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Paradigm Shift

The old guard built this movement. Without them, it’s unlikely any of us would be aware that a liberty movement even exists! This alone is an accomplishment. And the history books will look favorably upon them for it - & justifiably so. Their preference for a political approach however, has been ineffective at bringing about liberty (just take a look around, if you’re still permitted). Progress hasn’t just stagnated, we’ve been losing ground rapidly. It’s time for a paradigm shift. One that moves away from the old way of thinking & instead focuses on teaching people how to opt out of corrupt systems & to build competing, market-based alternatives to state institutions. Like sports teams, ideas also get tired & worn out, old players retire, & new, fresh ideas take their place. In the world of ideas, when paradigm shifts occur, the old guard resists the change at first, but eventually comes around to seeing the benefits and virtues of the new way. This is how progres

The Underlying Problem with Young Americans For Liberty

 

The Underlying Problem with Young Americans For Liberty

 


Derrell McIver

Warning: This article includes discussion and description of sexual harassment.

 

“Political power is not being chummy with politicians. To effect real change, you have to threaten a politician's power.” -anonymous

This is a very difficult article for me to write. Going into college, I did not know how of any political organization that shared my values of Liberty. That was until I helped in the founding of a Young Americans for Liberty chapter and became a dues-paying-member. After a brief interest in the Libertarian Party, I realized that YAL and its associated organizations were the best chance we have at seeing Liberty in politics in our lifetimes.

Some people will read this article and call it “cancel culture.” That is not the intent. For that very reason, I have not included the name of the sexual harasser. Instead he will be given the name ‘John’. My goal here is to call out the leaders of Young Americans because I believe that its leaders can genuinely change for the better.


The problem with YAL began on a campaign that I worked on under the leadership of Justin Greiss, YAL’s President of Grassroots. Greiss has also been the lead on Operation Win at the Door. My direct supervisor--and Greiss’s underling--attempted to have an unwanted sexual relationship with my coworker, Alexandra. I witnessed inappropriate and clearly unwanted flirting, both verbal and physical. The harassment started early on. Alexandra said that John was immediately flirty, even before the job started. John apparently singled out Alexandra to drive back to the place we stayed at for the campaign. During this ride, he made unsolicited comments about Tinder, finding and “super-liking” Alexandra’s profile. He told her to raise her age on the app so that she could also find his profile, something she did not feel comfortable rejecting because of the pressure he put on her. Alexandra says that she realized then that this would be a major issue.

Within the first few days, Alexandra and John were in the house alone after a day of work. Alexandra says that when she came out of her bedroom, John was changing in his room with the door open. She says that they made, “direct eye contact because the rooms [were] right across from each other. And he just stare[d] at me and winked while he’s getting undressed.” Alexandra said that when one of the other coworkers got home, she “had never been so thankful to see someone come through a door.”

John would also make comments about Alexandra’s body and appearance. He defended other men when Alexandra said they stared at her breast. He regularly insisted that she come back to his room and attempted to sext with her.  He would also enter the girls’ rooms unannounced and drunk. One time, he said it was rude to not invite him to the girls’ movie night. He began playing with Alexandra’s hair and touching her shoulders despite her saying that she did not want him in their room. When I asked her about these actions, she said they “made me uncomfortable with being a girl.” She noted that his regular drunkenness made her especially uncomfortable. John would continue to persist to not allow Alexandra time to be alone. These daily inappropriate actions caused anxiety for Alexandra.



After a while, the stress and harassment from this unwanted attention caused her to abruptly leave the campaign.  Alexandra says that she was “in constant fear that something was going to happen to me” and that “I did not know what to do since he was my boss.” One of the last nights she was at the house, she was on the phone with her sister--telling her about how scared and uncomfortable she was--and John came in and touched her shoulders while saying he was there for her if she needed to talk. “He started to drink more,” which caused Alexandra to get very scared about what could happen. After weeks of harassment, Alexandra had to abruptly leave the campaign to escape the threatening situation. Alexandra also emailed YAL and OWD leadership to report the harassment when she resigned.

While Alexandra’s experience on the first half of the campaign was horrible, at the time I believed that it was a fluke. Clearly a group of people so devoted to Liberty would not tolerate harassment in the workplace. This was confirmed to me and others by the immediate actions of YAL’s leaders. John was forced to resign and left a few days after Alexandra. New rules were established to prevent any more harassment and there were reassurances from leaders--including Griess himself--that employees could come to them for situations like this. The rest of us finished the campaign with a new vigor, believing that the issue was resolved.

That was until I began working for Mobilize the Message. Mobilize is a somewhat separate Liberty organization, but Justin Griess is one of its leaders. When I began work for them, my immediate boss was John: the person who had harassed my coworker, Alexandra. I was shocked. How could Griess allow the same person to have a similar influence over employees? Alexandra had the same questions when asked about her thoughts on the rehiring of a known sexual harasser:



I think it's really disrespectful and ridiculous. He's not in charge of people in the sense that he's living in the same house [like he was during the campaign], so hopefully he won't harass again. But it looks so bad for this fantastic organization just because they can't fire a dude who harassed his employees.

Alexandra, though, did not even have the same initial reassurances as I did from leadership. At a different event a couple months after the campaign, Alexandra says that, “the leadership of OWD wouldn't look me in the eye. And now I'm an outcast because I spoke up about being sexually harassed by one of the higher ups.” Alexandra says that in the communication that she got back after she resigned there was no remorse about what happened to her.

 “I don't see any future for YAL if they're going to continue to hire a known sexual harasser. College age girls believe in YAL and what it stands for, but they are not there to stand up for us,” Alexandra says. I do believe that leadership can alter how they handle sexual harassment. My goal here is not to burn bridges with Griess and other YAL leadership. My goal is to show where their bridge is rickety, and hope that they fix it. I sincerely hope that YAL can change for the better.

 


I reached out to Young Americans for Liberty on September 29th for comment and they have not responded.

Alexandra has also reached out to YAL about John’s continued employment. She is still waiting for the call back from their Human Resources Department.


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