Jonathan Krohn took the political world by storm at 2009’s Conservative Political Action Conference when, 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.
Can I just add, that regardless of his past political affiliation, that I am so proud of him? I don’t believe in 13-year-olds burying themselves into ideological holes either, even if they’re ultimately right about it, because at that age, they can’t properly assess a belief in context or understand its functionality. His CPAC speech from 2009 saddened and disgusted me and not because it upheld Republican mantras, but because he spoke with such certainty and confidence, spoke so dogmatically, that I was certain that this boy was headed towards lifelong narrow-minded, intellectual inertia, doomed to parrot partisan talking points he didn’t actually understand for shit. The fact that at 17, he has undergone such a radical transition and emphasized intellectual curiosity and inquiry over ideology, insisting that he wants to approach each “substantive” issue independent of party line and arrive at his own conclusion, makes me want to hug him.
It’s far, far more important to think flexibly and critically and understand that you rarely know the whole picture, than it is to be right.
Also, I checked out his Twitter and he likes Dr. Who, X-Men, Harry Potter, and is going to NYU to study filmmaking and philosophy. Um, someone get this kid a Tumblr.