Does conservatism have a future in an increasingly degenerate and statist society–one with a popular youth culture that increasingly celebrates everything opposed to what traditional conservatism stands for? The America’s Future Foundation (AFF) combats leftist trends among a neglected group of young and youngish people–young professionals out of school and in the work force.
“There are a lot of programs that target people in high school or college,” said AFF President Tom Ivancie. “We focus our efforts on leaders in their 20s and 30s. We provide a forum for different kinds of conservatives to debate ideas and socialize.” Although AFF bills itself as “a network of America’s next generation of classical liberal leaders,” Ivancie said that a wide range of ideologies is represented at AFF events. “We have everybody from paleo-conservative Catholics to libertarians,” he said.
AFF hosts periodic roundtables at which a major issue of the day is debated. Sometimes, this issue isn’t necessarily along the lines of Social Security reform or immigration. “AFF will host a Valentine’s Day-themed roundtable on February 18,” said a recent notice. “Panelists will take a look at why so many young, successful people are turning to online services like Match.com to find romance. Why can’t they find a mate in their own social network? And what does this say about our society?”
“Our entire mission is focused on helping these bright liberty-minded people in their mid-20s and 30s build their social networks and become better at what they do so that they can move up to leadership positions quickly–whether they work in journalism, policy, business, academia, or the arts,” says AFF’s website. “AFF employs an operating strategy of self-development where participants have an opportunity to help plan and implement our programs directly. At any given time we work closely with our most active and capable members to do everything from preparing events to editing and laying out our magazine.”
AFF sponsors frequent happy hours and runs a job board for conservatives. “In the past two years, we have really expanded,” said Ivancie. “A lot more people are coming to our events. There is demand to establish chapters in other cities.”
AFF publishes a print magazine, Doublethink, and an online journal, Brainwash. In keeping with the theme of terms from George Orwell’s 1984, its weekly e-mail missive is called “Room 101.” In the wake of the Bush Administration’s new budget–which unfortunately includes $18 million more for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)–former HUMAN EVENTS Assistant Editor Timothy P. Carney inveighs against Big-Government conservatism in the current edition of Brainwash: “Conservatives who favor arts funding (lets call them NEAcons) observe that if Congress is funding smut already, shouldn’t we call on it to fund good art? Some make the same argument on the faith-based initiative. This ignores the inherently corrupt and corrupting nature of government. Congress didn’t originally sign off on the NEA with the intention of funding blasphemous nudist lesbians, but they were fools if they thought it wouldn’t happen.” Another article asks, “Is Ayn Rand’s classic, Atlas Shrugged, founded on the use of traditional Christian apocalyptic archetypes?” Current HE Assistant Editor David Freddoso also writes for the e-zine.
“We also attract people who are not necessarily conservative,” said Ivancie. “We provide an environment where people with other views feel comfortable coming. A lot of what we do is focused on the social aspect rather than just the intellectual, and that informal contact can make a difference.”
Doublethink tends to run longer, more serious pieces. One, by Matthew Continetti, explores various responses to the work of Bruce Springsteen, one of America’s more normal rock stars. Conservatives like to misinterpret Springsteen as being one of them in a rude, common-man sort of way, says Continetti. For example, in a 1984 newspaper column, George F. Will “turns Springsteen, on the Born in the U.S.A. tour, into an imago of corn-fed proletarian masculinity and from-the-heartland American values.” Ronald Reagan later picked up on this theme. “The actual Bruce Springsteen, if I read his biographers correctly, is neither a Republican nor a sensitive, Oprahfied New Age male concerned with ‘social ethics.’ He’s a liberal who once wrote an ‘anti-war original’ called ‘Balboa vs. The Earth Slayer,’ played at benefits held to oppose nuclear energy and promote a nuclear freeze. He wrote a famous song, ‘Born in the U.S.A.,’ about a man, he has said, who ‘wants to strip away that mythic America, which was Reagan’s image of America,'” wrote Continetti.
AFF may be reached at 1512 21st St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 (202-544-7707; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.americasfuture.org)