The age old saying heeds us to keep our friends close, but our enemies closer.
Nathan Wirebaugh, Turning Point USA’s Toledo, Ohio Field Coordinator, has practiced this advice as he works on the campus of Oberlin College, one of the most progressive institutions of higher education in America.
Knowing the lay of the political land was a priority for Wirebaugh. From the inter-party politics of the College Republicans and Libertarians groups, to which Economics professors were vocally anti-capitalist, Nathan developed a keen understanding of the political environment before ever stepping foot on his battleground: the campus of Oberlin College.
Nathan only visited the campus twice in the past Spring Semester, but in that time, he took note of how students responded and interacted with him so that he could return in the Fall semester better prepared. Wirebaugh commented, “The students were extremely hostile. Most students at other schools will at least courteously decline to speak with me, but at Oberlin, I would just be shut down as soon as I said “capitalism” or “free markets.”
However, knowing this is how students are conditioned to respond has not discouraged Nathan. Rather, he has developed a game plan to communicate with students next semester.
Nathan believes this immediate and harsh response is partly due to the student’s isolation from an alternative voice to the liberal propaganda and rhetoric. How does he plan to engage students despite this communication barrier? Creating controversy.
“I want to start controversy. I want to create tension. I want to do so respectfully and with tact, but I want students to know, without a doubt, that there is another side of every argument. So many students never question the progressive rhetoric they are taught. I want to take their ingrained beliefs and challenge them, push them.”
Nathan has several ideas for how to use this model to engage students. He plans to draw from the resources and ideas already used by other Turning Point USA chapters, such as the “Capitalism Cures” booklet and the “USB Drive Saved More Trees than Green Peace” poster, while adding his own ideas.
Now, all Wirebaugh needs is a connection to the school. “I really need people to power up their networks. If I can find just one person at the school willing to help, our work can get started.”
If you or someone you know attends Oberlin and would like to help Nathan, please email him at Nathan@turningpointusa.net.