Disillusioned Students Learn about Libertarian Philosophy, Theory

Article excerpt

Cameron Gray has little use or respect for either of America's two major political parties.

"Democrats want to take my money, and Republicans want to tell me how I can live my life," said Gray, 19, who grew up in Shrewsbury, York County, and is now a second-year engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh.

Gray was one of about 120 students from schools across the region who gave up a warm, sunny Saturday and watching football to spend 12 hours listening to discussions about libertarian philosophy and theory.

The conference at the University of Pittsburgh was sponsored by Students For Liberty, a Washington libertarian organization founded three years ago. The Pitt conference is one of 12 regional gatherings across the country the organization is sponsoring this fall. The gathering yesterday featured students from Pittsburgh's major universities and from as far away as Cincinnati.

Speakers addressed what they say is lack of principle among many elected officials, the inefficiency of Pennsylvania's state-owned liquor stores and the failure of the War on Drugs.

Even though a presidential election is less than a year away, the campaign was barely mentioned.

"Change starts with ideas. Politics is a lagging indicator. We see more long-term value in educating people about the issues more than getting involved in specific campaigns and party politics," said Clark Rupert, 25, who works for Students For Liberty.

Rupert and others say broad frustration with party politics is showing up in Tea Party protests, the Occupy Wall Street movement and a jump in interest in libertarian politics, which he said has particular appeal to young people. …