YAFreedom LogoBy Michael Jones

It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Perhaps Ari Rabin-Havt, executive vice president for Media Matters, had that in mind last week when he tried to compare the founding of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) with that of Occupy Wall Street, but Mr. Rabin-Havt’s attempt to relate the Sharon Statement — YAF’s founding document — with the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City is utterly offensive.

When YAF was founded at the home of William F. Buckley, Jr. in September of 1960, the young conservatives who drafted the Sharon Statement had two over-arching objectives in mind. The first was to ensure that the constitutional principles of the United States are upheld. The second was to promote the classical values that exemplify American exceptionalism. Both objectives have the common goal of preserving and improving the finest tenets of American culture.

The Occupy movement has no desire to conserve. Instead, the prevailing sentiment of the movement is to promote ideas that are more in common with those of Karl Marx than William F. Buckley. It does not take the average American long to realize just how leftist-oriented the demands of the demonstrators are: Open healthcare, forgiveness of student loan debt, free housing, guaranteed employment, ending all wars and extreme environmentalism are only a few of the positions espoused by those within the Occupy movement.

What Mr. Rabin-Havt neglects to discuss is how the Left has attempted to emulate the success of YAF before now. In 1962, only two years after the signing of the Sharon Statement, a group of liberal youth met in Port Huron, Michigan to draft the founding document of Students for a Democratic Society. The Port Huron Statement declared the objectives of “New Left.” Over the course of the next several years, SDS opposed YAF on a myriad of issues. Though they splintered and collapsed before the close of the decade, YAF soldiered on. Today, some of the SDS founders can be seen clutching to this newest left-wing mob.

The objectives of the Occupy movement should never be compared with the founding of YAF. The original members of YAF successfully defended constitutional principles and championed the finest qualities of American life. The declared objectives of the Occupy movement aspire to radically alter the most basic fundamentals of American culture. To understand the differing realities each movement represents, one must allow history to serve as our guide. The Conservative Movement brought about the election of Ronald Reagan and a reduction in the size of government that led to one of the most economically prosperous periods on record. The Occupy movement seeks to enlarge the role of government in order to redistribute wealth in the vain hope of achieving equality. Given the success of the Conservative Movement, it is simple to understand why liberal-minded individuals, such as Ari Rabin-Havt, are hoping for the Occupy movement to achieve the vast measure of success that originated with the signing of the Sharon Statement.

But as with the radical left’s previous attempt, this too will fail.

Michael Jones is Chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom Board of Governors.


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