“She’s really TINY.”
That was, candidly, my initial reaction when I actually met Kayla Anderson face to face after following her on Twitter for a number of months. But don’t make the mistake of equating her diminutive, 95-lb. stature with a timid persona. Kayla amply and articulately holds her own on any conversational front.
I often tell fellow activists how proud I am of the budding crop of young conservatives coming up in our ranks. And when I say young, I don’t mean my fellow thirtysomethings. I’m talking kids like Brandon Kiser, Eric Morris, Cole Campbell, Molly Yates…and Kayla Anderson.
I remember when I was about Kayla’s age. I was pro-life and pro-traditional marriage…and seething with resentment over the fact that many people I knew had more than I did. More money, more cars, more houses (I didn’t have much, if any, from day to day, of all of the above back then)…I remember disclosing this one afternoon to a cute blonde classmate of mine, railing about how life wasn’t fair and derisively castigating people who “have money.” This girl was viewed by some of my peers in our cloistered sophomore circles as something of an airhead, but I learned a lesson that wintry day about the folly of dismissively caricaturing anyone.
She posed a simple question: Exactly how I did I assume those people garnered those dollars that now populated their bank accounts? I sputtered and fumed a little, but was soon honest enough to fall silent without further vituperation. What was there to say? I was indisputably checkmated by someone who was allegedly incapable of this level of analysis…and I’ve been profoundly grateful ever since.
I was what Erick Erickson of RedState would refer to, years later, as a “pro-life statist.” I was a good social conservative, but I completely lacked grounding in the fundamentals of free-market conservatism. I hadn’t yet learned to cherish what Congressman Paul Ryan calls an “opportunity society” where we are all free to prosper or fail on our own merits. (As an aside, I’m happy to tell you my classmate and I are still good friends today; you can look her up if you’re passing through Knoxville, Tennessee sometime.)
Kayla perfectly exemplifies the new conservative youth I’m meeting from across our nation who comprehensively grasp what she sums up in the first sentence of her Twitter bio: “I am not entitled to a darn thing.” I look at her and see what I wish I had been in my earlier days. For Kayla is a far more complete young conservative who not only values the sanctity of life and the right to worship freely, but understands that wealth isn’t generated through government largesse and redistribution of income.
It gives me great joy to call Kayla Anderson my friend. As a father of 3 daughters, I’m constantly watchful, especially for young women I can spotlight for my girls as inspirational examples of political and cultural achievement. I believe by the time my oldest daughter is the age Kayla is now, Kayla will have attained opportunities to put her values into visible practice; she is certainly well on the way.
Kayla is approaching 1,000 Twitter followers, but she deserves a lot more. Follow her now: @kaylaanderson!
10 Questions for Kayla Anderson
1. Kayla, I would ask you to tell us what about your growing up years, but I’m not sure they’re over yet! (Sorry…I had to go there…) Have you lived in Florida your whole life?
I have lived in Florida my whole life. I was born in Fort Myers, and I lived there until college when I moved to Tallahassee (where I’ve been since the summer of ’07.) I have a very tight-knit family, which consists of my parents, my maternal grandmother, her sister and their mother. We are all very close and very supportive of each other. I’m an only child, and while I am spoiled by each of the aforementioned individuals, I was also raised, very strictly, to take responsibility for my actions and to humbly appreciate everything I’m blessed with. I went to a private Christian school from age 2 until 8th grade, and then went to public high school.
2. You have recently enrolled in a Master’s program that is political in nature. Tell us more about this and how you hope to, eventually, be able to leverage it.
“The Master’s Degree in Applied American Politics and Policy (MAAPP) prepares students for careers that relate to politics and public policy. The program includes academic and professional coursework and active participation in activities relating to the central purpose of the program.” Also: “This Master’s program is designed for students interested in training for careers in political and governmental organizations that relate to public policy and active politics; such fields as lobbying, campaign management, grassroots organization, and the like.” I totally just borrowed both of those quotes from the Florida State University website, because I can’t really describe it any better. I can say that it is not a traditional graduate program in that I am not required to submit a thesis and write a huge novel length paper to support it. It’s application based, so I will be doing hands-on work, rather than sitting-at-a-desk-chewing-my-pencil work.
