Tag: libertarianism

Walter Jones: A Hero to the Anti-War Movement

Kenneth Casey | United States

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

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

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

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

A Figure Emerges

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

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

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

An Enemy of War Hawks

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

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

A Legacy to Remember

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

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

May he rest in peace.


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Wait, Who is Bill Weld?

John Keller | United States

William Floyd Weld was born July 31st, 1945 in Smithtown, New York. Growing up, he pursued education fiercely and graduated with a degree in classics from Harvard and a degree in economics from Oxford. Following a full time “career” in education, he turned his attention to the law. His first experience in law was as a consul to the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate. After the committee was dissolved following the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon, Bill Weld ran to be the Massachusetts Attorney General in 1978. Although losing, Ronald Reagan saw his talent and made him the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

A Man of Law

During his five years as a federal attorney, he launched an ongoing investigation into public corruption, most notably in the administration of Boston Mayor Kevin White. His investigation lead to the arrest of over 20 public officials, all of which plead guilty or were proven guilty in a court of law. The Boston Globe wrote, “[Weld] has been by far the most visible figure in the prosecution of financial institutions.” In his 111 cases as a federal attorney, he won 109 of them.

Due to the surprising success of Bill Weld, Ronald Reagan saw to it that he was promoted within the Justice Department. Weld became responsible for overseeing all federal prosecutions, including the cases handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). He served until 1988 when he, as well as Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns and four aides, resigned in protest of the misconduct of Attorney General Edwin Meese. Following his resignation, he testified to Congress. Shortly following his testimony on the corruption of the Attorney General, Edwin Meese resigned.

A Republican Governor in a Liberal State

After a short hiatus from politics, Bill Weld announced his bid for the governorship of Massachusetts. Massachusetts was an overwhelmingly liberal state, as highlighted in the 1986 gubernatorial election when the Republican candidate received less than 30% of the vote. Bill Weld, however, was not the typical conservative and ran on a platform of social tolerance and fiscal responsibility – winning both the Republican vote and most moderate Democrats. He was able to win the election by a close margin of 3.25% of the vote.

In his first term, Bill Weld went to work trying to lowering taxes and unemployment. He cut taxes 21 times and brought unemployment in Massachusetts from the highest in the 11 most industrial states to the lowest; even balancing the budget. He began battling corruption in the welfare system by a work-for-welfare system – slashing welfare spending.  His reforms and administration was overwhelmingly popular and when re-election time came in 1994, Bill Weld won re-election with 70.85% of the vote; in a state where only 14% of the electorate was part of the Republican Party. Bill Weld kept his reforms going, and seeing that he had served Massachusetts so well he hoped to bring his reforms to the nation and ran for senate in 1996 against incumbent John Kerry (D).

A Libertarian Leader

Bill Weld went on a hiatus from public life and politics following the turn of the century. As the Republican Party began losing its small-government conservative values of the 20th Century, Bill Weld began losing confidence in the Republican Party. After working on the Romney for President campaign in 2012, he left the Grand Old Party (GOP) and became a Libertarian, aligning with his views of small government in the economy, the lives of the people, and in peace, whether domestic or foreign.

In 2016 he sought the Libertarian nomination for Vice President. At the convention, following Gary Johnson’s renomination for president, having formerly run in 2012, Bill Weld was elected to be the Vice Presidential Nominee; receiving the support of 441 of the 872 delegates. He entered the campaign trail alongside Gary Johnson, the former republican governor of New Mexico, who served while Bill Weld was governor of Massachusetts.

“The dragon that I’m jousting against this year is this frozen monopoly of the two parties that have frozen a lot of people’s thinking in place and they think, ‘I have to be a right-winger,’ or, ‘I have to be a left-winger.’ They’re not thinking, ‘What do I think?’” – Bill Weld, on ReasonTV (2016)

It was largely the campaigning of Bill Weld, with his clarity on issues and clean presentation in interviews, in the divisive election of 2016 that led the Libertarian ticket to poll at 12% – almost getting the ticket into the presidential and vice presidential debates. Bill Weld proved to be a warrior of freedom wielding the Javelin of Justice and Shield of Sacrifice, bringing the Libertarian Party to its greatest year ever. The future for Bill Weld is unknown, but it is known that it is bright, for so few gave so much to such a noble cause.

For his dedication to prosperity while governor, his devotion to justice as a U.S. Attorney General, and his dedication to civil liberties while the libertarian vice-presidential nominee, it is clear that Bill Weld defines what a modern day renaissance man is, and is worthy of tribute for his many accomplishments.


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Libertarian Ideals: Unintentional Self-Destruction

Mark West | United States

All Libertarian Party candidates have experienced this at one point or another. Laying an enormous weight on every chance post and idle utterance, this grueling beast can eviscerate a campaign in a matter of moments. Yet, battling for balance with this monstrosity wearies every candidate and stalls campaigns in the malicious mire of friendly fire.

“You’re not libertarian enough!” “A real libertarian doesn’t…” “You’re not pure at all!”

Usually, purists more interested in spreading ideas than helping candidates win sing this raucous refrain. At the same time, those who magnify the importance of winning an election over spreading pure ideals would attack from the other side saying:

“You can’t win elections with purist libertarian ideals!”

