Charlie Kirk, the founder and President of Turning Point USA, the national student organization, spoke recently at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2021 Restoration Weekend, held Nov. 11th-14th at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. He addresses what he calls the most important story of recent months: the Biden administration’s targeting of parents concerned about the political indoctrination of their children, and how it has led to a more resilient conservative movement.
Don’t miss this important speech. A transcript follows.
Charlie Kirk: It’s great to be here, everybody.
I just want to start with the obvious, which is — I go to a lot of political events. And when I first got my start at Turning Point USA, this was one of the rooms that I was invited into. And I was 19 years old at the time. And I had a dream and a vision way bigger than I’d even realized what it would take to actually get that done. And this was the first event I went to where the person in charge didn’t try to kick me out within five minutes for trying to meet everyone that was also financing his organization. I mean this; it’s very serious.
And instead, David introduced himself. And he said, so what do you want to do? And, oh, I know a little bit about campuses. That was like the understatement of the century, right? And then the stunning thing happened the next year: David invited me back. And the reason is usually I’d get invited to these events, and groups would feel threatened. And groups would become protective. And groups would say, nope, we got to not invite people that might have competing organizations, and you know, that might take away from our donors. David had the opposite view. David wanted this event to be a launching pad for future conservative organizations and careers.
And it’s in this room I’ve met some of my closest friends in the world. Rebecca Dunn, Dr. [ Bob, Arlin ]. I can go around the room of people — the Burke family — that have partnered with our movement in such significant and amazing ways. In this room, I met Candace Owens. And we all know how that has worked. Pretty amazing for our country, actually.
And so — yeah, we should applaud that, absolutely.
Charlie Kirk: And a lot of you were here when that happened, by the way. A lot of you remember that. It’s like oh, by the way, now Candace is working for Turning Point. And then, next thing you know, a couple years later, she’s like the biggest thing in the conservative movement.
But in all seriousness, it’s because David checked his ego at the door, and he let other organizations and people to mingle and to cooperate and to collaborate. It’s so incredibly rare. And I say this. Without David Horowitz and the Freedom Center, I do not think Turning Point USA would be even close to where we are today. I don’t even know if we would exist.
And David, I know — it’s funny, actually. I heard David on the phone today. I’ll tell you that story second. But I just want to say what everyone else has said throughout this conference. Thank you, David Horowitz, for your commitment to this country and what you’ve done for me personally.
Charlie Kirk: It is so appreciate and rare.
So I was just in a meeting at Mar-a-Lago, as Mike was saying. And so the President says, come on, do you want to go do dinner or whatever? I said no, I got to go speak at David Horowitz. Like the whole meeting stops. It’s like, I love David Horowitz. He said, he’s always on TV. He says the best things about me. And he’s like, that guy, he gets it. He’s unbelievable.
(Laughter and applause)
Charlie Kirk: And so then I say, wait, okay. Say, get him on the phone right now. Get him. I said, okay, jeez. So I was with another person, Sergio, who’s great. I was like, I don’t know if I had David’s cell number. I was going to call Mike. It’s like, on the phone right now. You got to do what you’re told, right?
And so Sergio calls from some number, and he picks up. David’s there. Who is this? Right? And I think David thought it was a prank at first. And, you know, the President goes on and on and on. You could tell David was very touched by that. Because I don’t think he ever actually had a chance to ever meet Trump before. That’s just how David is. He defends him. He does the right thing. He doesn’t go searching for credit. And for like 10 minutes, uninterrupted, you know, President Trump is just complimenting him and thanking him.
And I was like, I could leave now, I guess. Like you guys are — but you could tell it really lifted David’s spirits. As you know, he’s had some difficulties with kind of post-surgery stuff. But it really kind of did my heart good today to finally hear two legends of the conservative moment connect. And they have something in common that I’m going to get to in just a second. They both understand the Left, and they’re willing to fight them. That’s what David Horowitz and Donald Trump have in common.
Charlie Kirk: So that was a highlight of my last couple days.
So I won’t take too much time. I am actually the luckiest person in the room, because I get to hear from Victor Davis Hanson tonight, who is — I listen to all of his podcasts, I read everything he writes. Mount Rushmore status of the modern conservative movement, truly. And so I’m the luckiest person tonight, just to hear from you.
Charlie Kirk: But I want to share a couple things. So this last year has been, quite honestly, out of control for a lot of us, as you well know, with all the lockdowns and kind of the vaccine mandates and everything associated with it, and also trying to navigate that with college campuses and schools. Despite that, we’re on pace for, what, traveling 330 days this year on the road, and speaking in every possible corner you could imagine. And that means my wife needs to get a round of applause for that, I’ll tell you what.
