Young libertarian voters, many of whom tend to vote Republican, say they are disappointed in the GOP-controlled Congress and White House.
Hundreds of college libertarians gathered in New York this weekend for a regional Students for Liberty conference. I asked them whether they think this rare GOP super-majority was embodying small-government, individual-liberty values. Between executive orders, foreign wars, a crackdown on immigration and a continuing war on drugs, young libertarians told me they think Trump and Congress need to rethink their priorities.
"Mainly it comes down to, do you want government to have more power or do you want a small government?" said Kassy Dillon, 21.
Dillon, a student at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, said that while Trump and Congressional Republicans have been making strides to deregulate government and businesses, she's disappointed to see the GOP moving toward big government policies in other areas like immigration.
"Building a wall is technically making the government bigger and most libertarians break from him on that issue," she said.
"If you run on a platform of limited government, and you make these promises and you don’t follow through, that can be really disappointing to a voter like myself," said Old Dominion University student Savannah Lindquist, 21.
Robert Clarke, 23, said he felt like the George W. Bush administration was closer to small-government libertarian principles than the current administration.
"I don’t think that was close enough in my world, but we’ve actually taken steps backwards since then. We see more and more a push to restricting immigration, restricting travel to and from certain countries. This push on protectionist trade parties and that’s really hurting the freedom to do what you want to do with your own money," Clarke said.
Although many young conservative and libertarians flocked to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the 2016 primary, many libertarians now say they don't see Paul as their ideal mascot anymore, thanks in part to his support for an executive order on health care.
"I feel like as a libertarian the best I have to go with is Rand Paul, but Rand Paul isn't that great in my opinion when it comes to libertarian orthodoxy," said Ricky Gelin, 23 of University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
And it's not just executive orders. Students told me they see a whole slew of policy pushed from the GOP that they feel is trampling on their individual liberties.
"I think you see a lot of infringements on personal freedom through things like continuing the war on drugs, for example. Continuing our actions in the Middle East. Having crackdowns on stuff like that. I would say that they aren’t necessarily expanding freedom," said 20-year-old Grand Valley State University student Christina Dekoekkoek.
Kyle Giusti, 19, who also attends classes at Grand Valley State University, said Trump has been a "false messiah."
"We see in Trump, a lot of people voted for him because of the foreign wars for example. He goes and sends missiles in to Syria,” Giusti said.
Other student libertarians, like Nicholas Consolini said they were surprised by the GOP's plan to reform the tax code without cutting spending.
"We just passed a $4 trillion budget. For the first time ever we had $4 trillion-plus in the budget. We’re talking about cutting revenues, cutting taxes, but we just keep spending. Spending is going up, up. I’m just like, ‘oh what’s going on?’ We have a Republican majority in both Houses. Whats going on here? We’re supposed to follow our principles,” Consolini, 20, said.
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