Unfortunately, neither statement actually helps candidates. Yet, both statements serve the self-destructive purpose of deflating campaigns and diminishing returns.

At the heart of these conversations is the growing divide on the purpose for the existence of the Libertarian Party. Do we exist to spread libertarian ideals or to win elections? The implication seems to be that we can’t do both.

My Painful Experiences Spreading Libertarian Ideals

Admittedly, our candidates struggle to express the nuances of policies aimed at transforming government. How can we best explain our plans to transition governance from authoritarian structures into libertarian ones? On this note, I’m interested in seeing the process that Adam Kokesh promises is going to become clear in his upcoming book. Aptly named “American Freedom”, this book is going to detail Kokesh’ process for the dissolution of the Federal Government.

I’ve run two campaigns for office as a Libertarian. In 2016, I was the Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. House District 1 in Arkansas. I received 23.7% of the vote (57,181 votes) in a two-way race. In 2018, I was the Libertarian Party candidate for Arkansas Governor. I received 2.9% of the vote (25,885 votes) which was 0.1% shy of securing ballot access for 2020. I missed it by 860 votes!

As different as the two races were from a policy standpoint, one similarity was striking. In both, I felt like Thanos trying to balance his knife as an allegory for balancing the universe. My biggest struggle was balancing the libertarian ideal in proposals dealing with authoritarian structures and problems.

If my solutions leaned too far libertarian, I was suddenly a purist whose ideas wouldn’t win elections. But if my solutions leaned too far authoritarian, fellow party members told me I wasn’t libertarian enough and that I wouldn’t get support or votes. Both sides treated me as an enemy to the libertarian ideal.

Death by a Thousand Distractions

I found it rewarding to take the opportunity for publicly sharing libertarian-leaning solutions through my campaigns. In reality, my audiences had been force-fed authoritarianism, which left many shocked and confused. They struggled to grasp a candidate offering solutions that didn’t include government interference or intervention. When I needed time and opportunity to engage and explain, other libertarians dragged me into battles over philosophy.

Essentially, a thousand distractions cursed my campaigns to death. I’m still emotionally spent. I’ve lost the desire to run for office and am deliberately avoiding the ballot in 2020. Why?

In one example, I received the most visceral responses from my party brethren when I proclaimed myself pro-life. I believe libertarians desperately need a salient solution on this issue. Caryn Ann Harlos’ column about the issue serves such a purpose for my own philosophy.

In Arkansas, the Libertarian Party platform on abortion is a death sentence for libertarian candidates. I would have been better served with more time to explain the nuances of the issue with non-libertarians. But instead, I had to play defense against other libertarians calling me fake and unworthy.

I am a libertarian because of the influence of Rodger Paxton, host of The Lava Flow and owner of Pax Libertas Productions. My political philosophy almost mirrors his and I have been a member of the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus. Therefore, others labeling me a fake for suggesting transitional proposals to authoritarian problems was disheartening. My proposals always maintain an eye to a more voluntaryist society, even if it comes in stages.

No Good Answers

Of course, I don’t claim to know the right answer in this debate. So, I will not push one. However, I do want to use the insight from my campaign experiences to end our self-destructive habits.

So, when you see a libertarian candidate, give them the benefit of the doubt. Unless the candidate is blatantly non-libertarian and violating the Statement of Principles and Platform on issue after issue, give them a break. After all, they sure need one.

Can we ask candidates to be honest about stances that diverge from our Platform and Statement of Principles? Should we let our convention decisions be the last word on nominations so that only rallying and support follows the candidates afterward?

I’m not certain we really have good answers for those questions. But, I am certain that our candidates deserve better than our most self-destructive habits. After, they are willingly fighting for our place on the political stage on the local, state, and national levels.


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Adam Kokesh Begins Presidential Campaign, Gets Arrested

Mark West | United States

Libertarian activist Adam Kokesh has long since announced his candidacy for the Libertarian Party nomination for President in 2020. But last week, in New Orleans, police arrested him on the campaign, again. His crime is still unclear; the arrest occurred as he was cleaning filthy concrete on a public street by water stenciling “FREEDOM” into the dirty road. Officers from the New Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Department then confronted Kokesh. After he refused to show his ID, they arrested him.

The New Orleans “Book Bomb”

After spending more than 48 hours in the clink, police released Kokesh and dropped all charges. Kokesh was in New Orleans for a “Book Bomb”, for which he planned to place more than 200,000 copies of his book, “Freedom!”, in residential mailboxes.

He also took part in a New Orleans Freedom Townhall, which Loyola University’s Young Americans for Liberty hosted. The townhall also featured former law enforcement officer Robert Evans and Loyola University Economics Professor Walter Block.

Kokesh is campaigning on a promise to initiate the “peaceful, responsible dissolution of the entire federal government,” which he says he says he can enact through an Executive Order once he is president. He sees the collapse of the United States Federal Government as “inevitable” and is concerned that if he doesn’t win, this collapse may not occur peacefully or orderly manner.

