Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.
Jack Parkos | Laissez_Faire76
For many, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) may seem like the perfect choice for a libertarian like myself. Indeed, they have some good viewpoints with which I agree with. The ACLU heavily opposes the methods of the drug war while supporting free speech and privacy. Furthermore, they take aggressive stances against torture and many other cruel cases of abuse of rights. While I may not agree with the ACLU on everything, I would be able to agree to disagree on some minor issues, however, one issue makes my hesitation towards this organization extreme.
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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By John Keller | United States
In the current day, a critical midterm election is rapidly approaching. With this, a segment of the Democratic Party is claiming that only they care about the nation’s youth. This segment of the party is campaigning with their alleged care for the youth. But their promises of free college, free healthcare, and more only prove how little they really care.
Promises of billions, even trillions, in new spending for the youth beg a simple question. Just where will all of this money come from? Currently, the United States Treasury is bankrupt, with a debt of over $21 trillion. “Free” education and healthcare is only remotely possible in a stable economy, and holding a debt greater than our GDP is a guarantee at an economy that is too weak and too unstable for such programs.
Furthermore, the money for “free” programs must come from somewhere, meaning it comes from government revenue. Ultimately, this is a fancy term for the taxpayer’s back pocket. Currently, the United States has some of the highest tax rates in the world when factoring in city, county, state, and federal taxes.
In order for the Democratic Party’s “free” programs to work, the current entitlements, such as Medicare and Medicaid, require major revisions. As they hurtle towards bankruptcy, there is not much more room to tax people to fund them. In order to avoid this, it is necessary for the government to look at its wasted spending. Several members of Congress, such as Senator Rand Paul, have spoken out against it. In order to improve the United States Treasury and make any of the Democratic Party’s policies attainable, ending waste is a must.
However, the Democratic Party has no plan to lower the debt or rework spending in order to make their promises possible. Thus, any tangible Blue Wave will only put America’s treasury deeper in the red. A bigger debt with consistent votes for more spending simply pushes the issues down the road. This, of course, deepens the severity of issues that America’s youth must tackle. As taxes increase and services decay, America’s youth will take on the responsibility of this nation’s debt. But the cycle can end, in fact quite simply, by stopping this fall’s Blue Wave.
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The old cliche ‘You get what you pay for’ doesn’t always apply, but it usually does. The things we value typically come with a price attached because what’s worthwhile takes some effort to produce, use, and maintain. This is as true for physical products like laptops and refrigerators as it is for services like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
The current public debate surrounding the deplatforming of Infowars demonstrates just how wrong we’ve been to accept the services our social media platforms provide free of charge. In hindsight, we should have known the ability to communicate and develop online relationships with people on the other side of the globe was going to come at a cost, even if that cost turned out to be hidden rather than in the form of the usual direct hit to our wallets.
We are finally beginning to realize that we, the users of these platforms, were the product all along. The companies that developed the online services we use have to make money somehow. Collecting massive amounts of data that can be shared with advertisers and political campaigns turned out to be a pretty good business. Unfortunately, it also turns out to be amoral.
When what is being mined is information about a platform’s users it doesn’t matter if those users are clicking on salacious posts, fake news, nutty conspiracy theories, or hate speech any more than it matters if they prefer vacation photos, the New York Times, science podcasts, or happy birthday messages. The point is to gather the most information possible about the population by whatever means necessary and to amplify exposure to the identified preferences. This effort includes vacuuming up all our weird searches and documenting our often unconscious bias for instantly gratifying if frequently rather unedifying content.
Madison Avenue knew that sex and other provocative messages moved the merchandise they were peddling long before social media came along. What an internet that consists largely of free online services algorithmically amplifying some of our worst tendencies provides is a far more efficient delivery vehicle. That If given the choice between a free TED talk or free outrageous videos depicting a guy shouting crazy theories into a microphone the latter would enjoy a disproportionate competitive advantage should have come as no surprise to those familiar with evolutionary biology. Alex Jones is the information age’s equivalent of the guy on the savannah shouting about a hungry lion lurking in the grass while the best TED lectures are more like a story being told about a lion to a group sitting safely around the campfire.
