Views can change, mature

July 12, 2012


“And a little child shall lead them.” — Isaiah 11:6

Jonathan Krohn is a symbol of what is wrong in American politics.

That is a not a character assessment. To whatever degree one can judge such things from a distance, he seems a decent kid — smart, likable, nerdy, a 17-year-old Georgia boy bound for New York University in the fall.

But in 2009, just before he turned 14, Krohn gave a short speech at CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference — video of which went viral and made him a star. Preternaturally poised for an adolescent — or for anybody, come to think of it — he outlined his four “principles” of conservatism. Conservatives fell in love. Someone in the audience actually ululated with joy. He was interviewed on Fox “News.” Newt Gingrich blurbed his self-published book.

Three years later, conservatives hate him. “Douche” and “vacuous freak” are among the more printable things they are calling him in online forums.

Krohn’s sin? He changed his mind. He now embraces marriage equality and health-care reform, among other apostasies of conservatism. The news broke a few days ago in an interview with Politico. Conservatism, it seems, was just a phase he was going through. Not that Krohn now considers himself a liberal. No, he rejects the very idea that we must be defined by political ideology.

Good for him.

Here is a newsflash for those bemoaning Krohn’s defection: kids change, they try on different identities. Conservatism was simply Krohn’s version of Goth attire or Bieber fever. Given that he is still a kid, he may have some entirely new passion six months from now.

The fact that so many on the political right had such faith in the utterances of a child, the fact that they feel so profoundly betrayed now, suggests the degree to which our perception of, and relationship to, political ideology has changed in the years since Ronald Reagan rode off into the sunset. Back then, ideology was something that guided you. Now, it is something that defines you, a thing you are (like your race or religion), as opposed to a thing you merely support.

It is there in the sweeping statements of conservatives’ native moral, intellectual and even physical superiority (Rush Limbaugh believes conservative women are better looking than others). There in the brutish dismissal of competing views (“Liberalism is a mental disorder” writes Michael Savage). There in the brazen willingness to alter history that contradicts their claim to supremacy (conservatives started the Civil Rights Movement, says Glenn Beck).

To reject conservatism, then, is not simply to change your mind, exercising your God-given right to reconsider or dissent. No, it is to commit heresy, blasphemy and apostasy, to abandon the one truth faith, to become a sellout, an Uncle Tom, an Oreo. The right has come to embrace a kind of ideological McCarthyism stultifying of and antithetical to independent thought and intellectual rigor.

Small wonder a steady trickle of true believers has come to question and even abandon true belief. As in a conservative federal judge, appointed by Reagan, who recently called the conservative GOP “goofy” and a “crowd of lunatics.”

The plain truth is that neither liberalism nor conservatism owns a monopoly on good ideas — or bad ones. Smarter people in a healthier nation would realize this and do as Krohn has done, climb out of the political boxes, give themselves permission to embrace an idea based not on ideology, but on whether it is right and whether it will work.

In thinking otherwise, in believing there was something inherently holy or true about conservatism, Krohn was just going through an adolescent phase. Apparently he’s grown out of it.

That’s more than some of us can say.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.


cato_the_elder 5 years ago

For once, Pitts has a point. Tens of thousands of late-'60s hippies all over the world ultimately matured and said goodbye to free love, drugs, and left-wing politics when they finally decided to work, act as responsible adults, and raise families. Unfortunately, a few of them elected not to mature and continue to embrace far-left politics, longing for the days of burning buildings on college and university campuses and disrupting life in America as much as possible. Two of them are William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, terrorists in their youth, who are close pals of Barack Obama's. Unfortunately, Ayers, Dohrn, and other radicals, including those who were lucky enough not to have permanently fried their brains and are often connected with colleges and universities in some fashion, have never grown out of the adolescent phase that Pitts describes.

paulveer 5 years ago

I know. It's hard not to respond to such drivel, but umm, bite my tongue, umm

Darrell Lea 5 years ago

Nice rhetorical flourish, old cato - use whatever is written about anything as a launching point for your same old song and dance. Ayers and Dohrn weren't even part of the conversation until you put them there.

