Here’s a shocker. A group of college students attends an event to learn about conservatism and the impact of younger generations on the future of the Republican party.
Such an outrageous thing to do, right? Well, actually, it’s not.
Fresno State College Republicans club is applauded for hosting an event that featured four budding Gen Z conservatives who expressed their views on the U.S. Constitution, family tradition, and the relationship between the state and the Christian faith.
And yet, before and during the event, there were chants from dozens of protesters, including students, faculty, and community members, who gathered outside McClane Hall at the Fresno State campus.
The protest is thought to originate from a belief that all four speakers are associated with a movement called “America First,” which the protestors regard as spewing hateful, discriminatory ideas based on identity politics, criminal activity statistics, and changing demographics.
If any group was actually targeted by these articulate speakers, it was the older generations, collectively referred to as “the boomers.”
Though conservative Gen Z-ers can be highly critical, perhaps we need to start paying more attention and actually hear them out? We might share a difference of opinion on certain topics while finding common ground on others. We may agree on goals while clashing on the best strategy.
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They are, after all, our friends and partners, our brothers and sisters. So many, our children and grandchildren. They are, the future of America.
An upturn in conservatism
Most millennials won’t recall a conservative resurgence during their late teens and early twenties. It seems to have taken a bleak decade or more of stripping away the remaining taboos in society and indoctrinating young minds with every kind of lifestyle fetish, to finally spur the generation that followed into speaking out.
The club described the event, which took place at the start of April, as its “biggest event” for the current academic year. It featured college students Carson Wolf and 19-year-old Kai Schwemmer and 22-year-old entrepreneur John Doyle, who continue to build their personal brands through online video streaming. Doyle, to date, boasts over 330,000 subscribers and has amassed over 15 million views on YouTube. The event also welcomed Tyler L. Russell, a 22-year-old online streamer and political commentator from Canada, who has championed the truckers’ “freedom convoy.”
Hearing the frustration in their voices about the collapse of American “civilization,” all four men appeared to care deeply about the trajectory of their country. Yet, their words expressed a deep hunger—a desire to find a pathway toward rebuilding the nation that they love and call their home.
Who said what at the event?
All four speeches delivered three main themes. The significance of the traditional family unit and the role of the state. The need to restore individual freedoms of expression and bodily autonomy. And not least, the loss of recognition and respect in society and a desire to reclaim it.
The use of state powers
With an upbeat personality, Schwemmer criticized the “sins” of the boomers for “letting the economy and the housing market collapse” while simultaneously seeking solidarity with them.
The online streamer with a bouncy surfer haircut reasoned that “righteous Christian leaders” should use the state to ban pornography and abortion and provide financial stimulus to families with children without creating a larger government. Instead, he believes it’s about restoring the kind of government the Founding Fathers wanted at the country’s inception.
The argument was based on the premise that older Republicans assume that every use of state power will result in a bigger government and a “socialist country that they’ll talk about all day on Fox news.”
When an imperturbable Russel blasted the LGBTQ agenda and the overdosing on prescription drugs, he affirmed that, in his opinion, “we cannot combat left-wing authoritarianism with liberalism, with libertarianism; we have to have a right-wing authoritarian leading in order to effectively combat this.”
And to that end, a smile blossomed on Schwemmer’s face on the topic of voting:
“If you were to ask the Founding Fathers who should be able to vote…it was men who owned property…man is the patriarch…and if he owns property, he likely has a family, which means when he goes to the ballot box…he’s thinking about his country, and he’s thinking about his family.”
Freedom of expression
Russell reflected upon a distinct difference between America and Canada, and reminded the audience that:
You Americans down here are very lucky, that you guys have the first amendment because up in Canada, we do not, and Bill C-36 is seeking to change the definition of hate speech…it’s simply going to be used to persecute conservatives… people who want to make jokes on the internet…and send them to jail.
Wolf, a goofy-like character, offered a different tone but was still very serious with his choice of words. Referring to his past liberal political leanings, he said to have gone through a “huge transition” but reassured the audience that, “I didn’t, like, cut off my balls or anything. I didn’t do it, don’t worry.”
It would be fair to say that Wolf sounded annoyed about the political choices of former GOP members, who, from his perspective, have passed down a “plastic culture” that hasn’t conserved the “right” freedoms. The content creator ranted—and it’s a rant echoed by many youngsters across America—that he didn’t feel free after being banned from “every single public [social media] platform” and suspended from the student council following his refusal to test for the “kung flu” virus.
On the topic of protecting certain freedoms, Wolf pointed out the boomers once again:
Guys, they haven’t even protected the freedom to teach the Bible in school. You know, the only book banned from schools nowadays is the Bible; it’s not Mein Kampf, it’s the Bible…and they protected the freedom to kill babies and pursue your chosen form of self-destruction…and then you know, they go on and tell us, “Oh, like, hey, don’t worry, you have the freedom to smoke [weed], you’re free.” You know, distract yourself from the collapse of your civilization.
