In My Skin: Student identifies outside bipartisan structure

Morgantown freshman Hunter Peay has been a part of the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) organization on campus for over a year now and associates with the Libertarian Party. A political science and Spanish double major, Peay believes in doing whatever it takes to solve the dilemma our country is in. “The least you can do is educate yourself, vote for someone that represents what you believe, and stick to it,” Peay said.​ (Luke Franke/HERALD)

Anna Roederer

In My Skin is a weekly feature series that looks to tell the stories of diverse student populations at WKU. Its goal is to serve as a simple reminder that WKU is location of diversity.


Discussing his concern over the national debt with the word “libertarian” emblazoned across his T-shirt, Morgantown freshman Hunter Peay does not fit the mold of the bipartisan political structure.

Peay, who founded Young Americans for Liberty club at WKU last semester, actively involves himself with and volunteers for the Tea Party movement.

Melinda Peay, Hunter’s mother, said her son is very passionate about his beliefs and “lives, eats and breathes” politics.

“You go to his room and he is always watching political things on TV,” she said.

Hunter’s political activism has included handing out flyers, putting up signs and delivering speeches at Tea Party rallies.

“I like giving speeches,” Hunter said. “I like firing people up,”

Jenean Hampton, chairman of the Bowling Green Southern Kentucky Tea Party, remembered being amazed when she first heard Hunter speak at a Tea Party rally a few years ago.

“I was just blown away when I learned that he was still in high school,” Hampton said. “He actually spoke better than many of the adults who spoke that day, and he seemed extremely knowledgeable about the Constitution and our country’s history.”

Hampton said that people would start to leave after hearing Rand Paul speak at Tea Party rallies but would turn around and come back once Hunter began to speak.

“He can put more passion in one sentence than a lot of our elected officials can do in one speech,” she said.

Hunter’s family voices its opinions at home, his mother said, adding that although she might not always agree with everything Hunter says she has supported him.

“We’ve never held him back on what he has had to say” she said. “We really believe in freedom of speech and freedom of thought, and we want him to be able to do that with his life.”

The spark that led to Hunter’s political passion was when he went with his aunt to a town hall meeting held by Rand Paul in the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center in 2009.

Along with agreeing with a lot of Paul’s points, Hunter said what inspired him was that Paul was willing to go against the party establishment while running for office.

Hunter said he did not want to identify with any major party establishment. In order to vote for Matt Bevin in the Republican primary, however, he had to change his registration from Libertarian to Republican before last semester.

“I really did not want to register with the two major parties even though I probably lean more towards the Republican Party,” he said.

The hardest part of not being a part of a major political party is that “you always feel outnumbered — especially during elections” Hunter said.

Identifying as a third-party voter often translates to a deficiency of electoral power in primaries. Hunter believes the current requirement that an independent candidate must receive 5,000 signatures to run for office in Kentucky is wrong.

“I don’t feel that I should do more to just get my name on the ballot as opposed to somebody who chooses to identify with a major party, he said. “I feel that it is totally wrong and something that the parties do to keep themselves in power.”

Without even a year of college behind him, Hunter has taken advantage of the opportunities at WKU by beginning the Young Americans for Liberty club and becoming a Student Government Association Senator.

He said that his hometown of Butler County has a “different vibe” compared to the wider range of beliefs at WKU.

Hunter said his beliefs have been both reaffirmed and challenged, and he has been able to challenge other people’s beliefs.

“I think that being able to have a diverse group of opinions around you is very healthy,” he said.

Whether or not they agree or disagree with him, Hunter’s main message to people is to educate themselves on important issues and to use their voice.

“Know where you stand, why you stand on it, and then do something about it,” he said. “If you see a problem and are doing nothing about it, you are complacent with the problem.”

In the future, Hunter said that he would like to work with a political action committee to help candidates who agree with his views get into office.

“If [Hunter] was our leader when I am eighty, I would be honored,” Hampton said.