I personally, however, cannot be separated from
This part seems a little bit self-aggrandizing. But it's so hard to avoid that in essays like this! Interviewing for a job, applying for college, going on a date, these situations where we are supposed to be trying to make a good impression I situations where it is so hard to balance modesty with persuasiveness.
After reading the first paragraph, I think it is one of those first paragraph that can be removed entirely. Sometimes it's difficult to just get rid of an entire paragraph that you, but really this is how to prune the bonsai tree like Mr. Miagi. Trim away the excess. That first paragraph is making an unsubstantiated claim, and Newsweek. I bet when I get to the second paragraph it will actually show the reader the truth that was claimed in the first paragraph, and that will make the first paragraph and unnecessary obstacle for their mind to pass. I say kill the first paragraph. :-)
I first became interested in the political arena during Wisconsin's Act 10 chaos of 2011.
This is so much more interesting as the start of an essay. In fact, it might even be personally interesting to the reader. So, this reinforces my idea the first paragraph should be deleted.
Your discussion about how Ryan lead you to consider Ron Paul and libertarianism is very impressive! I think you might enjoy reading Emerson and a Thoreau if you have not already, because their work helps people to see how American democracy really is supposed to be the way you described: maximizing freedom while preventing people from interfering with anybody else's freedom.
You might sound wiser if you talk about viewpoints with which you agree or disagree rather than talking about, "I am a liberal" or "I am a libertarian"... It is the tendency to reach out for an identity to construct for oneself that makes us sometimes seem naïve. Also, it's that same tendency that so often causes politicians to become unable to uphold the values that you are talking about here!
I think this might be the most important suggestion: Instead of telling the reader about the conclusions at which you have arrived, emphasized the questions you are asking. There is good reason for that notion you mentioned about political topics being off-limits. It's great to talk about them as long as you take this approach that you have taken, which is to emphasize the idea of constantly questioning and seeking truth. You can deemphasize the parts where you talk about conclusions you have reached, and perhaps replace them with examples of some of the goals you would like to achieve in order to act on your values.