 tons of tea into the waters of the harbor (Charleston Law Review, 2012).
- “Bengal Famine of 1770,” Richard Melson, Cambridge Forecast, October 2006, Retrieved at http://www.cambridgeforecast.org/MIDDLEEAST/BENGAL.html
- “British East India Company and the Great Bengal Famine”, Strasser, 2010, retrieved at https://strassers.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/british-east-india-company-and-the-great-bengal-famine/
- “Defiance of The Patriots: The Boston Tea Party & The Making of America”, Benjamin L. Carp, (2010).
- “How the British Gun Control Program Precipitated the American Revolution”, 6 Charleston L. Rev. 283, 2012, Retrieved at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1967702
- “The global origins of the Boston Tea Party”, BBC History Magazine, 2010 (Christmas Issue), Retrieved at https://www.historyextra.com/period/the-global-origins-of-the-boston-tea-party/
Hidden History: The Disarmament of Boston
The first shots were fired in the American War for Independence on April 19, 1775, when 700 British Redcoats, led by Major John Pitcairn, attempted to seize American arms at Lexington and Concord (American Bar Association, 2012).
The patriots, however, had already moved their supply of arms to safety.
After an initial, successful battle against the patriots at the bridge at Lexington and Concord, the Redcoats were ambushed and eventually outnumbered 2:1 by American re-enforcements arriving from surrounding towns (Charleston Law Review, 2012, p. 310).
While some American fighters had arrived organized – illegally-formed local militias – a large number arrived and fought on their own, even taking up sniper positions whenever possible. Patriots who joined the fight even included a number of women and the elderly. Before long, the armed Americans harried Pitcairn’s Redcoats back into Boston (Charleston Law Review, 2012, p. 310).
“One British officer reported: ‘These fellows were generally good marksmen, and many of them used long guns made for Duck-Shooting.’ On a per-shot basis, the Americans inflicted higher casualties than had the British regulars” (American Bar Association, 2012).
Boston, where the Royal Governor, General Thomas Gage’s Red Coats were stationed, was now surrounded by armed American patriots.
Since their attempt to seize American’s arms at Lexington and Concord had gone badly for the British, and now finding themselves surrounded by armed patriots, Royal Governor Gage devised an alternate plan for disarmament.
On April 23, 1775, General Gage made an offer to Bostonians trapped within the city: turn in your arms and you can leave Boston.
“The Boston Selectmen voted to accept the offer, and within days, 2,674 guns were deposited, one gun for every two adult male Bostonians,” (American Bar Association, 2012). Arms collected included: “1778 fire-arms (muskets or rifles)… 634 pistols… 973 bayonets (bayonets attached to the long guns)… and 38 blunderbusses (short-barreled shotguns),” (Frothingham, 1849).
However, after “having collected the arms, Gage then refused to allow the Bostonians to leave. He claimed that many more arms had been secreted away than surrendered,” (American Bar Association, 2012). While inhabitants of Boston were supposed to receive certificates permitting departure from Boston, this rarely occurred in practice. Indeed, before long, “passes to leave issued by Gage quickly dried up,” (Halbrook, 2008).
Further complicating the matter was the fact that those Bostonians who were permitted to leave, were prohibited from taking any belongings with them (Halbrook, 2008).
The situation for Bostonians worsened over time, as food shortages began to take effect.
As one Bostonians wrote, in a letter to an acquaintance in Philadelphia (New England Historical Society, 2014):
You request my writing freely, which I must be cautious of, for reasons which will naturally occur to you. As to the inhabitants removing, they are suffered to go out under certain restrictions. This liberty was obtained after many town meetings, and several conferences between their Committee and General Gage. The terms mutually agreed to were, “that the inhabitants should deliver up all their arms to the Selectmen.” This was generally done, though it took up some days. On this occasion the inhabitants were to have had liberty to remove out of Town, with their effects, and during this, to have free egress and regress. But mark the event: the arms being delivered, orders were issued by the General, that those who inclined to remove must give in their names to the Selectmen, to be by them returned to the Military Town Major, who was then to write a pass for the person or family applying, to go through the lines, or over the ferry; but all merchandise was forbid; after a while, all provisions were forbid; and now all merchandise, provisions, and medicine. Guards are appointed to examine all trunks, boxes, beds, and every thing else to be carried out; these have proceeded such extremities, as to take from the poor people a single loaf of bread, and half pound of chocolate; so that no one is allowed to carry out a mouthful of provisions; but all is submitted to quietly. The anxiety indeed is so great to get out of Town, that even were we obliged to go naked, it would not hinder us. But there are so many obstructions thrown in the way, that I do not think, those who are most anxious will be all out in less than two or three months — vastly different from what was expected, for the General at first proposed, unasked, to procure the Admiral’ s boats to assist the inhabitants in the transportation of their effects, which is not done, and there are but two ferry-boats allowed to cross. They have their designs in this, which you may easily guess at. We suffer much for want of fresh meat.
“After several months, food shortages in Boston convinced Gage to allow easier emigration from the city,” (American Bar Association, 2012).
In the end, it was the “seizure of these arms from the peaceable citizens of Boston who were not even involved in hostilities,” which ultimately “sent a message to all of the colonies that fundamental rights were in grave danger” (Halbrook, 20008).
- “How the British Gun Control Program Precipitated the American Revolution”, 6 Charleston Law Review, 283 (2012), Retrieved at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1967702
- “History of The Siege Of Boston And Of The Battles Of Lexington, Concord, And Bunker Hill”, Richard Frothingham, 94 (Boston, Charles C. Little & James Brown 1849)
- “May 21, 1775: General Gage has broken his engagement with the People of Boston, after they had delivered up their Arms.”, The New England Historical Society, 2014. Retrieved at http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/may-21-1775-general-gage-broken-engagement-people-boston-delivered-arms/
- “The American Revolution against British Gun Control”, Administrative and Regulatory Law News (American Bar Association). Vol. 37, no. 4, Summer 2012. Retrieved at http://www.davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/american-revolution-against-british-gun-control.html
- “The Founder’s Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms”, Stephen P. Halbrook, 2008.
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