By Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury
The Libertarian Party is at it again. In a bitter tweet teeming with contempt, the Libertarian Party attacked former presidential candidate Austin Petersen over his third-place finish in the recent Missouri Senate GOP primary. Suggesting the outsider campaign received a ‘thorough drubbing’, the Libertarian Party attacked Petersen in a predictable, garish fashion that situates party over principle.
If the thorough drubbing suffered by @AP4Liberty in the recent Missouri election is any indication, leaving the Libertarian Party to get elected doesn’t work so well.
— Libertarian Party (@LPNational) August 14, 2018
Make no mistake – the LP has had it out for Petersen ever since the Missourian had the gall to go against the grain in 2016 with his firebrand candidacy for President. Staking out against pragmatist and power broker favorite Gary Johnson, Petersen brought an inspired, youthful spin on what has become a water-logged party pushing a message of post-libertarian pragmatist philosophy. The most recent outburst from party officials signals exactly where they stand: they would rather get their asses kicked every election with ‘their guys’ than cede any small semblance of provisional power they have extorted from true-blue libertarians that have been rooted out or left the party, year after year, in protest.
This isn’t about libertarianism. If it were, Austin Petersen would already have his membership back and we would all be celebrating his return. So aggrieved are they that Petersen dared to run as a Republican, the Libertarian Party refuses to do the right thing and extend an olive branch to one of the few people that has time and time again stuck by libertarian values even if it meant a slower climb up the political ladder.
This is the same maddening practice that the LP resorted to regarding Ron Paul. Paul, who used his Republican Congressional seat to inspire and educated the masses on what it means to be a libertarian, is persona non grata amongst the leadership in the LP. While Mr. Paul gave an intimate speech to the LP Mises Caucus the night before the 2018 convention, the LNC had spent months parroting claims that Paul had no idea what libertarianism meant. It would all be a great joke if the balance of the country wasn’t at stake.
Petersen’s principles have never been questioned. Sure, he has had his run-ins (most notably with his suggestion that we might take another look at the NAP) but over and over again Petersen has espoused a small government, minarchist position when given the opportunity. Running for federal office as a Republican, Petersen accomplished more for the libertarian movement and principles than arguably any other campaign in the past decade. No, this bickering is simply about party politics. That same gross malady of back scratching and power positioning that turned so many of us against the two-party duopoly is apparently alive and well in the current Libertarian Party.
Austin Petersen has always had his enemies. Some have been made through his own doing but many more have simply been the type of jealous, snide simpletons that often anchor themselves to fringe political movements. Make no mistake, the Libertarian Party is a fringe one. There, the funds will always be thinner and the votes fewer at the ballot box. Until we break out from the zombie-like lull of ill-suited pragmatists and the never-surrender wing of economic fundamentalists, the Libertarian Party will remain an afterthought. Petersen, more than any other libertarian, sits in a unique position to mend the wounds of the disaffected caucuses while bringing new people, from every walk of life, into the movement and party.
While some have resorted to pot shots at Petersen for his 8.3% performance in the Missouri GOP Senate Primary last week, any libertarian worth their salt recognizes just how impressive he actually was. In Missouri, Petersen ran a grassroots, anti-war, all-your-guns, pro-Bitcoin, from an open heart of liberty campaign and he performed with class and substance. He made countless media appearances on some of the biggest networks in this country and spoke eloquently from a classically liberal point of view.
As he emphasized small government, a smart, well-oiled Libertarian Party would see the benefits of this performance. They would put feelers out to see if AP would consider rejoining the party and perhaps even suggest he run for a position of power within the structure. Instead, they have done nothing but attack, deride, and immolate any chance at a reconciliation. Case and point: current chair of the Libertarian Party Nicholas Sarwark.
This facebook post is indicative of the type of authoritarian hierarchical traits that Sarwark displays at every opportunity. While his doomed Pheonix Mayor campaign has yielded absolutely no mainstream media attention whatsoever, Sarwark is happy to post crass, juvenile messages from the comfort of his bully pit. As the youngest presidential candidate on the stage in 2016, Petersen rallied the disaffected membership and almost sank the tired ship of cat herders that goes by the title LNC. This message, posted only two days after Petersen’s loss is the perfect example of Sarwark’s consistently snarky tone and dismissive attitude towards Petersen.
