Its easy to look back at thankless and unforgiving times and think, "wow, that really sucked" but to look back and think about the lessons learned you begin to encounter a sure sign of adulthood- nostalgia.
2013 is not remembered by many conservative and libertarian activists as a great year for liberty. You go online these days if you're a center-right swinging guy or gal and you probably see a plethora of memes, videos, photos, and articles highlighting and pushing the thousands of young political activists around the country. For me at least, it brings a tear to my eye, because now I'm one of the "old guys," a twenty-three year old college grad working for a living.
About a year ago I was given a chance to attend the Young Latino Leadership summit put on by Turning Point USA during FreedomFest 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The hotel was lovely, the event space was a blast, and while a majority of the summit attendants were still in school, it only reminded me of my time as a libertarian student activist. Think of the exact opposite of the fabulous place I was now filled with many young, enthusiastic people celebrating the ideas of free minds and free markets.
When I started getting involved in 2013, the growing student organizations Young Americans for Liberty and Students For Liberty were still getting their act together. It is amazing the way they have grown since my freshman year, it is night vs day. During that time, colleges didn't know if we were liberals who loved pot brownies, conservatives clinging to our guns, and anarchists flashing our "end the fed!" Signs.
As for group attendance, some student led groups were very successful and active, and then there was mine, with maybe three or four other regular attendance who came because there'd be free pizza. For conferences, they were always in small rooms in the most random of corners provided by the host University. If you were lucky enough to get a hotel stipend, you'd be lucky if you didn't have to sleep on the floor with five other people.
At one conference I attended there was a lecture regarding how to deal with a difficult administration (and this was before the college's really started censoring non-liberal students). "What do you do if they kick you off campus?" the speaker asked us, "You meet at someone's house." We all just kind of looked at him with blank expressions, thinking "well duh, you just find another place."
"What do you do if they say your group is banned and you can't meet?" He said, we were still quiet. "The school can't stop you all from meeting at someone's house, ordering a bunch of pizza and drinking cheap beer and discussing something that really isn't their business anyway."
His advice was simple, but the mindset of resistance in today's youth goes against the obedience most receive thanks to K-12 government indoctrination. The lesson was clear, the forces at hand can only stop you when you let them stop you. All those speakers we hosted, events we threw, conferences we attended, projects we slaved over, when it was time to become a contributing member of the cause of limited government and free markets, we were prepared.
Many of my friends have moved on, they like many others don't have time for politics or this political charade we play in general. Yet for those that stuck around, whether on campaigns or in organizations, whether in journalism or activism, the mindset of taking the blows as they come and appreciating the wins more because of it made all those cheap, crowded hotel rooms and cheaper beer all the more worth it.
To the conservative and libertarian student activists of today, appreciate your time meeting likeminded, fun, and committed people, and getting to rage against the machine in the process, you'll appreciate everything just a little bit more.