November 2, 2007

Cornell Libertarians Hope to Engage Students

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The College Libertarians are fighting for their political ideals as well as some understanding this semester. Several students asked in an informal survey could not even identify what a Libertarian is.
To combat their relative obscurity, the College Libertarians have sparked some interest across campus with a recent chalking blitz with slogans such as, “Who is Ron Paul?” “Ron Paul for America” and “Google Ron Paul!”
Andrew Loewer ’08, president of College Libertarians at Cornell said, “The chalkings are a great way to get people thinking, even people who aren’t interested in politics.”
The chalkings provoked interest around campus, sent some students to their computers to investigate, were ignored by many and caused confusion for others.
Ilana Ginsberg ’08 said, “When I saw the messages, I thought Ron Paul must be someone running for student council.”
One student, when asked who Ron Paul is, thought he was a porn star.
The Ron Paul referred to in both the chalkings and the poll is actually the Republican Congressman and 2008 presidential candidate that most embodies Libertarian ideals. In fact, he ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988 and has maintained ties to the party.
Although Loewer has said that the organization does not officially endorse any particular candidate, it is clear that group members favor the Congressman.
Libertarians favor small government, in economic, social and foreign policy; as a result many Americans who find themselves in agreement with Republican economic ideals and more liberal social views are drawn to the Libertarian Party. This is precisely what draws people to the Cornell Libertarians according to group members.
Loewer explains, “A lot of people that are apathetic, or discouraged with traditional partisan politics. It may be because they don’t identify with any of the [mainstream] groups. I find that personal freedom and limited government intervention is appealing to these people.”
Nigel Watt ’10 described why he joined the Cornell Libertarians. “I was kind of drifting between the Republican and Democratic parties, and not really liking what either said when I read the Libertarian platform. It made a lot of sense to me.”
The issues that are most important to Watt relate to foreign and monetary policy.
“If we maintain an aggressive foreign policy, we will eventually run out of voluntary soldiers and have to force people to fight, which I believe is morally equivalent to slavery,” he said.
On the issue of monetary policy he said, “The current deficit spending is not sustainable in the long run.”
There is also a lot of overlap between the Libertarian and Republican parties among politically active Cornellians.
“We have really found that at Cornell, there are liberal democrats, plenty of them, and than sort of a mix between Republicans and Libertarians,” Loewer said. “The Cornell Republicans are definitely more libertarian leaning than the National Republican party, [and the Bush Administration is leaning in the other direction].” He concluded, “I think that is because a lot of our generation is really accepting and they are not willing to say that alternative lifestyles are wrong.”
For more in this series, click Republicans or Democrats