On February 13th, 14th, and 15th, Students for Liberty held their annual International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. Some of the featured speakers this year included: Former Representative Ron Paul, Andrew Napolitano, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, and, via satellite, Edward Snowden.
This year’s ISFLC marked my third, having previously attended in 2013 and 2014. Unfortunately, as was the case last year, no students from James Madison University made the journey. Nevertheless, Nicholas Farrar, the former president of Madison Liberty did make the conference.
I intended to attend only on Saturday, but on Friday morning I received a call. Apparently a group of students traveling to the conference from Nashville, TN, broke down in Mt. Jackson, VA, about thirty miles north of my home. As luck would have it, they ran into a Methodist minister (who also happened to be my last roommate from college) who contacted me. I was unable to find anyone who could transport the students the rest of the way to the conference and therefore prepared to do so myself. However, right before leaving Harrisonburg, I received word that a bus coming from Texas would pick up the stranded students and thus that particular crisis was averted.
Early Saturday morning, I left for ISFLC along with a new friend and local Democratic activist. The drive north was uneventful, though I was disappointed to discover that the conference was not in the same location as it had been the previous two years. After parking, we made our way from the garage through a dimly lit maze of hotel corridors until we found the check-in counter. While waiting for the annual taping of the Stossel Show, we explored the various informational tables. A handful of groups, like YAL, the Koch Institute, and the Libertarian Party had booths in very visible locations while the majority were clustered on a lower floor. During this time, we ran into the 2014 West Virginia Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate John Buckley.
One of the first fellows who reached out to me was Marc Allen Feldman, an individual who is seeking the 2016 Libertarian nomination for president. Although neither the Republican or Democratic Parties has ever had a booth at ISFLC, The Republican Liberty Caucus did, staffed by former RLC national chairman Dave Nalle.
Over a hundred people stood in line for well over a half an hour as we awaited entrance to attend the Stossel Show.
Although not boasting a list of controversial speakers as they had in previous years, the program did include Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) and a variety of folks who spoke about the abridgement of students’ rights on college campuses, not only in this country, but internationally as well.
As I mentioned to him before the conference, I would have liked to speak to Representative Amash in person too, but the opportunity never presented itself. Nevertheless, I was able to snap a photo of him as he hurried from one meeting to the next.
Given the threat of snow, we decided to leave the conference around 5 PM. I found that unlike previous conferences, parking was exceedingly expensive, $33 for about seven hours.
The drive back started out relatively uneventfully, though a light snow began to fall as we took I-66 through Manassas. By the time we reached Front Royal, the snow reduced visibility to several feet and so I pulled off the road, hoping that the weather would subside, worried that I’d have to spend the night in my car. After a short pause, the snow became lighter and so we continued on. Shortly after turning on to I-81, we were forced off the highway and told the interstate was closed due to several tractor trailer wrecks. Switching to US-11, the journey slowly advanced south for several miles until we could return to the interstate. Although the roads were not in the best condition, we were able to return to Harrisonburg without incident. A drive that normally takes about two hours instead took four.
All in all, it was another enjoyable conference, though it is my sincere hope that many JMU students will be able to experience it for themselves in 2016.