Tag: American History

Bill Weld Announces 2020 Presidential Run

John Keller | @keller4liberty

Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.

Continue reading “Bill Weld Announces 2020 Presidential Run”

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The Libertarian Party: A History From Hospers to Johnson

John Keller | United States

The Libertarian Party

John Hospers (1918-2011) was the first Libertarian presidential candidate. He defined Liberty best in 1971, during his campaign for President in 1972, that “Liberty is the absence of coercion by other human beings.” The Libertarian Party began forming on July 17, 1971, with a meeting of David Nolan, John Hospers, Ron Paul, Tonie Nathan, Edward Crane, and others. The new political party was officially announced January 31, 1972. The first platform of the party focused on ensuring a gold-backed currency and a return to the classical liberal thoughts held by many of the Founding Fathers of America. The Libertarian Party’s goal was, and is, to shrink government and return rights and liberty to the citizens of the United States of America.

“The only proper role of government, according to libertarians, is that of the protector of the citizen against aggression by other individuals. The government, of course, should never initiate aggression; its proper role is as the embodiment of the retaliatory use of force against anyone who initiates its use.” – Dr. John Hospers

A Brief Introduction to the Philosophy

The philosophy of libertarianism is rooted in texts from the Age of Enlightenment (1685-1815), such as the theories of John Locke (1632-1704), in his The Second Treatise of Civil Government, written in 1689 as well as the philosophies and writings of Thomas Paine (1737-1809), who wrote Common Sense in 1776.

In addition, the Libertarian Party has been influenced by many modern-day philosophers as well. The most notable of these philosophers is Ludwig von Mises (1891-1973) who wrote Human Action in 1949. His philosophies dominate the Libertarian Party’s economic platform, and his work was so influential the Mises Caucus formed within the party. After his death, the Mises Institute was founded in Auburn, Alabama in 1982 with the mission, “To advance the Misesian tradition of thought through the defense of the market economy, private property, sound money, and peaceful international relations, while opposing government intervention as economically and socially destructive.”

History of the Libertarian Movement (1972-2000)

The Libertarian Party has historically been the strongest third party in the 20th century. In 1972, John Hospers received 3,674 votes. In 1996, the presidential ticket of Harry Browne and Jo Jorgensen received 485,759 votes.

As the presidential election began to get started in 1976 there were serious doubts in the minds of conservative voters on the integrity of the Republican Party following the Watergate Scandal in 1972. The Libertarian Party become a place to vent frustration with government, and with their message for smaller government and personal accountability attracted many new voters.

The 1976 presidential ticket consisted of former state representative of Vermont Roger MacBride for president and California lawyer David Bergland for vice president. His campaign focused on issues, such as ending the Federal Reserve and returning to a gold-backed currency, as well as non-interventionist foreign policy. Democratic nominee “Jimmy” Carter spoke of being an outsider “untainted” by the politics of Washington D.C. while Republican nominee Gerald Ford focused on his ability as the chief executive, relying on his incumbent status to help carry the election in his favor.

By the end of the campaign, Roger MacBride and David Bergland had won over 172,557 votes, almost 170,000 more votes than the first ticket just four years prior and having ballot access to thirty-two states.

In 1980 the Libertarian Party hoped to capitalize on the moment of the previous year and nominated Ed Clark, who had received almost 378,000 votes in his campaign for Governor of California in 1978, for the presidency. David Koch, a successful businessman and vice-president of Koch Industries. The election began heavily contested.

President Carter faced immense backlash for his foreign policy in the Middle East and many Americans had deemed it improper for an actor to be president. The Libertarian Party and the Libertarian presidential ticket was seen as a viable third option. Although Reagan won in an electoral landslide, the Libertarian ticket received almost one million (921,128) votes.

The Reagan Administration proved to be very popular, and in the 1984 election, it showed. Former vice presidential candidate, now presidential candidate, David Bergland was only able to generate a quarter million votes.

