Nichols: We’re Losing the Battle for Young Hearts and Minds

by | Jan 5, 2024 | Opinion

If you scroll through TikTok, you’ll likely come across hundreds, if not thousands of political videos from young people. But they generally don’t sound like I did when I was their age. Instead of speaking about freedom, individuality or skeptical governance, they simply recite progressive talking points. They eagerly jump on far-left bandwagons, demonizing entire groups of people and promote expansive government power with religious fervor.

This isn’t natural. And this isn’t normal. It’s the result of aggressive ideological warfare being waged for their impressionable hearts, minds, and votes. And we’re losing badly.

The harsh reality is that Gen Z is drifting towards an authoritarian leftist dystopia – one where dissent gets you destroyed and government controls all aspects of society. They’re immersed in rigidly controlled echo chambers where only certain pre-approved views survive. And escape is nearly impossible thanks to the ruthlessness of so-called “tolerance”.

One of my recent guests, Olivia Rondeau, would know. As a young teen, she fell prey to the self-righteousness of progressivism. As a black woman exploring her identity, the messages sucked her in. But the dogma began conflicting with her principles. So Olivia started asking “dangerous” questions. And for that, she was bullied, threatened and exiled by her peers.

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Thankfully, she broke free from the grip of leftist indoctrination. But most don’t. That’s because the manipulative forces shaping young worldviews have grown far more powerful.

Social media algorithms keep users trapped in bubbles filled with propaganda. The goal is addiction and exploitation for profit. But it’s also about control. I discussed with Olivia how platforms like TikTok radically amplify mob outrage and dehumanization of dissent. They fuel hysteria around identity politics and worship of government. It’s catnip for Gen Z.

Even worse, these environments nurture a chilling concept Olivia calls “social death” – where cancelling someone’s career or reputation isn’t enough. The goal is to destroy their ability to function in society through threats, harassment, and violence. We’ve seen high school teachers terrorized by students for wrongthink. Livelihoods are crushed over a misinterpreted TikTok. This menacing conformity enforcement is straight out of Orwell.

But media platforms have discovered this business model works. And power-hungry ideologues salivate over these tools for influence.

So if we lose Gen Z, we lose America as we know it. These future voters and leaders risk becoming cogs of a totalitarian nightmare regime – one where equality of opportunity is replaced with equity based on group identity, where freedoms are sacrificed for utopian dreams peddled by Marxists, and where all dissent gets silenced by the rage mob and corporate allies.

Think this sounds extreme? Speak to those fleeing the radical left about what really goes on in their circles. The deeply illiberal reality would shock most Americans.

So how do we rescue the kid scrolling TikTok today who could be city councilor or in Congress a decade from now?

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First, realize Gen Z aren’t lost causes. Many got misled and can still change course if we extend an olive branch. As Olivia described, she was politically homeless after the left shunned her. We must welcome these exiles fleeing liberal oppression. Ask them about their experiences. Listen without judgment.

Next, enter their digital domains to engage directly. Niche apps like TikTok matter more than old guard sites like Facebook. Leverage allies who understand youth culture and speak their language. Shutting down platforms won’t work. Neither does ignoring or dismissing. This battle demands meeting Gen Z where they’re at on the issues they care about.

Of course, nothing beats real-world community either. Invite the earnest 19-year-old socialist to grab a coffee. Don’t accuse. Share stories and perspectives. Many Gen Zers simply inherited assumptions without seeing alternatives. But as bonds form, transformation emerges organically.

Finally, this can’t just be about winning votes or elections. The goal must be defending foundational moral principles like equality under the law, sanctity of the individual, and true intellectual diversity. We must illustrate how woke totalitarianism undermines those ideals, hurting real people and communities. We must help Gen Z imagine alternate futures beyond limiting group identities and state dictatorship.

Make no mistake – we’ve ignored this front in the culture war for too long as media platforms colonized young minds. Now we face a crisis where entire generations grow hostile toward core American values.

But just as Olivia broke the programming, so too can millions more with patience, empathy, and vision. This battle seems daunting. But for the future of freedom and human dignity, it’s one we must wage passionately yet compassionately.

The clock is ticking. Gen Z hangs in the balance between liberty and oppression. The time to act is now.

Brian Nichols is host of the Brian Nichols Show. You can follow Brian on X at @bnicholsliberty.

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