Young conservatives achieved prominence on campuses across the nation by zooming in under the radar. Now they've even made the cover of the New York Times magazine, the bastion of politically correct liberalism.
The Times limited its focus to one campus, Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., and that's too bad. The politically correct armies of Mailer-lite are in retreat in a lot of other places as well. Tenured liberal professors who have dominated campus politics since the 1970s haven't been knocked off their pedestals - not yet - but moss is spreading at their feet and cracks are growing in the foundation.
At Stanford, for example, Young Republican business is booming. When I was there for a week last fall I could count the college Republicans on two hands with a finger or two left over, but after rallies to support the war on Saddam Hussein, countering the antiwar protests, conservatism blossomed. Young Republicans now number nearly 500.
"When (students) realized we were right and that the Iraqi people appreciated what we did, they started to abandon the Left," says Joe Fairbanks, president of the Stanford College Republicans. "College conservatives don't get the media attention that the left gets because we're not out skipping classes every day for ineffective and inane protests. We have facts and common sense on our side."
Next year the Stanford Republicans plan to lobby aggressively to bring ROTC, banished in the wake of the Vietnam war, back to campus.
Polls continue to show that increasing numbers of young men and women are patriotic, supportive of the military and tired of listening to the exhausted clichés of the '60s. They're not averse to using guerilla tactics to suit the 21st century.
Style is a tactical issue rather than a statement. They've traded in their penny loafers for sneakers, though they don't stoop to conquer in the way of Abbie Hoffman, the prototype '60s manic radical who encouraged his followers in the 1960s to "steal this book." These "hipublicans" exhort their followers to read books only after buying them.
At the top of the reading list is Letters to a Conservative by Dinesh D'Souza, sort of a right-wing Mario Savio, who set off the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in 1964. D'Souza crusades for free speech as leftist administrators and professors push restrictive speech codes and mandatory sensitivity sessions. At Stanford, liberals even want to kick the Hoover Institution off the campus because it's "too conservative."