They started looking at me, when they were re-electing their officers and boy did my heart skip because if my name was in any way associated with this organization officially I would have had to hide in the woods for at least a century. This is how deep I was in.
“Difference needs to be seen as a source of creativity, not a reason for destruction or polarization”Alfonso Montuori
When people think college Republicans, MAGA lip tattoos, and white men, the next thought is probably Turning Point USA, a grassroots organization that was founded by Charlie Kirk.
Last year, for a literary journalism project for my Creative Nonfiction class, I decided to join an organization that had views that opposed my own. Naturally, with ideology backing pro-life, the right to bear arms, limited government, and taxation being theft, I thought TPUSA was a nice choice for opposition.
However, what I experienced was not necessarily what I was expecting.
What I was expecting was a group of white men who belonged to a seemingly alt-lite conservatism group, and what I got was a group of mostly white men, a president being female, and two people of color, one of which was there because he liked political discourse and identified as a liberal. The dynamic was definitely something to note.
Every Wednesday evening for about a month I went to these meetings and I just listened. I heard view points that made me want to dig a hole in the ground, lay in it, and have it filled and I heard viewpoints that made me think, maybe we aren’t so different.
“Our message is simple. We believe that government is too big, free people and free markets make everyone’s life better… Being part of Turning Point USA allows you to stand up for your beliefs and educate your peers about the importance of fiscal responsibility and Constitutional values.”Charlie Kirk
One thing that I found to be the most interesting was, for a group that had a lot of really strong political views, they didn’t talk much politics. The meetings would start out by the executive board talking about the things that happened in the political sphere that week, but there weren’t many opinions about it.
For example, Candace Owens a black republican activist and short lived member of TPUSA, had appeared in front of The House of Representatives and talked about how white nationalism is harmful to black America. The Vice President of JMU’s chapter of TPUSA had just mentioned it and said, “She called out the dems for making her fit their narrative, she did really good,” and that was the end of the conversation. No political discourse, nothing. I wondered how this group was to enact activism if they had no expressed collective opinions. But then again, this was a year ago maybe things have changed?
Note: My experience with TPUSA JMU was much different from how I perceived the organization on the national level: an example of this is the photo featured below.
One thing that I did conclude from this experience was that most people who are of the college age, believe in equality for women. Not everyone is on the same page about reproductive rights for women, but they think equal pay is something that we can all agree on. I think what makes them the most different is their views on capitalism and free markets along with how they have coined the term “Socialism Sucks.”
I put myself in a scenario in which I had no idea what I was going into and what the feedback I would get while being there. However, I am beyond glad that I went, mainly because I concluded that all college students just want to be surrounded by friends like them and we aren’t so different even though we have different political views. I reminded myself constantly while in their meetings, just because almost all of the people in this room voted for Trump, that doesn’t mean they are a bad people.
If you can take anything away from this post it is this; engage with your community and reevaluate what you think about these people. We are constantly provided the opportunity for bipartisanship yet we do not take it because we are not willing to talk. That is how productive activism works. Just listen.
If you want to know more about Candace Owens; this was the event that the Vice President of TPUSA was referring to: https://thehill.com/homenews/house/462395-candace-owens-tells-congress-white-nationalism-not-a-problem-for-minorities-in
If you would like to know more about TPUSA Nationally: https://www.tpusa.com
If you want some more TPUSA content I suggest; https://www.facebook.com/turningpointusa/