By John Keller | USA
Brandon Phinney is a libertarian politician who currently represents 24th district in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He earned an associate degree from Great Bay Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University. He has been fighting for liberty since 2016 and seeks to continue the fight for his constituents rights as he faces re-election.
Keller: There are a million career opportunities in the modern age. What made you wish to pursue a political career?
Phinney: It all started when I was deployed in 2015. I wanted to stay on top of what was happening back home and started focusing on state government. I was always interested in politics and philosophy and had never seriously considered public office before. But I saw some of the wheelings and dealings of the NH legislature that I severely disagreed with and decided I wanted to be a part of making change happen. Waiting until the filing period the following year, I just signed up and started campaigning. I have learned a lot since then.
Keller: You won election to the state assembly of New Hampshire. Do you have any tips for those seeking election or wishing to pursue a political career?
Phinney: A couple of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is one, be aware of what is happening, not just in your city or town, but in your state as a whole. Local politics and local government is the best place to start because what you do in your town, city or state has more of a direct impact on constituents than the federal government. Second is start getting involved in your community. Get to know some of the people who vote by finding out what they’re passionate about and what their concerns are. When you start campaigning, door knocking is the number one priority in getting your name out to people and you need to be aware of what the voters care about.
Keller: You were elected to the state legislature of New Hampshire as a Republican, but you are now a Libertarian. What attracted you to the message of liberty?
Phinney: I was elected as a Republican only as a necessity. Libertarians did not have ballot access in New Hampshire until after the 2016 election. Initially, I wanted to run as an Independent, but decided for my first race that I wanted to win and worry about the details later. I realize that switching parties after getting elected is not a popular action, but getting to know the politics in your state with its extreme partisanship will help aid you in your enlightenment.
The message of liberty has always been attractive to me as far back as the first Obama campaign in 2008. I was 20 years old back then and did not know a quarter of what I know now, but always knew I stood for fiscal responsibility, less war and the protection of natural rights. It took a couple more years to learn that I was a Libertarian. In fact, even on the campaign trail as a Republican in 2016, I made sure people knew my Libertarian leanings and philosophies toward public policy and have never hidden that fact. I am proud that I can be at the forefront of the movement with people like Larry Sharpe, my brothers in the NH State legislature in Dyer and Stallcop and the thousands of activists across the nation.
Keller: What does the work for liberty look like in the state legislature?
Phinney: Even though every state has its extreme partisanship, there are many in the NH legislature that understand libertarianism in its basic form. Many of my Republican Rep friends in the House are sympathetic to the virtues of less government, less government spending, and less authoritarianism. However, they have their partisan ties and feel more comfortable with their tribe than being in a political party that would better suit their principles. They don’t believe that any candidate who is not a Republican or Democrat can win any election. I hope in 2018 to prove them wrong. As for me, Reps. Dyer and Stallcop, we take great care to espouse our philosophies by the legislation that we sponsor and in our own activism with constituents and social media.
Keller: Recently a man has been fatally shot by a state trooper in New Hampshire. What are your thoughts on police-citizen relations?
Phinney: The relationship between authority and the masses is almost always tense and strained. People have an inherent desire to be free of constraint by rulers, lawmakers and other forms of authority. When those authority figures now have badges and guns, it makes people uncomfortable, even afraid. The rise in police shootings has all but shattered the illusion that police forces across the country exist to protect people, but in its current form, exist only to administer the will of the State. Basic civil liberties have been infringed long enough. Accountability has waned for a long time and the people are demanding a return to a time when police officers were supposed to actually help people, not find a reason to shoot them on every call. This is not to be taken as anti-police rhetoric, just a frustration that things have changed so drastically and are not getting better. The police need to respect our rights. Period.
Keller: Do you plan to seek re-election in your current seat or will you look to new opportunities to spread the message of freedom and liberty?
Phinney: I absolutely plan to run for re-election! I refuse to concede the ground I have gained as a legislator. In fact, I am starting to ask for donations toward my campaign for necessary materials like mailers, door hangers and yard signs. My donation link can be found at www.phinneynh.com. Any donation is gladly received and you have my thanks!
