Live from Music Row, Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the new ambassador for Turning Point USA, Nashville singer-songwriter Alexis Wilkins in studio to talk about making conservatism cool.
Leahy: In studio with us, Alexis Wilkins, a rising young star in country music, and also a conservative. Wow! What a combo. You can see her on the web at Alexiswilkins.com. Let’s talk politics here.
Wilkins: Let’s do it.
Leahy: A little birdie told me that you’ve now been named him an ambassador for Turning Point USA.
Leahy: So now Turning Point USA has galvanized young conservatives around the country. Charlie Kirk runs it. They’ve been at it for 10 years. Charlie’s an interesting fellow. I think he started this when he was 19 years old or 18. Something like that. He’s 29 now.
Leahy: He got the late Bill Montgomery who’s not with us anymore, but I think back when Charlie first started he was his first donor. I think he got a $3 million contribution from Bill. A lot of people get $3 million and it goes nowhere.
Wilkins: That’s true.
Leahy: Charlie has turned this into a huge enterprise.
Wilkins: Yes. It’s amazing.
Leahy: Frankly, the energy among sort of young conservatives is with Turning Point USA. When I went to the CPAC conference, the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. and I have to say we were all a little bit long in the tooth there. (Chuckles)
Leahy: There were not a lot of younger people there. It was fine, but the attendance was maybe two-thirds, three-fourths of what it normally is and it was an older crowd.
Leahy: Let’s just say, there were a lot of people there older than me. (Laughs) So it was an older crowd. But tell us how you got involved in Turning Point USA. And now you’ve just been named a Turning Point USA Ambassador, right?
Wilkins: Yes. So it’s interesting because I was in college during the 2016 election and everything leading up to it. As I said, I was in business and political science and so for me, I originally looked at Turning Point as my resource for patriotic values in college and kind of made it through that.
And so watching Turning Point from its earlier years and its inception to where it is now, and now being involved on a more ambassador level. I’m really excited to promote those values and speak on their talking points and just be a part of it.
Leahy: As an ambassador, like they’ll say, hey, here are these events we’d like you to go to, right? Yeah. And then you go to there’s one in Texas coming up that they’ve asked you to go to. And so you go to these events. Do you speak only? Do you play your music? What do you do?
Wilkins: I think we’re still working out the details. I’m happy to be a part of whatever capacity they need me to spread their message. And whether that’s music or speaking I’m happy to be here.
Leahy: In September in Phoenix, there was something called America Fest.
Wilkins: Yes, I went to America Fest.
Leahy: That was pretty rowdy from what I could tell. Lots of energy there.
Wilkins: Lots of energy.
Leahy: And now you performed there, didn’t you?
Wilkins: I went as a guest and as an influencer guest and did media and got to experience it.
Leahy: But you didn’t perform at that event?
Wilkins: I did not sing.
Leahy: They do have entertainment at these various venues. Charlie, listen to me, Charlie, Kirk. She’s gotta perform next time. Next America Fest, get Alexis Wilkins as your headliner.
Wilkins: There you go. Thank you.
Leahy: Let’s talk a little bit about your generation and the challenges your generation has. When I grew up many years ago, let’s say America in the sixties and the seventies.
There was a lot of left versus right stuff going on about the war, but there were a lot of people who were politically engaged but were conservative. In my generation, let’s say the ratio would be two liberals for every conservative. In your generation, what is it like five liberals for every one conservative, or even worse?
Wilkins: Oh, I don’t even wanna know what the ratio is. (Chuckles)
Leahy: Now look, I’ll say this for young, particularly at Turning Point USA. And when I say young people aged 16-30. That’s the Turning Point wheelhouse. It’s not actually the same.
If it was two to one liberal to conservative when I was growing up, it’s not even liberal anymore. My guess would be four left-wing lunatics and two liberals for every conservative in the 18-30 age bracket.
Wilkins: That would check out.
Leahy: That would check out. So how do you maintain conservative values when so many of your peers are at the opposite extreme and they’re not tolerant? How do you deal with that? It’s gotta be isolating to a degree.
Wilkins: You find people that resonate with your values and you stick with them. And, given, at college and the places that I’d say that age range hangs out you’re not gonna find a ton of them. But there is hope and there are people that you will find organizations like Turning Point, finding those spaces where we do exist. Which is hard to believe.
I know when you look at the landscape of college and young people now. But you find the things that align with your values and for me, I’ve never been bothered by people disagreeing with me or not liking me for the things that I believe because it’s logical. Pro-America and pro-patriotic values, it’s just not that difficult to really suss out. And if you know who you are.
Leahy: I see that. But the problem is that when we interact with the left-wing lunatic crowd, and there are far fewer in my generation, you just can’t have a conversation with them.
Leahy: I think that’s the problem that I find. Is it the same in your generation?
Wilkins: It is. And I think that it’s hard because we come from such a systemic school system I talk a lot about the way that education is absolutely geared to indoctrinate kids.
Leahy: No kidding.
Wilkins: Yes. I don’t know that there’s a lot of negotiating with this age range. And I don’t say that as a hopeless statement. I say it as you have a huge group, I think larger than it looks a group of young conservatives or at least pro-America values.
Leahy: Larger than it looks. Is that because they’re being intimidated by their peers and social media and institutions?
Wilkins: I think so. I think that in the last couple of years, people coming into voting age and around that area, it’s not been made very cool in the media to be a conservative. And I think we’re coming into a time where between Turning Point and people coming forward and saying, hey, these are the things that I believe you can still do your job.
You can still have a job in the media. You can still go to college and believe these things. I think as you have people come forward with their views, it can be made cool. It sounds silly, but I think making conservatism cool can connect with everybody.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Alexis Wilkins” by Alexis Wilkins.