August 07, 2008

I wear my sunglasses at night

A small piece of me died inside when I read Kathryn Jean Lopez’s assurance that “the future is bright” from the looks of the aspiring apparatchiks at the Young America’s Foundation conference.  Having received reports of my own from attendees and confident in my own qualifications to speak on the state of the young conservative “movement,” I have to give my own opinion. 

The largest problem with the youth “movement” is that it is encouraging people to believe that political action is the struggle to advance through the ranks of the established conservative infrastructure.  Bringing various conservative celebrities to campus or attending conferences may be entertaining or even educational, but does little to actually retake power on college campuses.  Even if the group raises the necessary tens of thousands of dollars to bring Ann Coulter to campus, the overall dynamic of domination by tenured leftists, various multicultural fiefdoms, and the approved radicalism of groups like SDS remains unchanged.  There is a serious problem when students can bring people like Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, and Sam Brownback to campus—and like them all equally.  There is far too much focus on access to famous people rather than accomplishing anything useful or really exploring the importance of ideas.

Now, Young America’s Foundation and other institutions (like the one I work for) are useful, and do need to exist, but let’s not kid ourselves that they are anything close to sufficient.  Nor is there a “conservative revolution” occurring on college campuses anymore than there was a “Reagan Revolution” that actually limited the growth of the state or reversed the culture war.  The last thing we need are conservative students raising more polite suggestions for “diversity of ideas” to contemptuous and bemused campus commissars or serving as cannon fodder for John McCain.

Young conservative activists have more to learn from Saul Alinsky than Ed Meese.  While Lopez “kept her shades close by” to shield her from the bright future, I can only look away from what resembles something more like a dark nightmare of years of failed strategy.  If we actually want to win this thing, and not just congratulate ourselves on who we have had our picture taken with, we need to recognize that.

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