What's a Lion of Liberty?Submitted by Marc Clair on Wed, 11/27/2013 - 13:21
Per Michael Nystrom's suggestion, I've decided to do a write-up on how my site, Lions of Liberty, was founded, and why we do what we do. I hope you'll all check out our website, and check out our podcasts!
It was a relatively unimpressive dive bar, the type one would expect to find smack in the middle of the Inland Empire. Practically empty and with generic country music radiating from the jukebox, it would provide a fitting atmosphere for meeting up with old friend from our days at Penn State John, who had recently relocated out to Southern California.
We wasted no time in getting reacquainted in the only way that seemed to make any sense considering the venue - passing drinks and time in equal portions. Before long we found ourselves flagrantly violating the “bar rules of conversation,” as our topic soon turned to politics.
We got going on the subject of foreign policy. I was vehemently against the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, however John identified as a Republican and held the fairly common stance that our troops were in these countries in order to keep us safe from evil terrorists that hated our freedom. It was an argument I’d spent many a late night having, and somehow having it with an old friend for the first time seemed to kick my passion up a notch or two.
The discussion turned to the election of 2008, still over a year away. With my anti-war
stance fairly established, John presumed that I must be a “liberal” and therefore I probably supported one of the early Democrat favorites such as Hillary Clinton or John Edwards. Much to his surprise, I was actually supporting a Republican candidate, “some guy” by the name of Ron Paul.
As he grappled with the idea of an anti-war Republican, I explained how Ron Paul was a different kind of politician, didn’t pull punches and told things like it is. I explained the
difference between non-interventionism and isolationism. We discussed the concept of blowback and how military interventions overseas were not only foolish, financially crippling, and unnecessary, but they were the root cause of terrorism.
Whether it was my arguments that had opened his mind or the double whiskeys, John was seriously evaluating his positions and taking into account what I was saying. He may have held firm in many of his beliefs, but there was no doubt I had him questioning them. While the specifics of the rest of the evening may have been a bit blurry, I do distinctly remember him turning to me at one point and saying, with some mix of bewilderment and stern acknowledgment: “You really don’t like government, do you?”
I suppose that was one way to put it.
I’d been a fan of Ron Paul and student of libertarian ideas for several years, having first been introduced to them by a college friend who had been a congressional page and had met Dr. Paul several times. . He pointed me towards Paul's "Texas Straight Talk" column as well as "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World" by Harry Brown, and an enthusiastic libertarian was born. Dr. Paul’s 2008 campaign for the Presidency inspired me to speak out more about my beliefs.
I was that guy: the Paul-aholic who never saw a conversation he couldn’t turn into a rant about “the Fed”.
Along the way another friend from college and fellow L.A. transplant, Brian McWilliams, caught the Ron Paul bug along with me and we became local champions of the good Doctor. We even harkened back to some of the skills we had acquired back in college and organized a Ron Paul Beer Pong Fundraiser.
One winter evening we hosted a broader reunion in Los Angeles. John had driven up
from Riverside (40 minutes outside L.A.), while another old friend, Dom, had trekked
down from that bastion of liberal thought, San Francisco.
Amidst a night full of cheap drinks and friendly arguments over pressing issues like
video games and foosball, the conversation inevitably turned to politics and of course...Ron Paul.
By this time we were deep into the primary season, and John had already become a staunch Paul supporter and student of the ideas of liberty as well. Dom identified as a progressive Democrat, but a disillusioned one at best. I was able to relate to him in that, even though I came from a more “Republican” upbringing. I hard largely came into Ron Paul’s liberty movement due to his anti-war and pro-civil liberties stances. We talked about our concerns about the ongoing wars, the PATRIOT ACT, and absurdity of the drug war.
It soon became evident that, once we got past the tired political rhetoric, the
“progressive” Dom had a lot in common with we “Ron Paul Republicans.” Worldviews are never changed overnight, but it was clear that a few sparks of liberty were lit.
Little did we know at the time, this would be the night that “Lions of Liberty” were born.
The four of us would continue to follow Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign and pay closer
attention to current events than we ever had before in our lives. We began a “Liberty Chain” email group comprised of ideologically concerned and converted friends that was twenty deep and growing.
Before long it was 2011, and Ron Paul was once again running for President. The Liberty Chain was filling my inbox with excitement. This campaign felt more exciting not only because it had been building up for the last four years, but because we could feel the mood in the air. People were much more ready to hear the ideas of liberty. We all knew people in our lives that had recently undergone similar transitions in their political views. And others still who might not have come as far but were generally disillusioned with the status quo and interested in the conversation.
No longer content to keep our conversations confined within the email chain, one day we decided to just up and start a blog. Considering the four of us had all met during our time at Penn State and were passionate about liberty, the "Lions of Liberty" moniker naturally emerged. Soon our little blog became a full-fledged professional-looking website after a friend offered to build us one.
The Lions of Liberty website really began to take off as the 2012 Ron Paul Presidential
campaign began to wind down. As political activity would lessen, we would devote more and more time to addressing specific issues of the day, such as the fight against the NDAA and SOPA.
As the "Lions of Liberty", we see ourselves as passionate advocates for a more free society. Of course, libertarians often have different ideas about exactly what that entails. As we have further developed as writers, we have concurrently further developed our views along the way. We now focus on a mix of current events and philosophical musings, with the overriding goal to constantly "advance the ideas of liberty" held high.
The journey is never-ending, but one thing is clear: it has only just begun!