YAF is not oppressed

Kolya Ludwig, Golden Eagle Justice Collective

Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) is a nationwide conservative organization with a vocal chapter at Cal State LA. On its website, the group brands itself as an embattled, marginalized voice on college campuses, where “intolerant leftist” students rip their flyers off of school walls and protest their thought leaders when they hold speaking events. However, the truth is that YAF has stumbled into the last parcel in the United States (the university classroom) where its ideology doesn’t completely rule the discourse. In reality, YAF is a gaudy mascot for the ideas and values that already govern every powerful institution in our society.

According to its website, YAF values a “strong national defense.” They’re in luck! Politico reports that the United States maintains 800 overseas military bases in over 70 countries, and defense.gov lists the 2020 projected military budget at $738 billion—a sum greater than that of the next eight countries combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

YAF also values “free enterprise.” As it turns out, capital has been so “freely enterprising” in this country that  Business Insider reports taxes for the top income bracket have plummeted to a third of what they were in the 1940s, untaxed offshore wealth is the new norm (see ICIJ’s journalism on the Panama Papers), and, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics documents, union membership is at an 80-year low. In the California University system, the Public Policy Institute finds that state funding has declined by a third since the 1970s while tuition rates have increased exponentially. In the meantime, private lenders have amassed a fortune from student debt.

Because YAF’s platform has had so much success at the national level, its strategy now is to target anyone who would dare challenge it. A frequent lament for YAF is “left bias” among college professors. However, from personal and shared experience with other students trying to organize against impaction at Cal State LA, although professors may preach their critical concepts in the classroom, they typically conform to dominant ideas about how one should conduct oneself in a professional workplace—for example, having polite conversations about a campus issue as opposed to going on strike over it. Therefore, faculty have little effect when it comes to actually making the political changes for which they advocate.


Moreover, the university system, as opposed to the classrooms in which professors peddle their “leftist” dogma, has been totally usurped by “free enterprise” and austerity. A few top administrators control all aspects of campus life, while students in dilapidated buildings, like King Hall, hear their professors describe how a theoretical society might function. The concepts that our “brainwashing” professors believe in (e.g. democracy), therefore, aren’t even represented in the institution over which they have the greatest influence.

Our political reality thus embodies the substance of YAF’s ideology, despite their complaints about anti-conservative bias on campus. The consequence is that working-class students and faculty are left to suffer the scarcity, stress, and anxiety of YAF’s ideas being set into practice every single day. Can you blame them for being pissed off when indignant YAF members try to obscure this fact?


Despite speaking with a YAF representative tabling recently and emailing YAF several times over the past two weeks, it could not be reached for comment.