Posts Tagged ‘Young Americans for Liberty’

Here’s 3 things you need to know about young people and liberty in America today

Posted on August 7, 2014 at 1.17 pm

This week’s column is inspired by the past weekend’s Young Americans for Liberty Convention.

I spent this past weekend with more than 300 college students from more than 200 universities spread across all 50 states. They’d sacrificed five days of summer break to travel to Washington, DC on their own dime to sit in a classroom for nearly 12 hours a day, taking endless notes.

Why? Because they’re really into liberty.

The event was the sixth annual Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) National Convention. As a YAL employee, I’ve attended each and every convention we’ve held since the first one in 2009, and it’s given me a unique and inspiring inside look at the youth movement for liberty.

From that experience—plus years of broader involvement in college activism and polling data which supports the following observations—here are 3 things you need to know about young people and liberty in America today.

1. Freedom is popular. A recent Reason-Rupe poll confirmed what we’ve seen at YAL for a while: Millennials are the most libertarian generation yet. Yes, libertarian, not liberal.

As the poll showed, two-thirds of young Americans (ages 18 to 29) think the government is wasteful and inefficient. Nearly as many (63%) understand that government regulations favor special interests, not the general public. Strong majorities favor cutting government spending, regulations, taxes, and overall size.

Millennials are also uniquely pro-liberty on social issues like marriage and the drug war, with a majority agreeing that the government shouldn’t dictate what we eat, smoke, or drink. They are also very suspicious of both major parties, with more than half identifying as political independents.

All of this is fantastic news—and it’s not just this one poll which shows the promise of the Millennial generation. Another recent survey from Pew Forum received a lot of attention because it categorized Americans into eight cross-partisan political typologies.

None of them are explicitly called “libertarian,” but the two that have the strongest representation of young people? Well, they sound pretty libertarian to me (or at least close enough to be persuaded in that direction): The “Young Outsiders” and “Next Generation Left” both want government to get out of our personal lives, and while the first group is definitely fiscally conservative, even the latter category understands far more than many older left-wingers that DC can’t keep spending like we have unlimited free money.

Read the whole thing here.

A Couple Quick Questions, Ed. 18

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 1.25 pm

Q. Hey, B. Do you think the idea of a third party—or even more than three political parties in this country is realistically possible? Comments/Questions? – Chuck, from the internet.

A. First, I kind of love the title “B” because of its Beyoncé associations, even if that’s not what you meant. Second, yes, I do, but not without some serious structural change—just saying “if we all vote our conscience we’ll get there eventually” is not a realistic approach. See my answers to similar past questions here and here for more details.


Q. Given, as you admit freely in your FAQ, a free market has never truly existed, what makes you think it could? Given that in 100% of the cases where capitalism has existed, it has existed alongside state institutions of a wide variety of sizes and capacities, on what evidence can a libertarian (or free-market conservative, etc.) claim that 1. a free market can exist with any size state?; or 2. capitalism can exists without a state? – Dan, from the internet.

A. Well, here’s the thing:  I’m not an anarchist. I’ve been called an “ultra minarchist,” which is pretty accurate (meaning I want a very small state to provide defense and a justice system), but I don’t want to get rid of all state government. I would take libertarian anarchy over what we have now, and I have a lot in common with/love hearing from my anarchist friends, but I don’t share their goal of a stateless society.

That said, I think that arguing that because a state has always existed in our strongest forays into a free market we must have a state for a free market doesn’t work. It’s a bit of a post hoc fallacy at best. It’s not possible, of course, to say with certainty what would or wouldn’t work in such hypotheticals, but suffice it to say that I don’t think this bit of history is a good argument against anarcho-capitalism. We’ve also never had the internet come into existence without government, but that doesn’t mean you had to have a state to get the internet.


Q. I know you’ve said you’re not a huge fan of political parties, but given the recent RNC debacle do you believe that US citizens will ever have a better say in their representation? Or do you think money and influence will always win out? – Chris, from the internet.

A. It’s hard to say. Jefferson wrote in a letter that “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground,” and many days I can’t see any other perspective. That said, I’m not sure he’s correct. We have seen some (admittedly very imperfect) advances of liberty in the past—the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, the end of slavery, the trend away from imperialism and toward self-determination of the 20th Century. Moreover, even my job gives me some hope when I stop to think about it; my organization (Young Americans for Liberty) literally did not exist less than four years ago, and now we have a network of more than 100,000 young people, with more beating down the door every day. So yeah, it’s hard to say.

All the slacking!

Posted on August 4, 2011 at 11.33 am

I haven’t done much in the way of posting of late thanks to the general business entailed in helping run YAL’s third annual national convention (pictured above with me toward the center holding one end of the white banner).

Suffice it to say, it was a long week, and I’m still catching my breath.  I hope to be back into writing action, however, this evening or in the next few days.