Recognition and respect
Wolf expressed a sense of losing out, blaming a “redistribution of meaning” in which members of Gen Z who are male “have all had our meaning, our community, our brotherhood redistributed to everybody else.”
Whatever was meant by “everybody else,” it’s a sentiment that older generations might need to pause and reflect upon since their childhood experiences differed considerably from today’s public schooled youth.
Sounding pretty vexed, Wolf voiced a perspective that will be too relatable for many Gen Z-ers in America today. First, the consistent portrayal of White people, especially men, as “evil” in the media and second, the acceptance of different “communities” such as LGBTQ, Black, and Hispanic interest groups—every other group except for the class of people with whom he identifies:
You know, it’s perfectly socially allowed [to form communities], but not us. Not if you’re White. Not if you’re straight. Not if you’re Christian, especially not if you’re Christian. And now, if you’re a man, you know we can’t have that…and conservatives as well; you know, we have to go and hide out because we just can’t have that sense of community. And that’s why we’re so staggered. We’re fragmented across Kansas. There’s no unity in anybody.
Taking a different angle, Doyle exhibited an air of calmness and was met with a round of applause when he said, “We’re the forgotten gamers of America, okay? We’re normal; we like to play video games.”
When speaking of what it means to “make America great,” he asserted that “we still have in our possession the greatest resource in the history of the world, which is the American people. We can really build back better.”
An insight into “America First”
A persistent current of frustration toward past generations in the GOP circulated throughout the entire event. There is an ingrained belief that their choices have sold out America for overseas profit, and how the “America First” younger conservatives have to reclaim what was taken from them.
Wolf didn’t mince his words and echoed the sound of hunger pains in many young Americans:
The movement that I want [is one] that awakens the potential of a generation of straight, White Christian men without role models, with divorced parents. You know, who have been bullied for being too White, uh, with no sense of meaning, no brotherhood, nothing, no faith.
The older generation of Americans might find it challenging to empathize with Wolf on some issues. Those born into Gen X or older were less likely to have grown up in divorced families, nor did they learn to hate their country in history lessons and feel guilty for being White.
The baby boomers experienced their childhood in a country dominated by white people, and as such Whiteness merely fades into the background. Furthermore, there was an unspoken expectation—a pressure—for all newcomers to assimilate into that White society and embrace Americanism to preserve cultural homogeneity, and national identity in a republic just a few hundred years old.
The last few decades have witnessed an outbreak of racial or ethnicity-based identity politics that hinders the goal of assimilating as an unhyphenated American, first and foremost. Given the ongoing viral spread of “identity groups” and shifting demographics, many young White people, particularly from working to middle-class families, are becoming racially conscious for the first time.
And on that note, Wolf blurted out:
I want a movement that represents this country, and we are in that country right now. We’ve inherited this country; they’ve given us the ranks, and we’re going to take it back.
Such words of conviction might arise from the ongoing activism spurred by their comrade Nicholas J. Fuentes, the President of the America First Foundation, who advocates for social conservatism of traditional family values and a more right-wing authoritarian approach towards restoring social infrastructure and domestic economic opportunities. He encourages young conservative men to get involved in politics and run for office with the overriding goal to take back the House, eventually.
On the topic of preserving the cultural fabric of society, Russel stood poised and said, “Our western nations are being flooded with people who do not share our way of life, and largely, they will never share our way of life.” He then hinted at the GOP as “our enemies reside within our borders and we must look inward at our own.”
To this point, we’re going to end with Doyle’s graceful summary:
And those American people, they’ve been sold out at every given opportunity by their own representation, by big business, by international finance…. I mean, many people have realized that they can more or less capitalize on the well-being spirit of a desperate American people by selling them the most appealing product of all, which is hope.
Indeed, he then offered a vision, one might say a different kind of hope, that intends to inspire America’s conservative youth:
But this incompetent class of people have done nothing for us, despite all the influence…and all the power that we’ve given to them. And so, the difference between that class of people and the class of people composed of my cool friends and myself [America Firsters] is that we’re not only the ones who want to win, but we’re the only ones who actually can win.
Will this America First movement penetrate the heart of the Republican party or pressurize current GOP members further to the political right?
Will this America First movement be inevitable?
What can be said is that all four men sounded deadly serious, in a style and mannerism unfamiliar to older Americans who may have been searching for politically enthusiastic conservatives for over a decade or so.
By Cameron Keegan
Cameron Keegan is an independent researcher and writer on American politics, faith, and culture affecting young people through a conservative disposition. Having worked with children, teenagers, and young adults to support their learning and development, Cameron cares deeply about the trajectory of the United States. To learn more about Cameron’s work, visit https://ckeeganan.substack.com, and for comments or questions, send an email to email@example.com.”
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Blue State Conservative. The BSC is not responsible for, and does not verify the accuracy of, any information presented.