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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.

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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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Culture and Religion

Liz Wheeler to Catholic girls: ‘Stop pretending you’re a victim because you broke the rules and rolled up your skirt’

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Liz Wheeler to Catholic girls Stop pretending youre a victim because you broke the rules and rolled

Students at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego are protesting their dress code. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence; there have been plenty of protests over the years, especially by feminists, in opposition to school dress codes that require girls to wear skirts. But this protest is different. The students are protesting because girls are no longer allowed to wear skirts.

Principal Kevin Calkin, the principal at Cathedral Catholic High School, changed the dress code in the most recent iteration of policy. Now, it states: “The most significant change is that skirts will no longer be an option for girls. Dress code is a perennial challenge. The dress code exists for at least three good reasons: to foster unity, to encourage modesty, and to minimize pressure to conform to particular styles or clothing brands. Basically we hope to foster a faith-based environment where students are focused on learning and not on outward appearances.”

But students brought signs and demanded the old policy be put back in place. Signs had various messages from “My body, my choice” to “Even Jesus wore one.”

The policy was put into place after the principal and others on staff had handed out “hundreds of hours of detention” to girls who would break the knee-length minimum for skirts, especially by rolling up their skirts to reveal more of their lower bodies.

One America News host Liz Wheeler lambasted the students, who apparently can’t tell the difference between rights and privileges. Only in America can students feel so victimized because they can’t wear skirts to school.

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Education

Jocko Willink: Discipline = Freedom

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Jocko Willink Discipline Freedom

PragerU has a new video from Jocko Willink on Discipline on the hard road to inevitable success.

In this year’s 2019 PragerU Commencement Address, Navy Seal (Ret.) and best-selling author, Jocko Willink, offers some hard-learned, practical advice. It all starts with Discipline. That’s what will get you on the road to personal fulfillment and success – and keep you there. Watch and find out why.

We cannot do justice to this short [5:43 min] Commencement Address, so this will just be summary of the main points:
[Our emphasis]

One of the best things I’ve learned is that anyone has what it takes to travel the hard road – to walk The Path that leads to success. That includes you. It won’t be easy. It will demand everything you’ve got to give. But you can do it, and I want to give you three key principles I’ve learned that will help you to get it done.

Principle number one: Discipline. Equals. Freedom.

That’s not a contradiction – it’s an equation. Discipline might appear to be the opposite of freedom. But, in fact, discipline is the path to freedom.

Discipline is the driver of daily execution. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that hold you back.

Some people think motivation is what will compel them to get things done. But motivation is just an emotion – a feeling, and like all feelings, it’s fickle: it comes and goes. You can’t count on motivation to be there when you need to get through truly challenging times.

Principle Number Two: Stay. Humble.

In life, you are going to have to do things that you don’t want to do. Maybe things that you don’t think you should have to do – things that offend your precious ego.


Now, being humble does not mean that you shouldn’t be confident. You certainly have to believe that you are a capable person. But don’t let confidence turn into arrogance. So keep your ego in check and stay humble.

The third and final principle: Take. Ownership. Of. Everything.

I call this “Extreme Ownership.”

In the military, the best leaders and the best troops were the ones that took ownership of everything in their world – not just the things they were responsible for, but for every challenge and obstacle that impacted their mission.

So: be disciplined in all that you do. Don’t subject yourself to the whims of motivation. Stay humble and be willing to do what needs to be done.

And: take extreme ownership of your life and everything in it.

Then: choose the hard path – the path of responsibility, hard work, and sacrifice. The Path of discipline, humility, and ownership that ultimately leads to freedom.

If you follow these principles, then nothing in the world will stop you.

I’m Jocko Willink, host of the Jocko Podcast and author of Extreme Ownership, for Prager University.

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Education

Liz Wheeler: Shocking California sex education classes

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Liz Wheeler Shocking California sex education classes

Indoctrination. There’s no other way to explain what’s happening to our children in the public school system in California. They are being indoctrinated into a progressive worldview on a daily basis, and sex education is arguably the clearest example of institutional, systematic indoctrination into this worldview.

Should children be taught at an early age age transgenderism? Should students at any age be taught by schools about bondage, anal sex, oral sex, or anything that many Americans still view as improper sexual activities? These are discussions that should be between parents and their children, not schools. But parents are incompetent in the eyes of progressives, especially those who have an agenda to subvert faith-based beliefs of abstinence, chastity, and traditional sexual relationships through marriage.

OAN’s Liz Wheeler is spot on, as usual, in pointing out how the methodical indoctrination into progressive sexual worldviews is pervasive and required in the California public school system. Parents, be warned.

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