I grew up in the suburbs on New York and I now go to college in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s safe to say that 90% of the people I’ve met and interacted with in my daily life have been left-leaning. It has always been a struggle for me to openly voice my opinions and views on anything even somewhat political, because I was always mobbed by a crowd of people who tell me I’m ignorant, uninformed, insensitive, not checking my privilege, or just plain stupid.
So, in high school I mostly stayed silent. People knew I was more right-leaning (I was Republican back then, but I was always the “socially liberal” type) but I avoided conversations and debates because they never ended pretty. As most high school kids tend to be, I was not as informed on the facts, so I had less confidence in my own arguments. However, it never felt right to keep quiet when people would say something that I knew was not true. My school was an echochamber, and no one was willing to speak out against it.
In my freshmen year of college, I very well knew that my school was overwhelmingly-liberal. I wasn’t going to make the mistakes I did in high school and try to debate every left-leaning person on every issue, because that wouldn’t have made it easy to make any friends. So, for a while, I stayed quiet. But, it didn’t take too long to find out that an actual Socialist Party was also very popular on campus. And by my second semester I had already experienced first hand the kind of radical, left wing, biased teaching that was shaping the minds of my fellow students. I took a US Government and Politics course and, though the professor would point out many times that she had “no political leaning”, it was pretty clear which party she favored.
Anyone who praises the socialist policies of FDR’s New Deal is most definitely not a friend of liberty and free markets.
This was also the high point of the primary elections, and that lead to many discussions involving certain candidates and policies. I distinctly remember after one of the Republican debates talking about some of the policies mentioned by several candidates, and yet most of the class’s comments were about how “racist” the Republicans were, or how they don’t care about the poor or minorities. I was a little more courageous that day and mentioned how Rand Paul – my favorite of the candidates – had called out police brutality and actually aimed to offer solutions to minority community problems. But the teacher immediately dismissed me and vouched more for the Democrats’ way of dealing with these issues (maybe she doesn’t know how awful Detroit and Chicago have been for minorities under the Democrats?).
This continued the rest of the semester, and while I started to become a bit more politically active, I still stayed in my lane and just allowed everyone to believe the propaganda they were being fed. After Trump won the Republican nomination and Hillary narrowly stole the election from the socialist lunatic, I was completely fed up and tired with all of the political nonsense. That’s when I really found the Libertarian Party. I started following Libertarian news outlets on all of my social media accounts and became heavily involved in learning about the principles of the party and the core message.
Being a “moderate Republican” never felt right, and ‘Republican’ held such a sour connotation. So being able to identify politically as something different was refreshing and made me feel proud about my views again. I learned more about economics and social issues from people like Ron Paul and Milton Friedman and every word seemed to resonate deeper with my beliefs. I liked the idea of true freedom and this was the only party that seemed to care about that.
With this newfound resurgence in my beliefs and how hopelessly mislead many of my friends were, I couldn’t help but start to take action and spread this message as much as I can.
Now, being a active Libertarian on social media platforms like Facebook is not exactly the most glamorous life. People will either ignore the things you say or try to “inform” you about the “real
facts” in the comment section. I’m a marketing major, so half of my education is to understand markets and consumers and what will make people money. And, yet, people always try to claim
that I am the one who is uninformed on economic policies that work and that capitalism is evil, exploitative, and wrong. This is sad to see, and simply a failure of the indoctrination kids have
been getting from our public school system.
I don’t try to debate people anymore, I simply present the facts and a logical argument and hope that it catches on. I am, however, not always the best messenger of libertarian philosophy. I make too many assumptions that many of my liberal friends can’t quite grasp, so I’ve had to alter my way of teaching several times. Yelling at people about privatizing roads was not the way to get people to buy into the philosophy, but you grow and learn to be more receptive to what ideas people do seem to believe in.
I can’t say that I’ve had many people come up to me this year and tell me about how reformed they are politically and that now they believe in libertarianism; that’s just never going to happen. However, I can confidently say that I have had a few honest conversations with people who were willing to listen, willing to be objective, and not fall in line with the propaganda of the left. This is a start.
By saying something today, maybe you encourage someone else to say something tomorrow. Maybe someone hears “libertarian” for the first time and they actually go do some research and find that they do align with their core principles. Change isn’t easy, but it has to start somewhere. I know it’s hard. People may give you some side-ways glances. During the presidential debates I was shushed every time I pointed out logical fallacies in Hillary Clinton’s policies, but I kept pointing them out and eventually some people started to be a little more doubtful. These types of things tend to have domino effects. You have to just be confident in your beliefs and not afraid to call out the nonsense when it happens.
So, please, if you are a libertarian surrounded by liberals and socialists, make your voice heard. Be louder than the crowd. You’re not alone and if you’re brave enough to speak up, you’ll inspire others to do the same.
* Erik Picone is a marketing major at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a former Republican, and now-proud Libertarian who cares about spreading the message of liberty and economic freedom. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter, shutting down regressive leftist arguments.