Tag: gun restrictions

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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Justin Tucker: All Politics is Local

Justin Tucker, Chair of the Chicago Libertarian Party, is running for Illinois State Representatives in District Four.

71R: With thousands of career options, what inspired you to seek a career in politics?

Tucker: I have been interested in politics since I was a teenager. I have been a libertarian since I learned about Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party nominee in 2000. It was only in 2015 that I jumped into activism and joined my local LP chapter. What inspired me to join was the gross misconduct of the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago amusement tax imposed applying to Netflix. I felt enough was enough. I could no longer be willfully apathetic or believe I couldn’t make a difference.

I am currently the Chair of the Libertarian Party of Chicago, serving since 2016. I also worked on the Gary Johnson’s 2016 campaign as Volunteer Coordinator in Illinois. This year, I collected over 1600 signatures for our statewide candidates to be on the ballot this November.

I choose to run for Illinois House of Representatives in District 4 with the purpose of telling my neighbors about our candidates and maybe getting a few signatures for myself. My energy, however, was better spent circulating petitions for the statewide slate than circulating my own.  Also, as a Libertarian, I didn’t want to deal with all the government paperwork to get on the ballot. I will instead be running a write-in campaign to have a platform to talk about why our candidates are the best choices for Illinois and to share our ideas with the electorate.

71R: Many people when they think of government they think of Congress or the presidency. Why is politics at the state level, and in the state House of Representatives, so important and motivated you to get involved?

Tucker: It is often said that all politics is local. Politics at the state and local level are so important because they are closest to the people, and thus easier to make an impact on policy. That’s why I chose to involve myself in a run for a State House seat and also why I support statehood for Cook County.

I’m a fan of local control. It’s easier to hold the crooks accountable when they’re in your neighborhood as opposed to far away legislature.

71R: For over 150 years the United States has been locked in the two-party duopoly. What attracted you to the Libertarian Party?

Tucker: I was attracted to the Libertarian Party because it’s the only party that is for small government and means actually means it. One of the biggest issues for me is getting the government out of the way of my LGBT friends. Republicans claimed to be for smaller government but fought against the right of gender and sexual minorities to marry. When I discovered the Libertarian Party, I saw they were consistently for small government across all areas of life. I’ve been a fan ever since. My only regret is that I didn’t get involved with activism sooner.

71R: Illinois is often brought to the political forefront and were put into the national spotlight during the gun control debates, a debate that still exists today, due to Chicago’s crime. Where do you stand on this critical issue?

Tucker: As a Libertarian, I believe in the right to protect yourself. Chicago residents like Otis McDonald stood up to the city’s infringement on the right to self-defense and ended up changing the course of history. The fight, however, is not over. In Illinois, we need to abolish the Firearm Owner’s Identification card, conceal carry licensing and waiting periods. The Second Amendment is the only permit anyone needs.

Drastically reducing gang violence in Chicago is more of a complicated task. We can start by ending drug prohibition, cutting taxes and regulations to attract economic development, and reforming education.

71R: Our Founding Fathers even disagreed on how to interpret the Constitution, shown in the Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist debates. What is your interpretation of the Constitution, and how does that influence your view on government?

Tucker: The Constitution has, without a doubt, contributed to the development of liberal thought. It was a document designed to limit the power of the federal government and protect the rights of the people. I have a tremendous amount of respect for it. The problem, however, is that it hasn’t prevented the federal government from overstepping its authority.

If our federal government followed the Constitution literally as it is currently written, the size and scope of government would be drastically reduced. I certainly wish that’s how it operates today.

Ideally, the feds are allowed to do only a handful of things. They get out of the way for the rest of the stuff and let the communities in the several states do their things. That’s how I interpret the Constitution. Local control is key and the Constitution influenced me in that regard.

71R: Libertarians tend to believe less government is better government. What is one area of government, however, you would like to see operating?

Tucker: I believe that the purpose of government is to protect the rights of the people. That would include courts, peace officers, and a defensive military.

On a municipal level, I think there’s a little more flexibility in what the government can do if its available to all people. Chicago has gorgeous parks, stocked libraries, and an extensive mass transit system, all of which I use.

