2018 Man of the Year: Charlie Kirk

Charlie Kirk

Donald Trump's takeover of the Republican Party precipitated the demise of many prominent members of the so-called "conservative" establishment. As the Old Guard's influence over the American Right melts away, a New Wave of conservative intelligentsia is rising from the ashes, injecting youthful exuberance and Trumpian swagger into a movement long in need of reform.

Few, if any, have risen faster, or staked a greater claim to the vanguard of this political zeitgeist than Charlie Kirk.

The 25-year-old activist and founder of Turning Point USA, the fastest-growing conservative student organization in the country, is a ubiquitous presence on Fox News, armed with facts, and pulling no punches as he meticulously dismantles the absurd talking points and quasi-religious tenets of the Modern Left.

Kirk, who lent his social media talents to the Trump campaign in 2016, is the bane of liberal students and campus administrators everywhere, whose fanatical efforts to silence and disrupt his speeches on "Smashing Socialism" merely validate the arguments laid out in Campus Battlefield, his bestselling call to intellectual arms.

The president has lauded Kirk as "a great warrior" in the fight against the left's stranglehold on campus politics. Donald Trump Jr., a close friend and admirer, wrote the foreword to Kirk's book. Earlier this year, Kirk was invited to a "free thinkers" summit with hip-hop legend Kanye West, cementing his status as anti-establishment thought leader and cultural force to be reckoned with.

In marked contrast to the effete, wrinkled pundits of the Old Right, Kirk infuses his conservatism with a distinctly millennial panache, deploying edgy memes and viral video clips in the war for America's youth. Kirk's clean-cut, button-down look may evoke the phrase "old-school Republican," but his attitude is anything but. Like Trump, he fights, and never shrinks from a challenge. He has stared down Antifa thugs in the street. He speaks with authority on the dangers of campus radicalism because he has manned the trenches on the front lines. He "owns the libs," and laps up their tears.

There are moments throughout history, often difficult to recognize when we are in their midst, when history itself is in the making. Watching a young Michael Jordan take the court in Chapel Hill. Hearing a young Bob Dylan play sets at a beatnik coffee house in Greenwich Village. Seeing an amateur boxer by the name of Cassius Clay make mince meat of the Kentucky boxing scene. Those moments when great men reveal themselves as such, and dare us to shrug them off, or underestimate the heights to which their considerable talents will one day beckon them to reach.

Now is one of those times. Charlie Kirk is one of those men. Godspeed, young warrior. May the truth be ever on your side.