Why the GOP cannot sweep its Milo scandal under the rug
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Milo Yiannopoulos is the enemy du jour of the establishment media.

The British, gay provocateur and former Breitbart editor is everything that traditionalists hate: bold, politically incorrect, unapologetic, and often offensive. He uses his unconventional style to spread conservatism, offend “snowflakes” and promote free speech. Milo is so controversial, many mainstream conservatives have completely written him off, for fear of tarnishing the GOP brand.

While it may be tempting to disassociate with Milo, the Republican Party must listen up and learn a few lessons from the controversial Brit — especially if it wants to expand its base among young voters, who now make up the nation’s largest voting bloc.

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Last month, Milo’s career peaked after student riots at the University of California, Berkeley where he was slated to speak. The university was forced to cancel the event due to violence, leading President Trump to tweet that the college "does not allow free speech," sparking a debate over revoking federal funds.

 

In the wake of the Berkeley incident, Milo reached a wider audience with appearances on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a damning 2015 videotape of Milo surfaced. 

In the tape, he joked about — and appeared to excuse — sex crimes against minors. Out of context but still offensive, the comments set off a firestorm.

Simon & Schuster canceled its six-figure book deal with Milo, and the American Conservative Union disinvited him as the keynote speaker for CPAC. Within 24 hours, he also resigned from the site that launched his career: Breitbart.

All in one fell swoop, the agitator appeared felled.

Most mainstream figures in the GOP — who, after the Berkeley incident, were finally starting to recognize Milo as a face of conservatism — have now fully abandoned and disavowed the provocateur.  

But Milo has one important thing that none of those in the mainstream GOP slamming him have: millions and millions of passionate millennial fans.

These are the same critical voters Republicans have failed to attract in nearly every election — state and federal. Milo attracts the attention of young people because he is communicating conservative ideas differently. He craftily walked the line between provocateur and activist, shock jock and oracle.

For many young people, Milo, put simply, made conservatism “cool.” Not every single argument stuck or method worked, but he pushed the bounds of the traditional view of the GOP as being made up of old white men. Milo is a young, outspoken gay man who cut out the media middleman. One-part carnival barker, one-part right-wing Michael Moore and one part God-knows-what, he’s a unique Greek-British hybrid ready to take on feminism, socialism and the GOP establishment. And millennials have eagerly tuned in. 

“Dangerous,” the title of Milo’s canceled book, doesn’t even begin to cover it. Few figures in the media changed the game so much in such a short period. Milo saw the obvious intersectionality — sorry, feminists, for appropriating the term — of social issues and politics. Not the stodgy debates over Roe v. Wadeor gay marriage, but things like GamerGate and Title IX abuse. Many apolitical and left-leaning young people began to connect the dots between social justice warriors and a full frontal assault on their sensibilities.

Flash back to any of the major political campaigns before last year; in each, from John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate Armed Services chair not convinced of need for Trump's Space Force Jenny McCarthy: ‘The View’ producers asked me to ‘act Republican’ Flake warns in farewell speech: US political climate 'is not healthy' MORE in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012, the Republicans were largely viewed as stuffy, spineless cowards. They didn’t fight back. In August, The Atlantic asked voters why they backed Donald Trump. The answer was consistent: He fought back against the status quo. 

Young voters are no different: they want a rebel. Just look at the incredible youth support behind former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersJoaquin Castro says brother Julián is running for president in 2020 Sanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids Senate votes to end US support for Saudi war, bucking Trump MORE. And while Milo’s points of view spanned the ideological map, his abilities were never in doubt. The Leslie Jones example was a great one: Yes, it got @Nero booted from Twitter, but the box office results for the Ghostbusters remake do not lie.

The year of Trump arguably would not be so without Milo. His deft use of social media, especially Twitter, was second to none until his ban. Milo’s press conferences brought back shades of Andrew Breitbart himself — his edgy, sardonic side was a shot in the arm of a race once considered Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber Comey’s remarks about Trump dossier are not credible, says former FBI official MORE's.

The GOP establishment would ignore that at its peril.

Milo probably won’t be a senator one day. He will probably not run Fox News or CNN. I doubt he’ll be a regular on “The McLaughlin Group.” However, he will be a trailblazer for a new brand of conservatism: modern, blunt and always ready to fight back.

I’m sure there will be a name for it then, but we can probably coin it today as The Milo Effect.

 

Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It." She was recently named one of NewsMax's "30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30."


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