3. What is it like to be a young conservative woman in the 21st century?
I didn’t know I was a conservative until I was in college. Fun fact: I registered as a Democrat at 18 because I prescribed myself to the “you’re full of hate and you love war and hate the environment if you’re not a Democrat” ideology. If I am remembering correctly, it wasn’t until the fall semester my freshman year (’07), and I kind of stumbled into conservatism by accident. I originally entered college as a Studio Art major (I draw, which is a surprise to most, and I completed a pretty intense photography program in high school while in the International Baccalaureate Program) and it just wasn’t working for me. I had no idea what I wanted to study, but I knew I didn’t want to take any foreign language classes after having taken rigorous Spanish classes all through high school. (Yes, I was being lazy. Yes, I regret it.) Political Science was the program I came upon that had zero foreign language requirements. I didn’t much care about the rest. I just knew this: no tenía que hablar español. 2008 rolled around, and all the Obama Zombies were out in full force. I was tired of this one kid yelling “VOTE OBAMA!” in my face every day as I walked through the student union, and never telling me what this Obama guy was for. I did some research. I didn’t like it. I promptly re-registered to vote in Tallahassee as a Republican, and on the first day of early voting, I drove almost to the Georgia-Florida line to vote at a library, and I cast my vote for McCain/Palin.
What struck me the most was the way that the new administration, if Obama were elected, would turn us into an even more dependent, even weaker and more irresponsible people than we already were. Many of my friends were die-hard liberals, and they told me I was nuts. I wish I could tell you how many of them regret their votes for Obama, and tell me I was right. It doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines; Obama pretty much told us what he was going to attempt to achieve with Pelosi’s and Reid’s help.
4. Favorites question: Books, movies, musical artist, TV shows, foods, some other miscellaneous items you want to add).
Some of my favorite books are 1984, The Sun Also Rises, and Harry Potter. My favorite movies are pretty much anything with the Brat Pack in it, “Liar Liar”, “Footloose”, and I know every word to both “The Notebook” and “Donnie Darko”. I’m in love with the shows “LOST” and “How I Met Your Mother”. I try to incorporate Barney’s “challenge accepted” into any conversation that I can! I love the bands Third Eye Blind and The Shins, but I don’t listen to them as often as I used to. I grew up on country music, and that’s mostly what I listen to now if I’m not listening to conservative talk radio. I love, love, LOVE Indian food, beignets, and cheeseburger macaroni Hamburger Helper. I despise Chipotle: my allegiance will always and forever lie with Taco Bell.
5. We all have turning points in our lives, i.e., forks in the road, that commence fairly early on. Can you name 3 people or events that have influenced you, and as you look back, you credit them with the place where you are in life today? A. My mother. My mom didn’t come from much, but that didn’t matter. She taught me right from wrong, to take responsibility for my actions (good or bad), to strive hard for what I want, and she never let me be a quitter. As a child, I would try every excuse in the book to quit whatever program I was in at the time, be it art lessons, basketball, soccer, tennis—whatever—and unless I was legitimately not feeling well that day, I had to go. She also didn’t tolerate excuses or whining, which is where I get my “buck up or shut up” attitude. My leash was appropriate for the different stages in life, though it always seemed significantly shorter than all my friends’, and now I thank her for that, because I see what the rest of those kids have dealt with/gotten into, and I have none of their baggage.
B. My dad. My dad came from a family of 6, with 6 more stepsiblings. His family was by no means rich, and anything he and his siblings had, they earned money and bought for themselves. My dad was a police officer for 25 years after serving in the Army, and he worked his way up from the streets in the dead of the night on the same beats, to being Major of the police department. When I was younger, however, he and my mom sacrificed a lot for me. My dad worked extra shifts so I could have basketball shoes to play on the team in middle school. He didn’t have to do that. He could have just told me I was too short and didn’t need to play basketball. Instead, he told me every day how much he loved me and that I could do anything I set my heart to. His parents never told him they loved him, and never told him he was capable of doing whatever he wanted, or that he was worthy.
