Oftentimes as libertarians, we tend to fixate on national politics. Will Bill Weld run on the 2020 presidential ticket? Or will it be Adam Kokesh? Should Nicholas Sarwark continue to be the chair of the LNC, or should Joshua Smith unseat him? What crazy thing did Arvin Vohra just post on facebook? Did Gary Johnson ever learn where Aleppo is?
These are certainly important considerations. To a large extent, our national presence dictates how people view the liberty movement; however, overly fixating on national politics overlooks the fact that our party has quite a ways to go in regards to local politics and grassroots campaigning. This movement is about hearts and minds, and helping to spread awareness about how the state tramples upon the inalienable rights of the 350 million ordinary folks residing in this great nation.
This is a movement about people, first and foremost. We need great people to occupy local offices. We need candidates that have a pulse for their constituents. We need mothers and fathers. Brothers and sisters. Daughters and sons. We need friends and coworkers to exemplify the best that the Libertarian Party has to offer this wonderful country and all its inhabitants. America needs the Libertarian Party.
Bobbi Hicks is one such person. She’s a working woman and mother of two who grew up in the hills of Arkansas. She is currently running for District 10 in the Arkansas State Senate on the Libertarian ticket. She is caring, compassionate, and down to earth. She offers hope and a personal touch to her prospective constituents.
71 Republic’s Jay Thompson got the exclusive take on her campaign. This is her story.
Thompson: What made you decide to enter the race, Mrs. Hicks?
Hicks: In 2016 I helped my husband Kerry with his campaign for Arkansas’ 4th U.S. Congressional district. Between that experience and supporters within the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, and in my personal life, I was kinda half talked into it. I sort of talked myself into it the rest of the way.
Since I joined the LP in 2014 I have paid far more attention to the injustice that is all around me. For example, in 2015 Polk county needed a new jail, and arrests seemed to multiply. Was it that they were trying to prove the need for a new jail? Or was that how they planned on raising the money for it when we inevitably refused higher taxes here in Polk county to pay for it? Either way, it must not have worked out. We still need a new jail.
Thompson: So, what exactly was your role in the LPAR, in an official capacity? What skills did you learn being involved in a local party which will be of use to you in your campaign?
Hicks: I am the acting chair of the Polk County Libertarian Party. In addition, I am also the LPAR nominee for State Senate district 10.
Patience. Starting a new affiliate is, without question, a practice in patience. Being able to approach and talk to people about libertarianism and the issues, and being prepared for any possible reaction. I have had people take me seriously and join the party. I’ve had people laugh at me. I’ve had people get downright rude. I’ve learned not to let myself become discouraged because of a bad encounter, and to just maintain a good sense of humor.
Thompson: That’s upsetting. Having been called a Russian troll on more than one occasion, I can sort of empathize with you. A lot of people just aren’t ready to hear the message that the LP offers, which is why focusing on communication and outreach is so crucial.
Mrs. Hicks, what do the words freedom and liberty mean to you, on a personal level?
Hicks: Freedom and liberty to me is the ability to live without government intervention in my life, so long as I’m not harming anyone. I can think of very few times in my life that I’ve needed the government to intervene in my life.
I don’t need the government to dictate who I should love, or how I should raise my kids. I don’t need the government to tell me how to tend to my business, how to earn a living, what charity to donate to, or how I should choose to worship God. So long as I can live in peace with those around me – so long as I’m not harming anyone around me – then what does the rest matter?
Now, with such wondrous freedom and liberty also comes responsibility. My Rights are my own; however, my Rights end where yours begins. My Rights are precious to me, because they are mine.
But your Rights are just as precious to me, because if I stand by and allow your Rights to be violated, then mine are fair game too.
I have the responsibility to not trample your Rights, and to be mindful that no matter what I may believe or how I may feel that I cannot use my morality to make decisions for anyone but myself.
