If you are someone disgusted with the often hateful way our ideological and partisan politics now operates, you need look no further for a shining — or should I say “reeking”? — example of the treatment of one Jonathan Krohn. Once upon a time he was a kid-young-teen political prodigy who was on TV, spoke before convervative groups, and wrote a fast-selling political book. He was held up by many conservatives groups and on Fox News as an admirable, smart, perceptive kid. Why couldn’t more kids be like Jonathan?
But now many of those who thought he was so admirable, smart and perceptive have changed their mind.
Because he changed his.
Some of his oncetime admirers are now indulging in the most common feature of our partisan and ideological politics when it comes to the teenage Krohn: demonization of and name calling aimed at someone who dares to disagree with them.
Now he’s considered a traitor to the make-sure-you-walk-lockstep cause. He is no longer a conservative, no longer a LITERAL poster boy for conservatism. In a piece on Salon titled “I was a Right Wing Child Star” he recounts his past role as a young role model conservatives could point to — someone who was the wave of the future due to his right thinking at such a young age.
Some chunks of it:
My involvement at such a young age happened for manifold reasons: I always enjoyed writing (I had gotten my first paid writing gig when I was 9), I enjoyed politics (or at least the theory of politics), and I grew up in Georgia, where conservative ideologues dominated the radio and the populace. Mix those things with the naïveté of a kid and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a fresh, right-wing pundit. My star role worked out well for a while. I didn’t have to question any of the talking points I’d made in my speech, and I got to drone on and on about them at numerous Tea Parties and other conservative gatherings. I felt justified in my beliefs if for no other reason than no one actually told me I was wrong. Instead, men like Bill Bennett and Newt Gingrich hailed me as the voice for my generation and a hope for America.
But then, earlier this week, Politico released an interview in which I announced I wasn’t a conservative anymore — and the proverbial crap hit the fan.
Of course. How could you be the Hope for America if you don’t totally agree with those who a)know they are right and everyone else has to be wrong b)know those who disagree have evil motives, c) in many instances are out to purge the party of Republicans who’ve put in many years of service to the GOP because they don’t totally follow their wishes?
After all, this IS 21st century America. What did you think it was? The 20th century where the Republican party aspired to be a big tent, letting people in, rather than a small tent with talk radio hosts who ride in private jets as bouncers? MORE:
Since then, I have been treated by the political right with all the maturity of schoolyard bullies. The Daily Caller, for instance, wrote three articles about my shift, topping it off with an opinion piece in which they stated that I deserved criticism because I wear “thick-rimmed glasses” and I like Ludwig Wittgenstein. Why don’t they just call me “four-eyes”? These are not adults leveling serious criticism; these are scorned right-wingers showing all the maturity of a little boy. No wonder I fit in so well when I was 13.
Yep. And those of us concerned with the issue of bullying in schools can attest to how this is seemingly similar.
I shouldn’t be too surprised. Political divisiveness in America today is a childish thing anyway. The never-ending war between the left and the right seems to me like a couple of drunken college boys fighting over which one of their fraternities is cooler. Think about it: Once you join a side, you have to obey the house rules, go to all the parties, and defend your status as a member of the greatest club on campus. And this is what drove me away from conservatism to my admittedly center-left position of independent mindedness (if that’s a thing).
Can I use the word “Ditto?” to that?
I was tired of being a part of the ideological warfare this country is so caught up in. I was tired of the right using me as an example of how young people “get” what they’re talking about — when it’s obvious that I didn’t get what I talking about at all. I mean, come on, I was between 13 and 14 when I was regurgitating these talking points! What does a kid who has never paid a tax bring to the table in a conversation about the burden of taxes? What does a healthy child know about people who can’t afford healthcare because of preexisting conditions? No matter how intelligent a person might be, certain political issues require life experience; they’re much more complicated than the black and white frames imposed by partisan America. (And no, my mother and father didn’t write my material for me. You’d have to be as paranoid as the birthers to think someone’s parents would put them up to all that. Have a bit more faith in the human race, man!) I was just a 13-year-old kid spitting up the nonsense he’d learned. In the future, a good rule of thumb might be: If you’re not old enough to have consensual sex, you’re probably not old enough to make consequential political statements.
My past did me some good, though. If I hadn’t seen this childishness I might never have taken the time to let myself breathe, and read philosophy, and develop a new, better sense of humor, not to mention a more mature writing style. An open mind and critical thought are like a metaphorical AA after a long bender on ideological wine: I’m proud to say that this program has gotten me three years sober.
He ends with this:
I would love it if a bunch of angry right-wingers stopped saying stupid things about me. I also want a six-pack, a mansion in the Hamptons and a beautiful woman with cans the size of my head. None of these things will happen, and I’m pretty comfortable with that. More accurately, I’m comfortable with who I am, which is all I can ever hope for anyway.
Hey, Jonathan, may I add this?
You’ve said more about the state of politics in the United States — how the attack must always get down to being personal and trying to discredit someone and how you have to display total agreement and loyalty to your political fraternity — than all of our blog posts here on TMV since 2003.
Oops! I made a mistake and we correct mistakes on TMV. Let me rephrase that.
Your critics who are attacking you have said more about the state of politics in the United States and themselves than all of our blog posts here on TMV since 2003.
For discussion on other blogs GO HERE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.