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“The Republican Party is broken,” writes Brandi Love, a self-identified “Conservative PornStar who writes for the Federalist,” according to her Twitter bio. Brandi was an attendee of Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit. A conservative gathering for the young, hip, and constitutionally-minded designed to galvanize future conservative leaders. The summit features many of the stars of the conservative movement from the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles to Dr. Ben Carson.
According to the TPUSA website:
Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit is an invite-only event primarily intended for students between the ages of 15 and 26. If you are an adult wishing to attend, we have a limited number of adult tickets available.
Brandi Love was the holder of one of those limited adult tickets.
She publicized that she would be going live from her hotel at the conference on her website onlybrandi.com. She added she would be doing so, “behind the paywall of my OnlyFans (So we don’t offend the low T white nationalist religious zealots.)”
She later had her invitation revoked, and the chasm between what Brandi defines as “conservatives” and “social conservatives” was revealed.
She accused Twitter commenters who disagreed with her of “once again mixing Social Conservatism and Conservatism.”
The question arises, is there a viable conservative movement that precludes social conservatism?
You can spot a TPUSA student from a mile away in their “Big Gov Sucks” masks and hip t-shirts with slogans like “save the bees and the republic.” Self-described, TPUSA is the “community organizers of the right.” The end goal, according to their mission, is the promotion of freedom.
Freedom is a tricky thing. It is seen as both a means and an end. Freedom is a prerequisite for a moral society, and simultaneously it is impossible to maintain freedom without a moral populace.
The question to wrestle with is why be free? If freedom itself is the aim, then it feels disingenuous to exclude Brandi Love from the TPUSA event. In the most basic meaning of the word, shouldn’t she be free to attend? This is the hypocrisy Brandi has taken to Twitter to point out.
Perhaps, we as conservatives have made a mistake in our messaging– inviting more into the fold and expanding the conservative base at the risk of losing the soul of what we set out to do.
What did we set out to do?
Win elections? By all means, bring in as many people as possible. It’s a numbers game and we need them all.
Beat the Democrats? Again, a numbers game. Bring them all on.
Restore human decency, order, and alignment with creation? We have slipped off track.
Freedom itself is not an end; it’s a doorway. There are many things I do not want the freedom to do:
The freedom to take a life.
The freedom to abuse a child.
The freedom to buy and sell my sexuality and the sexuality of others.
As our founders knew, to pursue the highest life, we needed freedom. But what good is freedom if it is used to justify baseness?
The natural end of the libertarian leanings of the conservative movement is virtueless anarchy–a world where we not only allow, but accommodate and support that which we know to be destructive.
There is a balance to strike between supporting the freedom of others, while not allowing what they do with their freedom to define the entire movement. There is the possibility for nuance. That is, as long as we are honest about our aims.
I aim for a high-minded society (that is, a society working to create heaven on earth) full of healthy people working in conjunction with creation and the creator. Freedom is a wonderful vehicle for that aim.
The totalitarian Soviet Union denied their citizens freedom which prevented them from achieving a higher ideal. In that case, freedom was still a doorway, and once it shut, the people were hard-pressed to rise above depravity.
But freedom is a doorway, nonetheless, on the way to something bigger than even freedom itself. There lies the rallying call of the conservative movement. It is a call to restore order–a call to connect to higher ideals.
Perhaps the message isn’t simply “come as you are,” but rather, “come as you are and then get better.” We can ask each other to enter the doorway of freedom and then keep walking. In that way, the movement is not a fold that holds as many sheep as possible, but rather a launching pad to a more meaningful life.
The religious world is also stuck in the doorway, grappling with the same problem as the conservative movement. The youth in the faith have had enough of “coffee house Christianity” and the like. They see through the baseless and easygoing self-help teachings and are begging to move past the elementary — to be pushed, to expand their knowledge, and to aim higher.
The modern church thought it would bring in more people if the church more resembled everywhere else. In doing so, they have destroyed the sanctity of the Holy Spaces and reduced the pursuit of faith to Chicken Soup for the Soul. (A book I loved as a young girl, by the way, but no substitute for in-depth spiritual studies.)
The conservative movement, like the church, has attempted to behave like the audience they want to reach in an effort to grow the base. In doing so, the members they recruit are denied any opportunities for growth, challenge, and pursuit of higher ideals.
Comfort and weak-minded inclusion of all ideas is the best friend who justifies your drinking problem. She expresses friendship but ensures you never overcome your addiction.
This is, of course, a more ideological than political discussion. Many conservatives embrace the big tent philosophy to win elections. But the conservative movement does not end (or even begin) at the ballot box.
This is not an argument to avoid allyship. As the common saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” I believe that wholeheartedly. I love to see the unexpected alliances rising to defeat damaging Marxist ideas and their various manifestations. I pursue these allyships, as we all should. But if our movement is unable to be inclusive while simultaneously holding our standards, then what good do we offer the people we are including anyway?
What good is a conservative movement that doesn’t address the whole of a human being–political, spiritual, economic, relational?
If conservatism doesn’t stand for the American family–an institution proven over and over again to benefit us and our neighbors, then why have a movement?
If conservatism can’t stand for the sacredness of human sexuality, then why have a movement?
If the conservative movement is just about electing the right people, or worse, a cloaked and seductive march towards anarchy, then why have a movement?
As we become wrapped up in the game of growth, the game of numbers, we have to stay connected to why we do what we do–to what end?
I argue that freedom alone is not a satisfying end.
Of course, our founders took for granted that freedom would provide the platform for the more important work of maintaining a moral society deserving of that freedom in the first place. The opinions of the faith were so commonplace they were considered self-evident. In fact, the faith of early Americans is what made freedom self-evident.
But freedom is a tricky thing, and what we do with it matters.
Mikayla Goetz is a renegade actress turned conservative storyteller. Since receiving her B.F.A. in Theatre Arts from Coastal Carolina University, Mikayla has worked as a story developer, writer, and consultant with armed service members, veterans, and Jewish-Ukrainian refugees. She has led the development of plays, film work, community initiatives, and an audio series. Mikayla is the Host of the SomethingBurger Podcast and a regular voice on AM 950-Orlando.Published in