In the event that I am not re-elected, I will be seeking other opportunities to be involved in NH liberty.
Keller: Many trade groups in New Hampshire are calling for a reversal of the state FirstNet Decision. What are your thoughts on this issue?
Phinney: This quote from a recent WMUR article seems to have an impact on the issue. “Those who support opting out said FirstNet is backing down from prior threats of fines of more than $600 million for New Hampshire if its deal with Rivada completely falls through”. To me, this sounds like a completely monetary issue and perhaps not an issue of viability. It is not an issue I am overly familiar with, but in reading about it, it would seem that New Hampshire would be on a completely separate communications system called Rivada instead of the 48 states agreed upon FirstNet. Emergency communication systems can certainly fall into the free market designation, but if this move is for fiscal reasons, I can understand why the Governor would opt out. However, I do not think the issue is dead yet as negotiations seem to be ongoing. I will be following this issue closely.
Keller: Libertarians tend to believe that having fewer laws is better; however, you’re in a unique position. If you could propose a major bill in the state legislature what would be the goal of the legislation?
Phinney: I believe in a limited government. With that being said, my goal as a Representative has always been to limit the size, scope, and intrusiveness of that government and I believe the 2018 legislation I have sponsored accomplishes that goal. Not every aspect of state government is addressed, but we have to start somewhere, right? Some of my bills are as follows:
HB1285: relative to entertainers in premises serving alcoholic beverages
This bill allows entertainers in premises serving alcoholic beverages to drink alcohol while performing; essentially, it distinctively states that an entertainer shall not be considered an employee under RSA 179:19, I (b)
HB1375: repealing the prohibition on inhaling toxic vapors for effect
This bill repeals the anti-huffing law and the reason I am proposing this is because it is a victimless crime that is difficult to charge, prove and enforce. In order to combat the uselessness of the Drug War, we should be repealing laws that make criminals out of otherwise innocent people. Incarceration for lowly “drug” offenses like this only serves to cost more taxpayer money and expand police power
HB1735: relative to the use of funds in the drug forfeiture fund
This bill requires a portion of the money from the drug forfeiture fund to be credited to the alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment fund to be used for alcohol and drug abuse education, prevention and treatment programs. Essentially, 60% of asset forfeiture money will still be given to the police for drug enforcement while the remaining portion (40%) would be going into this fund.
HB1409: relative to child restraint practices in schools and treatment facilities
This bill permits the parent of a child subject to restraint or seclusion in violation of RSA 126-U to request an administrative hearing with the department of education or department of health and human services
HB1676 – repealing the licensing requirement for open-air shows and repealing the laws related to the keeping of billiard tables.
This bill repeals laws from the year 1850 that required permits for open-air shows and showmen as well as obtaining billiard tables for a business.
Keller: Do you have a final message to supporters, the citizens of New Hampshire, or the readers?
Phinney: Firstly, I want to thank each and every person who has supported me in some way, whether it was on the campaign trail or with your dollars or just a friendly comment on social media. The path to liberty often feels like a fight in solitude, but I know that many people stand with me to make sure that New Hampshire and the rest of the United States remains free. This year will be one of the most important years of my life as I face a re-election campaign that will surely tax my strength and my emotions. I ask that everyone who supports what I do in the NH legislature to stand by my side by sharing your time, your encouragement, and your dollars to help ensure that what I do for this movement continues.
To my constituents in Rochester, I hope that the work I have already done comes to you as a great benefit. This position means a great deal to me as I get to represent your will and your voice in an institution built on the sacrifice of better men to the cause of liberty. It is my goal to remain your Representative so I may help protect your civil liberties and your dollars. Help me during this next year by giving me a call, emailing me, sending me a letter, or speaking to me at public events with your concerns, questions or anything else. I am here to serve.
I would like to again thank State Representative Brandon Phinney for taking the time to be a part of this interview and the fight for liberty. Be sure to support his campaign by donating at www.phinneynh.com and following him on Twitter and Facebook.