A Poll on Principles: Changing the Conversation

"Should We Allow Gov't to..."

Towards the end of the Spring Bash at University of North Florida, a girl came up to take the “Should We Allow Gov’t to…” poll. Without hesitating, she answered the “…force you to buy a product?” question by placing her sticker on the “No” symbol.

“You know,” I said, “that’s what Obamacare does. It forces people to buy insurance—a product.”

“What?” she asked, a bit shaken. “Now I want to switch.”

I smiled. “Why? You immediately knew it to be wrong when it was a matter of principles. You’ve contradicted yourself. Maybe, deep down, you don’t support this part of Obamacare and have just bought the ads?”

What followed was a long conversation with her and her friends, covering issues from Obamacare, to welfare, to hate speech, to the increase in extreme policing. With issues reduced to principles, the conversation changed.

This informal poll of University of North Florida students was designed to bring out this kind of reaction, and the results show that the girl who supported forced insurance-buying (but not forced product-buying) was far from alone.

I was shocked to see that on every issue, more people chose liberty over the state—even on issues like taking money from one person and giving it to another (individual and corporate welfare). When the poll asked them to determine the rightness and wrongness of issues on principle, most students had little to no hesitation in choosing liberty.

YAL’s motto is “Winning on Principle.” Too often, politics gets bogged down by partisanship, buzzwords, misleading terms, and jargon designed to toy with loyalties and emotions. Yet when it comes down to it—when the headline politics are stripped away and it becomes personal—the principles of young, supposedly liberal college students lean towards liberty.

 As we go out to spread liberty, we have to remember that winning on principle is not just a nice thought. It’s the way to get people to think about their positions in new ways—and it’s the way to win.

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