“Leadership Institute graduates played key roles in my 2008 and 2012 campaigns,” former Rep. Ron Paul said last month. “The training these liberty activists received from the Leadership Institute is a major reason why the liberty movement has made such tremendous progress over the last five years. It is encouraging to see so many young people interested in advancing the cause of individual liberty and limited government taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Leadership Institute.”
Ron Paul’s liberty movement has attracted unique people from varying backgrounds with a common bond not well known: many key staffers and activists are Leadership Institute graduates.
In June 1998, a little- known congressman from Texas—Ron Paul—spoke at the Leadership Institute’s monthly Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfast.
LI’s President Morton Blackwell invited the congressman to speak nearly a decade before he and his 2007 rEVOLution gained national attention. Ron Paul’s presidential runs in 2008 and 2012 ignited the grassroots movement now dubbed the “liberty movement,” which was largely built by LI graduates.
John Tate, formerly LI’s vice president of Membership is now president of Campaign for Liberty (C4L), a grassroots organization founded by Ron Paul after his 2008 presidential run. Under John's leadership, C4L led the successful effort to pass Ron Paul's Audit the Fed bill in the House of Representatives.
In 2011, John took a leave of absence from C4L to serve as campaign manager for Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. John was instrumental in developing and executing the "delegate strategy” under which liberty activists joined the grassroots members and state leaders of the Republican Party.
“I have been privileged to be associated with the Leadership Institute throughout my career in politics and grassroots activism,” John Tate said. “Anyone looking to learn how to effectively advance the cause of liberty should attend a Leadership Institute school."
Many LI graduates have gone on to form their own organizations and hold influential political positions. Leadership Institute graduates lead Campaign for Liberty, Young Americans for Liberty, and the Coalition to Reduce Spending, just to name a few. These groups have thousands of supporters, activists, and staff who impact the course of public policy today.
Chris Younce—an LI graduate, former intern, and former staff member – went on to make ballot access history in the 2012 election season. Chris successfully got Ron Paul on the ballot in all 50 states before any other campaign in 2012.
“My political education at the Leadership Institute gave me more practical political knowledge than all of my college courses combined. LI schools gave me the tools I needed to perform at a high level for Dr. Paul in his campaign for president," Chris said.
The Leadership Institute offers more than the nuts and bolts of how to become an effective activist. LI training through Morton Blackwell’s principled leadership helps students understand the real nature of politics.
Another former LI staffer Steve Bierfeldt said, "The Leadership Institute taught me the political tactics to win, and showed me a clear distinction between the moral people in politics and the amoral people in politics. As executive director on Ron Paul’s campaign, I looked for staffers with high moral character as well as leadership traits and characteristics that were becoming of Ron Paul and also professionally representative of the liberty message. I am reminded of one of my favorite Laws of the Public Policy Process Morton Blackwell champions: Personnel is policy.”
As for me, the current director of events at the Leadership Institute, I took a Youth Leadership School as a student activist and College Republican, but it wasn’t until after getting fully involved with the Ron Paul campaign that I began to understand the size and scope of the Leadership Institute’s effect on the conservative and liberty movements.
While on the campaign trail, I talked to a lot of people – to put it mildly. Everywhere I went, from national headquarters, to Iowa and then New Hampshire, I met field staff, volunteers and high-level staffers who all had a Leadership Institute story to share. I have found that within the grassroots liberty movement, deep connections to LI are abundant and easy to spot.
As a former Ron Paul staffer and liberty activist since 2007, I clearly see LI’s long-standing impact on the public policy process. The Leadership Institute and Morton Blackwell continue to educate, train, and support graduates who have been instrumental to the modern-day grassroots liberty movement.
All conservatives and lovers of liberty should take advantage of the training opportunities offered here at LI. Go here to register for a 2013 training.
Please welcome John Tate, Chris Younce, and Steve Bierfeldt as LI’s Graduates of the Week.
To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org. The next spotlight will be the week of April 15.