Ideally, all these things should be paid for by the most voluntarily or least coercively means possible. In the case of the parks, the libraries and the transit system, these could be fully or partially privatized.

71R: Branching off of the last question, what is one area you think there should be cutbacks or even elimination in the state of Illinois?

Tucker: It’s hard to pick just one, but in Illinois, it would be taxes. We should cut or eliminate as many taxes as we can. Property taxes, incomes taxes, sales taxes, taxes on vices, taxes on bags. Let’s take a chainsaw to as many taxes as we can.

71R: What can the people of District Four expect should you be elected?

Tucker: If enough of the people of District Four write me in, they can expect me to work many things that would help to reduce the size and scope of government. My major initiatives include establishing 401(k) plans for all new state government employees, slashing spending, cutting taxes and or abolishing as many taxes and regulations as possible, legalizing cannabis and psychedelic mushrooms and reforming the criminal justice system. I would also make the case for Cook County statehood any chance I could.

71R: If someone was interested in getting involved or donating, how can they reach out to your campaign?

Tucker: Folks can reach out to me through my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/JustinTuckerforIL) if they want to get involved. Since I don’t want to deal with government authorities, I am not accepting donations; however, I highly recommend donating to Kash Jackson’s campaign for Illinois governor (www.kash2018.com/donate) or to the Libertarian Party of Illinois (www.lpillinois.org/donate).

71R: Do you have any final remarks for the readers?

Tucker: The Libertarian Party is not possible without our candidates, our volunteers and our donors. Please consider volunteering a few hours a week to a Libertarian candidate. Be an activist in your local chapter, or if there aren’t any available, get a few friends together and form a LP chapter yourselves. If you want to share the LP with your neighbors, consider running for office or becoming a precinct committeeman. If you can’t donate your time, please donate your money. Every volunteer hour and every dollar helps us fuel the fires of liberty. Thank you!

I would like to thank Justin Tucker for his time. Be sure to visit his website for more information.


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Gun Control Dies on August 1

By Mason Mohon | United States

Technology has always been a glorious liberator. The internet meant that the state could no longer hide the terrible things they do from the watching public. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have allowed people to make exchanges without using the notes issued by the dangerous Federal Reserve. Blockchain technology means we can safely store truth immutably without a centralized force. The newest addition to this list of technological liberators is 3d printed guns.

Cody Wilson, a native of Austin, Texas and UT law student, may have very well provided us with the most surefire defense from the state that we will ever need. Wilson released the blueprints for his 3D printable guns in 2013. Shortly after his single shot firearm “the Liberator” was released, the state department ordered that he take the blueprints off the internet.

Since then, he has been in a lawsuit, but the Trump administration decided to settle the matter. On August first the files of the gun building blueprints will be available on defdest.org.

This is not Wilson’s only project in the world of untraceable guns. His “Ghost Gunner” kit allows for users to create 80% of a firearm without any sort of serial number. Without any prior CNC (computer numeral control) knowledge, consumers of this product can “legally manufacture unserialized rifles and pistols in the comfort and privacy of home.”

Wilson recognizes the magnitude of this lawsuit’s settlement, tweeting a picture of a gravestone with the words “American Gun Control” on it:

Anyone with the right machine and materials will be capable of manufacturing complete and effective firearms from their own computers come August. This has sparked fear and outrage from advocates of gun control:

Firearms are a major line of defense against government tyranny and local crime. A government facing an armed population would not dare tread on liberties. The founders put the Second Amendment into the constitution so we could shoot at the state’s goons if we were fed up with their tyranny.

On August 1, guns will be much easier to produce. They will no longer fall victim to the tyranny of governments and corporations. Once these schematics are released, download them and save them in case the hand of state censorship pounds down once again. And go ahead and build yourself a gun.


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The Errors of the Second Amendment

By Glenn Verasco | Thailand

Note: This is my first new blog entry in nearly two months. The new Thai school year began in early May, and I have been a bit too overwhelmed with work to focus on completing any publishable material. I hope to return to my weekly-ish publishing pace soon. In the meantime, please check out my podcast which has several new episodes recorded during my blogging hiatus.

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I have previously expressed gratitude towards gun control activists who accept the meaning of the Second Amendment for what it is, and honestly call for its repeal or alteration. While I disagree with these individuals politically, I have great respect for their intellectual rigor and honesty.

