Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Not In My F-ing Name, Congressman!"

Written in April. Publication was delayed to let the incident die down out of respect for YAL.

This month’s Young Americans for Liberty California State Convention in Fullerton was definitely eventful and entertaining, with the lively high points far outweighing the mid-afternoon lulls of sleepiness. Three events perhaps still cling to the minds of the more than 200 liberty movement activists who attended. First was the great video chat with Congressman Ron Paul. Second was the slot where Campaign for Liberty Chairman (and former Ron Paul presidential campaign manager) John Tate talked about the inside scoops of the 2012 campaign.

Third was the question and answer period with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of Orange County following his keynote address. Everyone who attended remembers the ‘F’ word being thrown at Rohrabacher following his answer to a question—an answer which so incensed the inquirer that he saw fit to shout that vulgarity to the Congressman. The title of this article is [almost] the verbatim comment made by the angry libertarian purist. I was deeply offended by this.

I met the angry inquirer and talked with him later on at the Liberty on the Rocks social. He’s a pretty cool guy and I highly enjoyed chatting with him and discussing things only libertarians would care about (such as the differences between Bitcoin and Litecoin). Nonetheless, I simply cannot condone the way he conducted himself to the keynote speaker at the convention. It was rash, it was rude, and it reflected poorly on our organization.

I firmly agree with the political proverb that one’s 80% friend is NOT his 20% enemy. This is the case with Congressman Rohrabacher. I know his record and could already tell my much of the content of his keynote address that he’s not libertarian, but rather a states’ rights conservative. Sure, it would be nice if he was libertarian because then we’d have another Justin Amash, but that’s not the case. We in the liberty movement often become so passionately committed to changing the world into a constitutional/free market Shangri-La that we forget that we need to live life on life’s terms, not the other way around.

Rohrabacher in Afghanistan, 1988
It was already kind of Rohrabacher to drop his community appearances and constituent services for an afternoon to come speak at our convention free of charge. Even though there were elements where he disagreed with us, he was being completely honest in explaining his beliefs and opinions, and he never tried pandering to us on the Ron Paul bandwagon. While Rohrabacher disagrees with our organization in some elements of his foreign policy, he’s our 80% friend, but this weekend some people—not just the angry inquirer but also others who tried trolling him into a debate—treated him as a 100% enemy.

Let me stress where he stands on issues near and dear to our organization (and the greater liberty movement):

· Regardless of the reasons behind his motivation, he supports immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan
· He admitted that supporting the Iraq War was the worst mistake he ever made
· He opposes ObamaCare
· He votes against Federal anti-marijuana bills and supports state-level legalization
· He votes YES on Audit the Fed and co-sponsored two previous Fed transparency acts
· He voted NO on NDAA
He may not be libertarian, but he’s on our side on most of the issues! People like him ought to be welcomed into our movement, and when people as busy as him come and speak to YAL free of charge, we ought to put our best foot forward. In no way is it inclusive or acceptable for we in the liberty movement to troll our keynote speakers into debates and swear at them.

Remember that we’re all human beings and we’re prone to emotions, but we must not become slaves to our emotion. Adam Weinberg made a great point in illuminating the difference between our basis for discussing issues versus the bases of ultra-leftists and neoconservatives: we base our arguments and presentations thereof on reason while the opposition founds theirs purely on emotion. In this context, some of our members abandoned reason for emotion and it reflected poorly on all of us.

Most people don’t enter the liberty movement by reading Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State. Most people don’t become libertarian just by reading Atlas Shrugged. However, many do start to change their minds slightly. It’s our blessed opportunity to politely ask questions that compel them to check their premises. Never is it a good idea to be rude, intellectual-elitist, or to use vulgarity. Otherwise, a potentially dedicated member of the liberty movement is lost forever because of those “rude Ron Paul people.”

On a lighter note, Congressman Rohrabacher gave YAL members an open invitation to join him at his office for liberty-themed movies and discussion. Now THIS is an opportunity for us to politely engage an influential person on the issues and also be good ambassadors of the liberty movement!

Who knows, Rohrabacher may become one of us down the line!

**It should be noted that around the time of writing this article, Congressman Rohrabacher voted in favor of NDAA 2013.  While I find this action highly discouraging, I choose to follow Dr. Ron Paul's example of making enemies of no one, choosing instead to reach out and educate.  I hope to have fruitful discussions with Congressman Rohrabacher in the near future, and still have faith that he'll join the ranks of other former neoconservatives in Congress and climb on-board the great train of the liberty movement.

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First image courtesy of YAL.  Second and third images courtesy of

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