This has been a sad time for me, considering how important a role Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) played in my life at a young age. The faux paper organization that pretends to be YAF this weekend expelled Rep. Ron Paul from its National Advisory Board, a move that will hurt them far more than the Congressman.
It’s easy to figure out why they did this. At this past week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., Ron Paul won the presidential straw poll for the second consecutive year. The energy and organization behind this victory was Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), the Ron Paul youth group. YAL was leaving YAF in its dust, not that there ever was a contest. In desperation, YAF had to do something to try and make itself still seem relevant and newsworthy, so it hit upon the idea of expelling Ron Paul from its National Advisory Board.
The ploy worked well in that it gave YAF more publicity than it has received in years. But the ploy also spotlighted the severe limitations of a paper organization. The big headlines in the media were about Ron Paul winning the CPAC presidential poll. The YAF ploy was just a sour-grapes asterisk to that story.
What made the situation worse for YAF was the intemperance and incoherence of the YAF statement, and these additional temper tantrums by YAF National Director Jordan Marks:
“Rep. Paul’s refusal to support our nation’s military and national security interests border on treason (emphasis added), aside from his failure to uphold his oath to the United States Constitution…”
“Rep. Paul is clearly off his meds and must be purged from public office. YAF is starting the process by removing him from our national advisory board.”
Whoa! It’s obvious who is off his meds, and it ain’t Dr. Paul.
Statements like these severely limited the support YAF might have hoped to get. I am on a list serve of vintage YAFfers (we now fondly call ourselves OAFs, or Old Americans for Freedom), and even the most hawkish YAF alumni have been embarrassed by this episode.
The only ones who are crowing about this are, of course, the leftist media. You know, another “split” in the Right to rejoice over. Except that today’s YAF represents virtually nobody, so this is a “split” without meaning. Today’s YAF represents itself as the “nation’s oldest conservative-libertarian activist group.” They know that the media will not do any homework and will simply believe that this is the same genuine conservative student movement that helped pave the way for Goldwater and Reagan in the early days of the conservative movement. The leftist media have no self-interest in pointing out that YAF died as an organization decades ago. Today’s group has assumed the old name for obvious publicity and fundraising purposes, but it represents…what?
I challenge today’s “Young Americans for Freedom” to open its books and show us how many dues-paying members they have. I have enough insider experience in the way these things work, I say they don’t have more than 200 dues-paying national members. And that makes them nothing more than a paper tiger compared to the more than 100 chapters and tens of thousands of members of Ron Paul’s Young Americans for Liberty.
They think I am out of my mind? Let them open their books.
David Franke was one of the key founders of Young Americans for Freedom, before and during the Sharon Conference. He was most responsible for the name of the organization. He founded and organized the Greater New York Council of Young Americans for Freedom, comprised of 35 or more chapters in that metropolitan area—to this day, the largest grassroots YAF grouping ever. He spearheaded the drive to put YAF in the forefront of the drive to end the draft and create a volunteer military. And for three years he was editor of The New Guard, YAF’s national magazine. With all this background, he feels he has every right to be pissed off at the people who are posing as YAF today.