I have no respect for those who are too ignorant to grasp the meaning of the Second Amendment. And I hold those who intentionally misrepresent it in the worst kind of contempt.

A common result of ignorant or intentional misreadings of the Second Amendment is the argument that the phrase “well regulated” refers to guns or gun ownership. Another is that “the right… to keep and bear arms” is that of the militia, not average civilians. Some of those who make these fallacious arguments conclude that the Second Amendment is poorly written and should be treated as obsolete.

I will concede that the Second Amendment is poorly written. However, this will not be to the delight of gun control activists. The problems with the Second Amendment are not in its meaning or purpose, but in its punctuation. Using some of the knowledge I have accrued over the years as an ESL teacher, I will explain what is wrong with the Second Amendment’s grammar.

First, let’s take a look at 2A to refresh our memories:

Image result for 2nd amendment text

The Second Amendment is often spoken of in terms of clauses. In a grammatical sense, this is erroneous from the get-go as there is only one clause in the Second Amendment.

The first half of the Second Amendment (from “A” to “state”) is not a clause at all, but something called an absolute phrase. An absolute phrase is a noun or noun phrase (a group of words used to denote one person, place, or thing) followed by a participle and attached modifiers. The noun phrase is “a well regulated militia.” The participle is “being necessary,” a present participle of the verb phrase to be necessary. The attached modifier is “to the security of a free state,” a pair of prepositional phrases. “To the security” functions as an adverb, modifying the adjective “necessary.” “Security,” a noun, is modified by “of a free state,” which means this last prepositional phrase functions as an adjective.

Absolute phrases function as parenthetical adjectives that modify entire main clauses. Parenthetical elements are not essential to the main clause of a sentence. They give further details or explanations, but they do not alter the meaning of the main clause.

Here are a few other examples of sentences with parenthetical elements (in bold font):

The fossa, a large, weasel-like creature, preys on lemurs in Madagascar.

Jonathan’s kidneys, which would have fetched $600 an ounce on the Swiss black market, were stolen by a public relations firm.

If we remove the parenthetical elements, the fossa still preys on lemurs, and John’s kidneys are still in the hands of a company with a very strange business model. The main clauses do not depend on the parenthetical elements. It is the other way around.

The main clause of the Second Amendment is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The subject of the sentence is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” The predicate is “shall not be infringed.” All clauses have a subject and predicate, which is why the second half of 2A is a clause and the first half is a phrase.

Here are a few examples of main clauses that follow absolute phrases with some color coding.

(The absolute phrases are underlined. The main clauses are in bold. The phrases or noun phrases of the absolute phrases are in red. The participles and attached modifiers of the absolute phrases are in green. The subjects of the main clauses are in blue.  The predicates and attached modifiers of the main clauses are in pink.)

A spotted pterodactyl whizzing past her head, the exotic dancer dropped to the earth in the fetal position.

Another night’s sleep stolen by his LSD-induced nightmares, Gregory groggily got ready for work.

A putrid aroma serving as the prime attraction of hagfish stew, the chef added three tablespoons of burnt hair to the culinary disaster before him.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

What you will notice by looking at only the blue and pink halves of each sentence is that the exotic dancer fell to the ground whether or not we know about the pterodactyl. Regardless of his drug habits, Greg was not feeling great when he brushed his teeth and tied his tie. The chef garnished his stew with burnt hair no matter why people enjoy hagfish. And the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed… period.

The absolute phrase in the Second Amendment tells us why we cannot be deprived of our right to own or carry guns. It does not tell us the conditions or circumstances that must arise for this entitlement to kick in because there are none. If conditions applied, you would be able to find subordinating conjunctions like if or when.

Something else you may notice is that the Second Amendment has two commas that the other three sentences I have written do not. To the chagrin of James Madison, these commas are both comma splices, unwarranted uses of the comma.

“A well regulated militia” and “being necessary to the security of a free state” are part of the same parenthetical element. There is no reason to divide them with a comma.

Even worse is the comma between “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” and “shall not be infringed.” Splitting the subject of a clause from its predicate is a mistake that my students in Thailand rarely make. I do not know how this got past the other Founding Fathers and the original  states as they ratified the Bill of Rights.

