Yesterday — Thursday, January 23 — I spoke at a local political meeting, in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. My topic was “Winning the Future.” I spoke of how past strategies to rally young people to traditional Americanism are not working, today. Actually, this was just part one of a two-part speech.
In part one, I shared my insights about the postmodern views of 21st century teens and young adults.
A reporter from our local newspaper, the CDA Press, was in attendance. To provide you with the proper context, I have included the manuscript of my speech and the link to story written by the reporter.
I do not have a lot to say about the article. For the most part, the reporter simply reported what I said. It is the comments at the end of the piece that I want to call to your attention. Be assured — I am not, in the least, offended by the comments. My purpose in responding to them in a blog post is to help us understand how those who do not love God and America are trying to discredit those of us who do. And, by the way, their strategies are working — at least, up to now, they are working.
To get the whole picture, you need to know what I said and what the reporter wrote. Today, I am providing my manuscript and the link to the article. In my next post, I will analyze the comments. I realize this is kind-a long for a blog, but here is the manuscript.
And — don’t forget — this is only part one of the speech.
The link to the Cd’A Press article HERE.
Winning the Future – Winning the Next Generation
It was eight years ago that I sat down with Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute, in Washington, DC, to discuss reaching the next generation of conservatives. He had called me in to ask me about how to reach the next generation. He really didn’t like what I told him. Morton insisted that we begin with college-aged youth. I have great respect for Morton. Let me tell you a little about Morton.
- Morton was the youngest Barry Goldwater delegate.
- In 1980 he organized and oversaw the national youth effort for Ronald Reagan.
- He served as Special Assistant to the President on President Reagan’s White House Staff from 1981-1984.
- At the time of our visit in 2006 he had been working to reach college students for conservative causes for 41 years.
- From 1965-1980, Morton’s strategy was tried and proved to work.
- His strategy was to knock on college dorm room doors and ask students if they were conservative. If they said they we not conservative, he would thank them for their time and move on. If the student said they were conservative, he would invite them to a training event; there, he would train them in this method.
I told Morton that day that I felt we needed to get even younger. We needed to reach middle and high school students. That we needed to build relationships with them when they are young, not to recruit them, but to listen to them and help them to realize their importance.
- The concept I had was to build conservative communities across America.
- He disagreed, saying that was a waste of time. We don’t have enough time for that!
- Listen my friends, it is no coincidence that our sitting president is a “community organizer.”
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Morton really wasn’t interested in hearing what I had to say, he had heard that I was conducting youth leadership training events and wanted to recruit me to conduct his college training events.
We must reach young people, ages 10-19.
According to Forrester, a business technology and consumer strategist company, if a business is smart, they will start to gather data from middle and high school students, ages 12-17. Buying habits start young and those businesses who still want to be in the game 20 years from now better not ignore this important age group.
In a 2011 report, Forrester stated that only six percent of 12-17 year olds who use the web want to be friends with a brand on Facebook.
It would serve us well to understand the postmodern mind.
The following information is taken from my observations from working with teens for 37 years and a little help from some research by Purdue University.
- Historians generally place the beginning of the postmodern era in America at 1945. The characteristics of this era are as follows.
- There has been a breakdown of cultural forms. Everyone is coloring outside the lines. Although the average teen is “retro” when it comes to fashion and style, they reject the grand narratives that have made America great. Youth reject that America was founded as a Christian nation, American exceptionalism, capitalism and free enterprise.
- America is becoming an oral society. According to Purdue University, literacy rates had been rising steadily from the introduction of print through the modern period. Postmodern society has seen a drastic reversal in this trend as more and more people are now functionally illiterate, relying instead on an influx of oral media sources: tv, film, radio, etc…
- This culture still very much relies on print to create media outlets; however, it is increasingly only a professional, well-educated class that has access to full print and computer literacy. An increasing percentage of the population merely ingests, orally, the media that is being produced.
- Due to these factors, young people are visual and temporal. They have lost all connection to reality and history. This may help to explain why they are so fascinated with reality television. Pop culture keeps coming back to the idea that the line separating reality and representation has broken down. The movie, The Matrix, is a prime example of this.
Young people have a deep desire for individualism, yet they have a strange comfort level with collectivism and government. Capitalism and free enterprise is on the way out and the government as caretaker is in. Due to advancements in technology, especially surveillance technology, young people have the sense that they are always being watched. And who do they blame for this invasion of privacy? You guessed it, the government. I know, this is getting a bit convoluted, but hang in there with me.
Essentially, teens and young adults are looking to government to protect their individuality, and provide for their daily and life-long needs. They see capitalism as the embodiment of greed and they want nothing to do with it. Yes, Marxism is making a comeback.
Don’t get me wrong, they value individualism. It is the way it is being defined that is troubling. This generation wants the freedom to do whatever they want and to be whatever they want – individualism. They believe in a type of social justice where we all have the same things – collectivism. Again, can you say “Marxism?”
In general, this generation is disoriented; there is no right and wrong. Truth is within you. Don’t judge me, and give me what I am entitled to have. Give me an education, health care, a job and a retirement plan. Take care of me and keep me happy from the cradle to grave.
Josh McDowell in his book, “The Disconnected Generation,” he created a list of terms and how they are defined by adults and by teens. Pay close attention to this list. “Folks, definitions of words are a-changin!”
Adult Understanding: Accepting others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices.
Teen Understanding: Accepting that every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyles and truth claims are equal.
Adult Understanding: Giving due consideration to others.
Teen Understanding: Wholeheartedly approving of other’s beliefs and lifestyle choices.
Adult Understanding: Embracing people for who they are, not necessarily for what they say and do.
Teen Understanding: Endorsing and even praising others for their beliefs and lifestyle choices.
Adult Understanding: Certain things are morally right and wrong, as determined by God.
Teen Understanding: We have no right to judge another person’s view or behavior.
Adult Understanding: Preferences of color, food, clothing style, hobbies, etc. are personally determined.
Teen Understanding: Preferences of sexual behaviors, value systems and beliefs are personally determined.
Adult Understanding: Everyone has the right to be treated justly under the law.
Teen Understanding: Everyone has the right to do what they believe is right for them.
Adult Understanding: Being free to do what you ought to do.
Teen Understanding: Being free to do everything you want to do.
Adult Understanding: An absolute standard of right and wrong.
Teen Understanding: Whatever is right for you.
Thanks for hanging around long enough to read all this. My next blog is coming very soon.