Panning right-of-center punditry on college campuses

David Hines argues in a Federalist column that conservatives should stop funding pundits’ trips to college campuses.

It’s fall, which means the college speakers are flocking toward the campuses. That brings a question to mind: why are conservatives so obsessed with the idea of high-profile conservatives speaking to college students, anyway?

If you’re the speaker, going from college town to college town giving a stump speech to crowds of impressed young people is a pretty decent way to live. It’s good for the ego, good for the wallet, and it probably gets you invited to great parties every so often.

But what if you’re a college student? For them, and for the rest of us, there’s much less tangible benefit. Treating righty students as if their purpose is to provide a cushy lifestyle for righty pundits funded out of donors’ pockets or college activity fees doesn’t help them make a difference on the campuses they live on.

Instead, righty students are taught to admire evangelists and pundits, and to themselves aspire to evangelism and punditry. This has produced a conservative grassroots obsessed with the importance of sharing ideas, but with no understanding of how to carve out a space for those ideas to take root, or to enact them in any way but with the brute force of state power.

People on the right — and this includes the mainstream, fringe, and radicals — are trained to believe that the seeds of ideas are scattered in the wind, and somehow magically find purchase and grow. Clear the land? Till the soil? What’s that?

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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