Thompson: That’s very beautifully said, Mrs. Hicks. I couldn’t agree more. I actually wrote something regarding freedom and personal responsibility not too long ago, so it’s definitely something which I can relate to. On a related note, do you feel as if society in general has a tendency to fail to take personal responsibility? Do you believe that, far too often, we cede control of our lives and our actions to the state?
Hicks: Absolutely, and what I find even more troubling is how society is taking it a step further. We blame the guns, not the shooter. We blame the drugs, not the users. We want to demonize a group, rather place the blame of misdeed at the feet of the few who perpetrated the crime.
Do guns load themselves and shoot people? No, a person with a vendetta shoots or stabs or bombs people. Do opiates come to life and make people overdose? No, a person who abuses such medications overdose themselves. Do all cops kill unarmed civilians? No, and not all cops should be treated as if they will, but the ones that do certainly shouldn’t be found blameless.
A badge and a uniform shouldn’t be a licences to get away with murder when that is indeed the case.
Thompson: Now, that is just far too logical, Mrs. Hicks! I’m going to don my tin foil hat for just a second here. Do you believe that there is some kind of agenda as it regards the push to control peoples right to bear arms?
Hicks: Certainly. I believe that the Second Amendment was intended so that American’s can protect themselves against tyranny, should we be faced with tyrants who would take our rights. There have always been groups whose agenda is to create a “Nanny State.” There have always been such groups who think that the government is somehow the answer. Informed and armed citizens will always be the antithesis of those groups. Any group who would violate an individual’s rights – no matter how well meaning – can not be tolerated or thrive in a truly free society, and must rely on a government that enslaves its citizens in order to exist
Thompson: That is an interesting point. I’m certain that most libertarians will agree with you. The real issue lies in convincing the rest of the population that the state does not have our best interests at heart. That is why I feel that local races are so important. It really is about using communication and outreach to market ideas and change the culture. It starts small.
Why do you feel that you are the most qualified candidate to serve your prospective constituents?
Hicks: I feel that I have a unique understanding of the people of my district, because I’m one of them. I wasn’t born into money. I’ve had to work and struggle for everything I do have. Like most people in my district, my family means more to me than anything. For some people in my district their family is all they really have.
I wasn’t sent to the best schools. I wasn’t groomed and polished for a career in politics. I‘ve worked minimum wage jobs, and I know what it’s like to make real world decisions. I think these career politicians would learn a thing or two about the people they claim to represent if they had to break their back for minimum wage and figure out how to pay the bills and buy food.
Thompson: I relate to that on a personal level. Growing up as one of eight children on a farm, I was certainly born with a plastic spoon in my mouth. We all have our personal experiences. Do you have any personal experiences which color your perception of libertarianism?
Hicks: My life has been an exercise in libertarianism. From being raised by a very libertarian-minded mother, to discovering the LPAR in 2014, I can safely say I have always lived life on my terms. I have done all I could to be respectful of others. I have always tried to understand the perspectives of others, even if I don’t agree with them. Running for office seemed like the next logical step for me.
Thompson: I understand that your are a mother of two beautiful children? Does that affect the way that you perceive public education, for instance? Does it play a role in your conception of a libertarian future for your children?
Hicks: I am a mother of two, and nowhere do I currently see more government manipulation than in our schools. If it were not for the fact that my son is autistic and ADHD, or that my daughter has learning disabilities and is severely ADHD, I would gladly home school them. Unfortunately, I do not have the “specialized training” that is apparently necessary to do so. Apparently the schools, courtesy of the State, knows more about raising my kids than I do. I would love to be able to take parent’s rights back from the State. I remember when I was growing up I would spend most of my days outside – running, playing, and exploring. My parents didn’t fear the cops arresting them for having a “free range” child. I knew to come home before dark.
