August 22, 2017

AFF Community

Reflections on Rancor in Political Discussion

By: Roger Custer

Unfortunately, there is increased rancor in today’s dialogue about public policy. It is easy to find negativity from politicians, media, and even your friends and neighbors. It is rare to find positive, intelligent, forward-looking events and communities that offer public policy solutions.

That’s where you come in. That’s where AFF comes in. And it is how liberty will rise above the noise to prevail in the long term.

As I reflect on my six years with America’s Future Foundation, one point of pride is the nature of the people and events associated with it. I do not recall an ad hominem attack at an AFF program or a culture of rancor, even when the most divisive topics were discussed, including immigration and right-to-work. Young people are attracted by intelligent and positive conversation, even if they don’t initially embrace free market ideas.

Eric Shierman’s account of the AFF Portland chapter launch confirmed this last week. He wrote,

“I made it out to their first event this week and saw something you don’t see every day: a room filled with young people interested in limiting the size and scope of government… It was so refreshing to go to an event about politics that wasn’t filled with anger.”

Together, we’ve created a network in 27 cities around the country that counters rancor by offering fun and unique events based on unifying principles: free markets, limited government, and personal responsibility. It provides a unique social community where people come back to learn more and gain valuable advocacy skills.

AFF Austin leader Ellen Bartling explains,

“The power of AFF’s approach is that it weaves intellectually challenging topics into having a great time; brings experts into more intimate social settings where beginner members feel free to ask earnest questions; and provides opportunities for both intellectual growth and practical, professional growth.”

For more than two decades, AFF has incubated the talents not just of our members, but of our leadership as well. Former AFF executive directors and senior leaders now serve in executive positions at leading think tanks, activist groups, and in the private sector. Thousands of other AFF alumni are in positions of influence thanks to donor investment in their education and development.

I’m the latest in this line of liberty advocates, and accepted a position as director of foundation relations with the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), starting September 5, 2017. It’s an incredible opportunity to grow their work to educate students for liberty and empower faculty to make long-term change on campus. This is a personal passion of mine, all the way back to my time as a Young America’s Foundation activist at Ithaca College.

It has been an honor to serve AFF these past six years. I am proud of the growth of the organization and everything we’ve accomplished. It’s very exciting to think about all the talented people you and AFF have touched, and the impact they will have over the next 20 to 30 years in the world of ideas. This month’s chapter launches in Portland and Jacksonville are just the latest examples.

The board and I are fully committed to finding AFF’s new executive director and equipping him or her with the tools necessary to bring AFF to the next level. Together, we can inspire the Millennial generation to embrace free markets, limited government, and personal responsibility. You can learn more about the search here.

Again, thank you for your support, and I look forward to working with you in a new capacity soon.