Charlie Kirk: Because that’s not easy.
But I want to focus in one thing. And so I don’t do hopium, which is hope and opium mixed together. Feels good, but it’s really bad for you. Like I’m not going to say, oh yeah, Trump’s going to be President next week. Like that’s not going to happen, right? Instead, I’m going to say things that are true that, hopefully, will give you a little bit of optimism.
And I could go on endlessly about the things that are wrong. You guys have whole panels, you know, designed for that: inflation, supply chain crisis, the fact that James O’Keefe’s door is getting knocked down by the FBI. Is James O’Keefe here tonight, by the way? I saw him the other day.
(Cheers and applause)
Charlie Kirk: James, you’re a hero. We have your back. I want to say that. We have your back, James.
(Cheers and applause)
Charlie Kirk: We have your back, where opposition journalists are targeted.
But the story I want to focus on is, I think, the most important story in the last two months, absent the Kyle Rittenhouse drama, which I could do a whole speech on kind of the implications around that. Which I think is so instructive. The most important story, I think, that is the blueprint and the roadmap for success for all of us, and where I think the conservative movement is, which is healthier and stronger than ever before, is — and I might get my dates wrong, but I think I’m mostly right — on October 4th, about a month and a half ago, the National School Board Association of America wrote a letter to the White House — which we now know was actually created in collusion and coordination — demanding that the Federal Bureau of Investigation label moms and dads that complain about curriculum they don’t like as domestic terrorists. Use the Patriot Act; the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
And we all remember seeing that letter. And we’re like okay, yeah, whatever. Like the Sierra Club writes letters like that all the time, right? Like yeah, go arrest all the frackers. Like okay, yeah, whatever, sure. I mean, you could — go confiscate all the guns. Like okay. Writing a letter — oh, hey, Allie, how are you? I didn’t see you there. Hi, I didn’t see you. Well, I didn’t see you there. I wouldn’t be here without Allie Hanley. So Allie — I didn’t see you, Allie.
Charlie Kirk: I’m sorry. So there we go. Without Allie Hanley, I wouldn’t be here. And so that’s who deserves the real thing. So thank you. Thank you, Allie. And we all miss Lee. I mean that seriously. He was a legend. I know everyone says that, agrees with that.
So instead of, though, with the National School Board Association letter, ignoring it, the crazy thing and the wild thing was that the Department of Justice and Merrick Garland took it seriously. And then Merrick Garland says, you know what, you’re right. We are now going to have a new commission. I’m instructing every U.S. attorney to go start a taskforce going after moms and dads that complain about curriculum.
And we saw the kind of power of the school board movement. We never thought that this regime — while you have inflation at seven percent in one month, while you have a supply chain crisis, you give $85 billion to the Taliban; you have 1.4 million crossing across the Southern border — that they’d say, you know what we’re going to do for our kind of quickly disappearing poll numbers? We’re going to go decide to declare war and moms and dads at school board meetings.
And that’s something that has really perplexed me, is that the more unpopular this regime gets, the more radical they get. Do you notice that? And that’s because they have no interest to actually run Joe Biden as President again. It’s a kamikaze presidency they want to run into the ground and get everything they possibly can out of it, which is the fundamental transformation of America.
But what’s so interesting is what happened after the National School Board Association of America letter. And we’re seeing this a little bit with what’s happening with James, because it’s exactly the same thing. What’s happening with Project Veritas and with James O’Keefe and with the National School Board Association of America is, we are going to use the justice system to intimidate you and shut you up, because you’re a threat to our power.
And we have always kind of danced around this issue as conservatives. Like oh, Obama is slightly threatening us. You know, he’s auditing dissidents. Like they’re not troubling with audits much anymore. They’re now like, no, we’re actually going to come to your — we’re going to come knock down your door at 6:00 a.m. and put you in handcuffs and confiscate your devices. And Roger Stone lived through that, my goodness. A lot of great people in this audience, by the way. And he survived it, successfully, thanks to President Trump’s pardon and Roger’s effort.
But what happened after it, though, would not have happened five years ago. And this is the hope, is that after the FBI and the Department of Justice comes out to try to intimidate moms and dads — the conservative movement five years ago of Mitt Romney or whatever would have sued for peace. We would’ve done Neville Chamberlain, like please stop saying bad things about us on Department of Justice stationery. Instead, we saw attendance and enthusiasm at school board meetings increase after the Department of Justice decided to write their letter. We saw the exact opposite.
