For some unfathomable reason, conservatives always seem to get excited when a moderately articulate post-puberty pundit comes along and parrots some simulacrum of conservative doctrine – except it almost always ends up like when my retriever-corgi mix tries to walk on her stubby back legs and we gasp in delight, “Look, Bitey thinks she’s people!”
This is not a criticism of young people; it’s a criticism of us grown-ups, and a recognition of reality that keeps biting us on the Jeb. We need to dispense with the cute kid conservative novelty acts and understand that our ideology – unlike liberalism – is not based on feelings and preferences but is instead drawn from a wisdom and understanding of human nature that comes only from hard-won life experience. That’s not to say young people should sit down and shut up – far from it. They have valuable insights we need to hear, especially from worlds they uniquely inhabit, like colleges or the company-level military. Sometimes they have done in-depth study and reporting on specific issues, including writing books. That’s earned expertise, not some mere knack for viral ranting, and that’s not what we are talking about here.
It’s our own fault for letting them represent us to the world – maybe we do it because they flatter us by offering a dim reflection of what we believe. But when they recite conservative chapter and verse for us, that’s all they’re doing – reciting. It’s not ingrained, it’s not seared into them through study and experience. It’s a stunt, a parlor trick. One of several reasons we conservatives need to stop putting them out there is because most conservatives have a youthful liberal phase and the kid who delights us today by mimicking our views will likely take a misguided off-ramp or two along the road to adulthood.
Remember 13-year old Jonathan Krohn, who wowed the 2009 CPAC with a collection of clichés that would have been utterly unremarkable had it come from someone not wearing Superman Underoos? Someone even published his book, Defining Conservatism; the adolescent’s three star-rated definition of conservatism is currently lurking at about Number 2,605,952 on Amazon. He’s liberal now, if you care.
Then there was C.J. Pearson. He was the teen sensation who liked conservatism, then hated conservatism because of racism, then decided that he liked Trump. It’s been a few months, so he’s probably morphed into something else. I’ll be looking for him in the background at the next #TheResistance rally, wearing a genital beanie and screaming about patriarchy.
The latest is Tomi Lahren, whose media profile, social and otherwise, has exploded thanks in large part to her popular video rants. Lots of people listen to her say unremarkably conservative stuff in a fairly aggressive way, but the fact that she is on camera all over the place obscures the fact that she has yet to mature as a conservative thinker.
Phew. That’s a relief.
She got suspended from her gig after calling her audience “hypocrites,” which some life experience might have taught her was a poor idea. Here’s another thing she tweeted – oh, and is it ever the kind of sentiment perfectly suited for a venue as fundamentally unserious as Twitter: “I speak my truth. If you don't like it, tough. I will always be honest and stand in my truth.”
Wow. Here’s “my truth.” That’s about the dumbest combination of words strung together by an alleged conservative I’ve had the misfortune to encounter since Jeb Bush decided to compassionate consplain to us about illegal aliens and their acts of love. Let me put it in terms Millennials might understand: OMG :(
“My truth” – can you imagine a less conservative concept? “My truth” sounds like the kind of self-affirming nonsense she likely got out of a lower-division UNLV gender studies seminar. And I love the part about how she’s going to steadfastly defend the dumb no matter how many people warn her that, “Hey, that’s super dumb.” At least I assume that’s what “stand in my truth” means – how deep is your truth, anyway? Like, whatev. You keep fighting the power.
There’s nothing more tiresome than Millennials’ certitude in their claims to moral superiority when combined with their hilariously pretentious posturing as stalwart defenders of their unprincipled principles against some on-rushing charge of imagined haters. Move over, Jews at Masada and Brits at Rourke’s Drift – here’s Tomi Lahren, courageously defending her right to be ridiculous by standing, resolutely, in her truth.
Where’s her parade? Sheesh, if you want snowflakery, it doesn’t get much snowflakier than embracing the notion of “my truth.”
And yeah, I’m being totally condescending, because that’s the proper response to this kind of silliness. Quick, cue the classic distraction, “Oh, my critics are against me cuz I’m a girl!” Among Millennials’ least charming habits is their tendency to attack the motives when they can’t deny the substance. Again, like, whatev.
Hey, I don’t blame the conservakids for cashing in on the spotlight. If I was 24 and someone offered me a gig and a boatload of cash, game on. But as it happens, when I was 24, I was a platoon leader in Germany during the last years of the Cold War leading other young people. That’s not like when you’re a TV star, where everyone tells you how awesome you are – and that lack of pushback against your bad ideas is hardly conducive to developing anything except a personal ideology that makes your thoughts and feelz the foundation of your ideological paradigm. Hence, Lahren’s John McCainian maverick approach that treats conservative tenets like just another entrée at the all-you-can-eat Cafeteria of Principles: “I have moderate, conservative, and libertarian views. I'm human. I will never apologize, to anyone, for being an independent thinker.”
Take that, all you monsters out there demanding that Tomi Lahren apologize for being an independent thinker!
That deserves several more “like, whatevs.” See, being an “independent thinker” is the absolute opposite of being someone who has learned, tested and embraced an ideology over time. You’re either conservative, or you’re something else. And if you identify as something else this week, own it.
Sorry – conservakids who can merely rant a good rant cannot be the voice of the conservative movement and still have it be conservative. We aren’t Rousseauian liberals suffering under the delusion that children have some sort of shortcut to wisdom denied to those with actual life experience and the knowledge gained over time. The leaders of our movement should not be cute kids who are merely reading off of a script that they have not yet lived. I wish Lahren nothing but success – she’s not a bad person, just a young person – but I’m just not interested in what she has to say right now. She can come back in a decade after she’s lived a little and rethought her recent rethink regarding killing babies, and maybe I’ll give her a listen.