Generation Opportunity’s Chalon Hutson: Policy over party

Katie Campbell//January 29, 2018

Generation Opportunity’s Chalon Hutson: Policy over party

Katie Campbell//January 29, 2018

Chalon Hutson (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Chalon Hutson (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Chalon Hutson found his passion in freedom a la libertarian principles.

But when he graduated from Grand Canyon University and left the Army Reserve – in the same week no less – he wanted to “focus on the policies and the principles over the parties and the politicians.”

He struck that balance first with the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity. Now, at 27, he’s focusing on the issues that affect young Americans most as the field director for Americans for Prosperity’s sister organization, Generation Opportunity.

This is his first session at the Capitol for the Arizona chapter, but he’s already involved in some of the year’s hottest topics.

Cap Times Q&AWhat should be the focus of major reform in the country and Arizona right now?

Here in Arizona, we’ve been focusing on criminal justice because it’s an issue that disproportionately affects young people. In this state, we have 42,000 prisoners in state prisons, and 60 percent of those are under 40. We want to make sure that we utilize our criminal justice system to keep society safe, but we also … want to make sure that we have people in prison who are a danger to others, and that we treat everybody else with respect and the dignity that they deserve.

You clearly lean libertarian.

I’m a philosophical libertarian. I want to distinguish it from the party. I don’t work for the party or anything. Our organization is nonpartisan. We’ll work with anybody willing to advance liberty issues. I want to see the most prosperous society with the most amount of people lifted up out of poverty and have the best standards of living with the most amount of opportunities to find the most happiness. And I just think that comes from whenever you maximize voluntary interactions and minimize the amount of coercion and violence that happens.

I found a Red Millennial post you wrote in which you describe yourself as a “Millennial with atypical opinions.” What did you mean by that?

Typically, people view Millennials disproportionately as believing in socialism as opposed to free market capitalism, which I’m a huge advocate for. Of course, recently I’ve come around to believing maybe Millennials just don’t really understand what socialism is. And you don’t always see a ton of libertarian Millennials out there … Part of the issue with the narrative is Millennials – we’re the generation of Netflix and YouTube and Uber and Venmo. We want to have things fit us individually. We want to make sure that we’re using our money efficiently, and we’re very entrepreneurial as a generation. Those are things that, typically, fit within a free market, capitalist mindset.

In that post, you also mentioned the concept of “juvenoia,” which is defined as “a fear or hostility directed by an older generation toward a younger one, or toward youth culture in general.” Do you think that’s played a role in our policies and how they relate to young people?

Possibly. Regardless of what other generations might think about young Americans, we’re going to continue to want to be entrepreneurial and continue to want to have the most amount of freedom. That’s why I do think it’s important for organizations like Generation Opportunity that solely focus on young Americans to give an avenue for them to get active … We need to give them a “why” to get active.

You once retweeted a libertarian account that wrote, “What’s so bad about baby selling?” And you added, “Headline = Why people think Libertarians are crazy 101.” Why are libertarians “crazy?”

I always like to make sure that whenever you’re messaging the ideas of liberty, you meet people where they’re at. Even if you might be right in principle on an issue, and I’m not saying that they were on that one … it’s important that you drive a message about liberty and the principles of free society in a way that people are going to be receptive to. A lot of philosophical libertarians like to get on their high horse. They want to make sure that all of the principles are perfect, and they want every other libertarian to be perfect. Whenever you’re messaging the principles to people that might not have all the information or might not be aligned with what you believe, it’s important that you do it in a reasonable and kind manner.

I hope you remember this tweet, or it’s going to sound weird: What on earth is NAP, and why does the Dalai Lama endorse it?

The NAP is the non-aggression principle, which simply means don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff. There’s a ton of figures out there that spread that message. I can’t remember what the Dalai Lama’s particular tweet was, but he said something about being kind and not hurting people. It’s a general principle that we all learn from being a child … And it’s important that whenever you become an adult that you keep that in mind.

What else should people know about you?

Do you think my cat is interesting enough?

Talk about your cat, man.

I don’t think a lot of people would assume I have a cat, but cats are very independent. I think cats are pretty libertarian. I actually named my cat Mises after free market economist Ludwig von Mises, who wrote on the ideas of free market economics. And he debunked a lot of myths of socialism, as well. So, I wanted to honor him by naming my cat after him … That’s pretty much the most interesting thing about me.