For many millennials, this election season was a political awakening, and offered the prime opportunity to discover their voices.
I think it’s even fair to say that most people did know what they truly believed in — or their friends, for that matter — until this election kicked into high gear.
And that’s not a bad thing. It’s good to have beliefs and principles, as long as you don’t let it totally consume you in a fanatical way.
Most people learned exactly what their friends do think, as their Facebook pages become inundated with post after post about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, or any number of issues that came up in the exhausting 18-month campaign season.
I bet everyone reading this even blocked a “friend” or two whose opinion they simply couldn’t take anymore.
One millennial who found her voice in a big way is Tomi Lahren, who, in 2016, became something of a cult hero, particularly among young, conservative thinkers.
The fledgling political commentator, who hosts her own online show on the conservative website The Blaze, founded by Glenn Beck, became famous for her quick-talking, unapologetic rants about liberals.
What goes without saying is that she is a very pretty girl. It’s wrong and untrue to say that she became popular because of her looks, but it is no doubt part of her appeal. But what caused people to stick around and keep listening was the things that she said.
For liberals, who mostly avoid conservative websites like the plague, Tomi Lahren didn’t enter their consciousness until she was interviewed by Trevor Noah on the Daily Show last winter. I highlighted it when it happened because, although I almost fully disagreed with Lahren on everything she said, it was a positive example of how two people with very differing worldviews can sit down and have a conversation, and not yell and scream at one another.
But it was her latter appearance that got her in trouble among conservatives.
While pedaling her typical right-wing viewpoints, she blurted that she is pro-choice, going as far as saying the federal government can “stay out of my body.”
Even the hosts on the show were surprised, given that being pro-life is one of the hallmarks of the conservative doctrine.
Shortly after the appearance, and after significant conservative backlash, Lahren was suspended for one week by Glenn Beck, who accused her of being “intellectually dishonest” to her supporters, given that she’s expressed anti-abortion sentiment in the past. There’s speculation that her show may be canceled permanently.
Lahren subsequently defended herself on Twitter, calling herself an “independent thinker.”
Liberals, meanwhile, hailed the decision, having been long fed up with Lahren’s schtick.
But as much as I personally abhorred the drivel that frequently comes out of Lahren’s mouth, I find it very hypocritical for her detractors to celebrate this turn of events, especially considering she was punished for expressing a belief that the overwhelming majority on the left agree with.
To me, the story is this: Lahren, who is 24 and has more than 4 million followers on Facebook, became too popular too soon, and as a result, found herself in way over her head. Quite simply, she has not lived long enough to form fully composed, well-rounded ideologies. She’s getting there, as we all are, but she was given a platform before she could reach that point.
And as someone who is expected to give her opinion loudly and brashly, it was only a matter of time before she went ahead and contradicted herself.
So I have sympathy for Lahren. I really do.
When I was 24, I was still deciding whether I preferred Bud Light or Miller Lite, let alone liberal or conservative. And she’s doing it to an audience of millions.
At the end of the day, we’re all hypocritical. We all contradict ourselves. I’m sure you can find dozens of instances on this blog where I’ve said one thing and later said the opposite.
I applaud Lahren for taking a stance that she knew would be unpopular with her base, but I also hope that she learns a valuable lesson from this.
Her supporters and her critics, meanwhile, can learn something, too. We live in a country now where if you don’t subscribe to every single issue a certain way, then you are not considered a true conservative or liberal.
This is the fundamental problem underlying the divide that we find ourselves in right now as a nation.
Not only do pundits dictate how we should think, but we’re discouraged from thinking differently.
I say we organize an event where we gather Republicans and Democrats for a giant think tank session while blasting “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran the whole time.
It’s just a really good song.