MADISON, Wisc., April 2, 2013 ― Julie Borowski, best known for her work as a video blogger and writer, is a young, up-and-coming force in the libertarian world. At this year’s CPAC, Ms. Borowski won the “Best Video Blogger of the Year” for her work as “Token Libertarian Girl.” Of her experience this year at CPAC, she said, “This was my fourth CPAC. In the past, I felt that [libertarians] were really separated. This CPAC, everybody liked or at least respected Rand Paul and his supporters, so I felt more welcome than in previous years.”
Julie was born in Maryland in 1988. She attended Fosburg State University where she majored in political science with a minor in international studies. She also took several economics classes, including some with Professor Bill Anderson, a libertarian. It was during this time in her life that libertarian sensibilities took root within her. Julie and I spoke recently about politics, her videos, and her life.
Joseph S. Diedrich: What do you do at FreedomWorks?
Julie Borowski: I’m a policy analyst at FreedomWorks. I’ve been there for about three years. I mostly do writing and research. I don’t really have a policy concentration either—pretty much all economic policy issues. Most people are surprised to learn that we have a relatively small staff.
JSD: When and why did you start making YouTube videos as TokenLibertarianGirl?
JB: I started in summer 2011, I suppose for a lot of reasons. I kept getting rejected from television interviews. I knew that other liberty-minded people like Jack Hunter were making successful videos. I stumbled upon Jenna Marbles YouTube videos. She was just recording herself talking to a video camera in her house. I thought, okay, I want to spread the message of liberty so let’s give this a shot. I gave myself the name TokenLibertarianGirl because I figured I shouldn’t use my full name in case this doesn’t work out and people think I’m terrible. Then after a while, I finally got used to being in front of camera. But I still make my videos completely by myself in my apartment.
JSD: Why do you think you’ve reached the level of popularity you enjoy today?
JB: I don’t really get it. But if I had to guess, I assume it has something to do with the fact that I am not afraid to let loose and get a little goofy. At the same time, I still want to convey an important message.
JSD: You’ve both suffered criticism and garnered praise for your views on women in the libertarian movement. Share some general thoughts on this.
JB: I believe many people put words in my mouth. I got tired of people saying that the reason for the lack of female libertarians is because women “want to be taken care of.” Or that women are less logical than men. I decided to offer a different explanation.
My whole theory on the lack of female libertarians is that women tend to be more social than men and are less likely to embrace views outside the mainstream. Men are more likely to embrace views outside the mainstream and “nerdy” culture. Men are more likely to be interested in comic books, anime, Star Wars, etc. And let’s face it: libertarianism is not yet mainstream (though that is changing) and it is still pretty nerdy.
When answering the question, “why are there so few libertarian women?” one has to generalize. Of course, everyone is an individual. In my experience, libertarian women tend to be independent, strong, and care far less what people think about them.
JSD: Let’s take a step back in time. What is your greatest memory from college?
JB: There are many great memories. I’m a huge fan of stand-up comedy. I remember one afternoon we found out that Daniel Tosh would be performing at Penn State University that night. We spontaneously decided to pack into the car and drive over two hours to Penn State to see him. We didn’t have tickets, we didn’t have time to pack, we didn’t know where we would be staying, and I don’t think we even had directions. It was a pretty big gamble because it was a sold-out show. We stood outside the venue and someone was nice enough to give us tickets. We sat in the third row! I got to meet him and have my picture taken with him after the show.
JSD: What has been the best part about your transition from college to professional life?
JB: I think the best transition is that I had to go through a lot of classes—especially the political science classes—that I didn’t agree with. There were a bunch of socialist professors, so I kind of had to censor my views in a bit in those classes in order to get a good grade. The best thing about being out of college is that I don’t have to censor myself anymore. I can be a full-blown libertarian. I get to do what I like to do all the time and write about what I want to.
JSD: When and how did you become a libertarian?
JB: The short answer is the Internet. I became disillusioned with politics when I was about 15. I no longer held my previous neoconservative beliefs and I knew I wasn’t a liberal so I didn’t know quite where I belonged. I found out about libertarianism through a Google search in 2004 or 2005. I didn’t become an active libertarian until I found out about Ron Paul in 2007, through a Google search.
JSD: How have your political views changed over the past few years, and what has been the cause of those changes?
JB: Over the past six years, Ron Paul was able to clarify many of my views especially on foreign policy and the Federal Reserve, which I frankly didn’t know anything about before. The biggest change over the past couple years is my view on the death penalty. I used to be strongly pro-death penalty. Now I oppose it and realize that my past arguments were based only on emotions—not facts or logic. If you distrust the state, you shouldn’t give them the power to kill people. Plus, it costs taxpayers more money and the judicial system in this country is ridiculous.
JSD: If you weren’t doing what you are now (as a career), what might you likely be doing instead?
JB: I would probably be doing something with dogs. I always wanted to be a veterinarian growing up. I’ve always loved animals. When I grew up we had cows in our backyard. I had a German Shepherd and that’s where my love of dogs first came in. In third grade, my dog got run over and the vet saved him. So I wanted to become a vet. But then I learned I wasn’t that great at science. I was better at writing and politics and economics and the social sciences. If I wasn’t doing anything political, I’d love to do something with dogs. I just really love animals…probably more than people.
JSD: How about a couple non-political questions? What is your favorite place you’ve travelled to? Place you’d most like to visit?
JB: The coolest places that I have been to are Portland and Denver. I grew up in a small conservative dry town so I’m not used to these funky cities. I think they’re just so different from what I’m used to. In Portland, everyone wore different clothes and acted a different way, which is really interesting to me. I most want to visit Australia. I remember growing up and learning about Australia and all the animals there. I had a pen pal in elementary school from Australia.
JSD: What was your worst job?
JB: I don’t know. I’ve cleaned up after dogs for a living at a dog kennel and actually liked it because I got to be around dogs all day. I’ve been a softball umpire and I was regularly yelled at and called names my aggressive parents for questionable calls but I still liked it—both of these jobs likely prepared me for a career in the political field.
JSD: Who is your favorite president?
JB: Thomas Jefferson. Yeah, yeah yeah … Libertarians will remind me that he did some bad things. They all did bad things. But I remember learning about Thomas Jefferson in elementary school and being completely inspired. Just that he had the guts to do what he did, to write the Declaration of Independence. It was so completely different from the entire world. [The founding fathers] could have written whatever they wanted to. They could have taken control over the people, and they decided not to.
JSD: What do you think is the greatest hindrance to the libertarian cause? The obvious answer is the state, but do you agree?
JB: There are many hindrances to the libertarian cause. The state is a big one. But I also think that libertarians, including myself, need to work more on our communication and messaging skills. I find it amazing how more open people are to libertarianism when you present it in a friendly and humble manner. When you present it in an aggressive and argumentative manner, many people are turned off. I also think that many of us over-complicate libertarianism, which makes it difficult for the philosophy to have mass appeal. In this day and age, people want fast information that is easy to digest.
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