The kids aren’t all right, but more and more young men are seeing red.
A recent survey by Monitoring the Future, an academic project that has been studying American youth for decades, found that 23% of 12th grade boys identified as conservative in 2022, while only 13% described themselves as liberal.
The study, by the University of Michigan, was first conducted in 1976, at which point just 17% of high school boys saw themselves as conservative and 25% identified as liberal.
Conservative identification went up among young men in the 80s and early 90s but had hit a steady decline until recent years showed a new trend to the right.
Their female peers, meanwhile, have gone more to the left, with 30% identifying as liberal in 2022, compared to 12% conservative.
In New York State, conservatives under 40 — many of them men — have been getting increasingly involved.
Peter Giunta, 29, has been the chair of the New York State Young Republicans since 2021. When he took the position, there were just six chapters throughout the state. Now, there are 30.
“[Lee] Zeldin’s campaign really fired up a lot of young Republicans,” he said.
The official New York State Young Republicans organization, whose members range in age from 18 to 40, has also been mentoring teen Republican groups, for those ages 13 to 19, which sprang up organically around 2021.
“It’s really bringing them into the system earlier, before they’re eligible to vote,” said Giunta, who lives in Staten Island and is the chief of staff to State Assemblymen Michael Reilly.
“This is an operation that, from what I understand, the Democrats just do not have,” he said. “We are very fired up.”
One 17-year-old from Queens told The Post his immigrant parents’ upbringing in the USSR had made him a conservative. “They lived through socialism, and they know what leftism and progressive policies can do to a country and to a people,” said the high school senior. “I didn’t want the same to happen to my country.”
Meet four of New York’s GOP youth operatives.
Around the 2016 elections, Cunningham, then age 8, took an interest in politics, originally leaning left. But, in 2021, he started doing more research and veering right. The Cornwall, NY, native also chafed at how prominent the promotions for gay pride seemed to be in his community.
“I have respect for everyone,” said Cunningham, a devout Christian. “I just don’t think sexuality should be pushed down children’s throats.”
When he started at Washingtonville Senior High School in 2022, he was also upset by a student-teacher who would scold pupils for getting their pronouns incorrect.
Now a high school sophomore, he said that classmates have harassed him in the halls and on social media for some of his viewpoints — such as an Instagram post saying men shouldn’t be playing women’s sports. They’ve called him a “transphobe” and a “racist.”
“I was really confused about [the latter] because I’m black and Puerto Rican,” he said. His parents aren’t particularly political; his mother, a waitress leans left, while his father, who works in coffee sales, is more to the right.
But their son is very enthusiastic when it comes to government. In 2022, he founded the Orange County chapter of Teen Republicans, and he’s now the chairman of the group for the whole state.
Last year, he was heavily involved in Colin Schmitt’s unsuccessful bid for New Windsor town supervisor, and he still treasures a framed, signed poster from the campaign. Just last month, he became the official Goshen HQ campaign manager for the Republican slate in the 9th district of the NY Supreme Court, a position usually held by someone old enough to drive, vote and buy beer.
Cunningham has his eyes set on a career in politics, and he already dresses the part. His closet is full of blazers, dress pants, golf shorts and button-downs.
“I always want to have a professional look,” he said. “My classmates think I’m a 60-year-old man in a 15-year-old’s body.”
A senior at Syracuse University, where he’s the chair of the school’s College Republicans chapter, Parker said that life on campus as a conservative can be challenging.
“It’s tough, it’s isolating, you get lonely,” said Parker who is majoring in political philosophy and writing and rhetoric. “[There’s an] underlying cultural hostility.”... (Read more)
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