Author: Kenneth Casey

Kenneth Casey is a libertarian writer who's beliefs have been most influenced by Frederic Bastiat, Freidrich Hayek, and Adam Smith. Follow him on Twitter @KennethECasey

Walter Jones: A Hero to the Anti-War Movement

Kenneth Casey | United States

On Sunday, America lost one of their most principled and honorable members of Congress with the passing of Walter Jones, the U.S. Representative of North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District. According to Fox News, Jones had suffered a broken hip at his home on January 14th and underwent surgery at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville the following day, which was just one of a series of ailments that Jones had faced.

The North Carolina politician first entered the cutthroat world of politics in 1983 after being elected as a representative of North Carolina at the state level, serving as a Democrat for the entirety of his tenure. After his father vacated his U.S. Congressional seat as a member of North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in 1992, Jones decided to run for his father’s seat and did so successfully. While being a Democrat and serving his first term as so, he decided to switch his party affiliation to the Republican Party in 1994 and has remained a member of the party since.

For around a decade, Jones worked like most people in Washington. He flew under the radar, for the most part, not garnering much national attention. He often served as the standard Republican member of Congress by commonly voting in line with his party as most members of Congress do. The practice of rarely breaking party line and staying away from even the slightest hints of contrarianism is popular in Congress as it increases your chances of being re-elected. That’s why, just about every year, 90% or more of Congress gets re-elected. As long as you do your part and vote in line with your party on the most important issues, the party leadership will support your re-election bid and make the threat of a primary challenge extremely unlikely.

It wasn’t until 2003 that Jones did something that garnered widespread mainstream media attention. Unless you know Walter’s path of getting where he is today, what he did may just surprise you.

A Figure Emerges

Walter was one of the biggest supporters of the Invasion of Iraq back in 2003. His passion for the war was so strong that when France announced their opposition to the United States’ involvement in Iraq, Walter, along with fellow House Republican Bob Ney of Ohio, led the charge to alter a couple names of food choices on the House Cafeteria menu. “French Fries” were to be changed to “Freedom Fries”; “French Toast” was changed to “Freedom Toast”. Yes, Jones’ first real moment of prominence after 10 years a Congress was when he became known as one of the Republicans who bootlicked for the Invasion of Iraq so much that he made his disapproval of France’s stance on the issue known by removing the word “French” from the House Cafeteria Menu.

By the end of 2005, the number of American casualties had reached 2,181. It was around this time that Walter Jones drastically changed his views on Foreign Policy. He called on President Bush to withdraw from Iraq, stating he had “come to believe that there had been little reason to go to war, despite his earlier support, which had been based upon selective intelligence supplied to Congress.” Walter did something that we hardly ever see in politicians, and that is admitting that they are wrong. After coming to the realization of his past faults, he became one of the biggest non-interventionists in Congress, supporting peace every single chance he got and opposing war at all costs.

Because of his heroism among anti-war activists, he earned the label “Champion of Peace” by fellow non-interventionist Congressman Ron Paul. In the years following his change of heart towards the Iraq War, Jones has signed over 12,000 letters to families and extended families who have lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and has hung posters displaying the faces of the dead along the hallway leading to his congressional office in Washington D.C. “That was for me asking God to forgive me for my mistake,” Jones told the NPR in 2017.

An Enemy of War Hawks

Of course, whenever Jones defied the Republican and neoconservative establishment by advocating for non-interventionism and going against their mainstream ideology, they did not take kindly to that. In both 2014 and 2016, Jones a faced primary opponent who benefited from having received millions from neoconservatives, most notably Bill Kristol, who despised Walter for his foreign policy and didn’t think that he belonged in the modern day Republican Party. Even though his views didn’t exactly coincide with the majority of the Republican Party’s, he still managed to easily brush off his primary challengers both times from the hawkish right, with his constituents proving they wanted to keep their principled politician. This led to him being awarded another nickname from Ron Paul: The Neocon Slayer.

Later on in his congressional career, following the changes in his foreign policy beliefs, he lived by a mindset that he felt his father had failed to follow. That mindset was doing what he believed was right even if it resulted in his career ending abruptly ending. He noted in a 2005 interview that he remembered the worst day of his father’s career was when he had to vote for a financial bailout of New York City in 1970, something his father personally opposed but had to vote for because of “political reasons”.

A Legacy to Remember

If you asked Jones, prior to his death, how he feels looking back at the time in which he was known as the guy who was the reason for the Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast denominations on the House Cafeteria Menu, he most likely would have reacted by laying his cheek in his left hand. This was a habit he said he would “repeat dozens of times a day when lost in thought or sadness”. He would uncharacteristically say nothing, wishing to erase that point in his political career from his and everybody else’s memory. Sixteen years after his vote to send American troops into Iraq, Jones would still have been furious with himself and shaken that he reacted with the dramatic response to a problem much bigger than that, ashamed and regretful of his past votes and rhetoric. In a 2015 interview, he stated he would “go to his grave regretting that he had helped kill 4,000 American soldiers.”

