Port: Who cares what children think about complex policy questions?

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Rob Port

MINOT, N.D. — Hey, kids.

Recently a bunch of you chose to participate in a national walkout campaign inspired by Greta Thunberg, a dead-eyed Swede who arrived on our shores in a rowboat or something to show how dedicated she is to her apocalyptic faith.

It wouldn’t do to have this green-tinged, modern-day Savonarola land here in something as gauche as a jet, after all.

I’m worried she’s just a step or two away from going around flagellating herself like the religious zealots of old.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.


Let’s talk about you, instead.

I know why you did it.

Some of you were sincere, to the extent you understood what you were doing. You wanted to feel grownup and essential.

Others just wanted out of class.

Once upon a time, if I had an opportunity to get out of Mrs. Joyal’s AP English class, I’d have seized on it too.

I probably would have protested baseball and video games to get out of Mrs. Joyal’s class.

Here’s the thing, though. We grownups? We mostly don’t care what you think because you’re dumb.

That’s not an insult. I was dumb when I was your age too. We all were. It’s just a stage we go through.


I know it doesn’t feel that way to you now, but one day you’ll look back at this moment in your lives and realize you thought you knew everything while simultaneously not knowing much of anything at all.

We adults protect our society from this phenomenon by not letting you vote.

The adults who encouraged you to walk out believe you’re dumb too — useful idiots for their cause.

Some of them are your parents.

When they’re busy gnashing their teeth over the mean columnist suggesting you kids don’t grasp the economic, social, and scientific complexities of the climate change debate — at least not enough to stake out a firm position on the sort of extremist policies Thunberg is promoting — remember they’re also doing your laundry, making your bed, setting curfews, and regulating your use of the internet.

That’s how smart they think you are.

That’s ok. You’re children. You aren’t supposed to be smart yet.

This recent spate of activism led by kids is a gimmick. A political fad. A new tactic in pursuit of the same old arguments.


Some do this a lot in politics. They try to find avatars for their causes who are unassailable. It’s an arms race practiced in sanctimony.

Children are good, the thinking goes, because who would dare criticize children?

Me, I guess. Did I mention that you’re dumb?

Most of you won’t always be dumb. Most of you will grow up into thinking adults who look back on Thunberg’s moment and see a ranting muppet who thought the blatant, unworkable, poverty-and-suffering-inducing excesses of socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal weren’t nearly excessive enough .

Reasonable people support reasonable policies to protect the environment. That’s something you’ll figure out when you grow up.

Until then, enjoy being dumb kids.

Rob Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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