By Jackson Richman
The Trump presidency has enabled many on the right side of the ideological spectrum to rise to stardom. Two of these people are Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, respectively the founder and spokesperson, of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization which has recently disgraced conservatism. While those involved in the organization may actually be conservative (and I know fellow conservatives involved in TPUSA who are wonderful friends of mine), the damage the brand has done for a base that has been struggling to appeal to millennials cannot be ignored.
According to TPUSA’s website, the organization’s mission is to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”
President Trump embraces big government policies such as refusing to reform spending and entitlements. For TPUSA to embrace someone with these stances that are antithetical to conservatism is hypocritical.
Neither the organization, Kirk, or Owens voiced their concerns over the president signing the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill last March.
Where’s the outrage from TPUSA over the increasing deficits and $21 trillion national debt? Where’s the outrage over no entitlement reform, which is necessary for future generations to have a safety net in exchange for their hard work, despite the president refusing to touch Medicare and Social Security?
While the president deserves credit for tax reform, rolling back regulations, appointing constitutionalists to the federal judiciary, withdrawing from both the Iran nuclear and Paris accords, and contributing to the downfall of ISIS, conservatives — including those involved with TPUSA — cannot remain content.
There are so many domestic and foreign policy issues TPUSA’s leadership could be focusing on.
The national debt and deficits have swelled to unsustainable levels. An opioid crisis killed more Americans last year than the Vietnam War and has shown no signs of slowing down. Iran is still in Syria and presents the greatest threat in the Middle East. North Korea has yet to denuclearize. Russia continues to be an adversary. And China is continuously dominating in the South China Sea, which may jeopardize transnational trade.
Yet Owens and Kirk have eschewed ideas and have decided to use their platforms as TPUSA’s representatives to pontificate meaningless partisan attacks instead of promoting policies.
In a statement on Twitter, Owens declared Trump as the “savior” of the free world.
I truly believe that @realDonaldTrump isn’t just the leader of the free world, but the savior of it as well.
May God bless America— the last stand for western civilization.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) April 17, 2018
Last time I checked, the “savior” of the free world is the One who has given us inalienable rights like “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” not the president. It goes without saying that America got its independence through believing that mantra only to later set up a system of government that is not led by a monarch.
The tweet from Owens is not even the worst transgression TPUSA’s leadership has committed.
Kirk and Owens, despite representing an organization that claims to preach tolerance like conservatism intended, express vulgarity in their interactions with the public.
One example is Kirk defending White House aide Kelly Sadler, who joked last Thursday about the deteriorating health of outspoken Trump critic and Arizona senator John McCain.
McCain’s opposition to Trump’s pick for CIA director prompted Sadler to remark “he’s dying anyway,” according to The Hill.
Kirk posted on Twitter, “Whether she said the joke or not is irrelevant. What matters more is the sanctimonious virtue signaling mob that demands firings.”
Kirk’s remark is ironic, considering that he called for Fresno State professor Randa Jarrar to be ousted for her disgusting remark about former First Lady Barbara Bush shortly after her death.
Jarrar tweeted that former First Lady Barbara Bush “was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. Fuck outta here with your nice words.”
“@Fresno_State does this represent your values,” Kirk tweeted.
Kirk’s stance on Sadler is also hypocritical because despite McCain’s veteran status, Kirk claims to support veterans.
“It is a national disgrace that our veterans get treated worse than law breaking [sic] illegals,” Kirk tweeted on March 18.
So much for “tolerance.” Double standards, like only defending veterans not named McCain, is anything but tolerant.
Let us not forget that Kirk in 2016 set up a “Professor Watchlist” to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”
Although the Professor Watchlist’s description acknowledges that TPUSA will fight for professors’ right to free speech, it undermines that principle when it discourages liberal or moderate professors from speaking freely.
“TPUSA will continue to fight for free speech and the right for professors to say whatever they wish; however students, parents, and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls,” reads the statement on TPUSA’s Professor Watchlist.
Should there be a watchlist targeting conservative or even moderate professors, the organization should not complain.
Additionally, such a watchlist may promote intolerance. The First Amendment protects speech, even if it is hateful or radical. Therefore, to set up this exposé muddies the water in terms of tolerance and is not constructive in trying to achieve a campus environment where all viewpoints should be heard.
Meanwhile, Owens has unfortunately hurt her commendable cause of demonstrating that blacks, including black women, can be conservative.
When Owens tweeted in January suggested that former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, and many others should be thrown in jail for having opinions contrary to conservative thought, her act of public shaming undermined the very principles conservatives – and Americans – stand for.
Don’t just #releasethememo
Be sure to also lock every last single one of them up.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) January 19, 2018
It is not commendable to say that political opponents, even if they should be seriously investigated and face charges, should be thrown behind bars for expressing their opinions.
Although the United States isn’t one, chanting or promoting a phrase like “lock her up” or “lock every last single one of them up” happen in authoritarian regimes. In the United States, people are locked up by a court of law, not the court of public opinion. It is no different than in sexual harassment or rape cases where there must be due process– a notion rightfully preached by many conservatives and a silent number of liberals.
It should be mentioned that Owens set up something similar to the Professor Watchlist, ironically, the same year it was established. The website, called “SocialAutopsy.com,” aimed to expose online Internet bullies through screenshots of offensive posts and categorize them by attaching them to their places of employment.
While online bullying should be confronted, Owens’ public-shaming database is counterintuitive because it promotes the bullying it claims to rally against.
Were Kirk or Owens to react to this piece with vitriol, it would exemplify Kirk’s tweet on April 14 that “Just because your feelings are hurt, doesn’t mean your argument is correct.” Moreover, I hope they practice the philosophies they preach, like tolerance. Diverse ideas happen on both sides of the political and ideological spectrum, some more amplified than others.
TPUSA did not respond to a request for comment.
Last time I checked, liberals embraced freedom of expression. Today’s liberals aren’t liberal, rather leftist (an entirely different article). If conservatism is going to preach tolerance, it must do so on all fronts and be careful not to paint groups who may disagree with the Right with a negative broad brush.
“I like their focus on economic policy and they give us a lot of freedom to run the [organization] how we want independent of the national organization, in addition to the money they give us,” a TPUSA campus leader, who requested to remain anonymous, told The National Discourse. “That makes it beneficial to keep the name in spite of some problems I have with the national [organization] and the baggage it holds.”
TPUSA has the opportunity to appeal to the next generation of leaders with the case for conservatism before it’s too late. Flipping on principle and tone only hurt the critical cause and adversely affect others in the movement. Let’s cut the attacks and just stick to the facts.
To quote a conservative leader: Facts don’t care about your feelings. But let us go about promoting them without the personal attacks such as calling someone, like California Rep. Ted Lieu, a “moron.”