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Teenager Who Once Wowed Conservatives with CPAC Speech Admits: No Longer Conservative


“Come on, I was thirteen. I was thirteen.”

Remember Jonathan Krohn?

He's the 13-year-old kid who wowed conservatives at the 2009 Conservative Policial Action Conference in 2009. He wrote a book called "Defining Conservatism" and his speech went viral:

Well, now 17, Krohn is admitting to Politico he's become a liberal and dismissing his former views as childish parroting of views he grew up hearing.

"He likes gay marriage and Obamacare. He's going to New York University in the fall," The Atlantic reports. "He name drops German philosophers."

And sure enough.

“I think it was naive,” Krohn told Politico of the speech. “It’s a 13-year-old kid saying stuff that he had heard for a long time.… I live in Georgia. We’re inundated with conservative talk in Georgia.… The speech was something that a 13-year-old does. You haven’t formed all your opinions. You’re really defeating yourself if you think you have all of your ideas in your head when you were 12 or 13. It’s impossible. You haven’t done enough.”

Krohn tries to say in the interview that he's not really liberal, but rather just not conservative. But even Politico isn't buying it:

Krohn won’t go so far as to say he’s liberal, in part because his move away from conservatism was a move away from ideological boxes in general.

“I want to be Jonathan Krohn,” he said, “and I’m tired of being an ideology, and it’s not fun and it gets boring and it’s not who we are as individuals.”

But a quick rundown of his current political stances suggests a serious pendulum swing away from the right.

Gay marriage? In favor. Obamacare? “It’s a good idea.” Who would he vote for (if he could) in November? “Probably Barack Obama.” His favorite TV shows? “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” His favorite magazine? The New Yorker. And, perhaps telling of all, Krohn is enrolling this fall at a college not exactly known for its conservatism: New York University.

He explains the shift:

“One of the first things that changed was that I stopped being a social conservative,” said Krohn. “It just didn’t seem right to me anymore. From there, it branched into other issues, everything from health care to economic issues.… I think I’ve changed a lot, and it’s not because I’ve become a liberal from being a conservative — 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.”

Krohn is bucking the received wisdom that people become more conservative as they get older, a shift he attributes partly to philosophy.

“I started reflecting on a lot of what I wrote, just thinking about what I had said and what I had done and started reading a lot of other stuff, and not just political stuff,” Krohn said. “I started getting into philosophy — Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Kant and lots of other German philosophers. And then into present philosophers — Saul Kripke, David Chalmers. It was really reading philosophy that didn’t have anything to do with politics that gave me a breather and made me realize that a lot of what I said was ideological blather that really wasn’t meaningful. It wasn’t me thinking. It was just me saying things I had heard so long from people I thought were interesting and just came to believe for some reason, without really understanding it. I understood it enough to talk about it but not really enough to have a conversation about it.”

He goes on to attribute his conversion to "maturity overall": "People don’t realize I was 14 when I wrote that book. I’m 17 now. In terms of my life, three years is a long time in a 17-year-old’s life.”

“Come on, I was thirteen,” he concluded. “I was thirteen.

You can read the full interview here.

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