Is Petersen’s Party Permutation Principled?

By Ryan Lau | MISSOURI

This past Tuesday, 2016 Libertarian Presidential runner-up, Austin Petersen, announced a bid for Senate in his home state of Missouri. This move, which would otherwise be viewed exceptionally highly by all libertarians, has one key flaw. Petersen switched his political affiliations and is running as a Republican. However, I do not believe that this move in any way takes away from his principles or values, but simply represents a well-thought move of pragmatism.

Before going any further, I would like to make the key distinction between a “Libertarian” with a capital L, and a “libertarian” with a lowercase l. The former is used to denote a member of the Libertarian Party, whereas the latter describes a person of any party, so long as they adopt a liberty-minded ideology. It is quite essential to differentiate between party and ideology, as frankly, one’s party is absolutely meaningless in determining their views and values.

While members of one political party may hold a certain set of similar beliefs, there is clearly much room for discrepancy. In the 2016 Republican primary alone, there were some seventeen declared candidates, each with a very particular set of beliefs. This naturally allowed for room for discussion and debate within the party, as the “R” next to a candidate’s name did nothing to denote agreement or disagreement to a particular issue, but merely represented a party of individuals that each candidate sought the endorsement of. Hence, a party cannot make or break how one should view a candidate in terms of their adherence to liberty, or for that matter, adherence to any set of principles.

For example, while many Libertarians and libertarians alike, myself included, supported Rand Paul in the Presidential race, we collectively shuddered to imagine Chris Christie at the helm of the nation, despite the two men wearing the same party sign. On the contrary, though some Libertarians jumped with joy at the mere mention of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, many libertarians were taken aback. The pair frequently contradicted libertarian principles, despite holding the party’s nomination. Thus, it is quite impossible for the endorsement of a party to inherently make or break the principles of one’s own candidacy.

Naturally, if not determined by membership of a party, then principle must be determined by one’s ideology, and how strictly he or she holds to said ideology. Austin, throughout his presidential campaign and after, has indubitably held true to himself all libertarian beliefs. For the longest amount of time, he has professed his desire to end foreign intervention and foreign aid, stating in a televised Fox Business debate that he would “cut every penny”. Similarly, the candidate has never once backed away from his staunchly anti-drug war position, defending that drug laws for consenting adults are an infringement upon individual liberty.

However, what truly sets Austin apart from the majority of liberty-minded candidates is his willingness to stand up for causes that do not necessarily follow the mainstream opinions of his party, most notably abortion. He is as strongly pro-life as anyone, once again citing Natural Rights to life, liberty, and property as a justification, as well as scientific data in regards to the living characteristics of the fetus. Despite cries of “statism” from certain pro-choice members of the Libertarian Party, his beliefs remain set in stone.

Without a doubt, Austin Petersen is a candidate that represents the epitome of liberty, a candidate that would represent the freedoms of the individual, rather than the tyranny of the state. We as a nation have yet to elect a candidate as principled as he, and it would be a great change for the United States Senate. For these reasons, it is my honor to endorse Austin Petersen for the office of United States Senator from Missouri.

  1. Jeff "Old Man Anarchy" Smith July 14, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    (I joined the libertarian movement in 1975. I joined the Libertarian Party in 1976)

    We libertarians/Libertarians started watching Austin Petersen in 2012 when he created a blog that attacked the philosophy and principles of libertarianism, including the non-aggression principle (NAP), one of the foundations of libertarianism and liberty itself. Libertarianism is defined by its principles (self-ownership, non-aggression, property). Removing just one of the principles makes liberty impossible, thus when a “Libertarian” rejects one or more of the principles he removes himself from libertarianism. Thus, Austin Petersen was never a libertarian. The Libertarian Party now accepts everyone into the Party, no matter their beliefs, which is how Petersen was able to run as a candidate, although he is not libertarian.