Perhaps someday you will grow out of your adolescent phase as well. Time will tell.

beatrice 5 years ago

Alas, the brain does not always develop along with the body.

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

Which is especially true in your case.

Crazy_Larry 5 years ago

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught

Rodgers and Hammerstein - South Pacific

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

And you just got owned by anyone bright enough to spell the word "owned."

jaywalker 5 years ago

"The plain truth is that neither liberalism nor conservatism owns a monopoly on good ideas — or bad ones. Smarter people in a healthier nation would realize this and do as Krohn has done, climb out of the political boxes, give themselves permission to embrace an idea based not on ideology, but on whether it is right and whether it will work."


Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

Not even worthy of a response. Leonard Pitts needs no defending from people like Cato the Elder. They are their own worst enemy. Their Bitterness and Hatred will consume them like a cancer.

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

If you're looking for bitterness and hatred, you need look no further than the bitterness and hatred spewed out by Pitts on a regular basis. You can then look at yourself in the mirror for going along with it.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

How Many Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism do you have?

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

I haven't legitimately earned one. Nor has Pitts.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

He was awarded his in 2004. Pitts-1 Cato the Elder -0

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

Sorry, DT. I said "legitimately," very much on purpose. You need to read more carefully.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

So , now the Pulitzer Prize Committee is not Legitimate?WOW! 'Nuff said!

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

The award was not deserved and was thereby not legitimate, whether or not the committee considers itself legitimate.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

That is an Opinion not a fact. That is the difference between Journalism and Op Ed. Journalism can include opinions of the writer but MUST be backed up with verifiable facts.No facts needed for OP ED.

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

Thank you for confirming that Pitts does not deal in facts.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

The Earth orbits the Sun and the Moon orbits the Earth. Would you like to dispute these facts too?

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

And Pitts orbits around a den of left-wing self-worshipers who call themselves "journalists" but in reality distort the truth on a regular basis. Pitts being awarded a Pulitzer Prize is no different at all from Obama being awarded the Nobel Prize. It was not legitimately earned in either case.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

LOL! I better stop here cause I about wet my britches Laughing. Really enjoy rattling your cage. See you Later I am sure. On to the next topic.

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

The only rattling I hear is from the left-wing rattlesnakes who troll this forum.

Maddy Griffin 5 years ago

Got a link to all that bitterness and hatred?

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

If you don't recognize it when you read it in this newspaper, then you're infected with it too.

StirrrThePot 5 years ago

Pitts is absolutely correct.

While he was talking about how conservatives were acting toward a kid, both extremist sides of the coin are guilty. We'll never solve the problems we need to solve because we're too busy busting on the other side, labeling those we don't agree with as either Nazis or Communists, taking all of it so personally and maintaining the you're either with us or against us" mentality. So we've come to this--calling an 18-year-old kid a douche because he changed his mind on his politics and it is different from yours. My left-leaning friends delete their right-leaning friends (and even family members) from Facebook after a political fight. As if struggling to fight discrimination of gender, race, religion, and sexuality wasn't enough, now we're going to write people off from the human race because they vote a certain way. RIDICULOUS. Grow the hell up, America.

StirrrThePot 5 years ago

It's not, it's just another example in the long list of immature BS people resort to now, all because of politics.

JayCat_67 5 years ago

No, it isn't, but it is an example of just how ridiculously petty people can be.

booyalab 5 years ago

A 17 year old is mature? Online forums are representative of average people's opinions? LOL (and I'm saying this as someone who has spent way too much time on forums and other black holes)

jayhawklawrence 5 years ago

Great column.

It needs to be pointed out that in our two party system there is no guarantee that most Americans will be represented at all. The only guarantee is that one of these two parties will be in power.

Both parties tend to forget that they are supposed to be made up of individuals, each of which is supposed to possess the ability to think and at times to lead. We do not elect them to belong to a political cult and sign pledges.

We can train monkeys to do that.

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