One of the most iconic, although not the most successful, presidential runs of the Libertarian Party took place in 1988. Former congressman Ron Paul of Texas received the nomination and Andre Marrou, a former member of the Alaska House of Representatives, was nominated as the vice presidential candidate. The campaign Ron Paul ran was described by one reporter as a “Kamikaze Campaign” for being so dedicated to the issues while he stood, according to the journalist, “as much chance as I” at becoming president. Ron Paul focused on non-interventionist foreign policy, ending the Federal Reserve, getting the government out of education, and focusing on returning the American dollar to the gold standard. On top of these key issues, former Congressman Ron Paul made a pillar of his campaign the War on Drugs.

Although unsuccessful, the Ron Paul for President Campaign raised the campaign standard and redefined the Libertarian Party, highlighting the power and ability of a grassroots campaign as he raised over $2 million in donations.

In 1992 Ron Paul’s former running mate, Andre Marrou, took the nomination and continued the message of Ron Paul, but faced limited success as Americans flocked to Ross Perot, an independent from Texas who attracted over 19,000,000 votes.

Following the success of Ross Perot, the Libertarian Party knew that large success against the two-party duopoly was possible. Harry Browne received the 1996 presidential nomination. As a veteran, he pressed Bob Dole for claiming “My generation won [World War Two]” and his strong ties to the past and not to the future. When election time came he had attracted nearly half a million votes – losing votes to the popular Ross Perot who gained over 8,000,000 votes for the Reform Party.

In 2000, Harry Browne again took the nomination and ran a similar campaign to the campaign run in 1996. He won nearly the same number of votes but served a larger role.

In the controversy over the election in Florida, where Ralph Nader arguably detracted enough support from Al Gore to allow George W. Bush to win the state, the story in the state of Washington is often forgotten.

Harry Brown’s campaign attracted enough votes, alongside Pat Buchanan’s campaign for president, to swing the state away from George W. Bush and in Al Gore’s favor, ensuring the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party, Al Gore, took the state, winning him an additional 11 electoral votes.

As the century turned and George W. Bush took the White House, the Libertarian Party began to go through a reformation process.

New Age Libertarianism (2004-2012)

In the twenty-first century, the Libertarian Party began to reform its priorities in its platform. The reformation became highlighted in the 2004 Libertarian National Convention as it became the most contested presidential primary in the thirty-two-year history of the Libertarian Party.

The three leading candidates were Aaron Russo, Gary Nolan, and Michael Badnarik. Aaron Russo was leading in pre-convention polls for the nomination. He was running his campaign on criticizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and ending the War on Drugs.

Gary Nolan, polling second, focused his campaign on Anti-Bush doctrine. He planned to focus campaigning on his home state Ohio with the goal of swinging the state away from Bush and winning the state for the Libertarian Party. His platform consisted of repealing the USA PATRIOT Act, ending the war in the Middle East and bringing home the troops, while rallying against the income tax.

Going into the convention Michael Badnarik was predicted the least likely of the three major candidates to win the nomination. His campaign was built on the principles of laissez-faire economics.

With Aaron Russo in the lead, it seemed clear that the Libertarian Party was beginning to switch away from the Ron Paul Era of economic focus and begin focusing on social issues, with economic policy on the back burner; however, a surprise came at the 2004 Libertarian National Convention.

On the first ballot, the vote counts for the nomination were all within twelve votes of each other; with Russo gaining 258, Badnarik 256, and Nolan 246. On the second nomination ballet, Nolan was eliminated and surprisingly endorsed Badnarik. In the final vote for the nomination, Badnarik took the nomination 417 votes to 348 for Russo, with six delegates voting “None of the Above”.

Although the focus on economics continued in this election cycle, a focus on social issues was beginning to grow within the party. Badnarik began his run immediately, trying to build off the momentum of the convention, but he struggled at first getting the Libertarian Party on board, especially those who had supported Aaron Russo who felt “cheated” at the convention.

