Leftists are inclined to think people are evil and that government is needed to correct or balance the problem, he said.
“Those on the left really believe that American life is controlled by white males, and that women and … minorities can’t get an equal share in American life because of that evil nature,” Mr. Connerly said. “That’s the paradigm that exists.”
Leftists are ultimately motivated by narcissism, said Tammy Bruce, a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and author of books such as “The New Thought Police” and “The Death of Right and Wrong.”
“A leftist is operating out of a very different framework socially, emotionally and structurally,” Ms. Bruce said, citing such examples as antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan and former CIA employee Valerie Plame. “You are looking at … malignant narcissist.”
Ms. Bruce, a former member of the National Organization for Women board of directors, encouraged the students to stand firm when confronted with pressure from leftists on campuses and to never give up the moral high ground.
“This argument that you should sacrifice yourself, completely eliminate yourself for some greater root good, is an effort by the powerful who don’t want you to exercise that personal freedom or that personal power,” Ms. Bruce said.
The students also received a warning about campus leftists from Andrew Breitbart, co-author of “Hollywood, Interrupted” and founder of the news site Breitbart.com, who said there is conspiracy among academics to not teach conservative ideas.
Many leftists choose career paths — including academia, journalism and entertainment — that allow them to promulgate their beliefs, he said. But he also criticized conservatives for being too closed-minded in who they support, citing a movie producer who wanted to portray Marines as heroes, but who was shunned by many conservatives after they learned about his past drug addiction.
“The only way we are going to change journalism and Hollywood is if we allow more people into this fight,” Mr. Breitbart said. “We have to effect change on a much larger scale.”
Several students said the conference inspired them.
“It’s been really helpful,” said Ashley Herzog, a 21-year-old junior attending Ohio University and a contributing columnist for Townhall.com. “You never hear this perspective at my school. These speakers would never be invited.”
Andrew Coffin, acting director of the Reagan Ranch Center, YAF’s West Coast headquarters, said the conference is one of many efforts meant to help conservative students become emboldened and have a better understanding of their beliefs.
About 300,000 students go through one at least one of the foundation’s programs each year, including its conferences, seminars, campus lectures and internships, he said.
“They become the type of activist citizen that’s made this country great,” Mr. Coffin said of the foundation’s alumni.