By Kate Obenshain
Vice President, Young America’s Foundation
For the most part, Alex Klein’s New Republic article, “My Week at the National Conservative Student Conference,” while snarky rather than clever, was spot on.
He’s right. Young America’s Foundation’s summer conference was replete with “gorgeous, whip-smart” women, “back-to-back” black speakers, and students who “wanted to wake up at midnight, step into a mysterious 1981 Chevy Camaro, and drive back in time to ‘morning in America.’” Right now, who wouldn’t?
He was correct in asserting how important the conference is to conservative students, routinely shut down and isolated on campuses by their leftist administrators and professors: “It didn’t take long to realize how special this week would be for these young right-wingers.”
Klein also hit the nail on the head. The students see themselves not in a political light, but as “torch-carriers” for true Reagan conservatism.
Rather than deriding the late President Reagan as Klein did in the article, participants were searching the past for workable solutions to today’s crisis—a crisis that threatens to impact them dramatically. They can’t find those solutions, or any objective analysis of an alternative to a leftist approach, in their classrooms or in The New Republic. So, they came to Washington, D.C. to hear from a diverse array of conservative speakers: some libertarians, some traditionalists, and some establishment conservatives.
The conference, as Klein points out, was not about politicians or party. It was about ideas—a vast array of ideas, and their free and open exchange—and a diverse array of students, some who loved all the speakers, those who were lukewarm on a few, or even one who found a speaker “appalling.”
Now in its 33rd year, what makes this particular conference successful is the energy it imparts to young conservatives through dynamic, passion-filled, ideologically-inspired speakers. This year was no different.
The Left has its own ideological champion who has been pursuing young people with undisguised intensity. Could Klein’s quoted words, spoken by a firebrand of the Right, Bay Buchanan, at the YAF conference, have been spoken by the Leftist in Chief on one of the high school or college campuses he regularly visits?
Can you hear him now? “One person can make a difference!” “Get involved; stay on the field, fight!” “Be the young leaders that this great country deserves!” “It’s your time. What do you believe? What do you believe?”
Yes, there would be “backslapping and hollering” by all those leftists attending, just as there was among these conservatives after Bay’s rousing speech. Yes, it would take on the feel of a “revival meeting,” and yes, the “noise would be deafening” as people around rose to their feet.
Even a conservative might find themselves unconsciously clapping at one of these mass rallies. Yes, just as we saw a few years ago, “Crowd psychology is a hell of a drug.” Spot on.
It is high time for students to wake up to the misery around them being caused by an ideology antithetical to freedom. Young America’s Foundation’s conference, the gutsy students who attended, and the speakers, combined with articles bringing attention to it like the one by TNR’s Klein, take us a giant leap toward saving this generation.
Kate Obenshain is a vice president at Young America's Foundation and frequently appears on Fox News. Bring her to your campus by calling (800) USA-1776. .