Events The Growing Libertarian Youth Movement

Q and A with SFL's Alexander McCobin and Blayne Bennett


Government continues to grow in size and scope, and yet there may be reason for liberty lovers to be optimistic about the future.

In 2007, college students formed the non-profit organization Students for Liberty to aid the growth of libertarian campus groups. Today, Students for Liberty has grown to include more than 400 pro-liberty campus groups and the organization was recently featured in an episode of Stossel on Fox Business Network.

On March 31, 2011, Students for Liberty hosted a Stossel viewing party at Reason's D.C. headquarters.

Co-founder and executive director Alexander McCobin and communications manager Blayne Bennett sat down with to talk about the organization's history, it's success and, why they're optimistic about the future of liberty.

Hosted by Nick Gillespie. Shot and edited by Joshua Swain.

Approximately 2 minutes.

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  1. As a libertarian I’ve never been much of a joiner. My libertarianism is kind of a suicide pact like that.

    1. Same here. I’m more of a “none of the above” kind of libertarian, but not to the point of becoming an anarchist. I loathe the smell of Molotov cocktails.

      1. Anarchism and chaos are not the same thing.

        1. There are many people who are incapable of grasping that.

          1. Grasping what?

          2. I didn’t say anything about chaos. If you’re not on Red Team or Blue Team, and you’re not a libertarian; you’re probably an anarchist or a nihilist. Is there a peaceful path to anarchy?

            1. Is there a peaceful path to totalitarianism?

              1. Sure; electoral passivity.

              2. Is there a peaceful path to totalitarianism?

                Unfortunately, Sy, yes, there is a peaceful path to totalitarianism. That’s what makes it particularly scary and insidious.

                It doesn’t require violence to discover, bit-by-bit, brick-by-brick, you’ve had a prison built around you.

            2. Corporate Drone, I don’t think you understand the austrolibertarian definition anarchy.

              1. I didn’t realize I was limited to only the Austrian School’s definition. Do you think most self-proclaimed ‘anarchists’ give a flying fuck about von Mises?

                1. Most is the critical word, there.

            3. “If you’re not on Red Team or Blue Team, and you’re not a libertarian; you’re probably an anarchist or a nihilist.”

              Or a Communist. Or fascist. Unless you’re putting them in the nihilist category.

              1. Yes, or a socialist, or any of the various anarcho-whatevers. I left them out because they likely define themselves one way or the other & I couldn’t care less how they do so, but when it comes to voting — if they vote at all — they briefly go along with Red Team or Blue Team.

              2. Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it’s an ethos

                1. Alright, Walter SoulCheck

  2. Not really buying their assertion that this is the “most libertarian generation ever.” The youth vote broke sharply for that epitome of libertarianism, Mr. Obama.

    1. It’s a matter of numbers. Last generation there were eleven libertarians. This generation boasts twenty two. That’s a huge percentage increase.

      1. And one day, we’ll get enough to scrap together a whole baseball team.

    2. “Libertarian” has become an affectation. Get a bad haircut, wear a white polo shirt with popped collar, suggest legalizing pot so the government can tax it, and voila! Instant libertarian youth!

      1. As a member of the Texas LP, I’ve never seen one of these.

  3. “We’re libertarian as much as government will pay for it!”

  4. Not really buying their assertion that this is the “most libertarian generation ever.”

    It’s probably the least?and probably provably so. There’s certainly no subject the average youngin’ thinks law is unfit to touch, and that might be unprecedented. (I don’t have any polls from ancient Egypt.)

    And a solid majority of the under-35s I know are madly obsessed with vetting every person and business they interact with for impure Beck/Palin/Koch/etc. sympathies, so they can shun, boycott, and denounce them. It’s how they bond.

    But! Some of their best imaginary friends from TV are gay, and there’s one black guy at their job and they’re totally cool with him, so…hey. I mean, if Glee lasts like four more seasons, and pot gets taxed like tobacco, and tobacco is banned, and all suspected Republicans (e.g., libertarians) are hounded out of public life, and business, and karaoke night, it’s libertopia ho, yo.

  5. No audio here, but that attractive young blonde can’t be part of the “growing libertarian youth movement” (in my personal experience it seems like my generation is actually more liberal than previous ones). I must therefore assume she’s the token statistic for the discussion.

  6. As a member of this so-called most libertarian ever generation, I’ll say I actually think its more or less true. prolefeed mentions upthread that the youth vote broke heavily for Obama in 2008, but I don’t think that negates the idea that this generation is more libertarian than any yet. The youth vote broke heavily in his favor in large part because of the wars and the (misguided) perceptions that Obama was going to end Iraq and not get us involved in future idiocies, as it was believed McCain would.

