High schoolers all across the Lone Star State recently gathered in Austin, Texas this past week to celebrate the intricacies of government, campaigning, and persuasion — all accompanied by a theme of American (and Texan) exceptionalism.
About 1200 boys from all corners of our nation’s second largest state converged upon Austin to engage in civil political discourse, which was all facilitated by the American Legion, an organization serving the wartime veterans of the United States since 1919.
American Legion Texas Boys State organized tomorrow’s leaders phenomenally, simulating the trials and tribulations of government, from the campaign trail to the House and Senate chambers. “Statesmen” were given the opportunity to run for elected office from the precinct level to the state level, giving speeches along the way.
In its 77th year, Texas Boys State was organized and carried out in a professional and regimented manner. However, one thing they could not regiment was the ebb and flow of traditional conservatism. At the state level, fictional parties, Nationalists and Federalists, scheduled conventions and platform committee meetings to draft policy positions aiming to win over the most constituents.
Yet, even in the conservative stronghold of Texas, both Nationalists and Federalists aligned themselves with relatively Libertarian platforms.
Andrew Stewart, Chairman of the Nationalist Party referred to the next generation of voters as “socially liberal, and economically conservative,” and even theorized that “generation Z is a majority Libertarian group.” The Nationalist Party according to Stewart pledged to lobby for “completely equal rights for the LGBTQ community” paired with a “fairly pro-choice stance on abortion.”
This sudden Libertarian pushback against the flagship two-party system was spurred by the recent climate caused by the 2016 Presidential election, according to Garrett Smith, Texas Boys State Governor. “People do not want someone so far right or so far left, they like people that are independents.” Smith was recently selected to represent Texas at Boys Nation in Washington D.C in late July, and concedes that although Libertarian was the “middle of the road” at Texas Boys State, the window of compromise will skew further left on the national scale.
The platforms of both the Nationalist and Federalist parties served as a testament to the compromise between conservatives and liberals at Texas Boys State. In the span of just six days, The Texas Boys State class of 2017 passed a record 20 bills, despite a volatile political climate on the national stage.
The “statesmen” of Texas Boys State acted valiantly, often reaching across the aisle for differing viewpoints or ideas, while ironically residing in a town peppered with ANTIFA recruitment ads. Nonetheless, the American Legion, and specifically Texas Boys State, continues to provide our country with unity and patriotism year in and year out, two traits that are especially rare in recent years.