C. My uncle. My mom’s brother went from being the kid in high school whom none of the parents and teachers thought would even graduate, to a professor of marketing at UVA who travels all around the world. I’m obviously not taking the same exact path that he did, but it’s awe-inspiring to me that he went from the view that many held of him to someone who instructs some of the smartest and brightest of America’s next generations.
6. How did you get started on Twitter?
I truly don’t remember how I got started on Twitter, but I remember thinking it was the dumbest thing and I couldn’t imagine anyone actually used it. I also had a phone that didn’t have internet and wasn’t compatible with Twitter at the time, and I remember that being frustrating. Thus, I didn’t use it for over a year after I registered. I have thoroughly enjoyed talking politics, learning from others, seeing other points of view, playing hashtag games, and discussing things like LOST and my sickeningly biased and liberal professors. I’m known to live-tweet the lectures I attend, and dominate timelines with pictures of my dog Jeb. I’ve also really, really enjoyed getting blocked by Meghan McCain and having Alan Colmes tell me to unfollow him (I guess he’s unaware of the block function.)
7. Who are 3 conservatives that you find appealing and inspirational?
While I am guilty of this, I try not to put people on pedestals. That’s given me nothing but heartache. There are people I look up to, though, and I will list them here in no particular order:
1) Glenn Beck (I saw him 3 times in person in 2010, and I know I will likely at least see him once in 2011!)
2) Sarah Palin – this woman, regardless of her views and whether I agree with her or not, has dominated the conversation for over 2 years now. She doesn’t take crap from anyone, and she doesn’t let anyone walk on her. She stands by her values, her beliefs, and her goals, and inspires me to do the same. In my eyes, she is everything feminism really is, rather than the junk liberals spew.
3) Marco Rubio – If anything, though it’s more than this, Rubio is one of my heroes for simply putting Charlie Crist in his place. Rubio is flawed, but what politician, nay, what person, isn’t? He was the best thing to happen to Florida, in my opinion, since Walkin’ Lawton and Bob Graham’s workdays. Both of those were great programs to connect with the people of Florida, and while Rubio didn’t follow Graham’s and Chiles’ recipe for success, he definitely connected with the people better than anyone in recent history and his campaign is absolutely historic.
8. What role does faith in God play in your life and has it impacted your conservative outlook?
My faith in God keeps me humble and reminds me that I am no better than anyone else, and the beggar on the street could be Jesus himself. My faith needs work in other areas, and I’m one who struggles with the intangible, so I’m a work in progress always. My faith in God plays a role in my conservative outlook in that I believe very much in Christian Charity, and the idea that we should always do what we can to assist our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we were to do that as we are called to, I don’t believe the liberal idea of an overreaching government to “help” us would even exist. It would have, in my opinion, never even come about or would have been eliminated.
9. I always enjoy sharing pics of my girls with you…and your compliments in return are always kind and heartfelt. What are your thoughts on having kids of your own someday?
During my liberal days, I said I didn’t want children because the planet was already overloaded with people. I said I didn’t want to suffer through childbirth. Since then, I’ve realized that I want nothing more than to be a mother to children of my own, as well as through adoption (I would love to adopt a little Chinese baby!) I’ve also found out, fairly recently, that it will likely be tougher for me to conceive than the average woman. I hope this doesn’t end up to be the case, because I want a family of my own. I’m no homemaker…yet…but I want nothing more than to learn to be.
10. What are 3 life goals that you aspire to achieve that you believe you have a chance of realizing?
1) Get married to a wonderful, supportive, loving, conservative man.
2) Have children of my own.
3) Live in or near DC, and work there as well. (Doing what, I have no idea!)