MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—A group of young conservatives attended the Silicon Valley Liberty Forum on July 10 to help fellow conservatives express themselves in a liberal-dominated arena.
Adrian Rafizadeh, a senior at Leland High School in San Jose, founded the Youth Conservative Forum in January. He said he was motivated to do so because he thought teens on the right needed a voice.
“It’s a shame for me to see a lot of my peers just kind of automatically go into this left-leaning ideology because they think they have to, but they don’t,” said Rafizadeh.
Benson Fang, a member of the forum, said he now understands the dangers of uniform ideology, after he studied the history of the Chinese Communist Party and the Cultural Revolution.
“They [the youth] tend to be very easily swayed into doing things that are not very reasonable and they tend to lose their sense of good judgement,” said Fang.
In a liberal-majority setting, identifying as conservative can be challenging.
“We’ve had our flyers in the urinals in the bathroom before, you know—it happens. But we just keep persevering and we try different ways to get people engaged—like our debate, for example,” said Rafizadeh.
The Youth Conservative Forum held a public debate in May with a local left group called the Progressive Youth Collaborative.
“What we did with them is, really, have kids come in and share their opinions on ideas, while giving them the conservative point of view on issues so they can engage with our new ideas, and later evaluate their own perspectives, and see if maybe they align with what we said,” said Rafizadeh.
He said they aren’t trying to convert all liberals to be conservative. They simply wish to expose teens to ideas they may not be familiar with, to allow them to assess things rationally.