I envy young activists.

They just have this raging fire in their bellies that gives them the power to instigate change, regardless of any obstacles placed in their path.

As we get older, it becomes harder and harder to keep that fire alive. But if I learned anything this past weekend, young activists are contagious – and if you let them, they can stoke those old flames in your own belly, and remind you how liberating it is to get fired up about something important.

The Real Liberty Movement

On Friday afternoon, I made the trek to DC to attend the International Students for Liberty conference.

While I must admit, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the company of quite a few very smart, and very motivated individuals, all with the goal of supporting the liberty movement.

And I’m talking about the real liberty movement. The movement that embraces libertarian ideals, trusts in our constitutional foundation, and rejects all efforts that oppose personal sovereignty.

Of course, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, either. I do have a few criticisms. And I’ll get to those in just a minute. But first, here were some of the important highlights …

Talk to me

Without a doubt, the line up of speakers was truly remarkable.

First, there was the opening session, which included Edward Snowden (via Skype), Ron Paul, and Judge Andrew Napolitano.

This wasn’t my first time seeing Dr. Paul. And of course, he spoke the truth, regardless of whether or not the truth was uncomfortable to hear.  He’s been doing this since 1976.

This was, however, my first time seeing Judge Napolitano. Holy crap did he destroy it!

When he got up on stage and did his thing, man did he light a fire under my ass. What an exceptionally-gifted motivational speaker. He’s like the Tony Robbins of the liberty movement. If I’m able to get my hands on the video from his presentation, I’ll share it with you. It was that damn good.

Another speaker I found to be quite inspirational was Jeffrey Tucker.

During a breakout session entitled, “The Do’s and Don’ts of Talking Liberty,” Tucker essentially boiled down a very important truism for any individual looking to spread the message of liberty: Don’t be a dick!

While I realize Jeffrey Tucker has a lot more class than I do, and clearly this is not what he said, that’s what I got out of it.

Basically, if we have any chance of successfully spreading the message of liberty, we must approach others in a rational, non-hostile manner. The last thing we need is another red-faced beast in an ill-fitted Gadsden Flag t-shirt waving a gun around and screaming about Obama’s birth certificate.

This gets us nowhere, and really makes it very difficult for folks to take us seriously.

Now in the effort of keeping this piece relatively short and sweet, I’ve glossed over the bits and pieces of Tucker’s presentation. However, I’m also hoping there’s some video of this one, too. If so, I’ll be sure to post it.

And finally, Congressman Justin Amash. This was another impressive appearance, and one I wish more folks outside of the liberty movement could’ve seen. His approach to supporting liberty is not one of rage or intolerance, but instead, honest conversation and an unyielding respect for the Constitution.

The truth is, nearly every person I encountered at this conference came across the same way. Very rational, very motivated, and very polite. This is not, however, the image that is often presented by the media when we read about libertarians. And that’s unfortunate, as the very fundamentals of libertarianism offer the quickest path to peace and prosperity.

Here’s a few more highlights …

  • Got to meet the folks behind the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). These people are doing tremendous work, and I strongly suggest checking out their website here.
  • Got to listen to a truly gifted journalist, Elizabeth Brown, talk about sex robots.
  • Had the opportunity to see Liberty Briefing contributor Cathy Reisenwitz. Another gifted writer who has done a tremendous job at bolstering the credibility of the liberty movement.
  • One of the attendees told me I looked like Peter Thiel. I took that as a compliment, and I’m now considering posing as his brother so I can get into VIP events.
  • Saw a decent amount of openly gay relationships in attendance, and no indication of intolerance or bigotry. Big score for liberty!

Now the criticisms

  1. Where the hell was International Students for Liberty when I was in college? Man that would’ve made my transition a quicker and less philosophically-painful one.
  2. A lunch break would’ve been nice. I mean, I’m sure for you twenty-somethings, it’s no big deal to shove a crappy pre-made hotel sandwich down your throat on your way to the next session. But seriously, would it have killed you to set aside an hour for a proper lunch?
  3. Although I’m well beyond my twenties, I did die a little every time someone called me sir.

All in all, I’m glad I gave up a weekend to attend the International Students for Liberty conference. I learned a lot, met a lot of wonderful, like-minded individuals, and walked away with a lot more hope for the future than I had before.

Although there are plenty of us out there, fighting the good fight, it is this next generation of liberty activists that will be responsible for the sea change that this nation desperately needs. I sincerely believe this. And we should support their efforts every step of the way.