The youth of America generally gets a pretty bad rap. They’re seen as lazy, greedy, immature, and out of touch with major issues. Turning Point USA is doing all they can to reverse this stereotype as well as educate Americans on the dangers of fiscal irresponsibility. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Turning Point from their humble beginnings, and I’ve been both impressed and excited with where the group is going.
We started Turning Point in the spring of 2012, and our message spread quickly. I was no stranger to the economic problems of our country, but when Charlie Kirk, a then-senior at Wheeling High School, approached me with the idea of the group I knew it was a great opportunity to get involved. Along with friends from Buffalo Grove, Highland Park, and Stevenson High Schools, we've quickly grown from the small group last spring to a national movement.
Turning Point USA is hardly a typical "conservative youth group." One of the best aspects of our group is that it’s non-partisan; we’re made up of students all across the political spectrum. We have members that are conservative, moderate, libertarian, and yes, even some that are liberal. Our backgrounds might all be different, but we all agree on the same basic principle: unless our debt is reigned in and our economy sees real recovery, the “American Dream” that we’ve been told about since we can remember won’t be a reality for our generation.
Another reason that sets Turning Point apart from other, similar groups is the approach to presenting our issues. We’ve utilized social media to reach our audiences, and continue to share the group’s messages through our popular facebook page [10,000+ likes], twitter, and through email newsletters. We’ve used memes [funny, captioned pictures] as a quick way to both entertain and educated our audiences, and this has been both a successful and original way for interest in our group to grow. People like the way we present our message, and despite maybe not agreeing with everything we say, can often find a lot to like about our group.
We’ve also had some fantastic opportunities to share our message with larger audiences. Back in July, we had the opportunity to appear twice on Your World with Neil Cavuto. This was both an excellent opportunity for folks outside of our area to hear our name, but also an opportunity for people to hear our ideas and what we stand for. Mr. Cavuto described our group as having “a good head on [its] shoulders” and saying, because of our message and growing movement, that “there’s hope for our country.” We’ve also had excellent opportunities to appear on Fox & Friends, Varney & Company, and a whole host of national and grass roots radio shows. The feedback has been both supportive and encouraging, and it’s given us a real sign that people understand and agree with our message and how we’ve presented it.
Our public events have also been a great opportunity to talk with folks of all ages and spread our message offline. We’ve had the pleasure to speak at numerous local political organizations and conferences, including Freedom Fest and the Constitution Day rally, as well as events in downtown Libertyville. We’ve also hosted two debates for college students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Illinois State University, both which had excellent turnouts. In October, our founder Charlie Kirk had the pleasure to speak at CPAC Colorado, a speech that quickly became popular on youtube, as Charlie used our trademark political humor to captivate the audience. We're even making an appearence later this spring at CPAC in Washington DC! Our group had many wonderful opportunities to share our message with the public, and we’re hopeful for many more opportunities to come.
We’ve also done some phenomenal work on our website. www.Turningpointusa.net has become a site where inspired, young political writers can share their ideas through columns or videos. We have numerous weekly columns, and a fantastic writing staff of 20+ high school and college students. Our columns and essays tackle everything political, including [but not limited to] the debt and deficit, the fiscal cliff, income inequality, the dangers of big government, and the never-ending arguments over capitalism. Our columns are always informative, but also can be incredibly creative, such as a column written in November that tackles the confusion on the fiscal cliff in the style of Abbot & Costello’s famous skit, Who’s on First? We put a lot of effort into our columns, and obviously greatly enjoy what we do.
Our latest move has been to start a political discussion rountable- "The Quad." Every week, four local high-schoolers sit down and discuss the political events from the past week, as well as the other big topical issues. I had the pleasure to be a member of one of these discussions, along with a senior from Stevenson and another from Warren High School. We had very interesting and entertaining discussions about such things as the State of the Union and the push for green energy. It was a fantastic discussion, and every week they get better and better.
Our message has begun to spread, and that was one of our initial goals. We currently have 20 national chapters, including organizations at The University of Notre Dame, Baylor University, The University of Pittsburgh, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, among others. We add chapters monthly, and with every new organization come countless new voices and ideas that strengthen our group and spread our message. We’re also beginning to sprout up on high school campuses, hoping to help students make educated decisions when it’s their turn to vote in up-coming elections.
Being apart of Turning Point USA has been a tremendous experience. The members are all fantastic people with incredible knowledge and limitless energy. It’s been very exciting to see how far we’ve come, and I can’t wait to see how far we’ll go.
- Duncan Millar
Libertyville High School '13