I remember when I was growing up that if I wasn’t in before dark I could expect that I would be grounded. For the most heinous of crimes (like my Mom having to retrieve me from a friend’s house after dark) I could expect a belt across my backside. Mostly, It hurt my pride.My Mom didn’t fear that I would be taken away for “child abuse” because teaching your child right from wrong was a parents job. Needless to say, I was a well behaved child. This was not because I was beaten; rather, it was because I had let my mother down. I was raised in a time where if I was sick and my mom chose to nurse me at home, and then return me to school with a note from her, the school accepted it. My mom rarely had to take me to a doctor, but did when it was necessary. These days if my kids miss a day of school, I am required to take them to a doctor.
Even if it’s just hay fever (for the twentieth time this year). To not do so is considered “medical neglect”. I don’t think there was even such a concept when I was growing up.
So, what went wrong? Is it that Child Abuse became so prevalent? Or did the definition of “child abuse” change? I know child abuse is a real thing, but when did every parent who refuses to discipline their child become an abuser? I know that there are kids neglected, but when did a child playing outside without a parent being underfoot become illegal?
Thompson: I don’t have kids yet, but one thing I know for sure is that the way I was raised would certainly be illegal under today’s terms. The state really does encroach on all of our lives, even in the most personal ways. It does not matter that the intentions may be benign. In practice, they are absolutely awful. You mentioned the nanny state earlier. I couldn’t agree more.
Back to your campaign. What are some of the challenges and concerns which you foresee yourself having to overcome in your bid to be elected to the Arkansas State Senate? Are there issues with fundraising and awareness?
Hicks: Absolutely. The mainstream media marginalizes libertarians all the time. I read an article recently that referred to us as “minor” candidates. Really? “Minor”? It aggravates me to no end. I haven’t been a “minor” anything since I was 18!
Fundraising is a nightmare in and of itself. People want their money to pay off, which is why our politicians are all seemingly for sale. It’s like betting on horses. A lack of funding is why so many Libertarians don’t get elected. The competition has has huge war chests full of money. They have donors willing to write more checks. I currently have a tiny budget, by comparison.
Thompson: I think the way to overcome those hurdles is to build a local network and commit your efforts to outreach. What does grassroots campaigning mean to you, Mrs. Hicks?
Thompson: Why should people on a national level be concerned about your campaign?
Thompson: It very well could be. I think that we focus too much on the big picture as a party, and lose focus on the little steps which we have to take. That occurs on a local level. Who knows, maybe this could be a real upset for the establishment, and a major victory for the LP.
How can we, as a national movement of individuals concerned about liberty, best help to support your campaign?
Thompson; That’s good advice. Do you have any thoughts regarding the state of the LP on a state and national level? Do you feel as if the party is headed in the right direction?
I hope in 2018 Libertarians can make some serious wins and show everyone that we are serious. We aren’t going away. I know here in Arkansas we have some great candidates. Mark West is our gubernatorial candidate, and he’s a great guy. We’ve also got Frank Gilbert for Lt. Governor, Christopher Olsen for Secretary of State, Kerry Hicks for Attorney General, Ashley Ewald for State Treasurer, as well as US Congressional candidates in all four districts. There are twenty four other Libertarians, myself included, running in local races.
Thompson: We certainly are. Too often, voters have this false dilemna they face, having to choose between a Democrat and a Republican. In today’s political culture, both parties represent the same thing.
The LP offers a real choice. We just need to really want to win the small races and build networks. We need to make people more aware of the multitudes of qualified candidates running for local office.
I wish that more people across the country could hear what you have to say. Maybe they would be inspired to run for their own district, or get involved in some manner.
I understand that you will be featured on a libertarian radio show in the coming days. Are you excited or nervous?
Thompson: I certainly will, and I hope that we can all market this. I truly believe that you have a good head on your shoulders and really care about the people that you wish to represent. Maybe this radio appearance will give your campaign the boost that it needs.
Do you have any closing statements that you wish to address to the audience while we wrap this up, Mrs. Hicks?
If you wish to contact Mrs. Hicks with any pertinent questions relevant to her campaign, you can reach her at https://m.facebook.com/362510327221110
Or on twitter at @BobbiHicksforAR
Please tune in to the Old Dominion Libertarian Radio program on March 26.
If we start small, we can win where it matters.