ISFLC 2015

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.

Marc Allen Feldman
Marc Allen Feldman

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.

As we sought out lunch, we ran into Representative Thomas Massie (KY-4).  He was speaking to a gathering of students on a variety of topics.  IMG_2805

Over a hundred people stood in line for well over a half an hour as we awaited entrance to attend the Stossel Show.

IMG_2815Although 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.

Afterward, Representatives Amash, and Massie as well as Young Americans for Liberty leader Jeff Frazee, spoke to a rather sizable gathering of students. IMG_2824

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.  IMG_2827

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.

ISFLC 2014 & Republican Women

Saturday was a busy day politically.  In the morning, U.S. Senate candidate Shak Hill and House of Representatives candidate Paul Bevington spoke to the Republican Women of Shenandoah County.  As mentioned in a previous post, this gathering took place at the Denny’s in Mount Jackson.  I traveled there alongside fellow liberty activist Lisa McCumsey.

Shak Hill reading from the Affordable Care Act bill.  (Note the stack of paper).
Shak Hill reading from the Affordable Care Act bill. (Note the stack of paper)
Paul Bevington in Mt. Jackson
Paul Bevington in Mt. Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afterward, I spent the remainder of the day at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C.  Although I had hoped to attend for all three days of the event, as was done last year, both weather and finances kept me from doing so.  I was disappointed to miss the taping of the Stossel Show which took place on Friday night.

Shortly after arriving, I ran across Jack Hunter giving an interview in the media lounge.

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Next, came a panel discussion with Representatives Justin Amash and Thomas Massie.  Unfortunately, due to weather, Massie was unable to attend and thus joining Amash on stage was Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks and Jeff Frazee of Young Americans for Liberty.

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Although James Madison University has sent a contingent of students in previous years, to the best of my knowledge there were no JMU students present this year, nor anyone else from the Harrisonburg area.  Nevertheless, it was great to run into two former members of Madison Liberty, Reid Walker (not pictured) and Luke Wachob, now working for the Center for Competitive Politics.

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It was difficult to gauge attendance at ISFLC this year.  Although the conference occupied a greater portion of the hotel and more organizations were participating, actual student numbers were unavailable by the time I left on Saturday evening.  Given the Facebook chatter beforehand, it was likely that a good number of students had to unexpectedly cancel at the last minute (again due to snow).  All in all, it seemed like another great event, one that I would highly recommend for college students to attend if given the opportunity.

On a more personal note, as I made my way back to the Metro station, I ended up taking a wrong turn and became lost.  I was grateful that a young woman pointed me in the right direction.  Once she realized that I still wasn’t quite sure where I was going, she kept popping up every block or two, making sure I found my destination successfully.  I regret to say that I did not get her name, but her kindness was very much appreciated.

Yes, I believe it is fair to say that Saturday was quite an interesting day!