By election day, the highest poll for the Libertarian ticket was at 5%, a poll conducted in New Mexico. On election day Badnarik, who held high hopes, pulled in about 400,000 votes, only about 0.32%. Following the results, he pursued, with support from Green Party candidate David Cobb, a recount in the state of Ohio, which President George W. Bush had won by about 100,000 votes. If the recount had been “successful” then Ohio would have swung to be a blue state, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) would have been president.

In 2008 the election became key as there was a rejection of the Bush intervention policies. Former congressman Bob Barr was nominated by the Libertarian Party to run for president. He held high hopes going into the general election as many conservatives were growing tired of the pro-war leanings of the Republican Party, and the dedicated hawk candidate John McCain (R-AZ). However, Barack Obama (D-IL) came out as a strong anti-war candidate and supported social liberty and Barr began losing support. He tried to shift focus towards an economic policy where he believed he held the edge over the other candidates, but the American people were more focused on issues regarding foreign policy, and Barr was only able to gain a half million votes come election day. As the election cycle wore down the Libertarian Party began to strategize for 2012.

Libertarianism in the Modern Age (2012-Present)

In 2012 the upcoming nomination for president at the Libertarian National Convention was projected to be a toss-up between former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Libertarian Party Vice Chair R. Lee Wrights. Going into the convention, Gary Johnson was being seen as an unlikely choice. He was a former two-term Republican governor in the state of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. He had joined the Libertarian Party December 2011, just six months before the national convention after he failed to gain any traction in the Republican New Hampshire primary. On the other hand, R. Lee Wrights had been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2000 and had served for two years, prior to the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, as Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party (2004-2006).

Just as in 2004, the convention turned out to be an upset. Gary Johnson, on his platform of fiscal responsibility and social equality, won a surprising landslide victory at the convention, receiving 419 delegates (70.4%). Jim Gray, a California judge, received the nomination for vice president. The pro-immigration and anti-intervention ticket won considerable support as anti-war Republicans who could not support Mitt Romney voted Libertarian. Gary Johnson, on election day, made Libertarian Party history by receiving 1,275,971 votes.

Gary Johnson continued to fight for the Libertarian message and in 2016 sought to be renominated for the Libertarian presidential ticket. He was renominated in a landslide, gaining more than 30% more delegates than the runner-up Austin Petersen. Bill Weld, a former Republican governor of Massachusetts, was selected as the vice presidential nominee.

The 2016 election proved to be pivotal. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld began speaking throughout America on the message of peace and prosperity, speaking to the people about pro-immigration policy, low taxes, balanced budgets, and more. In short, the campaign rested on the idea that the government should stay out of your wallet and out of your bedroom. Bill Weld ran a strong campaign under Gary Johnson, and together they received 4,489,235 votes for the message of peace and prosperity.

Leading to the 2020 Libertarian National Convention much is unknown, but it is clear that even if there is not another Bill Weld or Gary Johnson, the idea and message of Libertarianism will spread. As the message spreads and more and more people are informed of the principles of peace and prosperity, it is clear that the breakout year for the Libertarian Party is coming soon as momentum grows.


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It is Too Late for Slavery Reparations in the U.S.

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Just as I do not advocate for slavery, a lack of Justice, I do not advocate reparations for enslaved people or their modern descendants. I have written a two-part longer article on American Slavery and its Repercussions: Comparing Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, and James Baldwin.

The first issue is that slavery existed in the U.S. This was a problem from our founding and continues to be a point of conflict even today. Few people advocated for manumission in the time of the signing of the US Constitution, but there were some such as Benjamin Lay, John Lay, and others, including the Manumission Society. Most abolitionists believed in the democratic process of slowly transitioning people out of slavery and into their natural state of freedom and liberty. Unfortunately, it took a war, money, and time to finally end slavery in the U.S. Even then, chattel slavery continued among some of the Native American reservations after the Civil War.

The second issue is that politicians rarely kept their promises. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman was famous for wanting to give freed slaves “Forty acres and a mule“. This rarely occurred. In order for reparations to work, they would have had to come right after slavery ended.

