A couple days ago, I received an email through the Crothers chat list that excitedly announced the start of a Libertarian Club at Stanford (in red and blue script, of course). The email asked “Want to meet other libertarians and freedom lovers? Are you interested in joining a student group on campus for libertarians to socialize, network, and just meet other like-minded people?” I was intrigued. Although I am more of a classical liberal than a libertarian, I was interested to see that a broader range of political views was trying to get established on campus.
But why now? Libertarian thought has been a growing part of conservative dialogue for over thirty years and arguably since Barry Goldwater took his place on the national stage. Stanford organizations already count among their number the Stanford Conservative Society, Stanford Democrats, and even the Stanford Objectivists.
So why is this the moment for Stanford Libertarians?
It could be that this is the first time there has been a dedicated group of students willing to go through the effort of making a libertarian group. But I think that it probably goes deeper than that. The 2012 election cycle has accrued a lot of support for the libertarian candidate of choice, Ron Paul, and that support is deeply linked to college students. Maybe the Stanford Chapter would not directly campaign for Congressman Paul (or maybe they will) but the important thing is that they are representing a distinctly libertarian viewpoint on campus.
So why are Ron Paul’s libertarian beliefs so popular with college students? This question has been batted around by different news organizations over the past few months, especially in light of the fact that President Obama’s poll numbers are not nearly as strong with college students as they were in 2008. Of course, there are many different answers to this question.
Maybe it is because Dr. Paul is so completely distinct from either the Republican or Democratic establishment that he appeals to those who are fed up with politics. Maybe it is because he is concerned with the debt that will most drastically impact the college student generation and he is the only candidate that wants to dramatically slash spending to stop that impending crisis.
But most of all, what students from Florida State to University of Minnesota to UC San Diego seem to like most about him is his consistency.
Paul recently declared that he would stay in the primary race “until the votes are counted at the convention”. While most Republican pundits are upset by the fact that he is taking some attention away from Governor Romney, his refusal to leave the race is characteristic of his entire political philosophy.
Ron Paul is incredibly consistent in his positions—like it or not, he will never go against his ideal of small government in all its forms.
While people on both sides of the aisle can argue that students only support him because he wants to legalize marijuana, there is something much larger than that in his appeal.
Whether you decide to join Stanford Libertarians, vote for Ron Paul, or just think that he is a bit crazy, there is no doubt that Ron Paul has changed the political dialogue both nationally and on college campuses across America. And that is something we can all admire.