EXCLUSIVE: GOP’s Youngest Influencer, Jaiden Rodriguez, Reveals Future Under Gen. Alpha

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(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) With access to an unending stream of information at their fingertips, one of the defining characteristics of Gen. Alpha—those born in the early 2010s and after—is their striking precocity.

Their Gen.-Z forebears already have cultivated a bad rap—whether deserved or not—for their sense of unearned entitlement, particularly in the workplace.

Yet, for those even younger, who are just now coming into their teenage years, the lurching paradigmatic shift set to take place in fields such as artificial intelligence may put them ahead of the curve. If it doesn’t totally destroy humanity first.

“Internet access at such young ages does damage to your brain,” warned Colorado seventh-grader Jaiden Rodriguez, who already may be emerging as one of the future conservative leaders of his generation, in an exclusive phone interview with Headline USA.

“Because, imagine having infinte access to TikTok,” Rodriguez continued. “… Social media companies—they put LGBTQ stuff on the spotlight, and that way your brain kind of picks it up and maybe even thinks about it, has a desire and really might even—it’s there subconsciously in your brain … it becomes normalized.”

Rodriguez said that in fifth grade some of the girls in his class—“almost definitely” after seeing online content—had declared themselves to be “pansexual” and complained about his ridicule of their lifestyle choices, which included wearing dog collars and flashing devil signs.

But it would not be the last time he got in trouble for refusing to step in line with something he knew in his heart to be wrong.

In August 2023, Rodriguez became a folk hero to freedom-lovers everywhere after he defied school officials who insisted he remove the Gadsden flag patch from his bookbag.

Administrators at Colorado Springs’s Vanguard School suggested that it was a racist symbol and was exempt from the Tinker v. Des Moines standard protecting student free speech because it threatened to disrupt the learning environment.

Jaiden and his mom, Eden, pushed back and won—with some help from prominent conservative author Connor Boyak, who tweeted out their hidden-camera recording of the meeting.

The whirlwind of media attention earned Rodriguez trips to Nashville, where he got to do an interview with the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro; Phoenix, where he got to ask questions to Tucker Carlson and Vivek Ramaswamy at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest; and Washington, D.C., where he spoke with Boyack at Students for Liberty’s libertarian-oriented LibertyCon.

Rodriguez said that he had apprehensions about touching down in the D.C. Swamp for the very first time.

“When I was on the plane, I felt my constitutional rights slowly decreasing when I reached Washington, D.C.,” he joked, noting that he was shocked to see people voluntarily wearing face masks for the first time since the end of the COVID pandemic.

In addition to his jetsetting junkets, the 12-year-old, who characterized himself as a “cool average Joe,” initially enjoyed a newfound sense of “rizz” among his classmates, as well.

But over time it subsided, and Rodriguez said that his taste of fame as America’s youngest right-wing political influencer had been, by and large, bittersweet—particularly where his peers were concerned.

“It’s been a very mixed plate, I’ll tell you that much,” he said.

“Some kids just liked me when I was famous and cool—I’m not gonna say I was famous, but just famous at school a lot,” he added. “Really, no one talks about it anymore now … After a couple of months, it kind of died down. I’m fine with it. I mean, I’m just glad I’m still gonna wear my patches today.”

Yet, even that is a battle that Rodriguez and his mom are not done fighting.

His school continues to dangle the threat of banning the patriotic patches if any future complaints arise.

Backed by Mountain States Legal Foundation, the family is currently suing Harrison School District 2 to seek injunction, with the case scheduled to be heard before the U.S. district court in the fall.

Among the attorneys on the all-star legal team representing the family pro-bono is John Eastman, director of the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, who also happens to be one of former President Donald Trump’s co-defendants in the Fulton County lawfare attack brought by District Attorney Fani Lewis.

If fighting in court for one’s basic inalienable rights weren’t hard enough, Eden Rodriguez said that Jaiden has also been subjected to bullying and harassment from some students at his school as a direct result of the battle.

Frustration with the school district, in part, has even prompted her to consider returning the family to her native Texas.

Jaiden said students had insulted his mom for recording the meeting and had accused him of being an agitator.

“One kid even went up to me and said, ‘Eff the First Amendement,’” he recalled.

The district has made some settlement offers, but the matter is still unresolved, Eden Rodriguez said.

Although he lost out on his opportunity to run in the seventh-grade class election due to the original punishment he received, the experience has only strengthened Jaiden Rodriguez’s interest in politics and in one day seeking elected office.

At the moment, he said, he beats a lonely path as the only one in his class wearing a button-down suit while others dress in Nike hoodies and Air Jordans. He also finds it hard to engage his fellow tweens in his unique set of interests.

“The kids call me a yapper,” he said.

“Apparently talking about politics is super boring,” he lamented. “I mean, I understand when I was 8 years old, I found the news to be very boring, but now I find it to be interesting.”

Even as his peers rush to mature way too fast in other ways, by corrupting their bodies and souls on social media, Rodriguez said he felt more akin to the generation ahead of him, which retained more American values due to less screen time.

“I think I probably have more in common with teenagers rather than kids,” he said.

“However, there was this one kid that I got to meet—seemed like a nice gentleman—and he was at AmericaFest, too,” he added, holding out hope that there may be others like himself.

In time, perhaps Rodriguez will expand his circle large enough to find those who share his passion for politics—or else broaden his own sphere of influence wide enough to pull people into it as they mature and land on his wavelength.

Despite his disdain for certain types of screen time, he seemed ready, as many in his generation are, to harness the power of social media—and to put his yapping skills to good use.

“I just want to have my own show in the beginning and just talk about stuff, about what I think,” Rodriguez said. “You know how there’s political influencers, like Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, just to name a few… I just kind of want to do that until I finally build a big enough platform to maybe run for office.”

His Instagram page, with photos of his many enviable exploits, has more than 2,500 followers already—including former Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich.; and Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C.; and 17-year-old social-media influencer Brilyn Hollyhand—who, at only five years older, already has 102,000 Instagram followers and is well on his way to building a conservative media empire.

Raised on Boyack’s “Tuttle Twins” book series, Rodriguez, who also has several younger siblings, sees the possibility that current pro-values programming through the parallel economy could help the next generation foster an even stronger crop of young conservatives—again, assuming threats like AI and TikTok don’t destroy it first.

The Tuttle Twins has now become a hugely successful cartoon series produced by Angel Studios (The Chosen, Sound of Freedom). Meanwhile, other popular conservative counterprogramming options for kids—including the Daily Wire’s Bentkey—are starting to emerge as equally strong contenders to rival woke Hollywood.

Of course, Rodriguez said there was no substitute for the classics, listing the “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” as some of his preferred reading. He’s also been working his way through C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain.

He said that he foresaw certain evolutions in the Republican Party being inevitable, with technology and demographic shifts forcing it to become “less radical” in the post-Trump era, but with strong leaders like Ramaswamy on deck to oversee the transition.

Once again, he credited the Daily Wire for staying ahead of the curve for media, connecting with younger conservative viewers not only via Bentkey, but also through hip, social-media-savvy hosts like Brett Cooper.

Even so, Rodriguez said of his generation’s impact on the conservative movement, “I don’t think they’ll dramatically change it.”

As with entertainment, there are certain areas where nothing can replace the classics.

One such tried-and-true idea, courtesy of America’s founders, already has proven to be life-changing for Rodriguez, and he offered that sage wisdom as simple words of parting advice: “Stand up for your constitutional rights and don’t back down,” he said. “That’s pretty much it.”

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers.

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