When it's cool to hate.
May 23, 2003 1:45 PM   Subscribe

The Young Hipublicans. "Still searching for their identities, many of these kids are not yet prepared to declare a particular political affiliation. This is where the conservative campus activists come in. Having recognized the importance of conservativism to their own lives, they have committed themselves to the task of bringing out the unacknowledged conservatism in other students. The mission of today's activists involves less an act of persuading their peers to accept an ideology than in awakening them to the fact that they already embody it." Welcome to Room 101.
posted by The Jesse Helms (32 comments total)
As a Nader-voting, Cambridge-living liberal, let me explain why this is actually a good thing for conservatives. All too often, the campus manifestation of young conservativism is young people who have an intense desire to be 40-year-olds. What do 40-year old people do, other than go to pricey restaurants, talk about their investments and mortgages, and listen to "adult contemporary" music? Why, they vote Republican! That's why the previous manifestation of campus conservativism involved wearing bow ties, khakis, and the occasional walking stick. It wasn't so much the ideology as the appearance of being more mature than their deluded liberal campus peers. It's nice to see that for a new generation of college students, there will be some Republicans on campus that are actually interesting to hang around, for once.

The right-wing Collegiate Network (which will give you thousands of dollars to start a right-wing publication, unlike those liberal chumps who have to depend on things like "advertising") captures the zeitgeist well in their handbook for budding conservative youth: ''Don't strive to be thought of as 'serious' and 'respectable,''' the handbook counsels. ''On campus, those words equate to 'irrelevant and ineffective.''' I really have to hand it to them for cluing in.
posted by deanc at 2:00 PM on May 23, 2003

Was there ever a soul with heart so dead
He wasn't in his twenties red?
posted by Hildago at 2:39 PM on May 23, 2003


I've been everything party-wise from communist, to libertarian, democrat, to republican. Funny thing is, my politics haven't changed... just the shorthand I used to describe them.

And College Republicans? Yeah... I've done that.

Wonder how this new take will, um, take.
posted by silusGROK at 3:27 PM on May 23, 2003

"If you're not a rebel by 20 you have no heart. But if you haven't gone establishment by 30 you've got no brains."

--Buddy Ackerman, Swimming with Sharks

I think these kids have a wire crossed somewhere. They're in their rebel stage, spouting establishment.

But then again, it's so easy to convince teenagers that they're better that other people, and so hard to teach them compassion. Is it any surprise that the right-wing message resonates with the immature? I find it easily digestible for ages 5 and up.

A university campus is a tough place to be a right-winger, no matter where you're located. But the unpopularity of their viewpoints never seems to stop the campus conservative. Somehow, they perceive it as proof that they're correct, and become addicted to defining themselves in opposition to others around them. The few bitter republicans who attended UCD seemed to make annoying the rest of us their mission.

Look at their pictures again. Does any of these kids look happy? Pass the pipe to those sourpusses, fer chrissake. Someone take them to the beach. Get them laid. And fast.
posted by scarabic at 3:35 PM on May 23, 2003

Masochism, plain and simple. They get a nice, warm potty-training-ish buzz from being uncaring dolts. In another age these people would have been wearing hairshirts and flagellating themselves. Someone hug them!
posted by meehawl at 3:41 PM on May 23, 2003

"Rebelling against the establishment" is (ironically) so much a part of the college establishment that people are beginning to rebel against it. It's not really surprising, that way.

Teenagers/early 20's-ers (myself included) want to distinguish themselves from their peers. What better way to do that than to be a member of a small, vocal minority?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 4:04 PM on May 23, 2003

I go to UC Berkeley and these people are truely insufferable. Their magazine, The Patriot (shudder) is full of the most spiteful, vindictive, and childish barbs ever written. The last issue featured pictures of them and their friends parading down Telegraph St carrying flags and signs saying "Go USA" at the College Republicans convention a couple of weeks ago.

The really interesting thing is that the Patriot has extremely high production values. It's printed on glossy paper, with no ads, and really well-done layout. The college Democrat mag, Smart Ass, looks like it was drawn by third-graders. I've always been curious as to how the Patriot gets its money for their bells and whistles.

The people who write for the Patriot are insane, as well. They're on a 24-7 evangelical mission to spread the good news of conservatism, and every one of them I've met has a huge chip on their shoulder, just waiting for the next time someone says maybe we should be questioning what our government tells us.

The last issue also had an article by the graduating editor saying how his degree in history was totally worthless because it couldn't get him a job, and by the way, he was joining the Army to go over to Iraq and help democracy.

Insane. Seriously.
posted by Coda at 4:05 PM on May 23, 2003

Hmm. I can't really bear to read the article, 'cuz I have this little ritual where I go out and buy a banh mi and a New York Times from the Chinese bodega man and then read it by the East River, so I'll have to judge the article by the cover photo, but dag! those kids are so white. And so ugly.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:39 PM on May 23, 2003

posted by pemulis at 5:05 PM on May 23, 2003

The mission of today's activists involves less an act of persuading their peers to accept an ideology than in awakening them to the fact that they already embody it."

