Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah weighed in on the “owning the libs” debate Thursday, telling students at Turning Point USA’s High School Leadership Summit to win converts instead of being provocative online.
“Provocation for provocation’s sake will never win you any converts,” Hatch said, according to Deseret News. “To say it another way, if you are owning the libs just to own the libs, your victory will be short-lived and your audience will remain small.”
Hatch argued that these “stunts” would bring attention, but not win converts or arguments. Instead, in order to “own the libs” conservatives should be winning arguments with ideas and “substance.”
“But you’ll [own the libs] with substance, not just pats on the back from those who already agree with you,” he said.
In addition, he told the students that they were needed to “convert more conservatives” on college campuses. Hatch ended his speech by urging the attendees to support U.S Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but warned that the fight over the nomination was not just about Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“It’s about our ideas and everything we stand for,” Hatch said. “Losing a fight like this means the party of substance-free theatrics wins.”
Hatch’s words echoed those of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who told students on Monday to avoid provoking reactions online and instead saying that “real leadership” is about “bringing people around to [conservative’s] point of view,” according to the Hill.
“I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this — are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading?” Haley asked the students. “We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership — it’s the exact opposite.”
“Owning the libs” has become a popular way to say that a conservative has successfully mocked a liberal for being “triggered.”
Liberals have also used “own the libs” phrase, but more as an observation of a shift in conservative politics or to mock conservatives themselves.
“While the act of ‘owning the libs’ is mostly a right-wing phenomenon, the left has co-opted the phrase as a straightforward way to comment on this absurdist style of politics,” Eve Peyser wrote in Rolling Stone.
One example Peyser gave of liberals using the phrase was when liberals, such as herself, mocked a former Turning Point USA college chapter for promoting an event where a member wore a diaper to protest safe spaces.
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