In his later days, Walter ended up becoming so much more than what I previously described in this article: an unprincipled politician who really doesn’t have a person in Congress other than to be there as a yes-man. Walter ended up becoming something that is such a rare species. Some wonder if principled, honorable politicians are already extinct. The type of morality that Walter Jones displayed earns the amount of respect none of us are capable of giving. For that, he deserves to be recognized, honored, and never forgotten in our memories.

May he rest in peace.

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Raul Paul-endorsed Andy Sanborn Loses GOP Primary

By Kenneth Casey | United States

New Hampshire held their primaries for federal elections on September 11th. Much of the focus from mainstream media was on the Democratic Primary for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, where Bernie Sanders’ son received less than 2% of the vote, losing to an establishment-backed member of the party. On the Democratic side, Chris Pappas easily defeated challenger Maura Sullivan in the House primary.

Edwards Trumps Sanborn

Andy Sanborn, a Rand Paul-backed Republican, however, did not see as much attention from the media. On Tuesday, he narrowly lost the GOP primary to an establishment-backed Republican Eddie Edwards.

Edwards finished the race with 48% of the vote, while Sanborn pulled in second with 41.6%. Since the election, Sanborn has conceded defeat and endorsed Edwards for the office. This comes in stark contrast to Edwards’ previous remark that he would not do the same for Sanborn. Claiming the former candidate had a number of “character flaws”, Edwards flatly refused to say he would give Sanborn his support.

Sanborn’s History of Liberty

Sanborn has been well-known in the New Hampshire liberty scene for a while now. He previously was the New Hampshire co-chairman of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. Also, he introduced Rand Paul at his first appearance in New Hampshire on the campaign trail.

Right after Sanborn announced his candidacy for the open seat in New Hampshire, Rand Paul endorsed his longtime ally. Paul appeared with him recently on the campaign to give him a late push. However, this clearly was not enough to propel him to victory.

A Year of Difficulty

Libertarian Republicans have not fared well in 2018 elections. Many members of Justin Amash’s liberty caucus are losing primaries or not seeking re-election, for example. Sanborn’s defeat to a mainstream establishment Republican is yet another example of the unfortunate fact. It appears, thus, that besides Gary Johnson and a couple of others, the 2018 general election will have very few advocates for libertarian-leaning ideology.

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Larry Sharpe to be Featured on The Joe Rogan Experience

By Kenneth Casey | United States

Early Sunday morning, New York State Libertarian Party Gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe took to Twitter to announce they he will be a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience on September 5th, and that the event will be live-streamed from 6:00 EST to 7:30 EST.

If you’re unfamiliar with who Joe Rogan is, he is arguably the most prominent figure of Alternative Media and the host of the 4th most popular podcast on ITunes as of August 26th, which puts him ahead of The New York Times’ The Daily and ‘Oprah’s Master Class: The Podcast’.

He’s earned the reputation as an open-minded podcaster who’s willing to talk to any culturally relevant figure. He’s had discussions with prominent right-wing figures such as Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos, Steven Crowder, and Jordan Peterson, as well as left-wing figures such as Bret Weinstein, Kyle Kulinski, Sam Harris and Cenk Uygur, just to name a few. He’s also had on some highly controversial figures like Alex Jones and Ted Nugent. Rogan offers something you just can’t get from mainstream media.

For Sharpe, this is a huge deal for his campaign. Rogan gets millions of downloads on every one of his podcasts, and I don’t think it’s far-fetched to argue he’s a more influential voice and reaches more people than anyone on radio or anyone in mainstream media. Sharpe has run an impeccable campaign which has lead him onto prominent shows such as The Rubin Report and Kennedy, as it’s very rare for a Libertarian Party candidate (or any third party candidate) to receive that type of media attention.

To listen to the podcast when it hits the air, subscribe to Joe Rogan’s YouTube Channel and turn on notifications to receive an immediate alert when it goes live. You can also download his podcasts on iTunes or your favorite podcast hosting site.

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2018 Has Not Been a Good Year for Libertarian Republicans

By Kenneth Casey | United States

On August 7th, former Libertarian Presidential Candidate Austin Petersen was defeated in his attempt to receive the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Establishment Republican-backed Josh Hawley came out victorious as Petersen finished a distant third. Petersen’s defeat added onto what has already been a very tough year for libertarian Republicans.

To start off with incumbents, three out of the thirteen Republicans in the libertarian-leaning House Liberty Caucus chaired by Justin Amash will not be returning to Washington at the end of the 115th Congress. The sole Democrat in the caucus is running for re-election. Idaho’s Raul Labrador decided to give up his seat for an unsuccessful run for governor. Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee has decided to retire at the end of his term. Duncan is the lone remaining Republican to vote against the invasion of Iraq in 2002. Lastly, Mark Sanford of South Carolina lost in a primary to a Trump-endorsed candidate.  for not being “loyal enough” to the president.

For newcomers, Shane Hazel was unsuccessful in his attempt to primary an establishment Republican in Georgia’s 7th congressional district by campaigning on the cause of freedom and limited government. Nick Freitas, the staunch libertarian Republican from Virginia, narrowly lost his primary to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate of Virginia to Corey Stewart, a nationalist who happens to be a hard-core Trump supporter.

