By Stephan Lopez.
Back when I was a freshman in the wake of the 2016 election, I felt abandoned by my party. The Democratic National Convention (DNC) had exposed its true nature when it didn’t give the nomination to Bernie Sanders, who I believe should have won the primary. To know that the man that controlled the debate topics and carried much larger crowds still lost really made me wonder about the legitimacy of the party. Amidst the Trump run, I decided to give him a chance but I still held onto my socialist values of Medicare for all, high taxes, and other government subsidies. Then, the impossible happened: Trump actually won. I wasn’t really shocked by the results but more by other students’ reactions. Some people cried, others wallowed, and some celebrated and I just kept working. I reminded liberals that it was their fault for denying Bernie the opportunity to run. I still believe the battle of the political ideologies should have been dished out between Bernie & Trump, but I will settle for good ol’ AOC from Brooklyn.
It was probably halfway into my sophomore year at Trinity that my whole political view started to change. One of the things that really got me started was rereading some of the founding documents. The Constitution & Bill of Rights are great at reminding us about the American ideal that we used to all agree upon. Go even deeper and you may find your way into the Federalist Papers to see how they debated government in their day. These writings show some of the best mockery dished out between Hamilton and Jefferson as they debated the formation of the federal government. The debate then wasn’t about what things counted as rights, but rather the functional role and size of the federal government. This contrasts the current political state that seeks to grow its reach and power, deciding for the people what rights they have and do not have.
By this point in my life, I’d gathered a lot more experience through work, school, family, and friendships, so when I got to reading these things it felt like a whole new message. I’m not talking sleazy political messages, but more of a deep-rooted belief. One of the things that truly makes someone a Texan, more than being born here, is that you take things with a rootin-tootin attitude. This means that I have always loved guns, but also that I don’t get weighed down with my own faults or others and instead try to be exemplary. It is this state of mind that slowly took over, helped me through the toughest of times, and made me realize what it means to be a Texan, once I knew that it was easy to know what I stand for. Ultimately when I realized that the government has no power to grant rights to people I figured it was upon each one of us, as individuals, to come together and regain control of our lives instead of entrusting them to the government.
Even as a socialist, this idea applied to me. Although I didn’t like the idea of having to pay out of pocket for medical expenses, I further disliked the idea of a bureaucrat telling me that I cannot receive a certain treatment or drug because it isn’t within their bill. Instead we should all work together, whether through church, family, or community, before we even mention government intervention. That was the root of all the problems that came with socialism. In the Founders’ days, no one truly trusted the federal government to do anything except collect taxes, so why should we allow it full control of our lives? It was within our Constitution, that explicitly warns against a tyrannical and giant government, that I could find solace in my new political stance: libertarianism.