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Home > PHC Student Writes $5k Essay

PHC Student Writes $5k Essay

March 12th, 2009

By Josiah Helms

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727

Upperclassman Matt Wolking (left) with political analyst Tony Blankley at the Conservative Political Action Conference put on by the American Conservative Union

Upperclassman Matt Wolking is already making money from his conservative political leanings, even though his dreams of working as a campaign manager will have to wait until he graduates. Wolking just received $5,000 from Young America’s Foundation (YAF), a conservative youth organization, for winning their yearly essay contest with an essay entitled: “Can There Be an American Left?”

Having heard about the contest from one of the conservative email lists to which he subscribes, Wolking was able to submit an essay after a knee injury confined him to a couch after surgery for several days. After reading A Conservative History of the American Left by Daniel Flynn, the book YAF assigned contest participants to read, Wolking began assiduously researching the author as well as many of the great political philosophers he had read at PHC.

“I was able to incorporate a lot from what I’d learned at PHC,” Wolking said. Flynn’s primary thesis asked whether communism, socialism, liberalism, and other forms of modern-day leftism were simply foreign concepts foisted upon the country by outsiders. Or, conversely, were they in reality homegrown, and, if so, were they patently antithetical to American principles at the core? 

Wolking began his essay with the sentence, “The undying faith of those who still believe aliens produce crop-circles, all human confessions to the contrary, provides a window into the makeup of a Leftist ‘true believer…’”, and continued in similar vein. Leftist liberals, he wrote, are “corn maze missionaries who wish the myth-busting assailants of their faith would simply disappear.” He went on to quote Russell Kirk, a staple of PHC’s Freedom’s Foundations class, who described modern liberalism as “contemptuous of the whole concept of moral authority.”

Through his research of Kirk and Flynn, Wolking sought to demonstrate that the earliest beginnings of the left were actually rooted in religion. Liberal prototypes like Robert Owen, he said, came to America to start communes that were religiously based but ended up looking like cults.  Their principles launched the liberalism of the 1960s, which aimed to prove the idea that humanity can be perfected.

Wolking framed the rest of his essay around Alexis de Tocqueville—in particular, a quote by the Frenchman during his American travels: “It would seem that if despotism were to be established among the democratic nations of our days . . . it would be more extensive and milder [than previous European tyrannies], and it would degrade men without tormenting them.”

Throughout history, the left has degraded man incrementally in the process of trying to make him perfect, Wolking wrote.  Liberals commit themselves to building governmental size and power, which, in the process, degrades man.

In conclusion, Wolking observed that, “There can be no true American Left. Its ideals are systematically antithetical to our national fabric, sown from faith, freedom, and pride in the American dream.”

When Wolking received a call from the VP of YAF notifying him that his essay was the first out of five top prizes, Wolking was stunned. His almost disbelieving response was, he says, “Oh, wow, thanks.” An active, unapologetic conservative, Wolking has entered many essay contests in his life, six of which he won. “But this was by far the biggest,” he notes, attributing his suddenly lucrative writing skills to his lifelong love for books.

Beyond competing in more essay contests, Wolking says, “I want to stay involved in politics. I’ve also thought about managing campaigns for a while after I graduate, and, in the long term, probably moving on to consulting.”

And with a smile, he adds, “I wouldn’t mind doing some writing along the way.”