Teen seeking fellow political junkies
This teen has made disagreeing with his parents a money-making venture.
By LAUREN POLINSKY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BROOKFIELD — A township teenager has been participating in online blogging for the past six years and recently took a step toward using his blogs for activism.
Justin Higgins hopes to rally his generation around politics and current events.
News, politics, opinion and discussion are all over the Internet, and it seems almost anyone can post thoughts on any topic in online forums.
Higgins, now 17, was searching blog sites after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was looking for anything that anyone had to say about the events. Only 11 at the time, Higgins said he understood the impact of what had just happened and wanted to talk about it.
“After 9/11, I started analyzing the events going on in the world. I was a computer junkie so I looked to the Web to see what people were saying about them,” he said.
A conservative stance
He found a Web site that would let him set up his own blog at no charge and began writing about issues such as the war on terror and abortion, taking a more conservative stance than his Democratic parents.
Higgins said when he first started talking about the war on terror there was not a lot of disagreement online or at his dinner table. “Everyone was for the war,” he said.
By the time people began to pick one side of the fence, Higgins had read and educated himself so much on the topic that he had formed his own unique opinions. “It was a me thing,” he said.
Higgins’ strong right-wing stance in a left-wing town and family is what got him national attention from radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, which in turn helped expand his site.
Launching the site
In July 2005, Higgins had launched a Web site under his own domain name, www.rightontheright.com. Not long after, he called in to the Rush Limbaugh program to talk about living in a liberal family with conservative views and the arguments he and his uncle were having on rightontheright.com.
“Rush told me how cool it was that I was getting my opinion out there one way or another in such a heavily Democratic area. He asked for the name of my Web site and when it went out on the air, hundreds of thousands of people went to it and caused it to crash,” Higgins said.
Since then, Higgins has started running ads on his site, accepting donations to keep the site self-sufficient, and even made a profit when he hosted his own radio show three days a week through the site. Rightontheright.com has between 1,000 and 3,000 visitors a day that vary in age range and political views, according to Higgins.
A shift of focus
He writes three to four blogs a day. The focus of his blogs shifted recently to include more news about Ohio and focus on teens and their political direction.
“I want to open up debate and get people thinking. It seems like right after 9/11, my generation was active but now they have sort of lost interest,” Higgins said.
He said he is going to use more visual features to attract teens and boxes that highlight and simplify news stories. The issues he wants to focus on are the education system, immigration, and Social Security.
Higgins has one more year of high school left, then he hopes to attend The Ohio State University to study political science and communication. He said he has thought about everything from running for office to joining the Army as possible career options.
He plans to keep up his Web site in hopes of escalating to the 30,000-plus visitors a day range.
“I have made this happen, but there is still a long way to go. Looking at the huge audiences [other bloggers] have today I have to think to myself about where my impact can go.”