Y.A.L. - Getting It Done
by Henry Haller
I recently had the good fortune to attend the Young Americans for Liberty annual convention August 5 - 7 in Orlando, Florida. In attendance were 1,000 college students from across the country, all enthusiastic libertarians. These numbers show how the organization has grown tremendously since its inception as an outgrowth of Ron Paul’s “Campaign for Liberty” in 2008. Also in attendance were approximately 130 of the 179 state legislators who have gotten elected with the help of YAL’s “Win at the Door” project. This is the effort in which a group of students trained for grass roots politics is sent into a district to knock on thousands of doors to mobilize voters to elect a liberty candidate.
The highlight of the convention was an appearance by Ron Paul, who remains a political rock star to these students. The standing ovation he received was deafening! Additional speakers included Tom Woods, Scott Horton, Kennedy (of Fox Business), and Zilvinas Silenas (President of the Foundation for Economic Education) among others. There was even a video address from Edward Snowden. In addition to the speakers, there were breakout sessions for training and in depth political analysis of libertarian issues like Second Amendment rights, criminal justice reform, and school choice.
Meanwhile, the legislators had their own workshops on managing campaigns, fundraising, maintaining voter lists, and dealing with establishment Republicans, who generally do not like them because they hold them accountable for living up to their libertarian sounding rhetoric and party platforms. It was clear that, though these legislators bear the “R” label, they are dedicated libertarians.
Back in their home states these legislators have been busy since their elections last year. They have managed to get 90 bills passed that advance liberty; they include bills legalizing Constitutional carry, bills to advance school choice, etc. A West Virginia legislator has introduced what he calls a “Defend the Guard” bill. If passed, this would instruct the governor not to send the state’s National Guard troops overseas unless there has been a declaration of war by Congress.
Clearly YAL has not missed a step under the guidance of newly appointed CEO Lauren Daugherty. They have bold goals for this year and for the upcoming midterm elections. For this year they are targeting 100,000 new student sign-ups. Already they are about 40% on the way to this goal in spite of many college campuses being shut down for the spring semester. For next year they plan to increase the number of liberty legislators to a minimum of 250. If the enthusiasm seen at this convention is a good indication, these goals should be well within reach.