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Caroline C. Lewis / July 12, 2018

The Courage to Think

Hundreds of young women attended a Turning Point USA summit, excited about the future of conservatism and their place in it.

More than ever before, young conservatives face persecution on their high school and college campuses for their beliefs. Risking grades, academic advancement and putting career options in jeopardy, a generation of courageous young conservatives display moral courage to think for themselves, despite the consequences.

In early June, young conservative women gathered at Turning Point USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit to hear from women like Judge Jeanine Pirro, Dana Loesch and Kellyanne Conway along with thought leaders like Professor Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro. Turning Point USA stands as the largest and fastest growing student organization dedicated to fighting socialism and defending free-market principles. Founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk (at 18 years old), the organization has grown to over 1,300 chapters across the country with student training of over 5,000. TPUSA’s communication director, Candice Owens, boldly defends conservative principles and articulately rejects the promotion of “victim mentality” for women and minorities.

The conference room swelled with several hundred young women excited about the future of conservatism and their place in it. Their questions revealed not only the high stakes for being a conservative but their courage to stand for principles despite the consequences.

One young woman asked about how to start a club, knowing that doing so could adversely affect her chances for admission at an elite university. Another girl said that she wore a conservative T-shirt to school and her entire town has boycotted her parents’ business. Some have endured physical violence. Another mentioned that a person at her school posted a suggestion that she commit suicide. It received 500 likes.

The political climate has become increasingly intolerant, vengeful and hateful. No longer being bullied solely by their peers, young conservatives face persecution by teachers, administrators and a culture that seems stacked against them.

However, these young women display a different type of resiliency. While no research can define every individual in a generation, some trends are worth noting. Generation Z, the post-Millennial generation born between 1995-2010, comprises those between the ages of eight and 23. According to Forbes, this generation tends to be more fiscally conservative and entrepreneurial, with 72% of high school students desiring to own a business. They value both independence and independent thinking.

This perhaps accounts for the many young women at the TPUSA conference who described their conservative “conversion” that occurred after reading and listening to reasoned arguments. They are not afraid to “come out” publicly as conservatives.

Though the media long to portray Gen Z as gun control advocates in the mold of David Hogg, they conveniently ignore the conservative voice, Kyle Kashuv, another Parkland shooting survivor, who counters the gun control lobby with reasoned arguments for the 2nd Amendment.

In addition, Kendall Jones, a former college cheerleader and avid hunter, spoke about how, at the age of 19, she became one of the most cyber-bullied teens in the world for posting pictures of her hunts on social media. Kendall has endured death threats and “Kill Kendall Jones” hate pages, emerging as a model of how to be unmoved by the opinions of others.

Thinking independently has less to do with age or generation and more to do with raw courage, bravery and conviction. Yet in any generation, a remnant remains to speak up, stand up and shape up society. The young women at Turning Point USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit pay a high price for their beliefs despite physical, social and cultural abuse. The courage of these young conservative women who think for themselves and stand up for their beliefs should be admired, applauded and emulated. Their courage should inspire all conservatives to turn our faces to the wind and stand boldly for the enduring principles of liberty and freedom.

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