As many philosophers, political scientists, and economists have pointed out, the math to provide reparations is nearly impossible at this point. Many different estimates exist. Some have estimated as low as $6.4 trillion, or up to $14 trillion USD. Let’s examine how the math for reparations would work out today.

  1. Person A was a slave and freed with the promise of 40 acres and a mule. The state gave no reparation. Person A, along with Person B who is also a freed slave, have 3 children- Persons C, D, and E.
  2. Persons C, D, and E  were not slaves but receive the will of Person A and B, equaling 80 acres and 2 mules. Splitting this equally between them, someone is already out of a mule, and the acreage is around 26 or 27 acres per person. These children of Persons A and B do not get their parents’ will of 80 acres and 2 mules.
  3. Person C marries Person F whose parents were also freed slaves given the same ungranted promises. Person F is also a sibling of 2 others, meaning that with Person C, they each are told they are owed around 26 or 27 acres and maybe a mule each if they were lucky. They have 3 children, Persons G, H, and I. These children are given a will of their parents, but it is not kept. It is of around 54 acres and maybe 2 mules. But, we are not sure who got the mules from before. Persons G, H, and I also never get the original will or any subsequent offers of reparation. 3 people splitting the 54 acres is 18 acres each.
  4. Person G marries Person J and they were both never slaves, but they have similar circumstances in that their families never received reparations, and they were each a member of families with 2 other siblings that were supposed to split the reparations. This, excluding the mule, is 6 acres per child, making 12 total acres between Person G and Person J to be split between their offspring. If they had 3 children, the math continues to deteriorate the amount due to the following offspring. Eventually, it leads to nearly nothing per person.
  5. As time passes further, and more mixing of races continues, along with more legitimate and illegitimate children are born, there are fewer and fewer claims to reparations to be made, as simple mathematical application shows.
  6. Additionally, if the U.S. government were to make these past-due reparations, it would happen with tax money. Well, not everyone in this country had slaves or benefited from it. Not everyone’s family was here, not even every black person in the U.S. has slave ancestors. So, paying any reparations today would punish everyone, even those that never had slaves or benefited. The craziest part is that the state would force people who are of slave ancestry to pay for wrongs they surely did not commit, just to turn around and pay themselves again via taxation.
  7. In today’s world, how much would the grandparents and each of their children and grandchildren, etc. get? If by now, the amount due per person is so minuscule, and if only the grandparents get reparations, is there Justice? Or will all of those with slave ancestors need a payment? If so, for how long does that need to go? Are we to punish everyone for the sins of their ancestors? That opens an entirely new discussion.

Overall, in order to pay reparations, the state would need an equivalent amount in today’s money, a list of benefactors and list of people to pay for it.

This is simply impossible to determine. How would they pay someone of mixed races, who has ancestors that both owned slaves and were slaves? Would they payment be a lump sum, or sent in installments? What if DNA charts show that some children were born out of wedlock? Who will provide payment from a will for that child and their descendants? Many other questions regarding verification and exact payment would be necessary in order to find out the true modern amount. How will that impact the value of the USD? The notion brings up many difficult economic questions as well.

The questions continue, and for everyone involved, it is quite troublesome. It would be even worse if this came into fruition today. All we know is that slavery was, indeed, wrong. It is disgustingly inhumane and we should learn from that harsh lesson of the past.

Unfortunately, though, if reparations occurred, it should have been immediately after ending slavery within the U.S. Any other plan simply is not feasible.


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Should Colleges Remove Thomas Jefferson from Curricula?

By Kaihua Zhou | United States

Among the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson is one of the greatest. His accomplishments include largely authoring the Declaration of Independence, helping pass the Virginia Statue for Establishing Religious Freedom, and enacting the Louisiana Purchase. Many principles that conservatives and libertarians hold dear first took form under Jefferson. Jefferson extolled the virtues of limited government, stating that “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” America is fundamentally Jeffersonian in its outlook. It is almost impossible to imagine America without these signature accomplishments.

