For several years in college, I lived in an echo chamber of liberty. I was vice-president and a founding member of my university’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter, I volunteered on campaigns for the most liberty-leaning candidates I could find, and I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Koch Summer Fellows Program (where I met our illustrious editor, Gina Luttrell). 95% of my friends were libertarian, my boyfriend (now husband) was a libertarian, I studied economics, and the majority of my extra curriculars were very liberty related.
I lived in a bubble where everyone believed roughly the same things I did. There was a good guy, us, and a bad guy, the statists. Our motives pure, and theirs tainted.
Then college ended. I moved to a new city, started attending a new church, and started making new friends.
Any guesses at how many of my new friends are libertarian?
If you guessed zero, you’re correct.
And I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life.
I’ll let you in on a secret it took me over a decade to learn: Surrounding yourself with only people you agree with is a recipe for dysfunction. Well, it was for me anyway.
Because it isn’t us versus them. The world isn’t all Batman vs. Bane, or Frank Underwood vs. whoever is supposed to be the good guy in that awful show.
Sure there are some cut-throat Dems, and some theocratic Republicans, but the vast majority of the “them” we are so used to fighting are good people.
Let me tell you about my friend Ben. Ben is a staffer for a Democratic Congressman from a red state. Ben genuinely wants to make the world a better place. He’s bright and hardworking, honest, and exceedingly kind. He also watches more baseball than I do (which I didn’t know was possible). He doesn’t want to see people have to depend on the government anymore than I do, but he’s following his moral compass to do what’s in his power to make life better for his boss’ constituents.
I have another friend named Cody. Much like Ben, he’s a life-long Democrat from a red state. In fact, he grew up about an hour from where I did. He’s pro-2nd Amendment and loves the state of Alabama more than almost anyone I know. He was the president of College Dems while I was the VP of YAL, and he was never anything but polite and enthusiastic about working together where we could.
I have numerous examples of Republicans who are the same way, but you get the picture.
It is important for us to argue among ourselves and hammer out what we, as a group all rallying under the same banner of liberty, want to stand for. But it is even more important to realized that we have more in common with other young, idealistic (and I don’t mean that the least bit negatively), politically active people than we have differences.
There are bad guys out there, heck, there are bad guys within the liberty movement, but that shouldn’t stop us from breaking through the liberty-bubble and playing nicely with others. We don’t learn a whole lot when we only surround ourselves with people who look, think, and believe the same way we do. We should be clamoring to be friends with the other side, and not just to win votes or believers. We need to gain perspective, we need to develop understanding, and we absolutely need to learn that in the end, it’s all about human relationships and the well-being they provide.