Charlie Kirk: And the essence of the story and where we are right now — and there’s a great book written by Nassim Taleb that says how to be anti-fragile. If you say what is the opposite of being fragile? It’s not tough, it’s not durable. What do you call something that gets stronger the more you attack it? That actually benefits from the stressors? And this is a term he coined in social psychology as being anti-fragile. And with these moms and dads being, you know, nonpolitical and just caring about their kids having to learn critical race theory, diversity, equity and inclusion; having to be wearing masks all day long — all the sudden, we now have a base of the conservative movement that actually says, you know what? You’re going to kick down dissident journalists’ doors? Like you’re going to write letters as the attorney general because I don’t want my seven-year-old to learn pornographic curriculum? Like actually no, I’m going to go show up with 10 friends next time. I’m not going to put up with that.
And the point being is that post-January 6 and post the implementation — not election — the implementation of Biden — big difference. He was not elected, he was implemented. We have to use our language correctly. He’s an implemented President, not an elected President — the conservative movement made the right decision, is that this year could’ve been a pity-party year. And they thought it would be. They thought we would have nine months of kind of like the old 2013 RNC like, oh, we’re going to do an autopsy report. And like, we’re going to do a listening session. No, we got to work.
Like after their greatest, most intimidating push, where you have John Brennan go on MSNBC and say that, you know who the terrorists are? Libertarians, moms and dads, people that show up at meetings. All the sudden, there’s a new resolve in the conservative movement that I have not seen in my, you know, short 10 years. But I’ve seen a lot in 10 years, trust me. If there’s 10 years to pick, this is the 10 years to pick. Like, my goodness. Where there’s something different happening, where all the sudden now you have, as the driving force of the political Right, if you will, a tougher and stronger, and quite honestly, more resilient movement — that the more that this regime actually throws at us, the greater our crowds increase.
And this is proven by what we saw in Virginia. And what we saw in Virginia is just kind of one kind of — and thank you for everyone here that worked so hard on this.
(Cheers and applause)
Charlie Kirk: And I know some people are saying, oh, Youngkin’s going to let us down. It’s irrelevant. Whether or not Youngkin’s going to be a great governor or not is actually completely irrelevant to the point. The point is that a D plus-10 state completely changed fundamentally because of an issue that Democrats used to control. And all the sudden, you saw this kind of political earthquake happen in real time.
And so what is the lesson from all of this? The lesson is that — don’t allow the ruling class to set the terms of engagement — is that in early February, they thought — Zuckerberg, Bezos, Schumer, Pelosi, all of them — that all the sudden we’re going to say, you know what? Let’s go back to the party of Liz Cheney. Like we thought all the sudden we were going to wake up one day and we’re going to want to go back to kind of talking about corporate tax rates. And instead, because of Donald Trump’s contribution and so many people’s hard work here in this room, we saw now, for the first time, a legitimate grassroots movement that has now taken over the Republican Party in a very, very powerful way.
And this is — you are now seeing the American ruling class become increasingly demoralized. They don’t know what to do with you. They call you domestic terrorists. They kick down the doors of the journalists they don’t like. They spy on people they don’t like, like Tucker Carlson over the summer. And yet we keep showing up, we keep giving money. And we’re angrier than ever before. You better believe we are. Because the type of intimidation we used to do when George W. Bush was President, when we used to like — oh, yeah, whatever the New York Times says, we do. We don’t do that anymore. It’s a new conservative movement.
And so someone said, Charlie, do you think we’re going to win? I can’t stand that question. It drives me nuts; there’s no good way for me to answer it. If I answer yes, you guys are going to go home and do nothing because I say we’re going to win. If I say no, you’re going to go home and do nothing because I say we’re going to lose. So there’s no good way to answer that question, right? It’s like what am I, like a Vegas odds maker? There’s no good way to answer it. Instead, the answer is, well, we have a better chance now, because I think we’ve just started to fight.
Unidentified Audience Member: Right!
Charlie Kirk: I think finally now, we can say okay. Now we understand these people for what they are and what they do, and really what their aims and objectives are. So I visited many college campuses this last semester: University of Vermont, University of Oregon; we’ve been all over the place. The biggest problem we had is actually finding rooms big enough to be able to fit all the students that want to attend our events. It’s the biggest problem we have.
Charlie Kirk: And despite what you see on television, we know they lie. We know that they slander and they misrepresent. There’s something very profound happening where they might control Harvard, the FBI, the New York Times; they control the CIA, they control Facebook and Google. But they don’t control the people, and they’re increasingly declaring war on more critical components of the American population.
So it’s one thing to like say okay, we’re going to go declare war on gun-owning Christians in Kansas. Like — and I see Ned Ryan here, right? I mean, you know, not — I just think of Kansas, and I think of the Ryan family. Even though he lives in Virginia.
