National and local conservative political figures highlighted the Arkansas Young Americans for Liberty Convention on March 15 at UCA.
Former congressman Ron Paul kicked off the day’s speakers via Skype to conference attendees in the Student Center Ballroom.
Paul led the most recent push for libertarianism, promoting limited government and an increased recognition of private property rights during his 2008 and 2012 campaigns for the Republican Party presidential nomination.
He said most people are no longer complacent about politics and that a change in culture is happening.
During the Skype interview, Paul also explained economic, foreign policy and personal liberty comparisons between the U.S. and other countries.
He related his speech back to the UCA community, when he commented on the university e-cigarette policy, saying personal liberties should be adhered to and that people should be allowed to use the devices.
UCA revised its e-cigarette policy at the Feb. 21 board of trustees meeting, banning the devices on campus and in university vehicles.
Defense Distributed Director Cody Wilson, former UCA student and Student Government Association president, spoke to the crowd of about 100, discussing his recent efforts to promote transparency in government and increase openness.
He mentioned NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and his influence on American politics.
“The Snowden moment, I think, really changed some people’s ideas or at least kept people listening to something which beforehand they might have regarded as a conspiratorial conversation, something that only the info warriors are worried about, ” he said.
Wilson noted interesting concepts about law and said libertarian figures and promoters of conservative ideals are not focused on conspiracy or “super statism.”
“You have to recognize what the stakes are,” he said. Wilson said above all, libertarians like to honor individual liberties and avoid a continuance of obvious flaws in the political system.
When discussing how many in the U.S. view the current governmental structure, Wilson said people want to paint the U.S. as a passive state.
“This liberal romanticism about the passive state and free market capitalism is helping us kind of paint… the America for which we so pined, the America for which we have such an establishment as a proposition, idea in history,” he said.
Local figures Dr. Amy Beard, economics professor Joseph McGarrity and District 70 State Rep. David Meeks (R-Greenbrier) participated in “A Private Option?” panel discussion.
Meeks said conservative voters should reject the “private option” as a conservative alternative.
Arkansas lawmakers passed a law March 4 allowing the state to use Medicaid money to provide private health insurance for poorer residents, according the Wall Street Journal.
“We need to continue to fight against [the ‘private option’]and repeal it and replace it with something that is more liberty minded,” he said.
Beard, a physician who received her undergraduate degree from UCA, said seven- minute doctor visits are frustrating and that limits on prescriptions and endless paperwork are creating ineffective medical practices.
“You cannot provide good healthcare in seven minutes,” she said. “If someone says they can, they’re lying.”
Beard called the lack of efficiency “maddening” and said lawmakers keep following the same policies that don’t work.
“We as physicians want to provide good care but we’re not allowed to,” she said.
“The current system doesn’t allow us to do what we were trained to do.”
With Beard’s doctor visit policy that prohibits insurance use at her clinic, she said patients are able to receive cheaper medical care and she is able to negotiate with labs in the area for affordable MRIs and x-rays.
“It’s the guys in the middle that are getting it stuck to ‘em,” she said. “Those are the people I try to help.”
Meeks said there is a bureaucracy in Arkansas that creates almost a monopoly in the medical field.
In addition to offering cheaper care, Beard said she pushes her patients to lose weight if obese and that personal responsibility is everything.
“Most of our health care dollars are being spent toward obesity-related health issues – heart disease, diabetes,” she said. “They’re bankrupting us.”
Beard said the current health care model doesn’t address personal responsibility.
Panelists addressed the need for increased freedom in the health care system, specifically in regard to the doctor-patient relationship.
Meeks said, “There needs to be some balance. We don’t want anarchy. We don’t want tyranny.”
“I think anyone that is qualified to provide health care should be able to provide health care,” McGarrity said.
Rare.us Contributing Editor Jack Hunter was the final YAL conference speaker. He spoke about the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conferences and topics of debate for conservative political figures.
Hunter referrenced comments from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee that CPAC was becoming more libertarian and less Republican.
“He was right and thank God for that,” Hunter said.
Hunter said youth movements are a large reason for libertarian success, but the ideals of the libertarian party are representative of common sense principles. He mentioned same-sex marriage, abortion and the legalization of marijuana as topics that should be handled on an individual level.
“Libertarian ideas have substance,” he said. “If people like [U.S. Sen. Lindsey] Graham and Mike Huckabee can’t figure that out, well, time will continue to pass them by. This is nothing new – this libertarian trend.”
Hunter said most politicians represent partisanship and aren’t able to grow strong movements as much as libertarians.
“There is a reason there is 42 percent of self-identified independents in this country because people are tired of all that partisan crap,” he said.
Hunter’s statistic was from Gallup polling in January 2014 that showed a record-high 42 percent identifying as independent while Republican identification fell 25 percent.
Leadership Institute Deputy Grassroots Director Chris Doss discussed the definition of liberty and ideals that embody the libertarian movement.
Boise State University Professor Sheldon Richman gave the history of America’s roots, American Majority Director Matt Robbins presented a grassroots organization model and YAL Midwest Regional Director Creighton Harrington described effective activism.
Young Americans for Liberty Programs Director Edward King welcomed attendees and Arkansas YAL State Chair Zak Kubin, UCA student, gave the closing remarks.