Unlike French, there is no central authority on the English language, so technically there is no right or wrong. The English language is unregulated and subject to the whims of the public. English speakers are free to preserve the linguistic conventions they prefer, and to alter the ones they do not.

This goes to show that gun rights supporters who are burdened with keeping the flame of liberty alight should be stubborn and unwavering when it comes to language. Progressive and authoritarian attacks on the English language will never cease from threatening the rights that our philosophy deems self-evident.

Ultimately, the Second Amendment doesn’t matter. It could be removed from the Constitution entirely tomorrow. What matters is that we stay true to our beliefs (from gun rights to free speech and beyond) and stand up to our dissenters relentlessly.

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Oklahoma Gubernatorial Candidate Hopes To Shut Down Jeff Sessions’s Influence

By John Keller | United States
Rex Lawhorn is a small business manager that is seeking the Libertarian nomination for governor of Oklahoma, where he hopes to bring about reform to restore liberty in Oklahoma, and hopefully be a part of the movement to restore freedom in America.
Keller: You are running for governor of Oklahoma. What inspired you to pursue a career in politics and seek this office?
Lawhorn: I never aspired to be a politician.  I’ve been interested in the process my whole life, and my proclivity toward economics makes public policy a natural area of interest, but as far as being in the spotlight?  No, that was never my intent.  However, Oklahoma has a relatively young party, and there were no voices standing up.  This is a ballot access race for us, so the Live Free team felt compelled to recruit someone. 
I, more or less, fit the profile of a politician, and I have an exceptional grasp on policy and libertarian principles, so they recruited me.
We never expected this to be a winnable race, but we’ve been surprised at the amazing reception we’ve received from Oklahomans.  It only took us three months to dive into this, full-time, and try to turn Oklahoma gold.  That 2.5% goal became 30% overnight.
Keller: You are running as a libertarian. There are many misconceptions about what a libertarian is, as people from anarchist Adam Kokesh to neo-conservative John Bolton have called themselves a libertarian. What is a libertarian and what attracted you to its message?
Lawhorn: I’m going to change the wording of the question a little bit. I am a libertarian, as opposed to running as one, and that’s an important distinction. Oklahoma has the same issue, where many people call themselves Libertarian but don’t actually grasp the meaning.
Most people take their own rights into primary consideration, not recognizing that giving the state the authority to oppress anyone gives them license to oppress everyone – and the state takes every opportunity to do so. A libertarian recognizes that basic truth and advocates for all rights for all people, all the time.
A libertarian candidate of any color should be advocating for the absolute minimum governmental restrictions on an individual’s day-to-day life, so long as no one else is harmed in the process.
Keller: Why is the time now for a libertarian governor in Oklahoma?
Lawhorn: Because though both the old parties are recognized in Oklahoma, we really only had one until the LP gained recognition. Very few will argue that both parties are the same old tax and spend, throw water into a leaky bucket, don’t ever fix anything, don’t care about the people conglomerates that have no interest in maximizing individual opportunity.
It’s been bad enough for long enough, that record numbers of citizens here have become engaged in the process, and on top of that, they are looking for someone to break the stranglehold the legislature has placed on the economy and the lives of Oklahomans. I’ve not seen a climate so ripe for liberty as Oklahoma is right now in the 20 years I’ve followed policy closely.
Keller: Important to voters is where candidates stand on key issues. What are the three most important policies to you that define your platform?
Lawhorn: The three main areas I focus on are educational opportunity, economic diversification, and criminal justice reform. Those don’t just define my platform but are the largest issues our state faces. We have close to the worst education system in the country, despite spending near the median in per-pupil spending. It’s an antiquated industrial model that is failing all of our students, and they don’t have options, primarily due to legal restrictions.
Add into that the state formula crippling private school growth and opportunity, and we have what most anti-choice advocates fear – a system that bleeds the poor to provide luxury to the wealthy. My plan fixes this, pays our teachers a good wage, and provides exceptional options for every student, no matter their socioeconomic class. Next, our economy is highly invested in oil and gas and energy, in general, and they ignore the wealth of other natural resources.
