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2016 was a year of change, and 2017 will be the year much of that change starts to set in. There are no certainties, but we can clearly see the 2017 trends in American politics forming.

Republicans Rule Now

It is a staple of the American system of government that power is fractured between various divisions and levels of government. Unlike parliamentary systems, where the party with the most seats in the legislature gets to form the entire government, the House of Representatives, Senate and Presidency are all formed independently, and power is distributed between the Federal and State governments, which all have their own branches of government.

This distinction is less significant starting in 2017, because the republicans have taken everything.

Presidency

Donald Trump won the Presidency. What would be restraints on his authority are all controlled Republicans and he is riding the wave of continuous executive empowerment. Donald Trump will be the most powerful President in American history, with all the powers of Barrack Obama and none of the restrictions.

Congress

The 115th Congress will take office on January 3, 2017. Republicans will have 241 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives (55.4%) to the Democrats 194 seat (44.6%).

 

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Republicans will also control 52 of the 100 seats in the Senate, to the Democrats 48 seat (2 senators are registered independents who caucus with Democrats).

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This means that republicans control the whole of Congress and can pass any legislation that has republican support. The only obstacle to this is the filibuster in the Senate, which makes it necessary to have 60 senators vote for cloture to end debate and start a vote on a bill or confirmation.

Even that may be a dead opportunity for democrats. When they controlled the Senate before the 2014 elections, the filibuster continually frustrated them, as it was the chief tool of what they called “obstructionism.” It only requires 50 senators to change the rules of the senate, however, so the democrats changed the rules in 2013 to end the filibuster’s application to lower level executive appointments.

This, however, sets a precedent for the republicans to do the same thing, and modify senate rules to stop democratic obstructionism of President Trump. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in an interview with CNN “I wish it hadn’t happened [The Change in Senate Rules].” (more…)

This letter was originally published on Mediaite on February 25, 2013. Read the full, original content here.

Dear Mr. Beck,

There is no reason you should have heard of me before. I’m just a guy who became enamored with the principles of liberty in 9th grade and grew to appreciate the philosophical rigor and enormous individual and societal benefits that flow from them. I’m now a graduate student in philosophy, and co-founder and president of a nonprofit organization called Students For Liberty (SFL) that began 5 years ago to support libertarian students and student organizations.

Today, SFL has over 900 student organizations in our network, is run by over 250 volunteer student leaders who are working to change the world, runs dozens of conferences for thousands of students around the world, provides a plethora of resources to young libertarians everywhere, such as 175,000 free copies of our 3rd publication, After the Welfare State. SFL is dedicated to expanding the younger generation’s understanding and appreciation of the philosophy of freedom and the benefits that may be derived from it.

This is admittedly an ambitious and long-term goal, but one that I am optimistic about and pursue because of the inherent value of liberty. I am writing this letter today because of the comments you made about me on your show this past Friday, February 22, 2013. Regrettably, you called me a Nazi, a fascist, a jerk, a guy who “thinks he’s God”. I submit I am none of those things, or at least I don’t try to be. I have no intention of getting caught up in name-calling or responding to the many strawmen you constructed and then ridiculed. There is no profit in that. It’s water under the bridge. (more…)

Given the requests for this that I’ve received, below is my opening speech at the 2013 International Students For Liberty Conference.

Last year’s International Students For Liberty Conference redefined the student movement for liberty by bringing together, for the first time ever, over 1,000 attendees at a libertarian student conference.  This year, we are proving that number wasn’t a fluke.  It was the start of something much greater.  I am humbled to see so many young libertarians gathered together in the same room to begin an incredible weekend learning about the foundations of a free society, strategizing for how to create a freer future, and forging relationships that will last with you the rest of your lives.  It’s something I once didn’t think was possible.