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    1. I would have to disagree with you on your analysis of Austin as unlibertarian. While yes, he does reject the NAP, this simply means he is not an anarchist, for any government at all violates the NAP. As an agorist, I happen to agree with you that the NAP should be the basis for all human interaction. However, Petersen’s rejection of one generally-anarchist principle does not take away from the fact that he does have a strong, principled policy for individual liberty and massive government reduction. He is not the perfect candidate, but the perfect candidate is nearly impossible to find. That being said, he, if elected, will advance liberty as a whole, and our government will have a net positive, though imperfect, outcome from his term.

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      1. Jeff "Old Man Anarchy" Smith July 14, 2017 at 4:52 pm

        Check out the “Statement of Principles” near the top of the Libertarian Party platform. There you will find the non-aggression principle. In fact, it is so important to the philosophy and to liberty, it is mentioned ten times throughout the platform. Petersen outright rejects the NAP. As I originally stated, we watched Petersen since 2012. He made his right-wing, Republican stand very clear so it was no surprise that he went to the Republican Party. As the NAP is so important to having liberty, and Petersen being a right-winger, there is no chance that he will “advance liberty.” He is what is known as the “same old, same old.” Keep working on remembering/learning that without ALL THREE principles (self-ownership, non-aggression, property) liberty cannot be had. It is precisely why liberty failed within a couple of years (according to Thomas Jefferson) of the revolutions end.

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      2. To be fair, all of the Libertarian Party is right-wing, seeing as on a political compass, the left vs right axis is purely economic. All American libertarians are right-wing, as that is inherent within a belief in the free market. Again, he is imperfect. But if he can help end the drug war, limit our foreign intervention, lower or ideally abolish the income tax, and make other changes like so, he is furthering liberty. His platform is not the end goal, but it is a pragmatic, achievable approach to freedom that will pave the way for an even better candidate in future elections.

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      3. Absolutely NOT! Libertarianism was NEVER a right-wing doctrine! I started with the movement in 1975. The mass infiltration of the right began in 2013. Now, the right-wing, Republican members are in positions of party power and they are working hard to remove libertarianism from the party, and they are winning. However, this does not change the definition of “libertarianism.”

        Petersen will not help liberty. Petersen is an ego-maniac and is ONLY concerned with himself. Since moving to the GOP we can see the changes in his postings, which are moving further to the right. At age 58 I have witnessed this time and again in politicians, some I even fell for their tricks. Petersen has previously made his right-wing stands very clear. Liberty and peace have never been part of the political left and right. In fact, we lost liberty long ago, according to Thomas Jefferson. If liberty and peace are your goals, don’t support the doctrines that took it away from us to begin with.

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      4. So you’re suggesting that Ron Paul in 1988 was not right-wing? Right vs left is purely a matter of free economy vs controlled economy. The vertical axis is about individual liberty.

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      5. “Right vs left is purely a matter of free economy vs controlled economy.”

        This is what they WANT you to believe. We are NOT a free market. We have not had a free market for 200 years, and the right is not working to solve that, no matter how much they promise you that “things will be different this time.” Yes, the right uses buzz words like “liberty” and “capitalism,” as much as the left uses “freedom” and “peace.” I can’t stop you from supporting the “same old, same old,” but I can promise you that we will not obtain liberty and peace until Americans cease supporting the aggression based doctrines (right-wing, left-wing, conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat).

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      6. I recognize that we are not and have not been a free market. In my writing, I attempt to call attention to this notion in attempt at garnering support for a true free market. Ultimately, however, an anarcho-capitalist or agorist society is one that adopts bottom-right ideology. Voluntarism is right of center, for no economic restrictions exist

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      7. Jeff "Old Man Anarchy" Smith July 14, 2017 at 8:19 pm

        That is incorrect. The political right (and the left) are not for liberty (individual or economic). They are one of the aggression based doctrines which seek to control (restrict) our life, liberty, and property. Voluntaryism is one of the non-aggression based doctrines. You need to ween yourself of the right/left spectrum as liberty and peace have never been found there, only tyranny and war.

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      8. But by attacking AP for being “right” you are yourself participating in the right/left game. On the issues what is he not libertarian? NAP is just a doctrine, and while it’s an easy way of explaining the ideals of liberty to people it is not a bible.

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