For today’s youth growing up with “dank memes”, atheism as religion, mainstream rap culture, legal marijuana dispensaries and YouTube as their channel of choice… Rick Santorum will never be cool. Many young people I talk to see the GOP as the antithesis of cool; a lily-white political party dressed in a blazer and khakis that is stuck in yesteryear.
Milo Yiannopoulos was prepared to bring boatloads of center right youths over to our side and CPAC blew it big time. The announcement of Milo’s cancellation wasn’t just a distraction to the event but sucked the wind out of conservatism for the YouTube generation. CPAC won me over because they seemingly embraced Milo and then lost me by gleefully hanging him out to dry.
By controlling both the Executive and Legislative the GOP will have no problem raising gobs of money from organizations like the ACU, but Milo has the cool factor that money can’t buy. With his half a million YouTube subscribers and sphere of influence across nearly all social media, Milo has a following just waiting to be activated for common conservative causes. Millions of young potential conservatives are being entertained by vulgar rants and social commentary coming from a new generation of YouTube and social media stars, most of whom are center right or libertarians. Beautiful 20-year old tattooed women who are rabidly anti-feminist, black teenage Trump supporters and atheist pro-lifers can be found all over this brave new world of digital influence.
Milo isn’t just the informal ringleader of these rising conservative and libertarian digital stars, he’s the main act. His YouTube commentary on the Berkley Riots alone achieved 1.5 Million views, getting his message to almost 4 times Rachel Maddow’s nightly audience and with much better demographics. His utter slaughter of regressive left ideologies in their own backyard makes Milo’s supporters feel part of a conservative counterculture. He gives his followers a formula on how to defeat the left based on facts and mischief, empowering them with the confidence to be their own unique version of outspoken conservatism.
By standing with Milo and preserving his invitation, CPAC would have cemented influence in this digital conservative movement and established alignment on a many core beliefs; economic freedom, immigration, the threat of radicalized Islam and smaller government. This opportunity would have also solidified the GOP as the party of the first amendment. Instead they were complicit in building him up as a first amendment advocate, then hanging him out to dry at the earliest opportunity over words they should have known he said.
Trump ran his own ground game in 2016 through bombast, rallies and pressers. His formulas won’t be easily replicated by future candidates. Republicans need to start winning over potential conservative voters today, not when they start paying taxes. I hope that the establishment find a way to engage this new generation of social media conservatives and libertarians converting them into a grassroots machine. Hopefully CPAC or at least the RNC will give the “Milo generation” the recognition it deserves.
I am admittedly one of Milo’s biggest fans. I was born in Karachi Pakistan, raised in NJ with conservative values, and culturally influenced by hip-hop. I don’t look or act like most conservatives. I quote Milton Friedman but my outfit of choice is a snapback hat with a pair of Nikes and a hoodie. And that’s how I, and many non establishment conservatives wanted to go to CPAC this year; to be ourselves and not worry about being turned away from the Reagan Dinner for not wearing a suit and tie.
Going to a conservative event should be fun, inclusive and disarming. It should not feel like a job interview. That’s where liberals are winning the subculture and counterculture obsessed youth. To paraphrase Andrew Breitbart, “Democrats throw much better parties”. Milo brings energy and acceptance to the party and he has caravans of a few million young conservatives who want to join the fun. Now its just up to the GOP and its affiliates to offer a warm welcome and turn up the music.