For me, all of this began in 9th grade when my father gave me a copy of Atlas Shrugged for my birthday.  I remember him opening the book up and pointing to the first sentence, “Who is John Galt?” and saying, “That’s the line.”  It took me a month to read over that summer, but when I finished, I said to myself, “This is what I’ve always believed, put into words.”  I spent the rest of high school reading as much on Objectivism and libertarianism as I could, and by the time I went off to college at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, I was excited to move to a place where I thought I would be surrounded by other young advocates of liberty who would help me develop my ideas.  Unfortunately, for the first 2 years, I didn’t meet a single other libertarian.  I began to feel so isolated and alone, I actually said to myself, “Alexander, if you’re the only person on this campus who thinks this way, you must be crazy.  Just give up and become a socialist.  Life would be so much easier.”  But, I didn’t.  I decided to take a chance and start a group, the Penn Libertarians, to see if there were others out there.  Within a year, we had over 200 members on our list-serve.  Students, even professors came out of the woodwork and I realized: there had always been libertarians on campus.  We just had no way of identifying one another until a group existed.  But I was making it up as I went along.  There was no handbook for what to do, no national organization to give me guidance.  I was making lots of mistakes.  When I found myself surrounded by 60 other libertarian students while interning in DC the summer before my senior year, I thought, “When will I ever be around this many libertarian students again?”  I put together a roundtable discussion on best practices for student organizing for liberty.  Twelve people showed up, and what was supposed to be a 1 hour conversation turned into 3 hours, until we were kicked out of the room.  Without any institutional backing, we started planning what we thought was going to be a 30 person roundtable.  That event turned into the first International Students For Liberty Conference with over 100 attendees, and here we are, five years later, at the 6th edition of that conference with over 1,200 attendees, put together by an organization that has over 900 student groups, ran 20 Regional Conferences in the US and Europe, launched our first in Venezuela, has inspired several more in Brazil, printed 175,000 copies of After the Welfare State, and has over 250 volunteer leaders changing the world.  Even as someone who has seen the growth of the student movement for liberty from within over the past five years, it’s almost unbelievable to me.

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The following is a guest submission by Brandon Loran Maxwell, an incoming Campus Coordinator for the 2012-2013 academic term.

Lao Tzu: libertarianism’s ancient ancestor.

The fundamental origins of libertarianism’s earliest, most influential philosophies and ideals are never short of a buoyant discussion — and a few diverging opinions.

To some, early libertarian virtues can be seen in Confucius’s disciple Mencius, who once wrote that “in a nation, the people are the most important, the state is next, and the ruler is the least important,” as Reason’s Brian Doherty once revealed. To others, qualities of libertarianism can be traced back centuries to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who is purported to have once said, “Without law or compulsion, men would dwell in harmony.”

And still to others, the roots of modern libertarianism are found in the Age of Enlightenment and, ultimately, the Declaration of Independence, which unambiguously states that “all men are created equal” and decrees individuals’ rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Irrespective of where libertarianism’s earliest ideas officially commenced, however, it has become evident that, in its contemporary form, it is the spectacular culmination of a variety of philosophical contributions over the centuries allocating one denominator: liberty.

Untold numbers of scholars, philosophers, writers and activists have all, over a substantial duration of time and from every corner of the world, contributed to refining, defining, and disseminating various but equally significant conceptions of liberty.

But with such a wide array of inspirations, why, then, is libertarianism so routinely shelved under the constraining parasol of “the right,” as so often is the case? Indeed, many conservatives have even come to presumptuously regard the average libertarian as a step child to their cause.

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SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

SFL president, Alexander McCobin, will be introducing Senator Rand Paul at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference at 4:40pm this Thursday, February 9th.  If you are attending CPAC this year, be sure to get to the main hall early for good seats. If you won’t be at CPAC, tune in to C-SPAN to watch the remarks live.

Alexander last spoke at CPAC in 2010 and delivered a 2 minute speech that changed the entire tone of the conference:

After that panel ended, a media frenzy surrounded the topic of gay rights at CPAC, with everyone from Red State to Keith Olbermann to Jon Stewart weighing in.  We will be sure to post Alexander’s remarks and a video of the speech as soon as possible.

In addition to Alexander’s speech, SFL will have a booth at CPAC to promote the philosophy of liberty for all individuals at all times.  If you are attending CPAC, be sure to encourage your friends to stop by the table to sign up for our list-serve, talk with our volunteers, and enter a raffle for cool SFL swag like our famous bottle openers and even a free registration to the International SFL Conference next weekend (for which the registration deadline has been extended, but we are again filling slots fast)!