TPUSA: Wannabe “Hipster” Conservatives

“Socialism? More like, socialosers! Ha, yeah, goooo capitalism!”

If you’re a college student, happen to watch Fox News, or for some reason, still decide to check your Facebook and look at what your aunts and grandparents have been sharing (more on that later); You have probably heard of the non-profit Turning Point.

The organization was founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk to promote “the benefits of limited government, capitalism, and freedom.”

Kirk made a name for himself as a high school senior when he wrote a piece for Breitbart called “Liberal Bias Starts in High School Economics Textbooks.” The fame landed him a speaking engagement at Benedictine University event where he met tea party candidate, Bill Montgomery.

The unsuccessful legislative candidate encouraged Kirk to pass on his offer to attend Baylor University and instead enroll into a community college and focus on politics first (awful advice if you ask me).

The “student movement” meant to counteract liberal bias on universities –run by someone who never attended one– immediately received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from Foster Friess, the billionaire investor who bankrolled Rick Santorum’s failed 2012 primary campaign. By 2014, the organization was pulling in revenues of $2 million, and by 2016 that figure had more than doubled.

You’re not Funny

Turning Point is well known for their push on social media. You will typically see some of their “original” memes like a picture of some liberal politician followed by a sarcastic response from a meme that is old as the internet itself

Case in point:


For a company run by college students “just like you,” they’re surely lagging behind in the meme game as even the marketing department for Arby’s is much more up to speed.

While Kirk has become successful by making numerous appearances on conservative media outlets and even meeting President Trump, the same success can’t be said for his non-profit. For a company that’s racking up millions of dollars in funding, it puts their presence as relatively ineffective.

Their Instagram account has less than 25 thousand followers. Compare that to this random account I just found called @conservaitve_muricans who has over 35 thousand without big budget spending.

Their twitter also looks pessimistic when put to perspective. With over 88 thousand followers, that’s still nothing when compared to conservative news site, The Blaze which has about 671 thousand.

Their only sign of success is on their Facebook page where they have over 700 thousand likes. But a quick glance at their followers will show that most of them were in college before you were even born.

Worst of all however, is their YouTube page. They only have over 2.5 thousand subscribers and their videos barely reach a thousand views most of the time.

The content on there is just as baseless as you would expect. One video shows a TPUSA interviewer exposing a liberal for hypocritically eating “capitalist pizza” with a side of “capitalist fries.” Checkmate socialists, now can I offer you some “capitalist Coca-Cola?”

Cheerleading over Intellectualism

What do you expect from a club that praises free markets to a point that they almost consider it a god?

Would you believe that they love talk about social entrepreneurship to alleviate poverty? How about discussions on the future of bitcoin and how it can help with decreasing exchange fees for remittances to third world countries? Or do you imagine them inviting world renown economists to talk about potentially stimulating fiscal and monetary policy?

Well at TPUSA, expect to see a bunch of upper class suburban white folk holding up signs like “I ❤️ Capitalism” or “Socialism Sucks!”


YEAH! Capitalism is so rad guys. I love capitalism, it gave me an iPhone. Socialism is for losers… Why is no-one signing up?

It is no exaggeration that they are brand over brain. These people wave around a bunch of aesthetically looking signs singing and praising their capitalist corporate masters of how thankful they are for the material products they’ve endowed on them.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t believe or am not appreciative of the innovative technologies and luxury brought to us by entrepreneurs and competitive markets. But it’s another thing to go around and blindly praise with a bunch of idiotic signs. With the amount they hold around, they’re beginning to look like the Westboro Baptist Church.

The fact of the matter is, college students aren’t dumb (there’s a reason why they’re in college in the first place) and won’t just be easily swayed because of how swag you try to make yourself look.

There’s not that many African Americans that’ll be easily convinced about the importance of limited government because of your lame hashtag. He’ll probably be more interested in what you have to say about the war on drugs, stop and frisk, mass incarceration, and  the criminal justice system in general.

It’s why you don’t see that many minorities in this organization in the first place. They have awful outreach. The people in there have never had to worry about making ends meet, so what do they have to say to someone who has had to be dependent on public assistance.

“It’s wasteful. The market will handle it.”

Even someone as pro-market as myself would find that extremely unconvincing.

And if you’re still not convinced that they behave in this childlike manner; The UC San Diego chapter brought a “free speech ball” where anyone could write whatever they wanted on it with a marker.