However, Jefferson is increasingly labelled as a hypocrite. In March 2018, student activists in Hofstra University protested Jefferson’s statue on campus.  A number of liberal organizations such as Young Democratic Socialists of Hofstra denounced Jefferson as a white supremacist icon who justified slavery. This disgust has spread to Jefferson’s native Virginia. In the University of Virginia, a vandal defaced Jefferson’s statue, marking him as a racist and a rapist.

While it would be easy to dismiss these incidents as isolated cases of iconoclasm, they are part of a larger trend. In 1996, Stephen Ambrose, a celebrated historian, attended a panel on “Political Correctness and the University” at The University of Wisconsin. During the discussion, he discovered that one of his fellow professors, teaching American political thought, had purged Jefferson’s from her curriculum. When Ambrose inquired why, she simply responded that Jefferson owned slaves. What about Jefferson’s extraordinary accomplishments? They were erased merely for Jefferson’s status as a slaveholder.

How justified are these criticisms? It cannot be denied that Jefferson owned slaves, more than 600 of them at given moments of his life. Moreover, it cannot be denied that he held repulsive prejudices. He could not foresee free African Americans peacefully coexisting with Whites.  Moreover, Jefferson denied the potential of African Americans to obtain the same accomplishments as whites. “Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid: and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.

By contemporary standards, Thomas Jefferson was a racist.  Despite such prejudices, there is much more to his legacy.  What is too often forgotten in such denouncements is Jefferson’s anti-slavery efforts and views. Jefferson recognized that slave-owners were tainted morally by their practice: “The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.

Far from being an unapologetic white supremacist, there is a note of self-awareness in Jefferson’s tone. It’s possible to imagine Jefferson privately feeling a very human remorse for his hypocrisy. Such remorse led to action. Jefferson limited slavery, barring it far from the contemporary Midwest in the Northwest Ordinance of 1784. Such legislative foresight prevented slavery’s depravity from expanding further into the new nation. As a revolutionary in 1774, Jefferson attacked the royal British government for allowing the slave trade.  As president, he acted on these noble instincts, passing the Act of 1807. This act concluded the slave trade in the United States, giving severe fines for illegally purchasing slaves.

Was Thomas Jefferson a hypocrite? Yes: his powerful mind was severely constricted by his era’s racial prejudices. Is this grounds for retroactive demoralization? If Jefferson’s primary accomplishments are insufficient to redeem him, what can? His anti-slavery views demonstrate that there is much more to his legacy than pure racism. This complex legacy deserves to be seriously studied by college students. Seeing Jefferson as “merely” a hypocrite or a racist oversimplifies the issue.  He should be respected and celebrated, not worshiped or demonized. He was a hero, but also deeply flawed.


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The Prototypical American Candidate

Glenn Verasco | @GlennVerasco

The Pennsylvania 18th district special election appears to be a good teachable moment for Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians.

Democrats should learn that they can win in red states and counties by nominating handsome moderates. Republicans should learn that campaign spending is not the key to victory. And Libertarians should learn that we are a permanent minority political point of view.

Since President Trump’s election, I have had several thoughts and discussions about what the Democrats should do in response to huge losses in 2016. My thinking is that Democrats have to choose between being the party of inclusion and the party of the working man. If they go full Social Justice Warrior, they will regain many of the minority votes that came out for Barack Obama yet stayed home for Hillary Clinton. If they go full working man, they will regain many of the working class white voters who voted for Obama twice and then switched to Trump.

I have another, more complex idea for what the Democrats or Republicans could look for in a candidate to have the best chance at winning just about any election in America outside of major metros like New York and Los Angeles which are unusually left-leaning. Unfortunately, the prototypical American candidate will be far from Libertarian.

Here are the qualities I believe would combine for a winning formula in almost all US elections:

Xenophobic

The prototypical American candidate must be ready to appeal to the American people’s fear of foreigners. This includes supporting trade barriers to prevent people in other countries from “stealing our jobs” and sending us “dangerous” products. The candidate must also be wary of immigration and outraged by crimes committed by foreign-born residents. Bombing countries that end in “stan” and enforcing travel bans are a plus too.

