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Conservative Wunderkind Jonathan Krohn Not So Much A Conservative Anymore

One of the highlights of CPAC 2009 was an appearance by Jonathan Krohn, a 13 year old kid who seemed like a miniature version of George Will, four years later he’s had a change of heart:

Jonathan Krohn took the political world by storm at 2009’s Conservative Political Action Conferencewhen, at just 13 years old, he delivered an impromptu rallying cry for conservatism that became a viral hit and had some pegging him as a future star of the Republican Party.

Now 17, Krohn — who went on to write a book, “Defining Conservatism,” that was blurbed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bill Bennett — still watches that speech from time to time, but it mostly makes him cringe because, well, he’s not a conservative anymore.

“I think it was naive,” Krohn now says of the speech. “It’s a 13-year-old kid saying stuff that he had heard for a long time…. I live in Georgia. We’re inundated with conservative talk in Georgia…. The speech was something that a 13-year-old does. You haven’t formed all your opinions. You’re really defeating yourself if you think you have all of your ideas in your head when you were 12 or 13. It’s impossible. You haven’t done enough.”

Krohn won’t go so far as to say he’s liberal, in part because his move away from conservatism was a move away from ideological boxes in general.

“I want to be Jonathan Krohn,” he said, “and I’m tired of being an ideology, and it’s not fun and it gets boring and it’s not who we are as individuals.”

But a quick rundown of his current political stances suggests a serious pendulum swing away from the right.

Gay marriage? In favor. Obamacare? “It’s a good idea.” Who would he vote for (if he could) in November? “Probably Barack Obama.” His favorite TV shows? “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” His favorite magazine? The New Yorker. And, perhaps telling of all, Krohn is enrolling this fall at a college not exactly known for its conservatism: New York University.

“One of the first things that changed was that I stopped being a social conservative,” said Krohn. “It just didn’t seem right to me anymore. From there, it branched into other issues, everything from health care to economic issues…. I think I’ve changed a lot, and it’s not because I’ve become a liberal from being a conservative — it’s just that I thought about it more. The issues are so complex, you can’t just go with some ideological mantra for each substantive issue.”

In addition to the book, Krohn also appeared more than a few times on Fox News Channel. I assume he won’t be invited back.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Boyd says:

    You’re really defeating yourself if you think you have all of your ideas in your head when you were 12 or 13. It’s impossible. You haven’t done enough.”

    Unlike a 16- or 17-year-old, who has reached the pinnacle of his knowledge and wisdom.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7

  2. Franklin says:

    @Boyd: Heh! If he’s anything like me, he won’t realize just how little he knows until his 30s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  3. bluepen9uin says:

    Lets check back with him in 5 years to see where he is……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. wr says:

    @Boyd: Yeah, that would be a really convincing slam if the Republicans hadn’t declared this poor kid the font of all wisdom when he was 13.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

  5. michael reynolds says:

    He figured out conservatism is bullsh*t by age 17. And how old is Joyner now?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 2

  6. Seerak says:

    It would have been more reassuring if he’d moved out of the conservative box into a wider political space, but he’s simply moving to the other, Leftish end of the same box.

    But hey, he’s still young; he’s still got *some* hope for escape (though NYU will certainly do its bit to close that off.). After all, look at all the bouncing around Lee Stranahan has done over the past decade :P

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  7. C. Clavin says:

    The problem is that, because Republicans are no longer Conservative, the poor kid is confused. And who the f’ can blame him?
    Obama is the most conservative President since Reagan…and a Massachussetts liberal is the Republican nominee. Up is down, right is left, cats and dogs are living together…it’s mass hysteria.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  8. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Youth wasted on youth.

    As far as CPAC goes, this actually is a useful lesson for them. Don’t use children as props. By the time they get through high school there’s a significant likelihood they’ll have been converted into airheaded liberals. College in this day and age in various respects even is worse. Then by the time they grow up and morph into real and lasting conservatives the salient story lines long since would have been forgotten.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 21

  9. john personna says:

    As opposed to Joe the Plummer, or Sarah the Governor, who are still 13 or 14.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 2

  10. al-Ameda says:

    The issues are so complex, you can’t just go with some ideological mantra for each substantive issue.”

    Wake up Jonathan, there is a whole political party that believes otherwise.

    Also, in the event that you get tired of Georgia, I can tell you that Vancouver, BC is a wonderful place. Check it out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  11. john personna says:

    Or John the Speller :-/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  12. MBunge says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “By the time they get through high school there’s a significant likelihood they’ll have been converted into airheaded liberals.”

    That’s pretty much the opposite of what happened here. He was an airheaded 13 year old just regurgitating what he’d been told and changed as he learned.

    Mike

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  13. Andrew E. says:

    Republicans should take heart- they still have this bright young lad in the fold: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8r7SoLdKd8

    Can’t wait to hear him speak at the next convention!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    College in this day and age in various respects even is worse.

    There it is! We have a winner, folks! Tsar Nicholas from zero to conspiracy in less than 10 replies. It’s not that the kid changed his mind, it’s that he is going to be brainwashed by the liberal college conspiracy.

    Funny thing about Team Right: No matter how concrete the facts, no matter how obvious the evidence, there’s never a conspiracy that doesn’t prove them right.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  15. bk says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Are you just goofing around, or do you really believe the crap that you write?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. Franklin says:

    @john personna: I totally missed that, I guess I thought he was Jake Plummer’s brother or something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Gustopher says:

    @Andrew E.: That kid is gayer than Anderson Cooper.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  18. @Franklin: (Paraphrasing here) In your teens and early 20s, you don’t know, but you don’t know you don’t know, so you take a lot of risks.
    In your 20s, going into your 30s, you don’t know, but you know you don’t know, so you take fewer chances and play things conservatively.
    In your 30s and early 40s, you know, but you don’t know you know, so you still hold back.
    From your 40s on, you know, and you know you know. Time for some fun.

    – George Carlin

    I’m 32. The only thing I know is that I know a lot less now than I did at 22.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. DRS says:

    Anyone using a good Carlin quote wins the thread – but I got to admit, it doesn’t really sound like him. Too Hallmark-y. Did you see a video of it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Franklin says:

    @Christopher Bowen: I might be slightly behind Carlin’s schedule, but thanks for that!

    Also, I’m amused at the down votes on Boyd’s original post, I think some may be missing the (pretty obvious) sarcasm?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: Hard to vote it up when you’re laughing too hard to hold the cursor steady.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Andrew E.:

    That freak makes my skin crawl.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0