When was the last time you can recall Nicholas Sarwark, the current chair of the Libertarian Party, involved in any meaningful media push? You can’t, because he never has. While some have chosen to lampoon Petersen’s third-place performance in Missouri last week, I doubt we will hear the same people trash talking the campaign of Sarwark for Phoenix Mayor. He will finish a distant last, without any major media representation and chalk it up to just working outside the two-party duopoly. Meanwhile, Petersen featured prominently on Fox News throughout the campaign while giving headlining speeches at YAL summit and Politicon.
Instead of reaching his hand with a welcome gesture, Sarwark shot a spiked torpedo at Petersen and his many thousands of fans across the country. Recruit someone better? Let me give you a little reality check Mr. Chair – there is no one better. Since Ron Paul, there hasn’t been one serious Libertarian candidate who possessed the intellect, organization, and unbreakable spirit of Petersen. If you believe Gary Johnson lit the world on fire in 2016 then I’ve got a bridge to sell to you. Never forget, these are the same folks who are gleefully suggesting we run gun control advocate Bill Weld as the presidential candidate in 2020.
Petersen, on the other hand, has been spearheaded a political philosophy that seeks to expand gun rights instead of restricting them. While Weld calls certain guns ‘weapons of mass destruction,’ Petersen made headlines around the country for auctioning off AR-15 rifles and 3-D printing machines. You know… like a real libertarian should do.
Petersen’s 54,810 votes and over $500,000 raised are a testament to his messaging strength and impressive fundraising abilities. More than any single person in the Libertarian movement, AP seems apt and positioned to perform at a new level of political size and philosophical scope for a movement and party that are yearning to discuss the real truth of the American situation. Petersen possesses the passion, diction, star power, and organization necessary to lead the Libertarian Party to where it’s going. Where is the Libertarian Party going? With Petersen at the helm, it’s going to win and change this country forever.
Ideologically, Petersen puts a fresh spin on the tried and true, bread and butter of the Libertarian Party: The Fed. It’s all about the Federal Reserve. It is through the Federal Reserve that the wars are financed and it is through the Federal Reserve that our dollar has been inflated and devalued through the long, finite arm of the unrepentant state. Throughout his campaign, Petersen was forward thinking in his adoption and advocacy for Bitcoin. He repeatedly broke the record for Bitcoin donations and brought a reliable intellect to the political discussion about the nascent economic space. This emphasis on a counter-economy that is voluntary and independently sovereign speaks to the core of what Austin Petersen represents as a candidate: freedom.
When was the last time you genuinely heard the Libertarian Party say anything remotely relevant or interesting about crypto? The answer is never. I saw it on the ground in New Orleans at this year’s convention. The low levels of knowledge and interest in the blockchain community were startling. Outside a small wave of newcomers who found libertarianism through crypto, the power people in the party seem in no real rush to capitalize on a movement that is definitively anti-fed and anti-war. While the Libertarian Party speaks in bated breath about the massive independent vote waiting to be won throughout the country, they seem terribly incapable of reaching out to one of the largest and most ideologically libertarian subsects of contemporary society: cryptocurrency.
In the age of Trump, it would be false to assume that flash does not matter. In many ways, the political process in America has turned into a game show of unabashed braggadocio. Electing Petersen chair of the Libertarian Party would give the party the sort of immediate media push that is desperately needed to propel our numbers, base, and opportunities to win throughout the country.
Many inside the party point out the fact that the 60% of independent voters that don’t vote in our current electoral system are a target for the LP but as it stands, they aren’t even hearing us. Right now, if we have a great candidate or new platform addition that we want to promote, a beleaguered email in gaudy type font goes out to the membership and dies in the laps of LP activists across the country. Sarwark possesses no great microphone to reach the disenfranchised masses. Petersen has shown, consistently, that he attracts the media in a way that the LP arguably has never been able to.
If I seem frustrated, it’s because I am. I sat idly by at this year’s convention and bowed before the altar of moderate pragmatism. Although I didn’t vote for Mr. Sarwark, I accepted it with the usual ‘next time’ sentiment and packed my bags for the East Coast. I was every part of that glazed over membership who, for one weekend, forgot the insipidness and hardened maliciousness of Sarwark and company. The recent outbursts on social media have reconfigured my lens. I hope Petersen considers running. With the Mises Caucus hopefully at his back, Petersen could take the Libertarian Party in a bold direction that harkens back to the principles that founded the movement and party. If nothing else, it would be a hell of a race.
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