Buy American, Hire American, and America First are winning slogans.

Socially Moderate

Social Conservatism and Social Liberalism are both unappealing to the broader American public. Social Conservatism is stupid and hypocritical, and Social Liberalism is scary and dangerous in the mind of the average American voter. This means abortion bans and late-term abortions are both off-putting. It means supporting gay marriage, but not transgender students using the toilet of their choice. It means supporting medical marijuana use, but not full decriminalization. If you consider gun rights to be more of a social than a political issue, supporting a few restrictions on the gun trade while still believing in the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense purposes is the way to go.

(This is as good as it’s going to get for Libertarians, by the way.)

Fiscally Apathetic

The national debt is concerning to Libertarians and Conservatives, but not concerning enough to most Americans that they would sacrifice a single penny to deal with it. The perfect political candidate would share this lack of concern. This means cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the military are out of the question, and spending increases are always welcome. Tax cuts, especially for a self-glorifying middle class, should be promoted as well, the deficit be damned.

Economically Socialist

Middle class tax cuts paired with upper class tax hikes might be the best policy position to win an election in America or anywhere else. Soaking the rich to pay for the middle class’s healthcare, education, social security, and infrastructure is irresistible for the average voter. Economic redistribution plays on tribalism, envy, greed, anger, hate, short-sighted arithmetic, and basically every other flaw in the human condition. Sharing is caring as long as you think you’re on the receiving end.

Constitutionally Ignorant

The Constitution requires reading. It contains antiquated vocabulary words that need to be researched. And, as the fable goes, it was used to justify slavery and subjugation of women. Why would any candidate intent on winning an election waste their time with this silly, old document?

That being said, shouting “The Constitution!” when it suits your argument doesn’t hurt. The prototypical candidate just has to avoid going into too much detail.

Young, Male, and Attractive

President Trump embodies the prototypical American candidate fairly well until it comes to his face, his hair, and his waistline. And this is a big deal. How many times have you heard voters who would otherwise agree with the bulk of his platform make horrid comments about Trump’s appearance? He is so unpleasant to look at that he’s probably turned a fair amount of populist moderates into left-wing radicals, Russophobic neocons, or even Libertarians (one can only hope).

The only thing Trump has going for him on paper is that he is male. However, I do not think this gave him much of an edge against Hillary Clinton. Trump is male, but not masculine in appearance. His voice is not deep and commanding either. He isn’t stoic, and he is more petulant and defiant than confident. Clinton was so unattractive, both physically and behaviorally, that Trump’s appearance and demeanor could probably be overlooked when the two were juxtaposed.

This video shows an experiment in which an exchange between Trump and Hillary are acted out by members of the opposite sexes. While the woman playing Trump might not be particularly appealing, the male playing Hillary sounds like nails on a chalkboard. This reaffirms my belief that the genders of the candidates played a very minor role in the 2016 election.

If you go back and look at the GOP primary candidates Trump defeated, you might notice that being young, male, and attractive was irrelevant. Jeb Bush looks dorky and weak, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are short, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are hard to look at, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson are fidgety and spastic, and Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee are fat. Compared to this crew, Trump is tall and fills out a suit quite nicely.

I hate to be a bummer, but there is scant hope for the Libertarian Party and for more Libertarian-leaning Republicans like Rand Paul and Thomas Massie. Our views are terribly unpopular politically, and our candidates tend to be weird-looking and nutty.

Democracy is active organization and participation with little risk involved for those who take part. Making an organized, collective effort to win an election goes against our independent, non-interventionist, and anti-tyrannical nature. Spontaneous order and market forces are not the name of the game in politics.

So, what should we do? Moderate our platform to make it more palatable? Lie to voters about our intentions? Retreat from politics altogether and live our lives as if government doesn’t exist? Or am I underestimating the potential for Libertarians to make gains in elections around the country?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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