(By James Maier, an IUPUI YAL member.)
On December 3rd 2011, a group of over thirty student activists came to IUPUI for the Fall 2011 Young Americans for Liberty State Convention. They came to network with each other and see the speakers that were invited to the event, among them constitutional expert and 2012 Indiana Senate Candidate Andrew Horning, former Ohio State Senator Derrick Seaver, and former Survivor contender and 2012 Indiana gubernatorial candidate Rupert Boneham.
Andrew Horning’s speech that many of the group had seen before was refreshing nonetheless, and touched on the concept of liberty. Horning also discussed how Hoosier and American voters can have their state and federal constitutions, all they have to do is vote for candidates who understand and will abide by the rules within those documents. Horning made the case that laws should be “few enough to know, simple enough to understand, and pure enough to follow”. Horning cited times that voters have made decisions to clean house, essentially saying that since it has been done before, it can be done again, and we can have a constitutional form of government that stays within its parameters.
The interim time was spent by chapters from all over the state discussing what they had done in the Fall 2011 semester. Matt Kappus from IUPUI’s chapter said that they have been focusing on member building by almost weekly tabling and bringing in big names including former UFC fighter and State Senate candidate Chris Lytle and Former Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik. Nate O’Connor from IU Bloomington’s chapter discussed the fact that their YAL chapter had basically taken a hiatus to build another group that will help their YAL chapter in the future. Nathan Murphy, from Purdue’s chapter reported that they had been focusing on fundraising and events, including the fact that they had hosted a Leadership Institute Campaign Bootcamp that Chris Doss and Ross Phar taught. Creighton Harrington, a student at IUPUI, became the Indiana YAL Chairman at the Convention and emphasized the fact that under his leadership, he wanted to build other chapters in the state that will be sustainable over the long run.
The next speaker up was Derrick Seaver, a former state senator from Ohio. Seaver discussed how exciting it was to be in politics right now, especially for our generation. A few of his viewpoints differed from the libertarian mindset present at the event, and this resulted in spirited debate, mostly over foreign policy and monetary policy, yet the civil discourse was a positive as people on our side need to be exposed to differing viewpoints once in a while and to discuss America’s role in the 21st century world, a topic that is crucial to our generation.
The closing keynote speaker was Rupert Boneham, a local philanthropist, former Survivor contender, and Indiana gubernatorial candidate. Boneham discussed his background and how he started his charitable organization, Rupert’s Kids, that helps empower and teach skills to kids who came from less than satisfactory backgrounds. Boneham also emphasized that he wants to be a common man’s governor, as he wants to serve the good of the state, not corporations. The changes Boneham would make include cutting from the top down and eliminating bureaucracy. Another one of Boneham’s main issues is drug policy, as he knows that drug offenders and those who are convicted of victimless crimes make up quite a percentage of those in correctional facilities. Boneham also understands that those who come out of prison have high recidivism rates as a result of the fact that their conviction precludes them from finding work, and that they have been taught how to be professional criminals in their time in jail.
Chris Gault told us that the purpose of having the speakers from various backgrounds, Horning the constitutional libertarian, Seaver the conservative, and Boneham the Libertarian, was to show the attendees the differences between ideas and also to show the fact that there are many views under the umbrella of small government and that for the most part and on most issues, they can coexist and act together to achieve a greater goal.
After the conference, everyone was invited to an event where they discussed key topics of the day including war and the role of government and played Wii bowling, billiards, and ping pong, among other games.
Overall the event was successful and showed the strength of IUPUI’s chapter and organizational skills, things needed to have a successful YAL chapter, and we learned that the future of liberty is bright for Indiana.