How to meet the smartest teenagers in northern California

Next Libertarian outreach to future statesmen is April 27

by Lawrence Samuels

John Inks with brunette JSA conventioneer, her back to viewer, Inks looking down at paper, Nolan chart on easel in background (color photo)
The Nolan Chart and then-elected Libertarian  Councilmember John Inks (Mountain View), who’s assisting a JSA conventioneer with her political quiz results (Santa Clara, Nov. 14, 2015)

After years of organizing LP outreach tables at the Junior State of America (JSA) conventions in northern California, at our Nov. 17 event, I was as amazed as ever at these high school students’ intelligence and how up to speed they are on current political and socioeconomic events.

Some attribute this to the fact that almost half are enrolled in private schools, which have a high expectation of their students’ attending a good college. Whatever the reason, the semiannual political fairs at the Junior State of America (JSA) are a wonderful place to talk with economically and politically aware youth.

Twice a year, our Libertarian Party literature table is virtually swamped by the nearly 1,000 students who attend these conventions. They love our free buttons — and not just the more blunt and risqué ones. Many of our buttons’ 60+ different sayings convey both good humor and a strong libertarian message, for instance:

Don’t Commit Suicide:
It Is Illegal to Destroy Government Property!

Just this one slogan helps to introduce students to a multitude of libertarian concepts: self-ownership, individual liberty, classical liberalism, anti-conscription, the Abolitionist movement, and John Locke’s immortal words, that “every Man has a Property in his own Person.”

What also helps to broadcast our message is that the students immediately pin 5–10 buttons on their shirts, blouses, blazers, purse straps — and become a walking billboard.

We also hand out a slew of libertarian books that have been donated to us by publishers and authors.

Of course, what is a libertarian event without the Nolan chart and the World’s Smallest Political Quiz? We snap the quiz cards to clipboards, hand out pens, and assist if a student has questions while filling out the form. In many cases, our volunteers will add up the student’s score, press a colorful dot on the big Nolan chart on our easel, and explain why they are either libertarian, or not so libertarian. This is the perfect opportunity to segue into libertarianism, free-market economics, and where they fit on the political spectrum.

Many students are amazed to discover where they land on the left–right dichotomy, and sometimes dismayed when their low scores place them among a cluster of authoritarian villains at the bottom of the chart. This becomes the perfect vehicle to show students why Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini stood right next to each other in a sort of Fascist–Marxist triumvirate.

Official logo of JSA - black background - white silhouette of capitol dome - large text 'JSA' in red white blue - small text 'be the people' in white (color graphic)
Learn about the Junior State of America at

To participate in this fun outreach opportunity, e-mail me at LawSamz [at] GMail [dot] com, and I’ll alert you to our future JSA convention outreach opportunities.

The next event is being held on Sat., April 27 in San Jose (Doubletree Hotel, 2050 Gateway Place, off Highway 101 at Airport Parkway). Although the exact hours have not been set, the political fair usually runs from around two to four o’clock. Following the event, we’ll rendezvous at Pizza California (1708 Oakland Rd., San Jose), owned by a libertarian. Nothing like a cold beer and a warm, friendly atmosphere.

LP activists from all surrounding counties are welcome to attend, interact with the students, and help educate them about the political spectrum, Libertarian principles, and our solutions to societal and public-policy issues.

Lawrence Samuels is secretary and treasurer of LP Monterey County and author of the forthcoming book, Killing History: The False Left–Right Political Spectrum and the Battle Between the ‘Free Left’ and ‘Statist Left.’