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How Conservatives Failed Young Adults

November 19, 2017

Sunday’s Washington Examiner, a news daily Financed by Philip Anschutz,  reports on a meeting of Young Americans for Liberty with the heading, “White House Hosts Conversation on Education.”

If you dig deeper into this report, you’ll find the claim that Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) has over 900 chapters, though it is not clear they are all campus-based.  Moreover, if you seek more information about YAL you’ll find that this organization is an outgrowth of the Ron Paul for President campaign of 2008.

The “White House” event is, of course, not an event organized by the White House nor the Trump Administration’s U.S. Department of Education. Donald Trump’s “Trump University” that was fined twenty-five million dollars for overly aggressive marketing of programs, deters President Trump from becoming actively engaged in higher education issues. But the themes raised at Saturday’s “conversation” and the participants suggest that YAL is politically astute and state-based.

Participants discussed rising student loan debt, the false claim that everyone should earn a college degree, criticism of “speech codes” on campuses, lack of political diversity (“…we want students on campuses throughout the country to hear every ideology….”) and “more power to the states.”

Three speakers presenting their views included “state senator Eric Brakey, R-Maine, Rep. Tom Garrett, R-Va., and Cliff Maloney Jr., President of Young Americans for Liberty.”

Organizations and sponsored events of this type are important though–as functions of the Ron Paul organization–they represent the political fringe of thousands of community-based voluntary associations and alumni of colleges that, with leadership not yet present–can be enlisted in the recovery of American higher education from what James Pierson calls “The Left University.”

I don’t want to minimize the good efforts of The Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform or The Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE),  but the activity of YAL should alert conservative organizations, especially those founded more than fifty years ago, that there is life after 1964.

Young America’s (founded by Bill Buckley) and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (founded by Frank Chodorov) and even The Philadelphia Society (created by ISI Midwest representative, Don Lipsett) that once were vibrant, college based or academic organizations, are now less relevant.

Young America’s foundation is largely focused on high school students, ISI has had recent financial and organizational challenges, and PhillySoc no longer speaks to academics but is more oriented to a non-academic membership of political and economic conservatives.

Yes, there is the Claremont Institute and Accuracy in Academia that have very good informational programs, but the real campus action is led by Liberty University with more than 80,000 online students and Regent University with similar, but smaller, online programs.  Regent is a Protestant Christian institution rooted in the Dominionism of Pat Robertson and Liberty University is Southern Baptist.

There are not many traditional political and economic conservative colleges except for Hillsdale and Grove City, neither of which offer accredited online degree programs. And Catholic institutions that are “conservative” seem focused on Great Books education which is not compatible with online, distance, learning programs and the technologies that make them effective.

Campus-based activism and the small number of “conservative” colleges (no more than one hundred) are outnumbered by some four thousand “accredited” colleges and universities where, particularly in the Humanities and Social Science, conservative scholars are hard to find.

All that energy and financing by Republicans and conservatives that has been invested in political advantage and campaigns for public office has overlooked a reality of 21st century America that political, economic and social conservatives have been outflanked by the Left.  As a consequence, since the student riots of the late 60’s and early 70’s, college educated students have not been educated in their civic duties as responsible citizens of a self-governing democratic republic.

Here’s the bottom line:  Conservatives lost the Millennials and, if you count a “generation” in terms of four years of attendance at college, eleven generations of college students since 1973 are firmly indoctrinated in Progressive ideology or successor “movements” like Feminism or Black activism.

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