That’s led to an economic climate of dependence on the price per barrel of oil, and it has bankrupted us. Our tax structure needs to make sure that every industry has equal treatment under the tax code and that Oklahoma is developing the employees and infrastructure to grow into a healthy economy. Finally, CJR is a hot-button issue in Oklahoma, as we incarcerate more than any other state.
It’s been a perennial issue for us, and we have learned that throwing addicts, mentally ill, and cannabis users in jail doesn’t help anything. 52% of our prison population has never committed an actual crime against any other citizen or property.
As much as 65% of our prisoner-citizens have a mental illness they’re being treated for. Jail isn’t the place for people like this. The state is just wasting money to feed taxpayer dollars to their friends in the private prison industry. There is no impetus to solve the issue until someone sits in the capital to make it a priority. That’s my job.
Keller: Recently there has been an increase in political dialogue over gun control. What do you have to contribute to this national dialogue?
Lawhorn: I have nothing more to contribute that hasn’t been said a million times already. The two most important things to remember is that gun control doesn’t reduce violence and those words “shall not be infringed”.
If they come to me with a proposal that addresses the real causes of the increase in violence, we can start a conversation. Until then, I’m unwilling to engage in even peripheral conversations about restricting the right of self-defense from anyone.
Keller: The Trump Administration has spent increasing effort to expand the power of the national government while weakening state authority. How do you plan to balance serving the people of Oklahoma with mandates from the Trump Administration?
Lawhorn: By utilizing 10th Amendment protections guaranteeing state authority over powers not enumerated in the Constitution. I plan to mostly ignore mandates coming from Washington DC unless they are returning plundered dollars back to the people that paid them.
It’s very difficult, as most of the federal overreach doesn’t come through the state, but rather bypasses the state and directly attacks the people. The only way that most of the problem can be ameliorated is through secession, and that’s a call that needs to come from the people.
That being said, my initial campaign promise was to be the shield for the people of the state from a government that has stepped way out of line. I intend to have an entire staff centered on making sure that I use every opportunity available to achieve that goal.
Keller: A key issue in the balance of power is the Drug War. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has increased the government “clamp down” on states with legal marijuana, whether recreational or medical. What do you believe is the solution to this growing issue?
Lawhorn: That’s an area that a governor can have a strong effect. With the cooperation of the sheriff departments in each county, we can prohibit federal legal activity from pursuing and prosecuting any victimless crime. I’ll ask them nicely to refrain because Oklahoma opts out.
If they don’t stop, I will tell them forcefully to back off. If they still don’t stop, I will activate the National Guard, and I will forcibly remove them. It’s a personal invasion of the people of the state that is preventable, and I’m fairly sure that not even Jeff Sessions is willing to do war over a plant.
Keller: If someone was interested in getting involved with your campaign, how would they go about getting involved?
Lawhorn: Stop by the web page, rexforgovernor2018.com and hit that volunteer button! While you’re at it give the ‘donate’ button a push and give whatever you can. This process isn’t cheap until a Libertarian can get in office and make the changes necessary. If I get into office, I will work as hard as I can to ensure no politician ever asks you to press a donate button, ever again! You can also come by my Facebook page, facebook.com/rexforgovernor2018, and participate in the debate, follow me on the campaign trail, hear and read my interviews, and even participate in one of my monthly live events, where I talk directly to anyone who wishes to show up and answer any question you like.
Keller: Do you have any final remarks to give to the readers?
Lawhorn: We are at a turning point in American politics, and never before has liberty had such a large and wide audience listening very close to see what we offer. Some people of our party are actively using that to promote their own self-interests and others are using it to spew hate and bile.
We can’t let this opportunity slip away from us. Educate yourself on the issues, and engage in meaningful, productive, and, most importantly, persuasive discussions about how liberty makes a difference! Be the change, and don’t waste your minutes in frustration and anger.
Use them to alleviate the frustration and anger that the uninitiated have which makes them hostile to us. Not since 1774 has the US felt more frustrated with the failures of government, and it’s time for them to have a real option. We are not the 3rd party. We are THE party, and it’s time we started acting like it and getting things done.
I would like to thank Rex Lawhorn for his time. Be sure to visit his website and follow him on Twitter and Facebook for all updates!