Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is set to launch a new program as head of the Young America’s Foundation that is designed to bring more conservatism to college and university campuses and young people generally.
In an exclusive interview with BPR-TV’s Matt Bailey, host of “Fair Questions,” Walker explained the details and objectives of his “Long Game” initiative, which includes launching 4,000 new YAF chapters nationwide and sponsoring one million new participants in the organization.
Walker, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2016 but has remained engaged in the conservative movement, noted that liberalism has been steadily becoming more prominent on campus since the 1960s.
Throughout those years, he said, conservative ideals, while in the minority, were still allowed on campuses as part of wider debates over political, cultural, and social differences.
But in the past few years especially, he said, “cancel culture” has taken over campuses, resulting in the virtual extinguishment of conservative ideas and principles, though institutions of higher learning, traditionally, have been bastions of free speech.
“I think this is all part of a strategy that goes far beyond just campuses to this left-wing radical view that you can’t even let there be any discussion of ideas that aren’t complete lockstep with the radical left,” Walker said.
The former governor went on to say that while he has not gotten a lot of support for his initiative from elected Democrats, liberal voices in Hollywood and left-leaning pundits alike have begun to push back on cancel culture as setting a dangerous precedent moving forward.
As for his Long Game program, Walker explained that the goal is to simply “scale up” what YAF has been doing since the 1960s when the organization began under the auspices of the late William F. Buckley, a noted conservative intellectual and founder of National Review magazine, and the late President Ronald Reagan.
Walker went on to say that he believes an increasing number of Americans “understand what is at stake — it’s not about just winning a battle, it’s really about winning the war for the heart and soul of this republic.”
The YAF leader said one way to expand reach is through the use of technology, adding that the organization has seen a dramatic uptick in interest and viewership on its YouTube channel.
“Why? Because they want to see content, not just hear from our remarkable speakers,” he said, praising them as top-notch conservatives.
Walker said that in order to combat some of the institutional bias against conservatives on campuses, some of which have outright forbidden new YAF chapters from forming, the organization will use both “the court of public opinion” and the “court of law.”
“Free speech is guaranteed in our U.S. Constitution. We know that when push comes to shove and we invoke the Constitution, we win,” he said, noting that the group recently won a First Amendment case at the University of California-Berkeley, perhaps the most liberal of left-wing campuses.
“If we can win at Berkeley, we can win anywhere,” Walker said, adding that when conservatives are allowed to compete in the realm of ideas with the left, conservatives “win.”
“Our ideas make sense and they work,” he said.
Later, Walker explained that YAF targeting campuses and younger people is an effort to teach them early about American principles of freedom and liberty, which the left seeks to limit.
“That’s what we are fighting for,” he said. “The left wants to divide us. They wanna pit one group of Americans versus another. Our message is universal: We want everyone to enjoy those freedoms and those opportunities.”
In order to reverse the tide of liberalism on campuses, “we have to fight,” Walker said.
“We’ve got to be in this for the long game so that we can enjoy the benefits of living in a free society where…we can support free speech, where we can have free expression of our faith,” he added.
“We can’t take any of it for granted because if we do, Ronald Reagan said we’ll be looking back someday…and telling our grandchildren what it was like to live in a country that was once free.”
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