The Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) Spring Summit in Denver, CO, on was held on Saturday, April 8th. There were panels, debates, workshops, and the one and only Thomas Massie as the keynote speaker. It was a blast for the hundreds of young activists in attendance at the event.
Most activist events are training guides to tear down the opposing viewpoints. This event, however, was not that at all. Instead, the consistent theme throughout the night was how to engage in discussion with those we disagree with. How do we can build relationships with people who have little-to-nothing in common with us.
The room was fired up when the libertarian-leaning Republican Congressmen from Kentucky, Thomas Massie, approached the stage. He was praised by the crowd with a standing ovation. His speech began with a thank you to the young libertarian crowd, followed by a jab towards his fellow politicians, praise to free markets, and criticism towards the president.
Towards the end of the Congressmen’s speech, his tone changed. He asked the crowd to do some soul-searching, and gave us advice on what to do with the knowledge we own. giving us a few pointers on how to make it into the political arena without losing our souls. His advice was not limited to the liberty movement, but to anyone who wants to better themselves and the people around them.
Congressman Massie outlined six specific pieces of advice in his speech. They are as follows:
1. Use Comedy to Advance Conversation
Comedy is an icebreaker that helps conversation flourish; especially when you’re in a room with people who may find your ideology to be annoying or even selfish. People are way to serious sometimes, Massie argued. Instead of trying to make light of conversations, people become way too serious and prefer to scream at one another rather than having a conversation. Laughter can bring two ideologues together for a second, but a second is all we need to begin a conversation with people who disagree with each other.
2. It is Okay to be an Ideologue, Not a Partisan
This is the piece of advice that every other politician needs to pay attention to. Standing on principles means defending your belief system regardless of who is in office or who represents you. It means taking a stand against the principles that go against your own and not giving an inch to people who want to destroy what you have. Being partisan means standing with your party before your principles, and it means giving up on the things you believe in so you can receive praise from the group you’re in. Massie admitted to being an ideologue to the liberty philosophy, but will never be partisan for the Republican Party.
3. Don’t Be a “Lazytarian”
This piece of advice was focused towards the libertarian crowd, but the point behind this piece of advice matters to everyone who wants to succeed. He explained in detail the difference between someone who is successful and the person who wakes up every day and blames the world for their problems, how unlikely they are to turn that day into anything productive, and how their life won’t turn into anything if they choose to continue down that path. The person who wakes up and jumps at the world and decides to do whatever they can to make sure that the day turns into something better is the person who succeeds. This is common sense, but it’s something we all need to hear.
4. Choose Your Candidates Correctly
Everyone chooses their favorite candidates based on what they personally believe in, and no person can truly choose the candidate that is perfect for everyone. What he meant by this is that we should really study a candidate before we throw support behind them. Consider everything that person has done–from being an activist to changing their mind on policy. Whether or not they have done things for their community, written Op-Eds about policies they care about, participated in past political campaigns, etc. His warned against blindly following others and the consequences for making decisions like that.
5. Pick the Right Major
At the beginning of his speech, he said that he only had five pieces of advice for the young crowd. However, in the middle of it, he added this one and decided to share it before he went to his last piece of advice. Choose the right major. He believes that choosing the right major in college is a vital part of success, and that it’s something not enough people put a whole lot of thought into. There is too many people out there who take degrees that don’t separate themselves from the pack. If you have trouble from the get go distinguishing yourself as something special, you’re already behind. He also made the point to the people getting law or political science degrees to change their major to something like engineering, because Washington (in his opinion) needs less lawyers and more engineers. His reasoning was that lawyers start from a position and find evidence to back up that perspective, while engineers have to piece together evidence and then solve problems on the basis of the evidence.
6. If You’re Being Bullied, Double Down
In you’re in Washington, DC, and not being bullied, you’re not doing your job correctly. This is a rule that applies to basically every field (my opinion, not Massie’s). Success always leads to people who want to tear down that success because of jealousy or power. Because of that fact, if one wants to be successful, they must not bow down to anyone. Massie described several instances in his relatively short political career of when he’s been bullied, including one a couple of weeks ago involving the current President. Despite the threats, Massie hasn’t backed down. He has fought back twice as hard. This advice should carry on to every person, regardless of the situation.
Thomas Massie is not your usual Congressman, nor is he your average person. He is a successful engineer, entrepreneur, and a politician that stands on principle rather than party.
It was rare to hear a crowd of libertarians cheer for a politician, but it’s also rare to have a politician who wants to limit his own power.