Winning on Principle
May 25, 2010 at 11:00 AM
Reprint from the first issue of Young American Revolution:
In 1969 at the Young Americans for Freedom national convention in St. Louis, a young libertarian activist stood up, declared the Vietnam War an imperialist adventure, and burned a facsimile draft card. Hysteria ensued.
Since that moment there has been a deep divide between the conservative and libertarian factions on the Right. Both have gone on bitterly to pursue their own interests, neither side making much of an effort to mend the broken relationship and work toward shared ends.
Three decades later, conservatives can claim great political success, but have stood weak at the knees on principle. Conversely, Libertarians can profess their longstanding principles, but cannot point to any significant political victory. Both movements have failed to limit the size and scope of government and protect our personal freedoms. Our country has only suffered for it.
As conservatives stare in the mirror searching for direction and libertarians ride high on the successes of the Ron Paul presidential campaign, now is the time to reconcile the past and forge a revived spirit of “winning on principle.”
Conservatives can no longer campaign for lower taxes, limited government, and personal responsibility then turn around and govern as corrupt big spenders in bed with special interests. This path has resulted in Democratic takeovers in the Congress and the White House. Long-term viability rests on sticking to principle and restoring the American ideals of life, liberty, and private property.
On the other hand, libertarians can no longer ﬁght from the outside looking in. Saying, “I told you so” after losing elections year after year is no longer an acceptable excuse. Developing an attractive message, using the proper political vehicles, and supplying practical answers to mainstream issues are necessary now. Of course, this is not a suggestion to compromise on principle, but rather to shift tactics and get a better understanding of political realities.
Young Americans for Liberty is prepared to restore the split that occurred in 1969 and supply a future generation of leaders. We recognize that political success is only honorable if we stand for principle, and that liberty will only prevail if we win politically.
Executive Director, YAL