The Future of Conservatism: 14 Year Old Defines It

“The Conservative Revolution is strong. I was convinced before, but I am more convinced now. Conservatism needs to be based on principle to win. Principle over power will lead to a taking back control in 2010 and 2012.” Jonathan Krohn, age 14, reflecting on CPAC 2009

Three years ago, my daughter was in a production of The Wizard of Oz at The Holly Theatre in Dahlonega, Georgia. Jonathan Krohn, in the production as well, played Nikko, head of the flying monkey. Over the many weeks of rehearsal, I got to know Jonathan and his parents, Marla and Doug. I learned Jonathan was interested in politics and, as a home schooled student, could spend time following his passions of politics and acting.

About 6 months ago, Marla contacted me regarding Jonathan’s book, Define Conservatism, and we arranged to have him on the radio program and also hold a book signing at a screening of a Citizens United movie about then-candidate Barack Obama. Jonathan was such a big hit on the radio program and at the screening that it’s not surprising his optimism and knowledge made him the “wunderkind” of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week.

Jonathan began CPAC with an interview with me, and, once the other radio hosts on radio row saw him in action, the buzz began. Jonathan and his parents became a one-family phenomenon with Fox News, CNN, CSPAN and other print and broadcast outlets reporting on his point of view.

He was on a panel about victories in the Conservative Movement and after a two minute speech got a standing ovation. What is it about Jonathan Krohn that draws people to him?

First, he knows what he is talking about. He’s got the innocence of purity in principles that haven’t been knocked around by so-called pragmatism — which is just code language for giving up your principles. Jonathan has such passion about conservative values that he makes you want to be a better conservative.

Second, people are drawn to his positive attitude and ability to meet anyone and put out his hand and strike up a conversation. He had no fear when been interviewed by The Huffington Post. His mother, Marla, tried to tone him down a bit, reminding him that he was talking to a liberal and he answered by saying, "I know he is a liberal, but you are not the first liberal I talked to at CPAC." He’s not afraid to passionately and unabashedly defend conservative values and, after a stint of squandered majority in the Bush Administration where Republicans wasted an opportunity to really change America for the better but wanted to be liked instead, it’s refreshing. People respect sticking with your principles.

Jonathan also sat down with Air America’s Tom Hartman. Hartman tried to tell Jonathan that KKK training camps were real and that the “Christian Jihad” was prevalent in America. Jonathan then pointed Hartman to The Christian Action Network documentary on Islamic Jihad training camps in America.

When Hartman tried to support his point with a Wikipedia article, Jonathan trumped him with better sourced information. The Tom Hartman show got so much response to Jonathan that he’s having him back on next week. While overall he’s gotten fair treatment by the media, NPR did try unsuccessfully to trip him up.

Jonathan is just a regular kid, he’s done extraordinary things, but he’s done them the old-fashioned way…with his parents by his side. The Krohns are a team. I’m not sure if this is Jonathan’s “15 Minutes of Fame” or it’s the beginning of something, but either way, Marla and Doug will be at his side preparing him for what may come.

Sunday was Jonathan’s birthday. He turned 14 in Washington, D.C. He’s meeting with elected officials on Capitol Hill this week and following up on media calls. He won’t be able to vote in the next presidential election, but I am certain we will hear from him. Scott Hennen, a radio talk host from North Dakota, wants to have Jonathan sub for him sometime and then shop him around for a talk radio program of his own. Rush Limbaugh would be proud.

I think that everyone thought CPAC would be subdued this year. After all, Republicans were trounced on election day, but as the organizers saw the registration rise, they knew this was going to be a different year. Jonathan is a good representative of the sentiment of CPAC this year. There was a big spike in college student attendance at this meeting and the overall attendance was over 8500 — over1000 more than last year and the largest in history. Not bad for a concept that began with about 24 conservatives after the Goldwater defeat.

You only have to look at the sour way the left wing blogs covered the event to see how successful CPAC was this year.

Regardless of ideology; adults of all ages are drawn to a kid like Jonathan Krohn who has such conviction. I’m proud to have known Jonathan Krohn “way back when.” I hope he’ll continue to take my calls.

Watch Jonathan Krohn’s two minute address at CPAC: