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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Leonardi

Anthony Leonardi on the Washington Examiner: "Conservative icons emphasize civil discourse and

Check out the article on the Washington Examiner.

Excerpt: As political discourse becomes more volatile, conservative icons have a strong message for young people.This week, Turning Point USA held their four-day long High School Leadership Summit at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

One of the overarching themes of this conference was to teach students how to properly comport themselves when debating those with whom they disagree.

“We welcome disagreement, welcome healthy debate,” Candace Owens, communications director for TPUSA, told Red Alert Politics. “We saw that between Charlie and Mark Cuban […] on stage. It was so refreshing to see. You can peacefully disagree.”

Dave Rubin, who hosts "The Rubin Report," agreed with Owen’s sentiment, encouraging students to “know what they are talking about” before engaging in debate.“People are going to say mean things to you," Rubin said to Red Alert Politics. "They are going to lie to you. They’re going to lie about you. You’ll survive. And keep being better.”

Throughout the conference, each speaker emphasized civility in a variety of ways. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley encouraged students to avoid making provocative statements online to “own the libs.” Haley then asserted that “real leadership is about persuasion. It’s about the movement.”

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told Red Alert Politics that he believes students should focus on “the message” in order to spread the conservative movement. He advised students to talk about convincing conservative principles like individual rights and free market forces. Scaramucci’s message resonated with several students.

“The Left tends to shut down and become close-minded when hearing the word conservative. I believe it’s our duty to recognize which tactics help us listen to each other,” said Annabelle O’Day, a recent high school graduate. “I believe in being slow to speak but quick to listen. Our goal is to reach and educate as many people as possible. People will only be open-minded to people they respect and we gain respect by listening to them.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also underscored the importance of understanding the principles of conservatism.“Getting a great education is learning about ideas, and not just those you agree with,” DeVos said. “It’s not just about putting a phrase on a t-shirt.”

TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk believes that his summit allowed for across-the-aisle discourse, promoting intellectual diversity and showing high school students an example of civil debate on stage.

“Point to me another conservative conference where you have that kind of discussion happen civilly,” Kirk told Red Alert Politics. “It doesn’t happen.”

“I really enjoyed it,” said attendee Justin Watkins. “There isn’t very many opportunities for an 18-year-old from Kansas to meet the ambassador to the United Nations, the House majority whip, and countless other influential leaders all in three days.”

“I would say it was an amazing opportunity for such a low cost,” said attendee Alejandro Szymczak.“ It was something that few people get to do in their lives.”

The conference was attended by more than 700 high school students and 50 plus high-profile speakers. Attendance cost was just $15, which included on-site housing. For an additional $50, students attended a dinner on Tuesday night at Trump International Hotel with Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, and other pro-Trump speakers.

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