Second, a personal
reminiscence. This video was a revelation to me. Half a century
ago, I was briefly an undergraduate at UCLA. Twenty-five years earlier,
my parents had been undergraduates at UCLA. The political outlook
of the vast majority of students at UCLA 50 years ago was standard
liberalism. The conservative student movement at that time was close
to nonexistent. It was not as small as it had been in 1945, but
it was still exceedingly small.
really only two student organizations in the conservative camp.
One of them was the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which back
then was called the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists. The
other was Young Americans for Freedom. The first organization has
always been primarily academic. The second organization was more
geared towards political activism. Both had been co-founded by William
F. Buckley, the editor of National Review magazine.
a summer seminar in 1962 that was sponsored by the Intercollegiate
Society of Individualists. It was a two-week seminar. As I recall,
there were no more than three dozen students. These students came
from all over the west coast. To say that the conservative movement
was a fringe movement in 1962 does not really get the idea across
of just how tiny it was.
There was a
libertarian faction in both organizations. The original co-founder
of the ISI was Frank Choderov. He was a minimal government advocate.
He soon dropped out of the organization, just as he had dropped
out of all other organizations. He was a true individualist. The
two other co-founders were conservatives, but they were both Roman
Catholics. So, from the beginning, a Catholic-influenced conservatism
and a Jewish-atheist-libertarian outlook coexisted in the same organization.
The same was true of Young Americans for Freedom. Protestants were
in the back of the minibus.
I do not think
it would have been possible to assemble half of the crowd that saw
Ron Paul. Even if the organization could have raised enough money
to finance 3500 students from across the nation to come to a central
location for a political rally, which would have cost fortune, it
would not have been possible for the organization to bring that
many students in. The idea that there would be that many students
who would show up at UCLA at a political rally to hear Ron Paul
would have been inconceivable as recently as 2008. The difference
between 1962 and 2008 was enormous. But that difference is dwarfed
by what has taken place in the last four years.
got into the conservative movement after the election of Ronald
Reagan in 1980 did not really understand what it was like to be
in the movement 15 years earlier. The difference was enormous. Reagan's
presidency was a turning point, not because of any success on his
part to shrink the federal government, but because of his rhetoric.
Rhetoric is very important. It sets the agenda. Yet Reagan was elected
four years after Ron Paul was first elected to Congress. Reagan
did make an attempt to get the Republican nomination in 1976, but
it failed. President Ford was able to get the nomination. But with
his defeat to Jimmy Carter, the door was opened to Reagan. Reagan's
electoral victory was overwhelming in 1980. The political landscape
had changed. It has never changed back.
When I joined
Paul's staff in June of 1976, I had no idea that anything like what
has been happening this year would have been possible. He was sometimes
the only Congressman to vote against some multimillion-dollar boondoggle.
There was no one in Congress who shared his perspective. There still
isn't. Yet he draws huge crowds of students. They are not there
because they think Congress will change in 2013. They are there
to participate in the formation of a grass-roots movement. They
sense the change.
between the landscape in 1980 and today, with respect to Reagan's
rhetoric rather than his actions, now offers the possibility of
serious political change. It is going to take time. Students under
the age of 25 are the bedrock support of Ron Paul's campaign. They
do not supply the money, but they supply the cheering. They supply
the bodies. There are a lot of bodies.