While the mainstream media continued to give wall-to-wall coverage of the authoritarian populism currently engulfing both major political parties over the weekend, something quite different was happening in Washington, D.C.: the annual International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC). over 1,000 of the brightest young liberty activists from nearly every inhabited continent were in attendance. We represent the true future of human civilization.

Before ISFLC, I thought the opposite was true. With the rise of Trump and Sanders, I had become dissolutioned and cynical about the future. The astounding levels of fervent support for these two candidates among the general populace had destroyed my hope that decades of the steady expansion of state oppression and tyranny would finally give way to the slow, steady dismantling of the scourge of humanity that is the state. People would finally wake up and realize that the only thing standing between them and a happy, fulfilling existence is the state. Instead, Americans have shown fervent support for the two worst authoritarians to inhabit the political scene in recent memory. This led me to the cynical conclusion that people don’t want freedom and prosperity-they want a strong man with an iron fist who will plunder and oppress the “other guys” to their own benefit. I had given up all hopes of a freer, progressive, opulent society, and adopted what amounted to political nihilism.

But then I walked into ISFLC. I was greeted by the sight of swarms of well-dressed students engaged in animated conversations. The lobby rang with the sound of laughter. Immediately upon entering, my spirits lifted. As I walked toward the registration booth, I quickly realized my fears about the future were misplaced. Gathered here before me was a group of individuals from nearly every conceivable nationality, ethnicity, class, and gender. We were united by one thing: a passion for human freedom and liberty.

A quick jaunt downstairs to the sponsor booths further reaffirmed my newfound optimism. Nearly every nonprofit organization concerned with liberty from across the political spectrum was in attendance. Sponsor groups ranged from the Koch Institute, to the Drug Policy Alliance, to the NRA, to the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, to free-market environmentalist organizations, to Tea Party organizations, to libertarian think tanks. These groups may have disagreed with one another on many topics, but they were all in accord on one thing: the advancement of liberty and the removal of the chains of state oppression.

Then came the breakout sessions on Saturday. Experts and academics from nearly every area of study gave lectures and took questions on the most salient and challenging of issues facing the cause of human freedom today. These talks varied from discussions of campus rape, to drone warfare, to debates between professors about gun free zones and conservatism vs. libertarianism, to even more philosophical and lively debates about the most effective way to spread our message and win the hearts of minds of people everywhere. Sociologists, economists, political scientists, a variety of authors, and even the prince of Lichtenstein all gave educational and informative discussions, followed by no-holds-barred Q&A sessions. Attendees of the conference posited many difficult, technical, and thoughtful questions to the speakers. These discussions spilled over to the social events and parties that followed the conference.

Imagine the wondrous joy I felt at realizing that there are hundreds of people from all over the world so inflamed with a passion for liberty that they would travel thousands of miles to spend a Saturday intently listening to academic lectures and engaging in lively debate rather than do literally anything else.

My despondency and pessimism for the future is gone. ISFLC made one thing abundantly clear: statism is on its last legs, and liberty is on the rise. The future of civilization is in the hands of those of us who attended ISFLC. We are hell-bent on turning our fiery passion for liberty into a conflagration that will sweep the outdated and regressive bastions of state aggression into the annuls of history and usher in a new era of peace, prosperity, and happiness across the globe. Have hope, fellow lovers of liberty: the tide of authoritarianism currently sweeping America is but the final outcry of a doomed ideology.

The future of liberty is bright indeed.