The one victory I see from a libertarian Republican newcomer is held by Maine’s Eric Brakey, who won his primary to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. However, he was uncontested in the primary.

With the departure of a few of the most liberty-leaning incumbents of House and defeat of other liberty-friendly Republicans, 2018 is not looking like it’ll be a good year for the libertarian wing of the Republican Party that went under significant growth after Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Why is this?

There are a couple things you can point to as reasoning of libertarians not being so successful in the GOP this year. The first one is obvious, that the establishment of the Republican Party is not interested in helping libertarian Republicans get elected. Even when the only two libertarian-leaning members of the Senate, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, were first elected, they faced huge opposition from the establishment and had to rely on grassroots support. But the establishment of the party has always opposed candidates who were more liberty-minded and favored limited government. This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.

In my mind, the biggest reason as to why libertarian Republicans haven’t succeeded in the Republican Party so far this year is the rising influence of populist and nationalist thought within the GOP which has grown in the age of Trump. Although not all of Trump’s policies have fully embraced represented the growth of those ideas within the party, some policies and some of his rhetoric have helped the rise. Specifically speaking, his calls for protectionism in trade and anti-immigrant rhetoric to go along with the support of spending bills such as the $1.3 Trillion Omnibus Budget has increased popularity for such policies within the party. Because of this, many candidates running under the Republican Party banner this year have embraced Trump’s positions on these issues and those who do not usually find themselves being declared an enemy of the president’s politics to many of his supporters and in many, it ends up hurting their chances of winning within the GOP.

As mentioned above, libertarian ideologues who make the decision to run under the Republican Party are always seen as non-establishment candidates, and usually face challenges from the more mainstream, establishment faction of the Republican Party. In the last four election cycles, candidates labeled as non-establishment within the party usually earned the label by being more libertarian in ideology and by being supportive of limited government and acknowledging the government getting bigger is caused by both Democrats and Republicans.

In this year’s midterms, it seems as if the definition for a non-establishment Republican has shifted – more and more candidates labeled non-establishment are named as such because they rail against the establishment by supporting right-wing populist policies in contrast to the mainstream ideology of the Republican establishment.

This has left libertarians politically homeless within the Republican Party – as both right-wing populists and establishment-friendly Republicans are vastly unlike and don’t represent libertarianism well whatsoever.

Maybe the Republican Party was never interested in liberty when they elected libertarian Republicans such as Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Rand Paul. Massie expressed similar beliefs in comments to the Washington Examiner back in March of 2017: “All this time, I thought they were voting for libertarian Republicans. But after some soul searching I realized when they voted for Rand and Ron and me in these primaries, they weren’t voting for libertarian ideas — they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race.”

Massie’s comments seem very true at this point in time, it appears as if Libertarian Republicans have not been successful in this year’s midterms because the “craziest son of a bitches” in Republican primaries this year have not been libertarians in the age of Trump.

Despite this, I am confident the liberty movement will be long-lived even in times of trouble. But this does leave the age-old question open as to whether libertarian ideologues should even bother running in the Republican Party if they can only win when they’re considered the craziest candidates in the race.

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Twitter Suspends Scott Horton, Daniel McAdams, and Peter van Buren

By Kenneth Casey | United States

Recently, Twitter has suspended the accounts of three prominent libertarian voices. Scott Horton; editor of and managing director of the Libertarian Institute, Daniel McAdams; Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity who often appears alongside Ron Paul on the Ron Paul Liberty Report, and Peter van Buren, a former foreign service officer who wrote a book critiquing America’s involvement in Iraq, all landed on the chopping block.

Horton, is one of the leading non-interventionist voices in the country. The author of Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, he stated he was suspended for calling Jonathan Katz a “boo hoo little bitch” for getting van Buren permanently banned from Twitter. The company apparently banned McAdams for retweeting Horton’s tweet at Katz.

In the aftermath of his account permanently shutting down, van Buren said in a letter that Twitter banned him for “exchanges with several mainstream journalists over their support for America’s wars and unwillingness to challenge the lies of government”. He then added “I lost my career at the State Department because I spoke out as a whistleblower against the Iraq War. I’ve now been silenced, again, for speaking out, this time by a corporation. I am living in the America I always feared.”

This all comes in the aftermath of the news of several media platforms removing Alex Jones. Spotify, Facebook, and YouTube all coordinated these to occur at the same time.

Although Twitter did not de-platform Jones and his company, the same logic applies. Three important advocates of a Foreign Policy of non-intervention and peace that goes against the establishment, mainstream narrative who happen to be vital figures to the libertarian movement now have their Twitter accounts suspended because of Twitter’s algorithms. Should we be silent about such a powerful company silencing these voices? Should we support their beliefs on right and wrong? Or instead, should we support letting its users decide that on their own with their own thoughts and beliefs?

While the threat may seem insignificant now, even private censorship of speech is often a slippery slope. The actions may trigger further removals in the future.

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