As I continue visiting college campuses, I am pleased to find that students and staff are ‘getting used to’ seeing me on a regular basis. It has become less of a question as to what my presence is for, and more of an understanding that “those libertarians are back” (as one group of students so put it). While Turning Point USA is a non-partisan organization, I find that students tend to associate strong anti-government principles with libertarians. I always tell them that it is not a party that brings us together; it is principles. The idea that we are focused on principles rather than a party has made Turning Point USA an even more attractive student organization for many students I talk to.
Not too long ago, I was on a campus, by myself, setting up my table. As soon as I was done setting up, a student approached me and immediately engaged in conversation with me about The Affordable Care Act. It didn’t take long before I realized that this student was only here to argue with me. I saw him glance over at his friends, who were at a table further down the hall, and I realized he was part of the Socialist group; just here to give me a hard time.
I don’t usually waste my time arguing with the socialists–I just laugh them off and walk away–but for some particular reason, on that day, I felt inclined to debate this student. It could have had something to do with the fact I already had a cup of coffee that morning, or it could have been because of the topic we were discussing (healthcare) and the fact I know several people from Canada and Europe (family and friends) that would have still been alive today if it wasn’t for the consequences of socialized medicine.
Due to the personal nature of this topic, the debate got heated–and again, I don’t usually do this–but we ended up turning heads, and a small circle of people started to form around us to listen in; I didn’t even realize this was happening because of my adrenaline rush. By the end of the debate, the socialist ended up storming off in anger, and I looked around to see fifteen students or so standing there, looking at me.
“Finally! Someone stood up to the socialists! We can’t stand those guys!” One student said. “Thank you for being here and doing that. We’ve needed that for a while.” Another student said.
All the students that witnessed the debate ended up signing up for Turning Point, but not only did they sign up; they all wanted to be chapter leaders. After talking with these students, I found out that they had all been secretly against the socialists, but didn’t feel as though they belonged to a party; therefore, they assumed there wasn’t a group for them on campus. This had also been the first time many of them ever spoke up about their political views on campus. They had always been afraid to speak their minds, assuming they’d be the only ones thinking the way they do; it wasn’t until this day when they realized how many like-minded friends they secretly had among them.
Creating this type of momentum was a powerful feeling, and it was nice to see the silent majority become not so silent anymore. I have a good feeling about what’s next for the students at this campus and how much their chapter is going to grow. Plus, if all those students that just so happened to be walking through the student center during my debate were silently in agreement, then I can only imagine how many more are hiding on campus.