Damn that conservative agenda trying to convince our youth that they can "discover" that they're conservative and pretend that it's not just a sickening, amoral choice of lifestyle.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:31 PM on May 23, 2003

as a student at bucknell, i've gotta say that this article overplays their influence a bit, but their newsletter is fairly widely read. if you are curious, you can read the back issues and find out more about them at their website.
posted by rorycberger at 6:49 PM on May 23, 2003

"When it's cool to hate"
Is it only cool to hate Republicans? Only I haven't been on MeFi in a while and I wanted to know about the current situation.
posted by davidgentle at 6:52 PM on May 23, 2003

cool to hate Republicans? Where you been, man? It's been cool to dis the Republicans since the term "cool" was invented.
posted by sfenders at 7:06 PM on May 23, 2003

I am reminded of the tactics of the followers of Reverend Moon in their heyday, as well as other cults.

posted by Cerebus at 7:24 PM on May 23, 2003

Chomsky reading liberal 18-21 year olds, vs uptight conservative Alex P Keaton 18-21 year olds, and neither side ever wants to budge on an issue, and both are intolerant of people who don't think like they do, does that about sum up the political discourse on college campuses? The sick thing is this type of discourse is bleeding into everyday society, where have all the moderates gone? My kingdom for a congress full of Lincoln Chafees, and Russ Fiengolds.
posted by jbou at 7:49 PM on May 23, 2003

How can we root out this dangerous fifth column amongst our students before they're corrupted by such a pernicious ideology? No doubt education is the answer to curing them before they become idiot racist Amerikkkans!
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:26 PM on May 23, 2003

scarabic - on the money. While Deanc commented: "All too often, the campus manifestation of young conservativism is young people who have an intense desire to be 40-year-olds", you saw something different:

"Look at their pictures again. Does any of these kids look happy? Pass the pipe to those sourpusses, fer chrissake. Someone take them to the beach. Get them laid. And fast." No, they do not look happy. They look so serious that I think they should be taxidermed and put in glass cases.

Jbou - These days, I hear liberals mentioning facts and invoking science far more often than do conservatives. The conservatives tend to sling around lots of ideologically driven buzzwords. "PC" may be a real affliction on campus (some campuses, that is) but college campus are not at all representative of larger American society where conservative agitprop warps the public sensibility, as in: "Oh that ridiculous slanted Liberal line, the - 'we invaded Iraq and now Haliburton, the US VP's ex company controls the 2nd largest oil reserves in the world,' line, can't they just shut up about that stuff?"

Coda - re: ["The really interesting thing is that the Patriot has extremely high production values. It's printed on glossy paper, with no ads, and really well-done layout. The college Democrat mag, Smart Ass, looks like it was drawn by third-graders. I've always been curious as to how the Patriot gets its money for their bells and whistles."] - deep pockets of industry....it all comes back to the Powell Memorandum
posted by troutfishing at 8:35 PM on May 23, 2003

That one dude looks like a girl... oh, wait.

(C'mon, somebody had to bring the level of discourse down... y'all are way too serious tonight.)
posted by zaack at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2003

What instantaneous epiphany causes one to become an active Republican? Is it the turn of the stomach at seeing all these big government handouts to unwed crackbaby mothers of yet more crackbabies whilst one attends a public university? Cos then you've got a point. Except I've never met a Republican who knows one. Let alone the occasional drunken communist I run around with. Why be a Republican?

I'm really very puzzled why an organized corporate/religious right push to recruit and suport hipublicans is necessary. I mean truth is apparent right? Shit around here's just far too permissive and liberal ya know. Definitely not enough capitalistic corruption in the world and all that and all ya' know.
posted by crasspastor at 9:42 PM on May 23, 2003

Oh yeah. All the liberals have to do is say they're the one's with the weed.

(This really works On Campus)
posted by crasspastor at 9:51 PM on May 23, 2003

The classic case is David Brock's Blinded by the Right, the memoir by a closeted gay neocon "attack dog" journalist for the Washington Times, whose service to the cause began at Berkeley. It was, he says, a reaction to the repressive atmosphere of "political correctness" that touted free speech while routinely violating it.

Being of roughly the same vintage there in the PRB (People's Republic of Berkeley), I can understand what drove him in that direction. Some say this memoir is self-serving, but I found it reasonably forthcoming, emotionally speaking.
posted by hairyeyeball at 9:53 PM on May 23, 2003

I think these kids have a wire crossed somewhere. They're in their rebel stage, spouting establishment.

Which, of course, they should not be doing, no?

