We live in the greatest country in the history of the world — the United States of America. Young people like my two sons, Matt and Alex, have opportunities unheard of by prior generations.
At the same time, it is shocking to read polls that show that nearly 60 percent of young people believe that socialism would be a good thing for the country. Even worse, less than 25 percent of adults under 30 are “extremely” proud to be Americans.
How could this be? Well, liberal politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left-wing professors and biased media tell young people that the USA is a land of inequality, capitalism is unjust and their generation is getting a raw deal. In fact, Miss Ocasio-Cortez-Cortez tweeted: “an entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity.”
She’s dead wrong. The opposite is true. No generation in human history has ever experienced a world with more prosperity, more freedom, more leisure time, more access to information, higher literacy rates, better life expectancy, lower child mortality, less poverty, less disease, less hunger and less violent crime than the current generation.
We have the truth on our side. But we must find new ways to get that message out to the next generation. With that in mind, I am thrilled to tell you that I accepted an offer from the board of Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to be their next president, starting full-time in February 2021 (we will transition over the next year-and-a-half).
Ron Robinson and his staff — with the guidance of an amazing board — have created one of the most significant organizations in my lifetime supporting free enterprise, strong national defense and conservative values. I am honored to take the helm of such a remarkable organization and am particularly thrilled to be entrusted with the ongoing stewardship of President Ronald Reagan’s ranch. We are looking ahead to new and exciting ways to reach young people across the country.
The truth is in on our side. But we cannot assume that this is enough. We have to do more to communicate this message sooner and to a larger audience across the nation.
YAF oversees more than 500 student chapters on high school and college campuses through the country. Our goal should be to achieve a presence on every campus. We must also expand to include two-year technical and community colleges. And we must start sooner — reaching young people as they start their teen-age years.
YAF owns and operates the Rancho del Cielo (President Ronald Reagan’s “Ranch in the Heavens”). Today, it is part of an education center in Santa Barbara, California, that promotes free enterprise, strong national defense and conservative values — just like our 40th president did throughout his career in public service.
YAF helps student chapters bring big-name conservative speakers to their schools, organizes activism conferences across the country, and even provides legal resources to students whose colleges and universities attempt to suppress their free speech by blocking events or speakers that feature conservative ideas. We must bring more speakers to schools across America and do more to ensure these voices are heard by the students and guests.
Free speech is a guarantee under the U.S. Constitution. If there was ever a place where free speech should not be taken for granted, it should be on the campuses of our colleges and universities. We must continue to fight for free speech for conservative voices.
President Reagan said, “Young America’s Foundation has been a refuge for students seeking an alternative to the politically correct environment enforced on many campuses. I know the conference will send you back to your campuses better informed, motivated and trained. Your work is vital to the future of the nation.” These sentiments are just as true today as they were then.
This is the reason I am excited to start our work with Young America’s Foundation.
When Ronald Reagan was running for president back in 1980, I was 12 years-old. I came of age during his time in the White House. Other than my parents, no other human had a greater impact on my political beliefs than he did. I am a conservative and a Republican — and most importantly, an eternal optimist in the American people because of him.
Now, we need to pass this same optimism on to the next generation.
President Reagan often quoted Thomas Paine’s famous declaration that in America “We have it in our power to begin the world over again” — and he always added, “We still have that power.” I want young Americans to understand that they have that power. It is up to them, not the government, to remake the world.
Together, we will help them do just that!
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him @ScottWalker.