On Saturday, May 20, the American Revival Front (ARF), a pro-America service organization, held its annual summer convention on the third floor of the Michigan League. In total, between 20 and 30 people attended the convention throughout the day. The majority of attendees were young Michigan students sporting formal attire.
Law professor Howard Bromberg delivered opening remarks highlighting the importance of youth engagement in modern political discourse. He applauded the American Revival Front for combining pro-American and pro-labor positions to offer an alternative to campus socialism, which has continued to hold immense — but not universal — popularity in campus political conversations and even student government. Professor Bromberg was also critical of the two-party system, which has disillusioned so many Americans. In his perspective, both parties have failed in truly representing the people’s will.
The Independence Union, the second biggest party in Central Student Government, gave a presentation about increasing campus voter turnout and decreasing apathy among the student body in the next elections, focusing on labor rights and initiatives to stop the use of pesticides on the Diag. Former Rep. Tyler Fioritto emphasized the importance of holding the administration and student government accountable. The need for community service was heavily stressed, including opportunities for service in the local Ann Arbor area. A potential service requirement for CSG was posited, in which members would be obligated to volunteer for a set number of hours.
A noteworthy anecdote when considering CSG is that many interested in student government were not presented with a viable alternative to the status quo. The Independence Union has dramatically expanded its influence within CSG only three months since its inception. This is in contrast to the governing party (Forward Together) which has been around in some form for the better part of a decade. The Independence Union hopes to build this momentum and work with those who feel disenfranchised by an establishment clique. It was strongly emphasized that CSG should strive to implement true action instead of spouting self-assuring rhetoric.
Economic topics dominated the discussion throughout the convention as the role of government, corporations, and the individual were debated. The ARF offers an economic alternative to socialism that is neither anti-religion nor anti-patriotic. Instead it focuses on preserving products of individual labor, fighting predatory lending operations, and boycotting companies that engage in immoral employment practices. The ARF also opposes outsourcing without advocating the destruction of organized religion or the nation-state. The ARF recognizes that these units of organization and society help the individual maintain identity against the monopolizing forces of both state and company. Critiques of consumerist culture were also made, with an emphasis on reshoring American production instead of offshoring manufacturing. During the open discussion, concerns over the potential effects of government intervention on consumption were addressed. The consensus was that unregulated free trade was largely to the detriment of the American worker.
The convention concluded with remarks by Gabriel Ervin, founder and chairman of the ARF. His message articulated pro-worker and patriotic ideals:
My friends, we find ourselves at a crossroads in American history. The forces of greed, corruption, and foreign influence have taken hold of our government and our economy. By uniting together under the banner of New Americanism, we can take back our country from the hands of those who seek to exploit and oppress us. We can build a new America that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Delegations of four different ARF Chapters around the state were in attendance, including the Grand Rapids, Hillsdale, Grosse Pointe, and U-M Ann Arbor chapters.
[Editor’s note: Gabriel Ervin contributed to this article.]