Spotlight: Josh Riddle '12 and David Rufful '12

by BRIDGETTE TAYLOR | 11/19/09 11:00pm

Josh Riddle '12 and David Rufful '12 also known as "The Young Cons" never considered rap careers until their conservative rap songs, originally featured on YouTube, launched a series of national press coverage and television appearances, including "Fox and Friends" and "Huckabee." Now they may be changing their tune.

What was your inspiration for making these conservative raps?Riddle: We had a group on Facebook that had like 300 people in it that we created, that was called Young Conservatives. It was a way to kind of promote that. It was something kind of fun and unique to do. We never anticipated the huge blow up that it got.Rufful: There are some stereotypes created about conservatives, and we just wanted to show a more true message of conservatism about individual responsibility and moral absolutes and small government that we're pretty passionate about. That's the message that is meaningful to us and that a lot of people can relate to.

What do you credit as the reason you became so conservative? Are your parents conservative? Where did these beliefs stem from?Riddle: When I was about 16, I started getting into politics. My parents, we would talk about things, but they kind of wanted me to figure it out from myself, I think. I read a couple of books, and those books kind of sparked my fire, I guess, for politics. I just tried to ask myself what role I wanted the government to take in my life, and it seemed pretty obvious to me what I wanted.Rufful: I think that it's pretty clear that 85 percent of people are probably what their parents are. I think it's a decision I think it's important to ask yourself questions on what role the government should have in your life. Especially faith is probably affected a lot by your parents as well, but I think it's an important decision to make on your own, not just follow the footsteps or regurgitate what you hear people saying, or what you read. It's really something that you should feel is right or wrong.

What do you say to the claim that conservatism is dead at Dartmouth?Riddle: At Dartmouth, I think that there are more liberals here than conservatives. But, I mean, we've talked to the College Republicans and The Dartmouth Review, and I think there are a lot of good things going on, and they're working on getting speakers. So I definitely don't think it's dead. There are still a lot of places you can go to get a conservative atmosphere if you're looking for it.

Do you think your raps have converted anyone to conservatism?Riddle: I don't think there's a moderate person that has listened to the song and said, "Oh now I'm going to be a conservative." To think that would be kind of silly. But I hope, and at least on our web site and on our [Facebook] group, it did create a lot of discussion. People were talking about issues. And through that, if somebody said, "You know what, that's a good point. He said this, he said that." Or, like we put out a book list and stuff, and if somebody is maybe like, "Oh I'm going to check out one of those books," then I think, yeah, maybe.Rufful: The most important part was to create the discussion, and it's definitely something that I feel like happens. We were happy about that.Your newest rap, "The Power of the Individual," did that receive as much publicity as "The Conservative Anthem"?Rufful: No, not as much publicity as "The Anthem," but it was still featured in The Washington Times, and we were still able to perform it at various places.

Who's the third guy in the video? Is he conservative too, or was he just there to break dance?Rufful: He danced at the Denver Nuggets basketball half-time show during the playoffs. He was on an MTV show as well. He's Josh's friend.Riddle: Dave came out to Colorado and we filmed it there, and he went to middle school with me, so he's my middle school friend. But he's like done all this dancing stuff, so we were like, "Hey, want to be in our video?"Rufful: He was probably just uninterested in politics and felt that we were doing something that was meaningful to us. And he is Josh's friend, so he just helped out. He's not, I wouldn't say, a third young con or anything.

What's next on the agenda? Are you guys planning another rap?Rufful: Whoa, inside info.Riddle: I think if we could ever find some spare time, we'd like to.

Is there any possibility for a rap career?Riddle: I mean, right now we get lots of e-mails from people saying they want to hear more, so I think if people want to hear more, we'll try and make them. Rufful: I think we're doing a lot of things to make our network bigger, to make a better web site a lot more people are more willing to help out, from around the country, especially in terms of making the music itself. Our first one we did for free with nothing, so yeah it's definitely something that's possible, and that we're looking forward to.

What are your favorite news sources?Riddle: There's quite a few blogs on the Internet. "Powerline Blogs" are written by three Dartmouth alums, I like that a lot. And I think Youtube has become a huge source for political videos. Rufful: We usually both have the same bookmarks. But yeah, Youtube. Pretty much any blog you go to will send you to a Youtube video about things that are happening on TV that you probably don't have as much access to, being busy throughout the day.

On your web site you say, "The inaccurate manifestations of conservatism cloud the real mettle in its core." What are the inaccurate manifestations you speak of?Riddle: I think a lot of people view conservatism as these old guys who only want to protect their bank accounts, and they don't care about other people. And you know, I think we believe conservatism is the true answer to poverty and the way to help all these people that are struggling, and the best way to provide jobs, the best way for growth in the economy, and like Dave was saying, trying to hit some of those stereotypes that a lot of people view as, you know, like, "You don't care about poor people," "You don't care about the environment," and just a lot of those things. It's like, "You don't care about gay people," whatever it is, we just want to show that we think true conservatism is all about love, and all about saying, "We don't want the government in our lives, but we believe that you can do it. We want to help you. We want to create jobs for you."