Tom Woods, who has written two books that have appeared on the New York Times Bestsellers list, gave the keynote address at the Young Americans for Liberty convention this weekend. Held at the Holiday Inn in Manhattan on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., various speakers, including John Matta, the mayor of Manhattan, lent their time to the Libertarian convention, organized by the K-State chapter of YAL.
In his speech, Woods talked about how he believes Libertarians represent a “third America” in today’s political society.
“We are the alternative,” Woods said, in reference to the mainstream politics of Democrats and Republicans. “Up until now, there hasn’t been room for us on the spectrum.”
While Libertarians are not one of the two primary parties in the country, Woods emphasized that, with advancements in technology, it is more possible for third parties to have their voices heard.
“Anybody can use technology,” Woods said. “The point is that the establishment, the mainstream opinion, they’ve always been able to reach the public. They can reach the public through the media and they can reach the public through YouTube. We can’t reach the public through the media, but we can reach them through YouTube.”
Woods added to his point that mainstream politics and economics do not need viral Internet attention to reach the public’s mind.
“People don’t need to go the Internet to find out about mainstream economics, they can read about it in the newspaper,” Woods said. “They have to go to the Internet to find out about us. We went from zero visibility to being one mouse click away to finding out about us.”
It was a packed conference room at the Holiday Inn, and many students were on hand to watch Woods’ speech, some of whom did not necessarily define themselves as Libertarians.
Most people felt hosting such a prominent speaker at the convention was a big positive for the K-State community.
“It’s exciting for K-State,” said Rane Cravens, junior in political science and a member of the KSU College Republicans. “It’s important to hear another voice in the argument. You don’t just have to be a Democrat or a Republican, you can find other options.”
Matta, who spoke at the convention, hung around afterward to hear Woods’ speech. Matta said that he hopes to speak with Woods someday in the future to possibly gain some economic ideas for the city commission.
“Obviously it would be nice to use him as a sounding board,” Matta said. “His perspective is much more so on the national level and the constitutional level, but it would be very interesting to talk to him about local issues, because I’ve never heard him talk about local issues before.”
Overall, members of YAL were pleased with how the K-State chapter’s convention played out.
“I thought it was an overwhelming success,” said Joshua Parrish, the YAL national field director. “We’ve been travelling for the last eight weeks, but this is my first time coming to Kansas. I think things went as well as expected, if not better.”