    Moreover, I think one thing that needs to be considered here is that, thus far, the growth in libertarianism among my generation has come largely at the expense of Republicans. Social conservatism does not have much appeal to all but a few evangelical youths, people are beginning to see war as a) too costly and b) bringing about uncertain results.

    Liberals have so far been a bit more immune to it because they don’t understand basic math and can’t look at the batshit crazy trajectory of spending vs revenue and recognize that we are insolvent. Some might eventually see the light, but once the bond market tells us to fuck off, most young liberals will only radicalize in the other direction towards full on state-socialism/communism.

    1. So your argument is that we’re just stupid rather than anti-libertarian? I can see that.

      Although I would argue against Obama’s youth popularity being based primarily on the war. I heard a lot of stuff about him being post-racial and sooooo intelligent.

      1. I can’t tell you how many times I tried telling people erudition =/= intelligence and that logic and communicative language skills are not just not codependent, but are more often than not mutually exclusive (the idiot has to be more persuasive with the tongue because the ideas s/he offers don’t come furnished with an internal logic that speaks for itself). But sadly, stupid follows stupid.

        And yeah, I didn’t mean to underestimate the race factor, although I’d say the very idea of voting for a guy due to his color ipso facto negates the very idea of it being a post-racial choice (again, logic is lost on far too many). I’ll admit that I was kinda proud on inauguration day insofar as electing a black man did demonstrate unequivocally a sort of evolution in racial attitudes in the country (albeit one that was already evident to any clear thinker a decade prior), but certainly not a post-racial attitude. His election was about embracing a previously maligned race, but definitely not about disregarding race as an issue altogether, far from it.

        1. Going to throw this in here, but the 2008 election had really high voter turnout because (drumroll, please) lots of black people who normally stay home came out to vote for Obama.

          If people had been focusing solely on the issues, he would have one by a bit smaller of a margin, I think. (What I mean here is that if the voter turnout was 100% or if the extra percentage stayed home, Obama wouldn’t have gotten as much of a majority.)

          1. True, and when you take Obama out of the equation — like, say, the 2010 mid-term election — we saw voter turn-out among blacks and young voters DROP.

            Random link to back-up my claim:

            Pop quiz:
            Who thinks blacks and young voters are going to turn out for Obama in 2012 like they did in 2008?

    2. The youth vote broke heavily in his favor in large part because of the wars and the (misguided) perceptions that Obama was going to end Iraq and not get us involved in future idiocies, as it was believed McCain would.

      I doubt that. They seemed to vote for Obama because he perfectly reflects the Millenials in so many ways–superficial, shallow, unaccomplished, and most importantly, highly PC, a candidate tailor-made for the “everybody gets a trophy” generation who thinks they should be rewarded and respected just for showing up.

      They voted for him because, to be quite honest, they wanted to vote for the “first black President,” in order to tick it off their silly Things To Do Before I Die list that they probably wrote up their junior year of high school, along with “volunteer at an animal shelter,” “climb a 14’er”, “visit Paris,” and other pointless SWPL status tics. Some commenter here remarked that if Obama had been white, he wouldn’t have even been considered because John Edwards already had the same act and ridiculous platitudes in a pale-skinned body.

      1. Wow, that was beautiful!

  7. The youth today are not more libertarian, just more trendy. And “libertarian” happens to be a trendy label. Why did they all vote for Obama. Because he was trendy too.

    1. I’ll believe that when I stop intentionally not mentioning my political beliefs around people my age. They usually roll their eyes and laugh.

  8. Campus libertarianism largely disappeared when the Vietnam war ended.
    That it has gained traction again, through SFL, demonstrates an increased interest in libertarianism by students
    and – let’s not forget – exemplary leadership qualities by McCobin and his team.
    (And, yes, go to an SFL conference and you’ll see the women are exponentially hotter and more numerous than at your typical LP conference of recent past.)

    1. ou’ll see the women are exponentially hotter and more numerous than at your typical LP conference of recent past.

      And right when I’m about to stop being a student, too.

  9. One thing that always strikes me when seeing a group of young libertarians: Old Mexican must possess the lion’s share of the world’s supply of libertarian melanin.

    1. Yeah, and we all hate fags, too. Fucking idiot.

      1. Hey I’m not calling anyone names, it’s just an observation. Even more peculiar to me, perhaps, than your being overwhelmingly caucasion, is your embrace of it to the point of near-albinism. Libertarians are allowed on beaches, last I checked.