So I guess that makes them rebels.
posted by Ayn Marx at 11:22 PM on May 23, 2003

here in minnesota - we are feeling like a bunch of republican dorm rats somehow hustled a takeover of state government - their accomplisments so far:

guns in church parking lots (and everwhere else) sponsored by a former stick-up artist

bars stay open later


a nice state sponsored talking to for any woman seeking an abortion.

and little progress on the self imposed budget shortfall by the republican majority.
posted by specialk420 at 11:40 PM on May 23, 2003

Although, on the MN front, there are few things less healthy than the 1am drive to WI to make the 2am bar close. 2am is completely reasonable.
posted by subgenius at 12:06 AM on May 24, 2003

My hat is off to the bullshit artists who've concluded that since left-wing activism is so cliche in college life, these conservatives are the REAL rebels. Nice!

Other ways they could express this radical individualism:

1) Wear pants backward.
2) Stand facing rear, in elevators.
3) Strap backpacks across chest.

That would be so cool, man. I just have one problem. Tell me again how advocating the sitting president's value system can be cla?
posted by scarabic at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2003

Why be a Republican?

I actually was a Republican back when I was in college. This had a lot to do with growing up in a conservative, religious family, and not really knowing any other way of looking at the world; but I really did look at the world differently. Conservative ideas made sense, and the Republican party - insofar as it embraced those ideas - made sense too. Certainly a lot more sense than the Democratic party, which I found incomprehensible. I couldn't understand why anyone would embrace an ideology so clearly at odds with reality. (I mean, really - paying people not to work? Making bugs and plants more important than people? Taking away property rights? Raising taxes to pay for things we'd be better off buying for ourselves? How could they not see they were bent on running the country into the ground?)

In a big complicated country like the U.S. where things are changing all the time, it's easy to pay more attention to the changes that frighten you and to feel that whoever is behind these changes is necessarily better organized and more powerful than you are. When you're a young person with conservative leanings - or at least uncomfortable with the culture and values of the people associated with "liberalism" - it's easy to feel completely isolated on a college campus. I can see why kids who might never have been politically active before could see a Young Republicans group as a refuge, and would explain reservations about the culture around them in terms of their newly adopted group identity.

It's easier to adopt an ideology wholesale when you have limited life experience. It became much harder for me to dismiss "welfare programs" as wasteful, unnecessary breeders of poverty after I got a little taste of poverty myself... and nearly impossible to rail against government-sponsored medical care after the Oregon Health Plan saved my life. I'm sure this phenomenon works the other way 'round; there are plenty of kids who step out into the real world full of enthusiasm, run into some exciting left-wing ideology full of reformist zeal, and only discover years later that things are more complicated than they initially seemed.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:14 PM on May 24, 2003

I think much of this discussion goes to show how labels like Republican, Democrat, conservative, and liberal have become completely irrelevant. To me, being a conservative was always the opposite of trusting the government, it meant trusting the market and individual initiative; being liberal meant trusting the government.

Then I realize: we have a Republican president, therefore Republicans like the government and Democrats don't. Elect a Democrat, and Republicans will hate the government again. Aargh. Of course, this means that if the Libertarian Party ever got a president elected, they would probably combust in a quagmire of non-Euclidean contradiction. And then the universe would cease.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:20 PM on May 24, 2003

..ssified as rebelliousness. [oops]

Mars - nice post.
posted by scarabic at 8:22 PM on May 24, 2003

I don't suppose it's any stupider than joining the Young Democrats. Or the Young Anythings, for that matter. Let's face facts, college kids are manipulable and not very good at thinking.

If that weren't the case, none of us would have gotten laid. I say we give 'em a break. And, you know, buy the cute ones drinks. "Hey baby, how 'bout a massive 'tax break'?"
posted by UncleFes at 9:32 PM on May 24, 2003

NY Times? Don't know if I can bring myself to trust the source on this one. :D
posted by ZupanGOD at 9:40 PM on May 24, 2003

I don't think the author has this quite right. The Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek spouting young Republicans of my day (late 1980's) really weren't much different from these young 'uns. Unless you went to Dartmouth or Amherst or something, you weren't likely to see the versions that wore bowties and smoked pipes. I guess, what I'm saying is that this is far from a recent phenomenon. Some of these folks are the dyed in the wool variety, and still others are "identifying with their oppressors" and will swing the other direction in 4-5 years time.

Everyone needs to figure this stuff out, and I'm glad to see the racist, sexist and other objectionable tactics have (somewhat) gone away.

The thing the bothers me the most is the lack of discourse on or analysis of the long term effects of the administration's policies. They seem to have willfully sacrifice this up to the folks in charge and are content to swallow the message whole and evangelize it to the as yet unconverted, rather than doing some serious independent thinking about it.

This seems to be at odds with what I went to college to learn. Have times changed that much?

A final point: the article seems to suggest that this neo young conservative movement is a reaction against the liberal bias of what's being taught in lecture halls and discussion groups at Bucknell. This may be true, but it hardly constitutes the foundation for a movement... just youthful rebelliousness, er, ironically.
posted by psmealey at 6:13 AM on May 27, 2003

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