Conservatism for youth

Reach America advises Republicans to reach middle, high schoolers

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Gary Brown, leader of Reach America, a Coeur d’Alene-based Christian ministry and education program, spoke at the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans meeting Thursday about the need to become younger as a party to ensure the party’s health.

COEUR d'ALENE - Gary Brown, president of Coeur d'Alene-based Christian ministry and education program Reach America, has a bit of advice for local Republicans.

To win the future politically, he said, younger generations must be won over.

Conservatives haven't done a good job of that, and need a new strategy, Brown said Thursday, speaking to the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans at Fedora Pub and Grille.

He believes the political party needs to reach middle- and high-school students, and build relationships with them. The purpose is not to recruit them, he insisted, but to listen to them and help them realize their importance to the political process.

His concept is to build conservative communities in which to educate kids.

"And raise them up, from 10 years old and up, in communities to where conservative ideas are in their DNA before they go to college," Brown said. "We have to start reaching people between the ages of 10 and 19."

The last time The Press reported about Brown and Reach America, in May, a video titled "The Thaw" was drawing wide interest online. The video had more than 260,000 views on YouTube Thursday.

The video featured students who claimed they were being persecuted for their Christian beliefs in public schools.

To the Reagan Republicans, Brown said too many youngsters reject narratives about America being founded as a Christian nation. They aren't buying American exceptionalism, either, or capitalism and free enterprise.

He said kids are not reading enough.

"Have you ever sat down with the average ninth-grader and had them read to you?" Brown asked. "It's not pretty."

Brown said that's creating a society in which an elite ruling class is reading and widening the gap between themselves and the non-reading masses. In such a society, the masses get their news in snippets on Twitter and through TV sound bites and brief clips on YouTube.

"They have no context for it," he said.

He knows all this, he said, because he currently is mentoring 22 kids, and has mentored many others before.

"Capitalism and free enterprise is on the way out, guys," he said, echoing the sentiment of youngsters he's had conversations with. "The government as caretaker is in."

Kids see capitalism as the embodiment of greed, he said. They don't want to have anything to do with it.

He said the mindset is Marxism making a comeback.

"Don't get me wrong, they value individualism, but it's the way they define it that's troubling," Brown said.

In general, he said, youths of the current generation are disoriented.

He summed up the American teenager thinking of cradle-to-grave entitlement this way:

"There's no right and wrong, truth is within you, don't judge me, and give me what I'm entitled to have," he said. "Give me an education, health care, a job and a retirement plan."

Brown promised he would speak next week about what to do about all this. He is scheduled to speak at noon Friday, Jan. 31, to the Panhandle Pachyderm Club at Red Lion Templin's Hotel in Post Falls.

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