On the weekend of February 15th-17th 2013, the up-and-coming activist group Students for Liberty hosted their 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC) in downtown Washington D.C. With over 1,200 attendees, the event was dedicated to students advancing liberty on college campuses nationwide. Featuring prominent liberty advocates including John Stossel and John Mackey, the weekend was filled with strategy sessions for young students looking to promote the cause of economic freedom at their respective universities.
FreedomWorks had a large presence at the event including speakers on panels focused on outreach and the growth of grassroots activism. As any older limited government activist will tell you, FreedomWorks represents the authentic grassroots. Yet, many students are still learning what an organization like FreedomWorks can offer them. By participating in ISFLC, the home of grassroots, conservative activism was able to recruit new members while relaying grassroots strategies for the 21st century.
FreedomWorks Director of Communications Jackie Bodnar and Policy Analyst Julie Borowski both took part in a panel discussion on combating media bias. It’s no secret major news outlets take a cynical view of the Freedom Movement. Spreading the message of liberty now requires alternative mediums in order to achieve a broader impact. Given the wild popularity of her YouTube channel, Julie was the perfect proxy to discuss how one person can influence the political process by refining his or her voice. Of course, appeals to emotion can also drive an argument, as progressives have demonstrated, time and again. Jackie encouraged attendees to adopt this tactic while focusing on the fact that individuals are far better equipped to make choices for themselves, rather than relying on a paternalistic government.
After a brief lecture on the rise of free market economic thought, FreedomWorks President & CEO Matt Kibbe discussed the advent of political disintermediation and why it poses such a threat to the entrenched political establishment. The bottom-up, competition driven model of politics, which FreedomWorks helped popularize, is more powerful than ever thanks to the rise of the internet. Despite limited budgets, students enjoy new and unique opportunities to network and promote liberty in the information age. Kibbe stressed the importance of adapting to this new paradigm and how grassroots is dismantling the old guard.
During the conference, FreedomWorks was able to add over two hundred members to its ever-growing list of liberty activists around the country. The rise of the Ron Paul Millennials presents a great opportunity to grow the Freedom Movement. The younger generation is full of ideas and passion. Driven by their desire for a free future, these activists will prove to be important allies in the fight for lower taxes and limited government.
FreedomWorks has always been open to anyone who believes in the simple message of individual freedom. The benefits of economic liberty do not discriminate by age. By tapping into the youthful exuberance of “next generation” conservatives and libertarians at events such as the International Students for Liberty Conference, FreedomWorks will continue to serve as the nation’s premier grassroots service center.