Funds for the national YAL’s “Visualize the Debt” campaign were received in mid-March of 2011. These funds were used to purchase the supplies necessary to produce a 48-foot long debt clock that was displayed on the campus of Mississippi State University on March 29, 2011.
Construction of the debt clock took place the week following the funds being obtained over good political talk and a few beverages.
On March 29, 2011, the MSU Chapter of YAL set up the gigantic display outside of the school’s Colvard Student Union. The day was dreary and was threatening rain, but participants pushed through the inclement weather to make the local evening news (WCBI coverage) along with gathering approximately 450 signatures.
Vice President Alexander Habighorst was interviewed by WCBI on the issue of the monstrous US national debt:
The reaction of the students passing the gigantic sign was predictable: Astonishment. Many students and other passerby pulled out their cell phones and cameras to take pictures of the huge sign. Most individuals walked away shaking their heads.
Approximately one third (personal estimate) of the people passing by didn’t seem to care one way or the other. A couple of people openly said they support the deficit… one girl said something about her father paying for her $130,000 dollar portion (no kidding).
The event certainly brought politically motivated people out to discuss the matter being presented. Many that stopped were adamant against cutting anything substantive and some left conceding that absolutely nothing could be held sacrosanct in slashing government spending.
Interacting with many of the people who stopped by served as a lesson to many of the Young Americans for Liberty members who participated. We always stress the importance of not getting bogged down in discussions with people that are just being contrarian or argumentative while doing public advocacy. These individuals take away from the time one could be spending collecting signatures or other stated goals of the event.
We used the experience to try and tell people how “to deal” with those folks. Our strategy was to politely bid them a farewell if they show no signs of letting up or to have another member step in to end the discussion.
The method usually consists of taking our message and “out-righting the right” and “out-lefting the left” and then bringing them back into the fold by saying that nothing should escape cuts. We try and sense where these people come from politically and then perform a head-on-attack on their terms. Once this is completed, we would politely end the discussion and thank them for their time.