I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Young Americans for Freedom. During the 1960s and 1970s, it was the main organization for young conservatives and libertarians, and it was a great rallying point for those who were unhappy about the big-government policies of the Republican establishment.
On a personal level, I started a YAF chapter at the University of Georgia and even attended the 1979 national convention (my aging memory may have the wrong year, but I think that’s right). Along with Ronald Reagan, YAF was part of my political and philosophical development.
So I was disappointed to see that YAF just announced that it is booting Ron Paul off its National Advisory Board. Politico reports.
The Young Americans for Freedom has voted the Texas congressman off its national advisory board in the aftermath of his straw poll win at CPAC over his positions on national security issues. “It’s a sad day in American history when a one-time conservative/libertarian stalwart has fallen more out of touch with America’s needs for national security then our current socialist presidential regime,” said the group’s national director Jordan Marks. The dispute between Paul and the group seems to stem from Paul’s anti-war activities and the prominence of his supporters at conservative events like CPAC.
My disappointment has nothing to do with foreign policy issues, or the policy positions held by YAF or Congressman Paul. My knowledge on these issues is too limited to make any sweeping pronouncements. Instead, I am saddened by the blatantly inconsistent application of conservative purity tests.
I can’t find a current National Advisory Board for YAF anywhere on the Internet (can anyone help me with this?), but I did find sites indicating that both Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich are members of the Advisory Board. Assuming this information is true, has YAF jettisoned Dick Cheney for being part of an Administration that imposed the no-bureaucrat-left-behind bill that further centralized education and bloated the Department of Education? Or did they dump the former Vice President because the burden of federal spending doubled during the Bush-Cheney years?
Or did they get rid of Newt Gingrich for supporting the horrific Medicare prescription drug entitlement? How about Newt’s recent sellout on ethanol? Was that enough of a last straw?
I don’t mean to pick on Cheney or Gingrich. I actually think Cheney was a positive force in the Bush Administration (and I’m even willing to be photographed with the former Veep). And I spent many weekends in 1978 as a student volunteer helping Gingrich first get elected in 1978 and I applaud him for his revitalization of Congressional Republicans in the early 1990s and the role he played in restraining government spending in the mid-1990s.
After all, shouldn’t sauce for the goose also be the sauce for the gander?
I am ecumenical, however,l about expanding the universe of allies. That’s why I’m glad that the gay group, GOProud, is part of the movement for smaller government. And I’m equally pleased that social conservatives are part of the movement because of their strong support for limited government, individual responsibility, and constitutional principles. Similarly, I’m glad that there are allies for liberty who are neo-cons and allies for freedom who are isolationists.
It goes without saying that there is no unanimity on either policy or tactics in the broader coalition for limited government. And groups that focus on specific issues such as gay marriage or Iraq understandably will lock horns on a regular basis.
But groups like Young Americans for Freedom, which claim to represent the entire conservative movement, should have a big tent approach. Or, if they decide that purges are okay, they should be consistent and cut ties with anybody who deviates from the supposed party line.