Gavin Wax is president of the New York Young Republican Club (NYYRC) and a regular target of far-left extremist group Antifa.
“They covered my whole neighborhood with posters claiming I was all sorts of things,” Wax told The Epoch Times. “‘Meet your new neighbor.’ It was just a whole slew of libel and defamation.”
“They posted my address; they posted my job,” he said.
Living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan places Wax in the heart of the most liberal city in America. “It’s an uphill fight, but it makes things interesting.”
Having been a guest on cable news channels Wax’s politics are no secret, which has led to problems, both personal and professional.
“I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost job opportunities, I’ve been pushed out of jobs, I’ve gotten dirty looks. The whole gamut of things you can imagine from being a political minority in an overwhelmingly left-wing city,” said the 27-year-old.
The NYYRC bills itself as “America’s Oldest and Largest Young Republican Club.” It was founded in 1911, however, its roots go back as far as 1856.
Before Wax and his administration took the helm in 2019, he said the club had fewer than 50 members and was “a run-down group, kind of a drinking club” and described it as “basically dead.”
Wax and his people have changed all of that. There are now almost 1000 members, they hold $100,000 annual galas and the club regularly has speaker events.
Kat Timpf was one of three speakers in Wax’s first event in 2019. “She’s within the demographic. We go 18 to 40 so she’s well within the demographic,” he said.
Anushka Bhatt, of Syosset, Long Island, was too young to vote in the 2016 presidential election. But by 2020, she had become of age and not only voted for President Trump in his reelection effort, but became a registered Republican.
Now she’s vice president of the Stony Brook College Republicans, a club at Stony Brook University on Long Island.
Bhatt is not alone. There are about 50 active members in the club and about 500 are on the mailing list.
With the exception of schools such as Hillsdale College in Michigan, young conservatives are travelers in a hostile land when they’re on college campuses as well as in the workplace, so many of them feel they have to hide their political views for fear of being ostracized.
“The problem I’ve always had is you have to be secret about who you are,” Stony Brook senior Gabriel Vieira told The Epoch Times.
Vieira interned at Amazon, but when it came time for management to hire employees from the intern pool, he didn’t get a job. He had kept his Republican status on the quiet, but thinks word had gotten out and that’s what did him in.
“It’s well known that being a Republican is one of the most taboo things,” said the 21-year-old business major.
Sometimes college campuses aren’t the safest place for Republicans. During the Trump years, Republicans were often attacked by liberal students who preached tolerance but did not practice it.
Charlie Kirk, co-founder of the conservative, campus-based groups Turning Point USA, has stated in the media that several of its members—as well as students looking to start chapters—have been assaulted by other students. He has video evidence to support these allegations.
Lauren Pena, a fourth-year journalism major at SBU, told The Epoch Times of an attack she witnessed on campus a few weeks ago.
Turning Point USA was there asking students to participate in a poll regarding transgender athletes. Someone who took offence at this poll hurled a can of Arizona iced tea at the Turning Point USA members, but struck a student who was participating in the poll, instead. University police were called.
“The guy who did it ended up running off,” said the 20-year-old.
Where there’s a NYYRC event, there’s also Antifa.
“They have intimidation tactics,” he said. These included “threats of terrorism” and calling the venues and harassing the managements, leading Wax to hire armed, private security to defend the attendees. “They’ve protested outside of events,” said Wax.
Many Americans have the perception that the Republican Party is comprised of old, white males and that people such as Candace Owens are a negligible percentage. SBU’s club debunks that myth.
For starters, everyone is in his 20s or younger. But the real difference comes with the members’ heritage. Bhatt is the daughter of Indian immigrants, secretary Thalyann Olivo is of Puerto Rican descent and freshman Elhussein Abdelhamid is an immigrant from Egypt.
Of the 25 members who attended last week’s meeting, about half were white males the rest were males and females of an assortment of races.
“A couple of years ago I was super liberal, super left-leaning,” Abdelhamid told The Epoch Times. “I believed in socialism like crazy; I was a crazy socialist.”
Abdelhamid decided he wanted to debate conservatives so he could embarrass them. He knew he had to fully understand his opponent’s point of view in order to destroy it.
But once he took a good, hard look at Republican arguments, he “kept shifting and shifting and shifting,” until he became “a full-on Republican, a full-on Trump supporter.”
“I’m brown and you usually don’t encounter brown people who like Trump,” he said.
The membership of the NYYRC also debunks the old, white-male myth. “We have a Hispanic caucus; we have an Asian caucus,” said Wax.
In addition to its political actions, a by-product of the club is several romances have blossomed between members, some even leading to marriage.
Regardless of being the political minority in New York, Wax remains optimistic.
“We’re in the belly of the beast,” said Wax. “I think the fact that we’re in a city that’s very hostile to us politically gives us an edge.”