The truth about political groups

Dick Doeber | Op-Ed Submission

Last week, Student Life printed an article, “Political activism on campus: The Gore-y truth,” criticizing political groups. The author attacked the Young Americans for Liberty and the College Democrats. The article did bring up a few good points. For instance, she mentions individuals who don’t adhere 100 percent to a political philosophy can feel ostracized. Thus, political groups must accept a variety of views. I do not know about the College Democrats, but for the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), this is the case. The author misleads the reader into thinking all Wash. U. political groups are closed to a variety of opinions from the same political side, when in fact YAL is open to a variety of views. The author continues to make false claims throughout the article.

First off, YAL is neither Republican nor affiliated with any political party as she implies. In fact, I personally find it offensive to be called a Republican. We are an organization for small-government conservatives and libertarians. Libertarians hold very different views from Republicans. Although I cannot speak for every libertarian, libertarians are pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-civil rights, pro-human rights, pro-immigration and anti-war. They also support drug legalization, believe in separation of church and state, favor free-market solutions and advocate non-interventionist foreign policy (yes, many are against the Iraq War). Does that sound anything like a Republican?…Precisely. This list is obviously not exhaustive, but it is descriptive enough to show that libertarians are the alternative to Republicans and Democrats that many students seek. Many people have either become fed up with both major political parties or just don’t fall into either the Democrat or the Republican camp. Libertarianism offers a third option, one which many “outsiders” fall into.

In the article, the author shows a lack of knowledge about YAL. She says she doesn’t “understand why representatives of a party that prides itself on respect for America would contort both the national flag as well as a former vice president.” We do not “pride” ourselves on respect for America. Don’t get me wrong, libertarians have great respect for America; we think the U.S. Constitution is the best constitution ever ratified, which explains why we want a strict interpretation of the constitution. But “respect for America” is not something libertarians pride themselves on. Rather, libertarians pride themselves on their dissent for the government. Some libertarians hated Bush just as much as many Democrats. Because of that dissent, libertarians are okay with contorting an image of a former vice president. But the modification of Al Gore and the American flag were symbolic of the consequences of implementing many of the restrictive policies Gore desires.

Our screening of the documentary “Not Evil Just Wrong” was a way to bring the voice of global warming skepticism to Wash. U. The author of the Student Life article dismisses the documentary after hearing a single claim in the trailer. But this reaction is not uncommon. Many students on campus dismiss claims counter to man-made global warming without actually fully hearing them. Our screening of the documentary doesn’t mean that all YAL members are skeptical of global warming, but it was an attempt to bring an uncommon but legitimate view to campus. YAL strives to bring intellectual political debate to campus.

Young Americans for Liberty has strongly varying views amongst its members. Yet, at the end of the day, most members return to a basic core of similar beliefs. We encourage heterogeneity in our member’s views. We learn far more about our views and those of our opponents through disagreement, which makes us better able to debate that same view later if we aren’t persuaded by it. I, along with my fellow members, strongly encourage anyone and everyone interested in learning more about libertarian ideals, for whatever reason, to attend one of our weekly political discussions. Our discussions usually begin at 7 p.m. after our regular meetings at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in Mallinckrodt Center Room 303 (Lambert Lounge).

Despite how the author of that article may have made it seem, Young Americans for Liberty encourages those who do not 100 percent, or even 75 percent, adhere to libertarian or conservative doctrines to come and test out their political ideologies with us.