Cliff Maloney, the president of the libertarian student group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), is hopping mad. Just three days before YAL’s Mobilize 2020 conference—an event with 1,400 attendees from all over the country—the city of Dallas pulled the plug on the meeting, citing worries about the spread of COVID-19.
“We had been working hand in hand with the Omni Hotel, which was our host, and the city of Dallas,” says Maloney, who explains that his group had agreed to abide by a host of conditions insisted on by health officials, including the wearing of masks, social distancing, and serving box lunches. Though the group received a refund from the hotel, Maloney estimates YAL is out around $200,000 for other vendor and non-refundable travel fees.
He’s especially irked that months ago, he switched the location from Austin to Dallas on the assumption that the latter would be more business-friendly and that COVID-19 hospitalizations are declining in the Dallas metro area. “The fire marshall approved all of our plans a week and a half ago [and] nothing has changed in the state” in terms of new lockdown orders, says Maloney. Though he has no evidence for it, he claims that politics played a role in the last-minute cancellation, citing Mayor Eric Johnson’s praise for large police-reform rallies.
In a wide-ranging conversation, Maloney talks about YAL’s focus on state-level races in the November election and why he is optimistic about electing a slate of “liberty legislators” who will help shrink the size, scope, and spending of government at the state and local levels. He’s also keen on outreach to younger Americans, saying that millennials and Gen Z are particularly interested in ending wars and protecting civil liberties. “The issues of civil liberties and peace are typically where we get people to open the door for conversation,” Maloney tells Nick Gillespie.