In a Sea of Liberalism, These Students Challenge Groupthink
As they educate and enlighten their high school peers, conservative teens are showing others how it's done
Two 17-year-old high school students on the East Coast have been very busy these past several months. Between their classes at Gonzaga College High School, a Catholic preparatory school in Washington, D.C., and the varsity sports they participate in, juniors Andrew Skibbie and Trevor Louis are growing a fledgling website that is offering sharp, thoughtful commentary for their high school-aged peers.
The Daily Whig provides an introduction to conservatism for young people who are hungry for the knowledge and perspective amid an increasingly progressive-drenched culture, particularly on much of the East Coast.
“We met in sophomore year and became friends in our choral arts class. We had some free time in that class, so we’d hang out and talk, and we realized we both agreed with each other pretty much 100 percent on politics,” Andrew Skibbie told LifeZette. “Then we started the Daily Whig and we’ve become even better friends. We work well together.”
The site, with its tagline of “Liberty is never more than a generation away from extinction,” also offers podcasts of “The Louis and Skibbie Show” and videos, too. “The site came first, and we built the idea out from there,” explained Skibbie. “Last winter and spring, we were writing with a bunch of our friends just for fun, and we would write one article a month for the site. Then last summer, the other kids stopped writing, and Trevor and I took it over. We’ve been working at it since then.”
The site offers thought-provoking articles such as, “Did the Vietnam War Change Us? Or Did Partisanship…” and “Good Trump: Yes on Neil Gorsuch and Originalism.”
Satire is offered, too — such as Louis’ post, “Barack Obama Starts a Cover Band.”
(An excerpt: “Spectators found the first-time front man’s performance ‘moving’ for reasons they couldn’t really explain. One said, ‘Well, it was a little pitchy, but I really really love him.'”)
So where did Skibbie, whose family lives in Bethesda, Maryland, get his interest in politics and conservatism?
“My dad is not super-conservative — he’s more of a moderate. My mom isn’t really into politics, although she’s definitely a Republican. I came to this interest myself,” he said. “I didn’t think much about it until my sophomore year, when I started reading a lot and watching a lot of YouTube videos. I also had an [advanced placement] Euro class, where we were getting into Marxism and a lot of European political ideologies.”
In terms of whose work Skibbie himself admires, he is candid: “My biggest influences: Ben Shapiro [the conservative political commentator]. I think he’s awesome. I also like philosopher John Locke, and I think I’d also choose Steven Crowder [another commentator] as an influence as well. Rush Limbaugh, too.”
Skibbie and Louis are the leaders of the Sons of Liberty club at Gonzaga College High, and regularly receive a lot of ideas for their media venture through the club’s discussions.
“The club is a guiding influence,” said Skibbie. “We have meetings once a week and we talk about issues. We get a feel for where a lot of young people are, and I hope we lead them to think more about objective facts, and the benefits of limited government, too. We are talking with future conservatives and future classical libertarians — young people who are mad at the Left and want to do something better.”
“The conservative social policies from the ’50s and ’60s are dying out. We are interested in, ‘Where will we be in 10 or 20 years?'”
A debate a month ago energized the two budding media entrepreneurs. “Our coolest moment with students was when we had a debate on the topics of gun control and health care,” said Skibbie. “It was really positive. We kind of swept the floor with the liberal club, and it was nice because the students had a great reaction — they were very energized and pumped up. They were also willing to hear both sides and be proactive in listening to the issues. We worked hard on our speeches and on getting our facts right for that debate.”
Classmates have enjoyed reading the website’s content, and the Gonzaga teachers have been generally supportive. “Teachers have said they’re proud of us,” explained Skibbie. “Some of our religion teachers are on the Left, so they don’t agree with us. [Many teachers] say it’s good to take a stand.”
Skibbie plays varsity lacrosse and water polo, and Louis, from Vienna, Virginia, plays varsity football and rugby. The boys have a very rigorous course load that includes honors classes.
“Time is not a friend to us,” said Skibbie of carving out opportunities to work on the Daily Whig. “It’s hard to write thoughtful articles, but we’re going to do that more.” He notes the site is open to guest writers, too. “We want to be the media platform for people our age for politics. We want to appeal to all political philosophies, and we want to make an affirmative argument that can really create something positive in the future.”
“We see the site as supporting individual liberty and limited government, while being more libertarian socially,” Skibbie added. “That’s what young people like — freedom. The conservative social policies from the ’50s and ’60s are dying out. We are interested in, ‘Where will we be in 10 or 20 years?'”
Skibbie is aware of the hysterical tone on many of today’s college campuses, including concerns over trigger warnings, micro-aggressions, and safe spaces. “In the 1960s, the new Left basically inculcated themselves onto campuses, and now they are the staff, pushing their agenda from the inside out.”
Do the two young conservatives see this at the high school level, too? “We have our own social justice warriors — for example, we are exposed to Bible quotes now, about taking in your neighbor in the wake of new immigration policies.”
That said, Skibbie stressed there is support for their viewpoint. “We’re a Jesuit school, and Jesuits are traditionally to the Left,” he said. Still, he said, “We can say what we want to say. And we do have a lot of conservative students at Gonzaga who feel as we do.”