Hearing Voices of the Young at Conservative Conference

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With the mid-term elections less than two months away, elected officials and candidates descended upon a Houston, Texas, church over the weekend to educate teens attending the 4th Annual Texas Youth Summit.

“They are important because I’m a mom and my kids are ages 19, 22 and 24,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). “I just believe their generation, especially the kids younger than them, are under attacks that we never grew up with.”

Greene was among the politicians who mentioned border security during her lecture after news emerged on Sept. 15 that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis relocated about 50 illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

“I’m a big believer in deporting people that break our laws and come into our country illegally,” she said. “I can’t comprehend why we’re not deporting people.”

Although not yet old enough to vote, the young people aged between 12 and 17 years old were awakened to the political divide between Democrats and Republicans.

“Coming here has opened my eyes to what’s happening in the world,” said Susanna Garcia who is 13 years old. “What I love about politics are people expressing themselves and interesting topics like Democrats are sugarcoating a lot of dangerous things like castrating kids.”

Garcia was among the hundreds of teens who milled about the Grace Woodlands Church on Sept. 16 and 17.

They learned about gender reassignment and the reversal of Roe v. Wade through politicians, such as Greene, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Rep.Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“It’s young people who are most getting screwed by today’s leftist agenda,” Cruz said. “It’s their future, their freedom, their careers, and their hopes that are being sold down the river.”

At just 13 years old, Jonathan Shtyrkalo is already longing for a simpler place in time.

“There are a lot of liberal people in school expressing their ideology contrary to the Bible and contrary to a lot of conservative ideals,” he said.

“They are openly liberal and it’s just kind of sad to see how things are shifting and are a lot different than it was maybe even 20 years ago.”

Shtyrkalo attends public school at Riverwood Middle School in Humble while his 15-year-old sister, Naomi, attends a Christian high school.

“It’s a great idea to come here and be educated on everything that’s going on, but in a good way that maintains a moral standard and to just be able to differentiate between right and wrong and live by the Bible,” she said.

Fox News pundits Kayleigh McEnany, Candace Owens, and Donald Trump Jr, who appeared remotely, were popular.

“I’m interested to see what they have to say about our world right now from a Christian view,” said Natalie Arriaga who is 17 years old. “Politics run our world. They run our systems and without politics, it would be disorganized
and then we could have communism and communism is not good.”

State Board of Education candidate Julie Pickren, a Republican campaigning for election representing District 7, stood at a booth promoting her candidacy with chocolate candies and flyers while Boebert caused a rush during a book signing where she gave away free copies of My American Life to the youths.

“I am excited to be here,” said Jaden Rodarte,15. “I have considered going into politics. It is one of the many paths that I am contemplating going down. I like Ted Cruz and I want to hear what Candace Owens has to say
since she’s pretty new into this scene.”

Some of the teenagers heard about the event at church or school while others read about it on social media. Patrick Prudhomme, 17, who was informed by word of mouth, dropped by because he wants to help facilitate change.

“The political spectrum is what’s going to determine the next 10 years of this nation,” he said. “Whatever we do in 2022 and 2024 determines the next 10 years and I tell people that all the time.

“Every election determines your next 10 years and so, if I want this country to be what I want it to be, then I need to be involved.”

The Texas Youth Summit was founded by Christian Collins, a former Cruz aide who ran for election to represent the 8th Congressional District and lost.

“Young people are much more likely to have joy and humor and dynamism and creativity in communicating and if we are going to succeed in pulling our country back from the brink, and I’m convinced we will, we are going to
have to reach the hearts and minds of the American people,” Cruz said.

The senator further noted that a year ago, he was the first to propose sending illegal immigrants to blue areas like Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket; Cupertino, California; Palo Alto, California; and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

“The top three issues that are resonating consistently all across the country are No. 1—inflation and especially gas prices—and No. 2 crime, and No. 3 illegal immigration,” Cruz added.

“All three are disasters for Joe Biden and the Democrats. Voters substantially trust Republicans more and that environment is going to yield a very good election in November.”

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Juliette Fairley is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Born in Chateauroux, France, and raised outside of Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, Juliette is a well-adjusted military brat who now lives in Manhattan. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, TheStreet, Time magazine, Newsmax, and many other publications across the country. Send Juliette story ideas at JulietteFairley@gmail.com