I’ve been reading the accounts of the 14-year-old conservative Wunderkind, Jonathan Krohn, who wowed them at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in DC. Krohn’s speech, which consisted of little more than asserting that conservatism was a principle-based ideology that’s all about protecting The People, would have been unremarkable had it been delivered by someone over the age of 20. It really wasn’t all that remarkable even coming from a precocious teenager. But so desperate is the right for rising stars these days that they’re starry-eyed over this home-schooled phenom.
It all put me in mind of my own brief career as a movement conservative, long ago. (Details here and here.) I was converted from being a high school commie into a college freshman reactionary by reading Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, William Buckley’s Up From Liberalism, and Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. These books were not free of right-wing crackpottery, but they were written at a fairly high level of seriousness. Kids these days come to conservatism by reading Bill Bennett and Ann Coulter or listening to Rush Limbaugh. (They also read an old-timer, the execrable Ayn Rand; we in the Party of the Right hated her as a vulgar authoritarian.) What an amazing intellectual devolution.
Not, of course, that the left is exactly kicking ass intellectually. But the right has gone totally braindead.