If nothing else, the most recent election has made the political divide in our country as clear as day. Lying beneath the surface of this polarization is a major crowd of moderate-leaning people, forced to vote for one of only two main parties in America, no matter how undesirable their party’s candidate may be. On both sides of the aisle, however, this crowd is shrinking—in large part due to the lack of active, vocal, moderate organizations where people can find a community of like-minded individuals with whom to share discussions. For conservatives, in particular, the market for these organizations is oversaturated with groups seeking to radicalize and mobilize their members to far-right action.
Enter Turning Point, USA. On paper, this looks to be a relatively harmless 501c(3) nonprofit based around the promotion of “freedom, free markets, and limited government.” Back in 2012, when Charlie Kirk founded TPUSA, this was truly the purpose of the organization—as the members of my high school’s chapter repeatedly assured me, free-market capitalism has been and always will be a non-partisan issue.
In recent years, however, the group has dug their heels in with a reactionary stance on nearly every contemporary political debate. In large part, this stems from the organization’s new desire to “win the culture war” (this is highlighted on the home page of their website), which has been exacerbated by Charlie Kirk’s continued deference to soon to be ex-president Donald Trump. Author’s note: it feels GREAT to write “ex-president” in front of Donald Trump’s name.
To members of TPUSA, America is currently divided into two sides of a so-called “culture war”—on one side, supposedly hyper-woke liberals seek to destroy the foundations of our country, on the other, well-meaning conservatives who are discriminated against for their adherence to facts as opposed to feelings. Of course, this is a terribly skewed perception of the actual state of the nation. People calling for an inclusive history, diverse representation in positions of power, and a stop to the idolization of racists, war criminals, and colonizers are not trying to “destroy” America. Rather, they hope to fight for a future where Americans fully learn about and reckon with our past. The seemingly urgent nature of this “culture war” can incite people involved with Turning Point to violent, hateful actions, a far cry from the stated foundational principles of the organization.
Unfortunately, the way TPUSA presents its role, as a bulwark against a nigh-unstoppable tide of political correctness and descent into socialism, is validated daily by the messaging from the bully pulpit of President Trump. Tweets such as “The Democrat Agenda is a Socialist Nightmare. The Republican Agenda is the AMERICAN DREAM!” further divide people into their political camps, and TPUSA preys on this divide to expand their agenda, framing themselves as protectors of the American lifestyle.
Especially in the last four years, as the Republican Party has morphed into a nearly unrecognizable moral vacuum that bends to Donald Trump’s will, it’s important to remember that members of TPUSA are not representative of what conservatism in America used to or should be. On Boston College’s campus, Taylor Morales, MCAS ‘23, and Louis Gleason, MCAS ‘23, recognized the need for a reframing of conservatism in our deeply polarized political environment. To that end, they founded and now serve as Editors-in-Chief of The Maverick, an independent newspaper dedicated to exploring prevalent issues from a conservative perspective.
Their initial publication served as the inspiration for this article and immediately piqued my interest, as their mission statement was a stark departure from the conservatism (read: neo-fascism) of Donald Trump and his Republican Party. According to The Maverick’s “About” page, readers can expect to find discussions of traditional conservative topics, such as “individual liberty and free enterprise,” but they will also see articles about issues that aren’t often highlighted in mainstream conservative circles, like “student debt, racial equality, and climate change.”
A major facet of The Maverick is working to redefine the way modern-day conservatives are viewed by those who disagree with their political beliefs. “The Trump administration has given what it means to be a conservative a bit of a bad rap,” explained Louis. “Part of the reason we started [The Maverick] was to counteract that conception that to be a conservative means to be intolerant and… to not want to help people.”
The EICs’ search for staff writers also reflects their desire to expand conservatism away from its current state in American politics. Describing the profile of staff writers Morales hopes to attract to the publication, she remarked, “Once people really start to see the brand of conservatism that we represent, and once they can see that we aren’t pushing that radicalized, far-right, inflammatory agenda… I think there’s going to be people [who] are going to come out and say ‘Hey, we really want to do this.”
In the future, The Maverick can (and will) play a crucial role in combating the spread of organizations like TPUSA, too. As Taylor explained, “I think that when you don’t really have a community to fall back on or a place that really, truly reflects what your beliefs are...they often default to [Turning Point]. They would prefer to have some type of a community, rather than none.” Indeed, after publishing their first article, Taylor received six applications from students hoping to join this community, one dedicated to respectful, constructive discourse about conservative issues.
When I first saw Taylor’s post in the Class of 2023 Facebook group this spring, I was apprehensive of The Maverick’s place on campus. This knee-jerk reaction is exactly why it’s so important that an organization like theirs exists—and flourishes—on BC’s campus. Lumping all Republicans in with the perversion of conservatism arising under President Trump risks driving even more people into the arms of radical organizations like Turning Point, USA. It’s important to note here that this has become a particularly pressing issue, given that BC students are starting a chapter of Turning Point at the time of this article’s publishing.
I encourage readers to go take a look at The Maverick. Even if you disagree with conservative beliefs (as I often do), it’s refreshing to remember what it was like to disagree with an argument on its own merits, without worrying about the character of the author. As Gleason aptly put it, those of us on The Gavel, along with all other liberal-identifying individuals, should see those on The Maverick as “ideological opposites, not moral adversaries.”