While everyone finds it difficult to consistently resist the so-called clickbait, that doesn’t mean we won’t discover that the internet equivalent of the old campfire stories are far more satisfying experiences in the end. We shouldn’t conclude our innate tendency to gravitate toward instant gratification is evidence we find said gratification more meaningful in the long run.
Our current social media environment emerged as we were just beginning to truly explore the possibilities the internet had to offer. As a result, it developed in an ad hoc fashion. Young entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg were playful experimenters with a technology whose reach and power they couldn’t have foreseen. When Zuckerberg and his college roommate Eduardo Saverin first created their social network, they weren’t imagining something with global reach. It was initially intended to extend no further than their fellow Harvard classmates.
But now Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social media have achieved a scale and breadth that poses a threat to the very democratic institutions that gave them room to emerge in the first place. These services are available for free to anyone with access to a computer and a few extra dollars to give to an internet service provider each month.
This fact distinguishes social media networks from the books that entered mass production after Gutenberg invented his printing press in the mid 15th century. While books became considerably cheaper and more readily available in the decades that followed Gutenberg’s creation, they still required some financial investment and demanded a fair amount of time to read. Social media is a time suck to be sure, but the way it consumes our spare hours and attention is considerably more fragmented.
Smartphone technology means social media and other websites are sources of information we can easily engage with while waiting for our morning coffee, whereas a book requires us to commit ourselves to a certain degree of solitude and concentration in order to be readily absorbed. In addition, books and other non-electronic forms of the written word don’t demand an immediate response. They are mediums that come with time to reflect and absorb their contents provided as byproducts of the technology.
Markets, if they are functioning properly, provide societies with the collective means to place a price upon the products and services people find meaningful. That’s why we still typically pay for books. Even our public libraries are financed through our tax dollars and donations. It is largely by avoiding these sorts of direct private and indirect public contributions that social media has been able to accumulate billions of users globally.
This huge population of “subscribers” gives the impression that the public finds the services Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and others provide truly meaningful. But given individuals are only asked to pay if they have something to sell or promote on these networks it’s impossible to know to what degree the average user really values them.
Research shows it’s meaning, not happiness, that ultimately matters most when it comes to human well-being. According to an August 2013 article in The Atlantic regarding research into the relationship between happiness, meaning, and health those that report greater meaning but less happiness generally enjoy greater health than those that report happiness alone or neither happiness nor meaning.
[Researchers] Cole and Fredrickson found that people who are happy but have little to no sense of meaning in their lives — proverbially, simply here for the party — have the same gene expression patterns as people who are responding to and enduring chronic adversity. That is, the bodies of these happy people are preparing them for bacterial threats by activating the pro-inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation is, of course, associated with major illnesses like heart disease and various cancers.
“Empty positive emotions” — like the kind people experience during manic episodes or artificially induced euphoria from alcohol and drugs — “are about as good for you as adversity,” says Fredrickson.
Of course, just because social media is generally provided free of charge doesn’t mean it’s devoid of people who find at least some meaning interacting online. However, if we accept the standard principles of market economics it almost certainly does mean these online services have far more people participating for purely hedonic or other shallow self-gratifying reasons than would otherwise be the case if they came at some small cost to subscribers.
But if we assume that, for the sake of argument, every user that now uses Facebook (or Twitter, Youtube, etc.) for free really does value the service the company provides, then these same people should be willing to pay some small charge for the continued privilege, even if only reluctantly. If nothing else, as paying subscribers they would likely receive greater privacy protections and enjoy less exposure to unwanted advertising then is the case now. After all, Facebook and other social networks would have a strong incentive to protect the personal information of its individual users if these users suddenly became the primary source of revenue.
