“Today’s youth is the most Libertarian generation that has ever existed,” Alexander McCobin, founder of Students for Liberty, said in a noon workshop Saturday for the Libertarian Party of Texas state convention at the Frank W. Mayborn Civic and Convention Center. The political rally ends with today’s session, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
He said his second main point was that “we as a movement need to focus on inclusion, instead of exclusion. We need to build partnerships with the left and the right.”
“Today’s youth have grown up socially tolerant, but at the same time skeptical of government intervention in the economy,” he said. “And we’re fed up with excessive military intervention in foreign affairs by the U.S. Government, not to mention we’ve seen the failed presidential administration of both a big government Republican and a big government Democrat.”
There have always been Libertarian leanings in American society, he said, but this generation understands the principles and is supporting Libertarian policies more consistently than any generation before. Give it 10-20 years, he said, and the impact of today’s youth, once they take prominent positions in society, will be to shift policy in a much more Libertarian direction.
“Libertarianism is not a new idea,” he said. He cited such events as the signing of the Magna Carta, the ending of slavery, and the expansion of suffrage. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he said, there was a “new birth” or “second wave” of Libertarianism.
“We challenge the purity test, and accept people who agree with us 90 percent, and then have meaningful debate over the 10 percent where we disagree,” he said.
“We need to dispel the idea that liberty means isolation,” he said. “Libertarianism is fundamentally about association and cooperation.
“The second wave of Libertarianism is defined by those who agree with us,” he said. “We are neither opposed to the left or the right. The most respectable ideas of both arise from Libertarianism.”
Students for Liberty is a nonprofit that is not technically associated with the Libertarian Party, he said. “What we support is the Libertarian philosophy, the principles of liberty,” he said.
He started the organization in 2008, when he was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. What was supposed to be a one-time conference, he said, revealed a strong demand. Students for Liberty spreads Libertarian ideas in order to identify pro-Libertarian students on campus. It offers them leadership training and organizational resources, so they can better introduce these ideas to their peers, he said. In six years, this has grown to include more than 1200 student organizations on the six inhabited continents, he said.
Tamaria Smythers of El Paso attended the workshop, along with her husband, Johnny, and son, Harley, 14. “I wanted to show my son you have to be politically active if you want to change,” she said. “And it’s basically his world that he’s going to be living in. This is an educational experience for him.”