Liberty versus liberalism 146

Scooter Schaefer writes at Townhall:

Imagine for a moment you know a student activist at an expensive New England university. This alternatively dressed student and his friends started a campus club that sounds like a 1960’s liberation organization; they regularly attend protests, meet at coffee shops, and engage in philosophy debates. If you are imagining a young liberal radical, don’t jump the gun. There is a new fresh face of student activism that is challenging the liberal bulwark that has long dominated college campuses, and should have you re-examining your pre-conceived notions about campus activism on the right.

The student activist described above could be any number of students that are a part of a movement that is rapidly growing on college campuses across the country, and is neither an extension of the GOP nor a scheme to repackage conservatism. …

National student organizations such as Students for Liberty, Young Americans for Liberty, and Campaign for Liberty are currently experiencing a groundswell of students rallied not by a single political figure, nor an all-encompassing party, but by belief in an idea. Call it libertarian, classical liberalism, or laissez-faire philosophy, but students can rally around what liberty means in their lives; individualism, self-determination, and autonomy.

And for those students who are able to recognize it, the current administration has become …  the single greatest threat to their civil liberties. …

The conservative movement can best incorporate these new lovers of liberty by returning to, and articulating its core principles of limited government, individualism, and unfettered autonomy. Reagan was not a libertarian but found consensus on this issue by masterfully articulating our shared beliefs that a government that governs best is one which governs least.

Students need an idea or belief to rally around. The left has successfully rallied students for decades; not with the arcane intricacies of legislation or party politics, but with a cause. The new face of student activism has taken liberty as their cause. To resonate with these students, the conservative movement would do best to communicate the value it holds in the individual liberties of our citizenry and the belief that government is not the solution, government is the problem.

To those ‘core beliefs’ of conservatism we would add: a market economy and strong defense. We are not sure what ‘unfettered autonomy’ means, or how ‘autonomy’ and ‘self-determination’ are different from liberty. And surely liberty is a much greater thing than ‘civil liberties’. And don’t  political parties form round ideas?

However, we hope it’s true that a lot of students are rallying to the cause of liberty. If true, it’s good news. But how many make a ‘groundswell’?  A rough percentage figure would be helpful.

Posted under Conservatism, News, United States by Jillian Becker on Thursday, October 8, 2009

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