A civil debate on foreign policy is desperately needed in this country, especially within the conservative movement. The outside threats facing our nation today are serious but dramatically different from the dangers Ronald Reagan faced during the Cold War.
The neo-conservative policies of pre-emptive war, a domestic surveillance state, and unchecked executive power have not only failed but blatantly violated our Constitution — there’s nothing conservative about them. As Mike Church puts it, “these are decepti-cons.”
Traditional warfare has changed, the Internet has revolutionized revolutions, and we are bogged down in the longest, most costly war in our country’s history. It’s time to revive the conversation about what constitutes a conservative foreign policy.
However, in order to make any progress and grow as a movement, we must treat each other (and act) like adults. Immature name-calling and shameless publicity stunts, particularly those directed at leaders within our movement, have no place in civil discourse.
Tactics like calling Congressman Paul “delusional,” “off his meds,” and referring to his foreign policy as “treasonous” are absurd and downright childish.
Young Americans for Freedom, and specifically YAF’s senior national director, Jordan Marks, owe the congressman an apology.
If Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) are now “more aligned with Obama” than with Ron Paul — as they stated in their own press release — and want to remove him from their advisory board, they are welcome to do so. I suspect many of their members disagree with that decision, but it is certainly the organization’s prerogative.
Fortunately, internal emails and reports have started to surface showing YAF members recognizing these remarks to be ill-conceived and the decision to be mistaken. I encourage more members of YAF to step forward, post on Facebook, Twitter, and on blogs, and call for respect for our conservative and libertarian leaders.
That being said, I will be the first to detest the actions of the few individuals who called Dick Cheney a “war criminal” and disrupted his speech at CPAC. These people do not represent Young Americans for Liberty or Ron Paul, and their actions do not hasten the return of constitutional government.
Yet as any elected official or organization can attest, it is impossible to control the actions of every supporter or member. Unless, that is, YAF wants to take credit for former YAF California State Chair Ryan Sorba’s diatribe last year. Let’s be honest, his actions were no better.
But, just as YAF is not to blame for Sorba’s behavior, one certainly cannot blame Ron Paul for the behavior of a few. Every individual is responsible for their own behavior.
In fact, I want to personally thank new ACU Chairman Al Cardenas for speaking so clearly about the importance of civility at CPAC in this recent interview. I commend Mr. Cardenas for his remarks and wholeheartedly agree.
Now, it has been suggested that Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and Young Americans for Freedom host a debate on foreign policy. I consider this a fine idea. And if mature heads can prevail, I believe a conversation on this and other important issues will only strengthen our movement. Because that’s how friends handle their differences.
But after their recent actions, I am apprehensive to accept an invitation to debate with YAF.
What will be their next stunt? Will YAF’s leadership circulate another press release that mischaracterizes our positions, as they did with Ron Paul? Will YAF’s leadership continue to name-call and use straw-men arguments instead of debating the issues?
I’m very concerned. Up until this point, Young Americans for Liberty has had a great relationship with YAF. I have a few friends in the organization and appreciate its rich past. YAL members revere Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul alike.
But it saddens me to see YAF’s leadership spend more time now attacking their friends than their foes.
If YAF is interested in a civil, intellectual debate on foreign policy, YAL is up for the challenge. But I will not subject our time and respected name to petty name-calling and divisive tactics. YAF must first temper its public statements and agree to a higher standard of discourse.
We can have our disagreements and debates, but let’s keep them respectful, follow the Judeo-Christian values we claim to uphold, and treat each other as we would want to be treated.
In the end, there are far more important battles to fight right now: rapidly expanding government, unsustainable debt, defeating RINOs, and addressing government’s sacred cows — entitlements and defense spending. Our generation’s prosperity depends on it.
This is my final attempt to reach out to YAF’s leadership publically. I truly hope this plea will not fall on deaf ears. I hope YAF’s members (current and former) will apply pressure to its leadership to debate the issues and not attack their allies.
If we can agree that these attacks on Congressman Paul were both inappropriate and imprudent to our shared fight for constitutional government, then as a member of the larger conservative and libertarian movement, YAL will happily accept an invitation to debate foreign policy.
For our generation’s sake, I hope we can move past these ill-advised attacks and unify our movement around civility.
Jeff Frazee is the Founder and Executive Director of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL). He served as National Youth Coordinator for Ron Paul 2008 and worked with Paul to start the Campaign for Liberty and host the Rally for the Republic. Prior to the campaign, Jeff worked as a Deputy Campus Services Coordinator for the Leadership Institute and interned for Paul’s congressional office in the summer of 2005. He is a graduate of Texas A&M, Class of 2005, with a degree in Telecommunications & Media Studies and a minor in Political Science.