Whether how they described it is real or not, or whether the culprits meant it, the balloon was popped by some “vandalizers” after writing “Karl Marx” on it. The official TPUSA News site headlined it as “FREE SPEECH BALL DESTROYED BY A COMMUNIST STUDENT AT UC SAN DIEGO.”

At Kent State, some members were wearing diapers as an effort to promote free speech… I’ll let you judge how effective you think this must have been.

21st Century McCarthyism

Turning Point is reviving the spirit of the Red Scare with a website called “Professor Watchlist” that is supposed to expose “professors with radical agendas.”

It’s a basically a modern day hollywood blacklist but for professors.

Not that the website doesn’t have some professors with very radical views but going through it makes you question its accuracy. Take for example Professor Dreir who was slandered by the site:

Much of the information about me on the Watchlist is simply untrue. The entry about me links to a right-wing website called Discover the Networks that repeats lies about me that have been published in several books and websites by right-wing propagandists and apparent lunatics. For example, it claims, incorrectly, that I once worked for the Industrial Areas Foundation, the community organizing network founded by Saul Alinsky. And it repeats a story, published in several other places, that as a young student at Columbia University, Barack Obama heard me speak on a panel at a Socialist Scholars Conference in New York. Also wrong. Some right-wing books, articles and websites take this fabricated story even further, and claim that it was this event that inspired Obama to become a community organizer. This is all complete fantasy.

Even Bill O’Reilly had his doubts of the accurate reporting and credibility of some of the sources when interviewing Kirk. (E.g., Breitbart, Daily Wire, etc.)


Moral of this story is that Kirk’s organization is dumb, conservatism isn’t “cool” because you post some outdated memes, and if markets and small government is what you care about, try out the following instead:

  • Local/Municipial politics
  • Volunteering (civil society matters too!)
  • Join an entrepreneurial or product innovation club
  • Intern at a think tank

7 thoughts on “TPUSA: Wannabe “Hipster” Conservatives

  1. The legal question isn’t whether or not the image is owned by someone else and through modification you disengage any copyright, it is whether or not you can use someone’s likeness for commercial purposes without their consent and in a manner that is clearly defamatory. I think the case law is fairly clear on this point for non public figures. While you certainly do not need my advice, it might behoove you to consult with an attorney and make sure you at least establish yourself as an LLC lest any negative repercussions from this or other future defamatory acts inure against you personally. The problem largely goes away if you remove the image of the students but then it might lose a lot of it’s snarky allure to you as creator. Such is life in the real world of big time investigative journalism. Thank goodness the students live under the protective embrace of the court system. Best of luck in your future endeavors and keep looking for the positive in people and situations, especially when you know you are right. It will take you far. All the best.


  2. Thank you for your post. The photo that you showed of “Moronic College Students” included my daughter. It’s too bad that you chose to call her names rather than speaking with her. You might have learned something. As you purportedly value civil society my suggestion might be to try and practice civility. Ultimately we are all on a journey of learning. Thank you for your consideration. Best Regards.


    1. The only person named dropped was Charlie Kirk. All other things criticized how the organization chooses to market itself. Frankly there’s nothing uncivil as I warranted every criticism with actual things TPUSA has done to deserve it.


      1. Thank you and please excuse my ignorance. I was simply looking at the photo at the top of the post labeling “Wannabe Hipster Conservatives” and “Moronic College Students”. I have no issue with your dislike of the organization, but rather with your decision to publish a defamatory image of my child. As you may or may not know, the decision to join a campus organization does not mean that she or any of her associates meet the defined criteria of a public figure. Therefore your decision to publish a defamatory image of them is something for which you may need their permission for publication. I trust you have received the necessary releases from all of those included in the image? As you rightly pointed out in your article, the free market does not trump all (pardon the pun) and in this case that is certainly the truth. At the risk of mixing metaphors, he who lives by the Sword of Damocles….

        All the best.


      2. I would never directly attack an individual, much less your daughter, to defame their image. The photo is meant to illustrate how they (the organization) chooses to perceive themselves since all the marketing is very top-down. There’s nothing much I can do to turn away from the individuals present in the photo. I mean no ill-will to those in the club who are actually passionate for the cause, I only want to show them a better way. In regards to the legal use of the images, they fall under fair use since a) the resolution has been reduced b) the featured image is a thumbnail c) the second picture is placed in new context, and d) were posted on social media which are platforms open to public domain


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