Spreading Conservative Values
On November 7, Andrew Klavan called upon conservatives to commit intellectual and financial resources to end the domination of liberal thought in our culture coming from academia, entertainment, and mainstream news. I would add that it would be a smart move to circumvent or leapfrog the current liberal framework and not waste time and money trying to change old media institutions or replicate ones that are fading in importance.
A virtual academic system, as opposed to brick and mortar, is the future. Salman Khan has revolutionized the teaching of math and physics with The Khan Academy funded by Bill Gates. It is a proven success with low startup costs and a global audience. Mr. Khan began his enterprise in 2006 and has since delivered over 200 million free courses worldwide.
Mr. Khan is young, charismatic, and passionate about teaching. Unencumbered by government and union bureaucracies, he speaks directly to students in a comprehensible and engaging manner using internet videos. Their newfound enthusiasm for and mastery of the subject matter is extraordinary. We can do the same thing with American history and free-market economics taught from a conservative perspective. This massive online audience deserves to hear about economic freedom.
The conservative alternative to liberal academia, funded with a combination of commercial sales and charitable donations, could be called the Freedom Academy. Popular performers and talented young hopefuls could donate their time giving the video lectures. Writers of history and economics books like Victor Davis Hanson and Thomas Sowell could donate the narrative for a segment and promote their books in the process. Conservatives across the country could make modest donations in exchange for a mention in the credits. Entrepreneurs could finance entire segments. If donors are passionate about a particular event in history, they could choose which segment they want to be identified with -- like the Adopt A Highway campaign. Many young people aspire to be famous. Create buzz by having contests with the prize being a chance to appear in a Freedom Academy video with a celebrity.
A video of an engaging storyteller relating an event in U.S. history using still pictures is an inexpensive way to reach an audience. Think of how many people have listened to or read Billy O'Reilly's books on Lincoln and Kennedy. There is a great thirst for knowledge about American history when it is not the antiseptic memorization of dates, names, and events taught in our classrooms. When it comes to economics, practically everyone dreams of great wealth, as evidenced by lottery sales and the popularity of shows like "Pawn Stars" and "American Pickers." Free-market economics taught as a roadmap to wealth, freedom and power can be fun and appealing.
Collateral benefits are also possible. The good news about current history having been reduced to an uninteresting and antiseptic memorization of dates, names, and events is that which text or lecture is used to learn the data becomes irrelevant. Why not use teaching materials that promote conservative values? A parent can sit his youngster in front of a Freedom Academy video to prepare for a test on the Civil War as long as it meets the public school curriculum testing requirements. Such coordination can be useful for parents who want to correct or circumvent the perspective presented in school. Also, I imagine there are many parents who would like to home school, but lack the resources and talent that could be provided by Freedom Academy courses.
The Kahn Academy videos are already being used in public school classrooms. Red states could adopt the Freedom Academy curriculum in their public schools and thereby save money and provide an education without Leftist indoctrination.
We need to inoculate preschoolers against Leftist thought via entertainment. Launch a cable channel like Nick Jr. but one which consistently promotes conservative values. When children are exposed to dangerous utopian fantasies later in life, it will be second nature for them to dismiss such ideas as unthinkable.
All parents look upon their little ones as being brilliant, hanging on their every word and repeating all their wise pronouncements to any victim within earshot. Just like my three-year-old granddaughter, Emily. She is a fan of the Dora the Explorer cartoon series on Nick Jr. In every episode, an animated fox named Swiper tries to steal from Dora's friends. Every attempt is foiled and Dora's crew shames the little thief. At this point in the story Emily always loudly and confidently prescribes the punishment of a time out for Swiper. When Obama appeared on the news recently she said that he needs to go to time out for taking Mommy and Daddy's money. Perhaps the conservative messages spoken to liberal parents by their children will get them to reconsider their current world view.
When it comes to mainstream news, I don't know any young person who will willingly sit down to watch the nightly news on television or read the hard copy of a newspaper. The one thing that all of them do on a regular basis is surf the internet. It is imperative to have a conservative news network linked to an existing search engine. Perhaps Fox can do a leveraged buyout of Yahoo or other existing search engine. Social networking technologies such as Facebook and Twitter also offer interesting possibilities.
After you sift through the myriad excuses for the Romney loss and the shrinking conservative base, at the heart of it all is our failure to pass along conservative values to succeeding generations. The three-pronged attack which I have outlined should go a long way toward bringing on board new advocates for limited government and economic liberty.
Jeanne C Minton is the author of Second Nature.