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.