Charlie Kirk: But it’s just not — they kind of max out — you know, they’re losing those districts by 90 percent. But as you said, [ Burgess ], you know what, we’re going to go declare war on moms and dads that are actually trending in the direction of the Democrat Party. And what we’re seeing now is a coalition that is being built that is around education, around crime, around decency. It’s around things that are much more important than what we are told to talk about, which is tax rates and whether or not the biggest companies in America are going to be really pleased with kind of the passage of these different bills. Instead, we now have a citizen movement happening.
And what’s so amazing is how clumsy it is. Have you been to one of these school board meetings? I mean, you have people that have never given a public speech before showing up. I mean this. Like people that have never been involved in politics before that are showing up with like words backwards on their signs. Like they don’t know what they’re doing.
Charlie Kirk: But it’s like all the billions of dollars spent by the Republican establishment, you weren’t able to get that person ever to care. You were not able to get that person to show up. And you saw in Loudoun County — obviously, we all know the story of the father that was arrested, called a domestic terrorist in the National School Board Association of America letter. And his daughter was raped; they transfer the rapist, and he rapes again. We all know kind of that significance.
But it’s happening in other places. In Scottsdale Unified School District in the last two days, it just came out that the Scottsdale Unified School District board member is spying on parents, has a dossier of eight-, nine- and 10-year-olds, of all the students that are the sons and daughters of the parents that they don’t like, Social Security private investigators’ databases. And that’s going to totally flip what’s happening in Arizona in a very, very powerful way.
And so let me close with this. I don’t know how much time I have. But I want to be respectful, because I want to hear Victor. And I know you guys do, too. Let me close with a couple thoughts. Thank you. Without every single person in this room — Allie and everyone else, who’s just been so incredible — Allie, who first brought me — without you guys, there is no Turning Point USA and all the success we’ve had. There is no hundreds of thousands of students that have been engaged and trained and involved. There’s no hundreds of student body presidents that have been elected thanks to our work. There’s no incredible events that I encourage all of you guys to attend.
And every table I could go through, the amazing people from Oregon, and Jim Young and Larry Keith; and Nina Rosenwald — I could go through the whole room. But you guys, honestly, are the ones that have been there for me and for Turning Point USA when we needed you the most. And I mean that, that you guys can be proud that you guys played a very, very serious contribution in that. So thank you.
The second thing is people say, Charlie, what can I do? I’ve done everything that I’ve been told. You know, I watch Tucker, I bought the pillow.
Charlie Kirk: Like I’ve done everything that I’ve been told to do.
Charlie Kirk: By the way, promo code Kirk at MyPillow.com, okay? The Giza Dream Sheets are unbelievable.
Charlie Kirk: Seriously, zero sarcasm. They’re heavenly. It’s terrific.
People say, Charlie, what can I do? And the short answer is this, is that it’s going to cost you something. You will not retake the country and keep all of your friends and your country club memberships and your status quo. It’s going to require sacrifice from everybody. It’s going to require being the same person in public that you are in private. It’s going to require being someone who is unapologetic about your beliefs, and then also supporting the fighters. When someone gets under attack by the Southern District in New York, like James O’Keefe, he needs our support now. He needs our vocal support. He needs our congressional support. He needs our monetary —
(Cheers and applause)
Charlie Kirk: We need — we cannot allow them to pick us off one by one. We cannot be like, oh, that’s a little too much for me. You know, I’m with you, James, until the Justice Department gets involved. You know what? No. We’re with every single person. And the only reason you [ shouldn’t ] be with someone is if they betray us. That’s a totally different thing, right? That’s a different conversation.
But let me close with this, which is the most important thing, which is — people say, Charlie, how’s it going out there? I never like this question. Like what am I, a running back for the Miami Dolphins or something? You guys know my story. I didn’t go to college. I’m the luckiest person in the world. And thanks to God for all the blessing — is that, instead, we need to stop looking at this as a spectator sport, and as a participant support. No one in this room is above going to a school board meeting. No one in this room is above getting involved in your local mayor’s race. No one in this room is involved in home schooling and underwriting the financial ability for your grandkids to get homeschooled. No one in this room is above that.
And instead, what we have to do is have a renewing and a revival and a different way of viewing things. Say, okay. You know, I was upset five years ago. But now everything — I’m going to run for office. I’m going to support people to do that.
And here’s the good news to close with, everybody. The regime is nervous. They are paranoid. They know that their hold on power is evaporating. And they know that they are losing the people, and it’s just a matter of time.
And so the marching orders are very simple. We are going to win if we continue to rise up, support the good guys as they try to pick us off. Because they are losing the people, and we have truth on our side.
Thank you again, everybody, for everything you’ve done for me. God bless you guys, and thank you so much.