A leader of a libertarian student organization challenged Glenn Beck’s self-described libertarianism at an annual gathering of pro-liberty students in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
In his remarks to conference attendees, Students for Liberty President Alexander McCobin criticized Beck for trying to co-opt the word “libertarian.” McCobin encouraged Beck to educate himself about the views of the libertarian student movement by attending a future SFL conference.
Though the conservative talk show host declared himself a libertarian last month, if Beck wants to call himself a libertarian, he needs to disassociate himself from many of his past views, said McCobin.
“I am fine with Glenn Beck becoming a libertarian, but you can’t just apply that term to yourself and expect it to be accurate unless you have the right stances that agree with libertarianism,” said McCobin, president of Students for Liberty, in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Beck has a history of supporting what libertarians deem government intervention overseas and in the personal lives of Americans. He even supported Rick Santorum in the 2012 Republican primaries — a candidate who held views anathema to libertarians.
“[Beck] needs to renounce the social conservatism and neoconservatism that have been hallmarks of his persona,” said McCobin. “Libertarianism does not support these things in government. If people want to be socially conservative in their private lives, that’s fine. Don’t mandate it for everybody else, though.”
But the fact that Beck wants to be seen as a libertarian is a good sign for the growing popularity of the movement, McCobin said.
“I think it’s a sign that we’re winning,” he said. “That [Beck] is trying to tap into the excitement around what we’re doing is indicative of what’s going on.”
If it ever was a contest, libertarianism has certainly triumphed over conservatism in the battle to galvanize non-leftist students. The sixth-annual SFL conference was attended by a record 1,400 students from all over the world. SFL also sponsored dozens of regional conferences on college campuses this year, including events in Venezuela and Africa.
The mood at the conference on Friday night was certainly celebratory. McCobin chalked this up to a successful year of libertarian student organizing, and the movement’s bright future.
“We’re bigger and better than ever before,” he said. “There are lots of things for us to be proud of over the last few years, but I am incredibly excited about the next few years coming up with the student movement for liberty.”
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