A recent Gallup poll shows that nearly 60 percent of the adults in America under the age of 30 believe that socialism is acceptable. Equally troubling, less than 25 percent of that same age group is exceptionally proud to be an American.
How did we get to this point? The answer is years of liberal dominance in education, media and entertainment.
Young people get a steady stream of liberal bias from the first time they turn on the TV or watch an animated movie. It continues in school with teachers talking affectionately about candidates who side with their unions and loathingly about those who do not. And for those who try to be objective, the textbooks many are forced to use are filled with liberal bias.
Once they get to a college campus, left-wing professors either fill their minds with liberal propaganda or intimidate them from speaking out about their true feelings on the issues. They got bombarded with more liberal talking points on most news outlets and social media platforms and throughout other forms of entertainment.
In some ways, it is remarkable that only 58 percent of young people are open to socialism. Thank God for so many good conservative mentors (family, friends, teachers, clergy and others) for helping the other 42 percent cut through much of the nonsense.
To succeed going forward, however, we have to do better. Despite having the deck stacked against us, we must find a way to make a greater impact.
Looking ahead, we need to expand the impact of organizations like Young America’s Foundation (YAF). This is the reason I agreed to take on the role of president of this remarkable organization early in 2021.
This week is YAF’s 50th anniversary. Back in 1969, a group of students at Vanderbilt University felt that conservative viewpoints were not getting fair treatment on campus. They wanted to bring intellectual diversity and conservative principles to higher education on a nationwide scale.
Fifty years later, that vital work continues through Young America’s Foundation. The young people of America need to hear the truth about the benefits of common-sense conservative values now more than ever before in our history.
Ron Robinson, his board, staff and numerous supporters have built YAF into a remarkable organization. Their projects include President Ronald Reagan’s Rancho del Cielo and the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California. There, high school and college students are immersed in our 40th president’s passion for freedom.
YAF’s National Journalism Center helps aspiring journalists in the values of balanced, responsible and accurate reporting. YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise educates and inspires young people to defend and articulate free enterprise principles.
Young Americans for Freedom, started by William F. Buckley Jr., is YAF’s chapter affiliate on more than 500 college and high school campuses across the country. It includes the largest campus lecture series — featuring speakers like Ben Shapiro, Katie Pavlich, Michael Knowles, Art Laffer, Jonah Goldberg, Dinesh D’Souza, Burt Folsom and Liz Wheeler. And they are involved with campus initiatives like the 9/11: Never Forget Project and Freedom Week commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall.
YAF is an incredibly effective organization. Looking to the future, it has to build off of that success. Here are some clear goals:
• YAF has some 500 chapters on college and high school campuses across the country. Ideally, there should be a YAF chapter on every campus.
• In addition to chapters at four-year college and university campuses, YAF should organize chapters at two-year technical and community colleges. There is incredible untapped potential here.
•In addition to expanding chapters on high school campuses, YAF should aim to reach students at an earlier age — ideally in their pre-teens — with positive messages about freedom, free enterprise and conservative values.
• YAF already has the largest campus lecture program in the country. The foundation should seek to broaden its reach and work to reach even more people via technology like YouTube broadcasts, Facebook Watch, and more.
• As YAF and other partner organizations broaden their reach on campuses, liberals will work even harder to stifle conservative thought. YAF must continue to lead the way to fight for free speech rights — for their speakers and others.
• With a disturbing number of conservative students feeling intimidated from speaking their minds on campus, YAF needs to take on more efforts to support students and let them know that they are not alone.
The success of the past 50 years will help meet the challenges of the future. Most importantly, Young America’s Foundation must continue to promote freedom.
President Reagan said it best when he stated, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him @ScottWalker.
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