Rierson on the Right

We seem to live in an age of leftist political marches and protests that dominate our cultural conversations. Giving up one’s rights appears to be trendy, but as an outgoing College Republicans leader, I know that young people actually crave the kind of freedom for which conservatism is the natural political defender.

This past weekend, I and several other young conservatives hosted the North Carolina Federation of College Republicans annual convention on UNC’s campus. Dozens of Republican student leaders from some of the federation’s 30 or so chapters met practically within spitting distance of a small leftist demonstration, and no one got triggered!

During our meeting, we learned about recent voting trends among young people from the national College Republicans chairman. Democrats have won a majority of 18-24 year old votes in several prominent elections of late, but there are also signs that the Republican Party can earn the trust of young people when it speaks their language.

Republicans who get things done and avoid controversy, like Richard Burr and John Kasich, actually perform really well with young voters. Outspoken leaders like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio enjoy high levels of enthusiasm among young conservatives, too. These Republican leaders focus on solutions and advocate for innovations that build confidence for the future among young people.

Last week the White House held a summit for young people, at which President Trump made the case that his concerns about trade, education reform, and other issues align with the interests of young people. Republicans and conservatives of all stripes are working in their own ways to ensure that young Americans can grow up in a safe and prosperous country.

Enthusiasm among young conservatives is very strong. The College Republican movement in North Carolina is growing alongside other allied groups, and student leaders nationwide have made headlines for their support of free speech and intellectual diversity.

Recent student movements to restrict free speech and self-defense rights show that young people desire freedom, but have been misguided into thinking that one’s individual liberty comes at the cost of his or her brother’s.

It can be extremely frustrating for conservatives to see people want to surrender their rights in the name of false security. Some young opinion leaders on the right have taken to Twitter to explain this in a bold way.

As the self-styled “Conservative Millennial” commentator Allie Stuckey tweeted, “This argument that ‘my right to live is bigger than your right to own a gun’ is so insanely illogical. Newsflash: me owning a gun doesn’t threaten your life. It defends mine.”

Austin Peterson, a former candidate in the 2016 Libertarian presidential primary now running for U.S. Senate in Missouri as a Republican, explained it this way: “Yes, freedom is more important than security and safety. Freedom is dangerous by default. Freedom is what millions of soldiers died for. Freedom is America’s birthright, and will only be maintained if we are a strong nation.”

It may seem like young people want to trade traditional American freedoms for cheap promises of protection from fear, want, or difficulty. The nation’s youth are independent, open-minded, and simply want the best for their future. The conservative movement and Republican Party share these same values, and are now expressing that - not a moment too soon.

                       Will Rierson is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill.

                       Will Rierson is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill.

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