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Conservatives are lagging behind in recruiting young talent. Here’s how to fix that.

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Conservatives are lagging behind in recruiting young talent Heres how to fix that

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.

Irina Tsukerman is a human rights and national security lawyer, based in New York. I can send something longer, but then it would go into all the other things I've been involved in and might be too long!

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Joel Kurtinitis

    February 7, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Great piece, and important points. Federalism can help fix this – it’s the branding that the right needs and it fits with millennial culture.

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Education

Yes, liberal propagandists litter our public school system

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Yes liberal propagandists litter our public school system

This should come as news to nobody who reads this site. The American education system, in particular the public and collegiate sectors, is a cesspool of left-wing propaganda. Some estimate over 80% of public school teachers and over 90% of private college professors are left-leaning. While some are doing their jobs properly and teaching our children in an unbiased fashion, many are not.

They use schools to indoctrinate our kids.

The latest outrageous example was uncovered by the Federalist:

Emails Reveal Teachers Plotting To Hide Their Political Bias From Parents

http://thefederalist.com/2018/08/07/emails-reveal-high-school-teachers-plotting-hide-political-bias-parents/It was late on a cold and snowy New England evening in February 2017, and Newton North history teacher Isongesit Ibokette was venting at his keyboard about the new guidelines for avoiding bias in teaching. They had been sent out by Newton North’s principal that morning, prompted by the general ill will among teachers for the new occupant of the White House.

The guidelines asked teachers to remain objective while teaching about historical and current events; and to treat all students, regardless of political opinion, with respect. Teachers were told: “For current controversial issues (health care, immigration, environmental policies, gun laws), teach students that there are different perspectives and present the reasoning of those who hold those different perspectives.”

Ibokette was having none of it. He typed this reply: “I am concerned that the call for ‘objectivity’ may just inadvertently become the most effective destructive weapon against social justice,” and sent it to the members of Newton North’s history department.

The only surprising part about this is the boldness in which the teachers involved put their bias on display. They wear their social justice promotion as a badge of honor, one that they proudly display despite the clear calling of their profession to be objective and educational.

When your liberal friends or family members try to claim education is so bad because of conservatives, be sure to point out that our education system is one of the most left-leaning aspects of American life.

Image Credit: Boston

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Education

Trump makes joke about Ivanka, leftist media calls it sabotage

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Trump makes joke about Ivanka leftist media calls it sabotage

Put this in the ever-growing bin of “news” stories that take literally everything the President says and tries to paint it in a negative light. According to HuffPo and Rawstory, the President may be trying to sabotage his own daughter’s efforts towards improving education.

I’m not a fan of the President in general as he is still proving to be too liberal, but the way he gets treated by leftist media is disgraceful. You can read the whole story if you like, but the headline and first couple of paragraphs should be enough for you to get the picture:

Trump Jokes He Might Veto Ivanka’s Pet Project And Things Get Awkward | HuffPost

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-veto-ivanka-legislation-awkward_us_5b5a0f31e4b0fd5c73cd35fdPlayful teasing or passive-aggressive sabotage? Maybe Ivanka Trump’s face gives it away.

The two Trumps participated in a round table in Iowa, where Ivanka touted newly passed legislation she pushed: the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

The bill reauthorizes an existing incentive for career technical colleges that teach skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM,  according to Raw Story.

However, that didn’t stop Donald Trump from joking: “Maybe I’ll veto it.”

No, the President is not going to veto the legislation his daughter pushed. If anything, Trump has demonstrated too much protection for his family. He’s not going to stab his eldest daughter in the back on this one. And no, it’s not the President being passive-aggressive. It was a joke. Nothing more.

As for the claim that things got “awkward,” their proof is an image of Ivanka taken shortly after the exchange. Her expression is allegedly a sign that she was dismayed by her father’s joke. What do you think?

My Take

Serious journalists on the right and left have real complaints about this administration. Unfortunately, those complaints get lost when liberal “journalists” continuously make nothing out of nothing. They crowd the space with their nothing and prevent actual progress from being made with the President and for the country.

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Education

A Tale of Two Shootings

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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.

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