        1. Nice try, racist.

        2. “Just an observation” my ass, you disingenuous troll. Don’t act like you didn’t intend to imply something. If it was just an observation, you would simply observe, and not say a word about it.

        3. You intolerant peckerwood, you! BushPig’s Admin was as “diverse”, if not more so, as ObamaPig’s.

      2. A little racist of you to assume OM is “brown”, isn’t it. You are trying to be too clever, TOne-TOne.

        1. You people have the cheap imitation of fake indignation down. I’m trying to think how much of the humor among my liberal, elitist, multiracial friends is racial in nature. A lot. We don’t have any anxiety over it because we aren’t paranoid about being called racists because we aren’t actually racists.

          1. Everyone’s racist dude.

          2. You’re not paranoid about being called racists because you consider each other members of the same political tribe, not because you’re actually tolerant of other ethnic groups. If the politics were different, you’d be calling each other racist terms with all the malice you could muster.

            1. Maybe. In my political tribe are people of diverse skin shades. What about yours?

    2. Speaking of melanin enhanced libertarians, whatever happened to The Art POG?

      1. He shows up from time to time, but not enough. We probably drove him away with our racism and our fag drags and whatnot.

    3. As opposed to the Democratic party where everyone is all colors and all types of stupid.

    4. Only someone obsessed with race would notice such a thing.

      1. In case it’s not obvious, my comment is directed at Tony.

      2. Nope, any all-white movement in the US is noticeable all by itself. Like the KKK, libertarians, and Republicans. It’s surprising there are enough white people to go around, really.

        1. Or the Vermont Democratic Party.

        2. Why would poor blacks vote against welfare and free healthcare? The very notion is absurd. Minorities are only capable of starting street gangs and drug cartels, not works of philosophical and political genius.

          Don’t be ashamed to be white, bro.. the nordic race are the ones that have created civilization, art, science, literature and technology… there’s parts of Africa where tribes still wear penis gords, practice cannibalism, and human sacrifice.. they haven’t evolved in thousands of years.

        3. Including the anti-war protests?

    5. Pretty much the first libertarian who was not me that I ever talked to in person was black. He was a white black guy, but he was black.

  10. The youth were a big part of voting in the sack of shit with big ears.

  11. I’ve seen Reason cover several things from SFL, yet there has been no coverage of the largest Libertarian Youth organization, Young Americans for Liberty.

    1. There’s a reason for that

      1. And that is?

        1. Communications manager isn’t as attractive.

        2. I probably shouldn’t have made myself sound so sure, since this is conjecture. And I’m going to make myself sound like a Progressive mouth-breather, but….the Koch brothers.

          YAL is the brainchild of Ron Paul, and therefore owes a lot to Rothbard and Rockwell. Lew and Murray hated the Kochs WAAAY before it was cool.

          Students for Liberty therefore, is safer for Reason to cover, given Reason’s ties to the Kochs. Not sure if the Kochs are involved with the Students for Liberty or not, though.

          And there’s my conspiracy rant 🙂

  12. we need new faces for young libertarians. they look like a brooks brothers ad.

  13. I don’t know if my generation is any more libertarian then previous ones. I only know that I am a libertarian, and a so-called “millennial”. Also, I didn’t vote for Obama.

  14. While its great to know that many youth are turning to Libertarianism, rejecting Liberalism and Neoconservativism it should be noted that we have still a ways to go. Paleocons are always creeping up there to get youth to accept their cold war era bullshit.

  15. rejecting Liberalism and Neoconservativism it should be noted that we have still a ways to go. Paleocons are always creeping up there to get youth to accept their cold war era bullshit.

  16. As a member of Young Americans for Liberty, I can verify at the very least that the chapter at the University of Central Florida (second largest in the nation) is largely Rothbardian in philosophy. It is primarily white, but I have seen time and time again that diversity of thought, priorities, cultural background and social class far exceeds that of the College Democrats or College Republicans. Recently we hosted a national debt awareness event on campus and invited all of the political groups on campus to join, including Democrats, Republicans, SDS and NORML. Only the Republicans bothered to show up, and were basically as effective as the old guard members of the GOP typically are in addressing debt and government spending. Our group is made up of moderate right-leaning libertarians, Truthers, potheads, immigrants, left-libertarians, punk rockers, social conservatives, blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Middle Easterners, Christians, Jews, atheists, non-interventionists, minarchists and quite a few anarcho-capitalists and voluntaryists. And our numbers are increasing.

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