When I saw 13-year-old Jonathan Krohn’s 2009 CPAC speech shortly after Barrack Obama was sworn in, like everyone else, I was struck by the lad’s eloquence.
Most 13-year-old boys would stand up before a crowd of adults, hands in pockets, and self consciously shuffle and mumble. This home schooled Christian kid from Duluth, Georgia was confident and forceful.
I disagreed with everything he said, of course. It sounded a lot like a mindless Limbaugh-Hannity-O’Reilly-Coulter mash-up - which he now admits it was - but Krohn’s performance was nonetheless impressive.
For awhile, Jonathan was the toast of the far right airwaves, cheered as the future of the conservative movement in America. His book, “Define Conservatism,” was a right wing must read.
Then the boy grew up.
“One of the first things that changed was that I stopped being a social conservative,” Krohn said in a recent interview. “It just didn’t seem right to me anymore. From there, it branched into other issues, everything from health care to economic issues...it’s just that I thought about it more. The issues are so complex, you can’t just go with some ideological mantra for each substantive issue.”
Well done young man. You began thinking for yourself. That’s the second step one must take if one hopes to kick conservative addiction. The first step is accepting you have a problem.
“An open mind and critical thought are like a metaphorical AA after a long bender on ideological wine,” Krohn acknowledges. “I’m proud to say that this program has gotten me three years sober.
Addicts often have enablers somewhere behind the scenes.
“I felt justified in my beliefs if for no other reason than no one actually told me I was wrong,” Krohn explained. “Instead, men like Bill Bennett and Newt Gingrich hailed me as the voice for my generation and a hope for America. “
Ah, Bill and Newt, the gambling addict and the serial philanderer; not exactly the best role models there, Jonathan.
As the recovering conservative dirty trickster David Brock says, you were blinded by the right. You were seduced into believing the world is simple; black or white, good or evil, with nothing in between, except that craps table or the comely blonde on your staff.
“The never-ending war between the left and the right seems to me like a couple of drunken college boys fighting over which one of their fraternities is cooler,” Krohn wrote.
As Jonathan now knows, our progressive fraternity is most definitely a lot cooler. George Clooney and Stevie Wonder are members. Over at the conservative frat house you’ll find Jon Voight and Lee Greenwood.
“I was tired of the right using me as an example of how young people ‘get’ what they’re talking about when it’s obvious that I didn’t get what I talking about at all. I mean, come on, I was between 13 and 14 when I was regurgitating these talking points!”
Meantime, Krohn’s recovery has not been welcomed by his old fraternity brothers. They take a very dim view of someone who kicks the habit.
“I have been treated by the political right with all the maturity of schoolyard bullies. The Daily Caller...wrote three articles about my shift, topping it off with an opinion piece in which they stated that I ... wear “thick-rimmed glasses” ... Why don’t they just call me ‘four-eyes’? These are not adults leveling serious criticism; these are scorned right-wingers showing all the maturity of a little boy. No wonder I fit in so well when I was 13.”