Two weeks ago, I said on CNN that I was not only leaving the Republican Party but the conservative movement altogether. My reason: For far too long, conservatives had turned a blind eye to racial discrimination in this country and ignored the struggle that young people are facing growing up here in America.
My ascension in conservative politics was almost meteoric. I made a name for myself bashing President Obama, vilifying liberals, and raging against the Black Lives Matter movement.
While I articulated my words with conviction, I spoke them with a limited and clouded worldview. I’m honest enough to admit that. As I matured, met new people, and embraced new ideas, my worldview expanded. My political views evolved.
Eventually, I started asking myself, how could I support a movement that refused to support me on the issues that matter to a young kid like me? In addition to ditching the conservative label, I also chose not to identify as a liberal. I was done with labels. I wasn't interested in contributing to the political divisiveness that has hijacked the political discourse in this country.
I didn't want to be a “conservative” or “liberal.” I didn't want to allow myself to be pushed into some box and placed into the same predicament that I was before.
All I wanted to be was myself.
When I first set out to write this piece, I intended to make this a feel good story about a young kid who simply changed his opinions. Because honestly, that's all that happened. But, then as I surfed through Twitter, I was flabbergasted by the anger, vitriol, and hate that had been thrown my way.
The same people who a month ago were calling me “wise beyond my years” were now calling me clueless. The same people who anxiously looked forward to my opinion on political issues deemed me irrelevant.
Conservatives had turned against me for no reason other than simply growing up. In their minds, I was “showing my age.” In my mind, I was finally maturing. And for a kid constantly entrenched in the never-ending cycle of middle school drama, I've been waiting for that moment for quite a bit. My parents too. Trust me on that.
I'm 13 years old, so my opinions will change. My viewpoints will shift and my worldview will ultimately expand. This is a crucial part of life.
That's why I refuse to let anyone, let it be the media or politicians, brand me as one extreme or the other. My thoughts are growing and I want to give them the space they need.
Some conservative pundits like Erick Erickson call this attention-seeking. I call it being 13. Because if I wanted attention, I could have done a host of things. For example, shooting holes in newspaper editorials and rallying against Muslim immigration seems to be a HUGE hit among the GOP base.
However, I'm not interested in pandering; I'm interested in leading.
Both parties have screwed us over. Systemic racism still exists, young people are struggling to find work, black fathers are rotting away in prison due to outdated, senseless policies, and people who work 40 hours a week are still struggling to put food on the table and clothes on their childrens’ backs.
Americans have every right to be angry. Every right to be frustrated. Every right to be pissed off.
I left the Republican Party, I left the conservative movement, in favor of a revolution. A political revolution in which Americans rise up together, caring less about the party line and more about quality solutions.
That’s exactly why, on December 9, I endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States. Like me, Senator Sanders is fed up with the status quo and politicians who talk a good game but fail to achieve anything. The political establishment has screwed America over and political dynasties have torn America apart.
Americans are struggling and they’re not interested in empty rhetoric or petty partisanship. They’re interested in results.
Labels divide us. However, our struggles unite us.
Let us learn together. Let us grow together. Let's win together.
My generation is watching. Set the example. Set the standard. And I promise, we'll take note.
In closing, President Obama put it best:
“There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America…There’s not a black America and white America…there’s the United States of America.”