Ted Cruz has mostly avoided making strategic mistakes in his rise as the GOP’s anti-establishment-establishment candidate, but according to his former national Teens for Ted Chairman, he hasn’t done enough to earn the support of young people either.
As recently as September, the Cruz campaign named young black internet star CJ Pearson as chair his national Teens for Ted initiative — but that honeymoon is already over. Pearson has not only stepped down as Chairman, but has renounced conservatism saying that he was, “tired of being a champion of a party that turned a blind eye to racial discrimination…Tired of being a champion of any cause that denies equal rights to every American.” Ouch.
What prompted his change of heart? Well, certainly the pressure pot of heated rhetoric from the right has boiled over. What started with anti-immigrant rants about non-citizens has spread to Muslim Americans and anyone calling for criminal justice reform through the prism of Black Lives Matter. Pearson seemed to have become aware of his tokenism and gave credit to conversations with close friends for his about-face. It was after all, his viral video attacking President Obama that endeared him to Cruz and conservatives in the first place.
“I don’t want to be the conservative wonder kid that people follow because I make them feel good and like young people are part of their movement. I want to be followed because I’m the voice of a generation that doesn’t have a voice at the table,” Pearson said via email.
He also said Cruz, “wasn’t doing enough to address the issues important to young people like student loan debt and youth unemployment.” On top of that, CNN reported that Pearson said, “the video of Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a police officer in Chicago helped open his eyes to the systemic problems of racial discrimination in America and the need to look at the issues objectively.”
It would be impossible for a young thoughtful person to not be affected by the lack of empathy and downright meanness coming from some corners of the conservative movement with regards to similar incidents around the country. Not to mention the support-by-silence those running for President have offered such reactions, with the exception of Donald Trump who has gone as far as encouraging violence.
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