Fees to access social networks wouldn’t need to be exorbitant. A small flat fee or a charge of a few cents per post would generate billions in annual revenue assuming companies like Facebook retained most of their current users following implementation. In Facebook’s case, even a 75% decline in active accounts could still easily generate two to three billion dollars a month in revenue for the company. Presumably, the remaining 25% would consist primarily of those that really appreciate the service and would, therefore, be less likely to post trivial, misleading, false or derogatory material.
For low-income customers social media companies may want to provide a means for people to apply for waivers or lower rates. Free or discounted access could also be provided to students or seniors. But even taking the time to apply for such benefits would demonstrate a willingness to invest a little personal effort into obtaining access, and personal investment of any sort means that in the end the users that are left would be, by and large, those that find social media truly meaningful.
Let us pause here to remark on a major recurrent dynamic that has shaped the course of attention industries: ‘the revolt.’ Industries may have an inherent tendency to ‘nestle everywhere,’ but when the commodity in question is access to people’s minds, the perpetual quest for growth ensures that forms of backlash, both major and minor, are all but inevitable…But the revolts can also take another, more dramatic form that is central to our story. When audiences begin to believe that they are being ill-used — whether overloaded, fooled, tricked, or purposefully manipulated — the reaction can be severe and long-lasting enough to have serious commercial consequences and require a significant reinvention of approach. ~ Tim Wu, The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble To Get Inside Our Heads
The impact to the social media world of a population of invested clients as opposed to passive users is difficult to specifically predict but it would certainly be profound. As customers instead of products, subscribers would very likely have to be empowered to take a greater role in shaping the information they wish to read/view instead of allowing an algorithm to make all/most of these choices for them. Those seeking to get users’ attention would have to compete for it instead of purchasing data from the company and targeting them with clickbait built around their predetermined biases and interests. Advertising could be extremely curtailed or eliminated altogether in such an environment, allowing for a greater focus on ideas, art, music and quality video productions. People increasingly could log in to be inspired as well as to stay in touch with people they care about instead of feeling infuriated when they slam their laptop shut.
The first tentative invitations to invest in the media we want instead of passively accepting the media that’s been handed to us have already been sent. This article will first appear on Medium, which provides unlimited access for $5 a month (US) and allows readers to “clap” for the content they appreciate. Writers posting on Medium share in a portion of the $5 fees the company collects from its members based upon the popularity of and engagement with their articles.
Patreon is another example. As its name implies Patreon is built around the old-fashioned idea of patronage, enabling creators to solicit funds from fans directly without having to seek corporate sponsorships or other means of support. Though no doubt most writers, artists, musicians and podcasters using services such as these don’t make a living off them, they can at least supplement their income while producing the kind of content that actually enriches our culture instead of fuelling conspiracy theories and rage.
Newspapers too are increasingly ending the misguided practice of providing their content for free online. They’ve learned the hard way that not asking readers to at least donate to support the generation of quality reporting cheapens their product. Arguably, the abundance of free news is one reason for the erosion in public trust the press has experienced in recent years. Our local, regional and national news organizations do not exist on the same playing field as the crank on Youtube spouting his theories on what brought the Twin Towers down or speculating about whether or not we really landed men on the Moon. However, when the products of both the conspiracy theorist and the reporter are available at no cost the illusion that somehow each is offering a perspective worthy of our time and attention receives at least some unintentional validation.
While writing of freedom in his revolutionary pamphlet The American Crisis,Thomas Paine reminded his readers “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.” He continued, “Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its good; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
Both the means and the content of communications in a free society have consequences for the preservation of that freedom. The ads bought on Facebook as part of the Russian misinformation campaign every intelligence agency agrees took place during the 2016 campaign are said to have cost only around $100,000. Services that rely solely on advertising for their revenue will inevitably be used for such purposes again. Indeed, they probably already are. If how we communicate with friends, family, and with our fellow citizens isn’t worth a few dollars a month to ensure our social networks are serving us instead of inadvertently undermining our democratic institutions or advancing other nefarious agendas, then we should be asking ourselves why we’re wasting so much time on them in the first place.
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