Libertarian conference experiences growth
Libertarians could prove a force to be reckoned with in future elections if a growing number of MSU students and college supporters keep gaining momentum.
About 100 students gathered at the Business College Complex on Saturday to hear from various academic leaders, advocates of libertarianism and notably, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., at the 2012 Students for Liberty Michigan Regional Conference.
Libertarianism, an ideology with ties to the Republican Party, advocates for smaller government and fewer restrictions as a path to economic prosperity. Leaders say the movement has noticeably grown at MSU since the 2008 election from just a handful of students to the large turnout this year.
“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” said Matthew Needham, political theory and constitutional democracy junior and Students for Liberty Midwest regional director. “We have over 80 students from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.”
Needham said there were three participants at his first meeting with MSU College Libertarians two years ago, and he is very pleased with how much the group’s numbers have grown despite the previous shortcomings of the Young Americans for Liberty MSU chapter.
U.S. Representative Justin Amash speaks during the closing keynote at the 2012 Students for Liberty Michigan Regional Libertarian Conference on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. Amash spoke about economic and political issues. Katie Stiefel/State News
Kolin Karchon, MSU alumnus and founder of both the Young Americans for Liberty and Students for Liberty MSU chapters, said the participant numbers are coming closer to what college Democrats and Republicans have at their meetings.
“This conference is a very special one because you have people talking about philosophy, as opposed to particular Democratic or Republican cheerleading kind of things,” Karchon said.
Among the speakers at the conference, Ohio State University Department of Economics Senior Lecturer Nick Snow presented his insight on the Bootleggers and Baptists political model, which used the 1920s prohibition law to show how politicians and criminals can benefit from the same policies.“His conversation behind the Bootleggers and Baptists has always intrigued me,” said Glenn Nausley, Students for Liberty member and political theory and constitutional democracy sophomore.
“How you have these two conflicting ideas or two conflicting people, morally, who are cooperating for the same end.”
Karchon said the collective MSU Libertarians are a “very open-minded” group whose members don’t make a mockery of differently thinking individuals.
“We like to just have an open debate and honest discussion about what’s going on,” Karchon said.
“We’re interested to share why we think the way we do and hear why you think the way you do.”