Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Problem With Child Activists

Politico reports the breakout child star of CPAC 2009, Jonathan Krohn, has given up on conservatism and become an ardent Obama supporter:

Jonathan Krohn took the political world by storm at 2009’s Conservative Political Action Conference when, at just 13 years old, he delivered an impromptu rallying cry for conservatism that became a viral hit and had some pegging him as a future star of the Republican Party.

Now 17, Krohn — who went on to write a book, “Defining Conservatism,” that was blurbed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bill Bennett — still watches that speech from time to time, but it mostly makes him cringe because, well, he’s not a conservative anymore.

“I think it was naive,” Krohn now says of the speech. “It’s a 13-year-old kid saying stuff that he had heard for a long time.… I live in Georgia. We’re inundated with conservative talk in Georgia.… The speech was something that a 13-year-old does. You haven’t formed all your opinions. You’re really defeating yourself if you think you have all of your ideas in your head when you were 12 or 13. It’s impossible. You haven’t done enough.”

This really should serve as a lesson for every conservative who humored Krohn, praised him as a child prodigy and applauded the wisdom in his book on conservative philosophy. Not that the Right should have attacked his work, but the condescension was grating (the greatest honor for the 13-year-old Krohn was when Jeremy Lott actually took his tome seriously and panned it for The American Spectator).

You also don’t have to disagree with the politics of Krohn’s CPAC speech to find it a little creepy — maybe because there’s something creepy about child political activists in general. Most appear to have been pushed into it by politically-overzealous parents, and they all seem to serve one of two main purposes: 1.) shaming political leaders or the public into doing something vague and idealistic, i.e. stopping world hunger, saving the polar bears or transforming the Korean DMZ into a “World Peace Park.” 2.) encouraging other activists by saying the “next generation” cares about their cause.

In reality, all child activists prove is that children are still able to regurgitate facts fed to them by activist parents.

And that’s where the real tragedy of the Krohn story lies. What were his parents thinking when they pushed him into the national spotlight as a “conservative pundit” at just 13-years-old? He’s clearly embarrassed about it now, judging from his comments in the Politico article. But his short stint was profitable. Krohn had a book tour; he plugged his work on Fox News; he got a gig with the Premier Speakers Bureau. It also resulted in plenty of attention for him and his parents. Now that Krohn claims he didn’t really grasp what he was saying at the time, the questions remain: why didn’t his parents realize this and put a stop to it? What were they getting out of this?

It’s a shame Krohn still has to live with the mockery that comes with that attention, especially because he never really asked for any of it in the first place. The Right should keep that in mind next time a “conservative child prodigy” comes along.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.