Libertarians join ranks of GW’s political groups

While students can attribute much of the political activity on campus to the College Republicans or College Democrats, these organizations are not the only political players on campus.

Within the confines of Foggy Bottom are the smaller, but equally resolute GW College Libertarians and College Socialists.

The GW College Libertarians are new to campus, having had their inaugural meeting last October. The group, which stresses less democracy and more individual liberty, participated in a three-way debate with the College Republicans and College Democrats Wednesday night.

“Luckily, both the CRs and the CDs have been extremely helpful with the organization of this debate,” said College Libertarians president Anthony Baumann, a freshman.

Peter Glessing, public relations chair for the College Republicans, said members of the College Libertarians approached his organization about being part of the debate.

The College Republicans said it encourages young political groups to add to the discussion.

“The existence of the College Libertarians on campus provides an opportunity for students with strong anti-government beliefs to find common cause and community,” Glessing wrote in an e-mail this week. “The College Republicans look forward to seeing more political activism on campus from the College Libertarians. While we may not always agree, we respect their commitment to their party’s principles and appreciate their contributions to political discourse.”

The College Libertarians grew out of Facebook messages between like-minded students. The members of the organization are neither conservative nor liberal.

Treasurer Bill Flanigen, a sophomore, described the libertarian philosophy as fiscal conservatism and social tolerance.

“Our goal is to reduce government and promote liberty,” Flanigen said. As an extension of this ideology, he said he believes that while the government should have the ability to raise an army, it should be limited to self-defense. Flanigen also said the war on drugs has been a “monumental failure.”

Part of Wednesday’s debate focused on gun control and before the event, Baumann defended the right to own guns.

“It’s important to remember that a society that makes laws based upon the assumption that people are stupid, choiceless, pre-programmed creatures that can’t handle rights is a society that will never be truly free,” Baumann said. “The isolated incident at Virginia Tech absolutely does not affect my stance on (gun control).”

The College Libertarians are not the only less-recognized political organization on campus. The College Socialists have been largely inactive all year and only have about eight members this year, sophomore Chris Gauss said. The group originally formed to facilitate discussions of socialism in the fall of 2005 and boasted 25 members at its height.

Sophomore Brian Tierney, another member of the College Socialists, described his group as “spirited, fiery, and not afraid to get in the debate.”

Tierney said the group’s goal is “to bring an awareness that there are other avenues of thought and other views on issues.”

The Socialists occupy a position on the left of the political spectrum and base many of their principles from the writings of Karl Marx. Tierney stated that while the College Democrats have good intentions, they have too much faith in the undemocratic system that is the U.S. government.

“I see the Democrats as a political party that may have left-of-center positions, but is really just another side of a coin,” Gauss said.

Tierney said the group is looking to become more active next semester but in previous years has helped distribute publications produced by the International Socialist Organization including “Socialist Worker” and the “International Socialist Review.”

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