“It’s Morning Again in America” at Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach Florida
Student Commentary by Boris Kizenko
Could it still be “Morning Again in America” as President Ronald Reagan once declared? From December 19th to the 22nd, Turning Point USA made history. Turning Point is a youth organization dedicated to spreading the values of conservatism and capitalism in the United States and have grown to surprising numbers since their inception six years ago. The success of their movement was evident at their Annual “Student Action Summit” or SAS at West Palm Beach from the 19th to the 22nd where only invited students were allowed to attend. Personally, I had to take a few days off of school to attend this conference, but they were some of the best days of my life.
Turning Point brought out some of the most prominent conservative activists in the world to speak at SAS including Donald Trump Jr, Dinesh D’Souza, Dennis Prager, Laura Ingraham, James O’Keefe and others.
Although all in different lines of work they all spoke on the subject of the future of the United States. Dennis Prager, radio talk show host and founder of media organization PragerU, said he was “an optimist and pessimist” about the future of America. An optimist because of the nationwide success of the 4500 conservative activists that attended SAS, but a pessimist because of the rise of Marxism in educational institutions.
Essentially, America is at a “Turning Point” and SAS was organized to motivate and train young activists to fight for the values they believe made America great including freedom of speech, free enterprise, and limited government.
Turning Point has succeeded in creating a movement of young conservatives because they have been able to make conservatism fun and exciting. Many speakers challenged the premise, “Why can only the left have fun?”. Turning Point is able to attract youth because they infuse popular culture into their events.
They have one of the largest followings of any conservative group on social media and are the fastest growing.
They make politics simple and relatable for young people and provide an outlet for students who disagree with aggressive leftists professors and teachers.
Some fan-favorites at the summit included speakers Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters, and Tucker Carlson. Where outside sources have generalized the speakers and student attendees, ranging from 15-25 years old, as racists and even fascists, an insider account tells quite a more revealing story. Attendees did not attend to learn how to force their views on others, or to revert to an old an oppressive America, but to look for guidance in how to start a conversation about issues they care about. The goal of Turning Point Chapter Presidents in schools is to start a conversation about freedom of speech, enterprise, and limited government on college campuses for which they have received much negative press.
Whether they are fifteen or twenty-two, many of the attendees shared their stories with me about widespread discrimination against them on campus for their conservative beliefs. One high school student from Connecticut, Cornelia Roach, shared her story in a question to Laura Ingraham’s speech. “My English teacher makes fun of Republicans all the time during class” she said. “And I don’t know how to defend myself. And I’m nervous if I say anything she will lower my grade. What should I do?” With a hidden smile, Laura responds saying, “Why don’t you tell your teacher you have a friend coming and have me speak at your school!” The crowd roared in applause. Not only was it unexpected, but also endearing. And there were countless examples at the summit of similar instances where veterans of the conservative movement like Donald Trump Jr. and Tucker Carlson connected with youth.
The energy and passion at SAS bridged generations. The founder of Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk, started it when he was 18 and since has spread the movement to over 1400 college and high school campuses. Bringing together speakers and students he has been able to engage youth in the conservative movement like no one before. I personally had the opportunity to speak to donors and many of the speakers and to my surprise, many of these uber-successful business magnates gave me the time of day! For example, Gary Rabine who is Founder and CEO of the Rabine Group spent over two hours talking to me about his rags-to-riches business story and how he rose from nothing to running a conglomerate valued more than $210 Million. He conveyed to me the importance of personal responsibility at a young age, a recurring theme in the capitalist rhetoric at the summit.
The conference was an object of pessimism and optimism. SAS was an opportunity for the youth to realize the challenges of conservatism in the future, but also helped give the attendees tools and a network to help them succeed. Everyone I met left the conference feeling more empowered and prepared to effect change in their schools and campuses.
One could feel the energy everywhere. Even in the streets of West Palm Beach, everywhere ringed of youthful energy and excitement for the future. Perhaps it is still “Morning in America” as Reagan once declared.
Boris Kizenko is a Junior at Holmdel High School. He rows crew and is the president of a student-organization called AMSG, or the American Military Support Group, founded to involve students in the fight for veterans across the nation.