Adam Kokesh 2020: His View

In an upcoming book, “American Freedom”, Kokesh plans to outline his federal government dissolution plan. He plans to release this book before the 2020 campaign season. Kokesh is a Marine Corps combat veteran who served in Fallujah, Iraq. For his actions, many of which he regrets, he received a Navy Commendation Medal for Combat Action Ribbon. He is also an author and former television and radio host.

Adam Kokesh is well-known in libertarian circles for his acts of civil disobedience. One of his first claims to fame came in 2011 when police arrested him for leading a flash mob of dancers in the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. Not long before, courts ruled that dancing in the monument was to be illegal. He has since been arrested several times while engaging in acts of civil disobedience.


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The Case Against Democracy in a Free Society

Jack Parkos | United States

“We must do (X)!” says the politician. “We must do it to save democracy!” To the democratic politician, democracy is like its child; they ignore or rebuke all who critique it. But in reality, democracy deserves much criticism for its failures.

Indeed, many people grow up thinking democracy is the last step in political theory. Democratic republicanism is the only way and it must spread throughout the world, say the many. It may seem we live under a great system where everyone has a say in the government. However, all that this means is that everyone else has a say over your life.

From Republic to Democracy

In the United States, we are a republic. However, it has become more democratic throughout the years. For example, one no longer must own property to vote. As a result, those without property may vote to implement or increase property taxes, involving themselves in a matter that does not affect them. Furthermore, criminals and the uneducated have as much power as you. They can vote your rights away with ease. The democratic politician relies on the lower class to gain power.

Without a doubt, democracy can economically incentivize unsuccessful behavior. Under our democracy, antidiscrimination laws often protect those who do not succeed by virtue of alleged equality. For example, schools may no longer choose how they fund their athletics because of gender “equality”.

A Restriction of Rights

Democracy is simply a violation of private property. It is a way for some to receive free stuff at the expense of others. Universal suffrage allows for the uninformed groups to decide what the informed must do.

If the right to vote were expanded to seven year olds … its policies would most definitely reflect the ‘legitimate concerns’ of children to have ‘adequate’ and ‘equal’ access to ‘free’ french fries, lemonade and videos. – Hans-Hermann Hoppe 

Moreover, after democracy came to be, communism and Nazism were able to rise through a democratic process. Democracy can just as easily lead to tyranny as any other form of government.

Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy. – Plato

In a democracy, a tyrant needs only 51% of the people to support him and his tyrannical actions are legitimate. 51% can never truly constitute the will of the people, and neither can any other figure less than 100%. Majority support does not make an action morally right. A popular vote does not decide ethics.

Poor Democratic Leaders

Under a free society, the best leaders would naturally rise and be chosen voluntarily. Under democratic rule, the worst leaders are generally going to be in charge. Deceptive people have an edge over honest people due to the fact that they don’t have to play by the rules; not doing so makes it a lot easier to garner votes.

Democracy is not based on the common good of the community but rather on irrational voter decisions. Plato uses an example of the doctor and a candyman. The doctor offers you the painful truth that ultimately will benefit you. He may do unpleasant procedures on you, but ultimately, you will see the gains. Meanwhile, the candyman offers you a lollipop. This, of course, is a lot more attractive.

Voters are historically unable to look at longterm consequences of actions, and as a result, many may pick the candyman. This is an excellent analogy. In truth, many democratic voters are like children wanting free goodies. “Free” healthcare and welfare are a lot more attractive to some than long-term and sustainable success that doesn’t come from someone else’s paycheck.

Better Alternatives

In a libertarian society, leaders would rise by protecting their people without stealing from others. It would all be voluntary, unlike democracy. A majority of others agreeing on something does not mean that everyone consents. For example, we can take Ben Franklin’s classical analogy of democracy:

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”

According to the democratic politician’s logic, the lamb consented to be eaten because the majority of the wolves decided it was okay. Does this sound absurd? My neighbor deciding to steal my income is not freedom in any meaningful way.

Short-term Solutions

Unfortunately, a pure libertarian society is not around the corner. In spite of this, what is a good way to better safeguard rights? The best, most pragmatic short term solution is to “undemocratize” our country. The Founders required that one own land to vote, as they feared that those without land would attempt to steal the land of property owners (they were right; this has happened). It is fair that one should own property to vote, at least on issues regarding private property.

It is also worth debating whether prisoners and the uneducated should vote. Perhaps these are good ideas, perhaps not. But like all ideas, they should see a full and proper debate before reaching a verdict. Many may claim that such a notion is entirely unfair, from the start. How else, though, is it feasible to reduce the size and scope of government?

What Can We Do?

It is unlikely these exact policies will exist. However, those who seek to shrink the state should support any policy that makes us less democratic and prevents a tyranny of the majority. There should be requirements to vote that are worth discussing. These policies will make our country less democratic and more republican (in political theory terms, not the parties).

Naturally, nobody has the right to vote about what someone else does with their private property. But the less property the government steals, the better. Democracy is not liberty; it is an illusion of freedom that politicians can use to gain power.

The Founding Fathers warned us many times of what would happen. The pure libertarian society will not come anytime soon, but any action that supports liberty must be pursued. Naturally, less democracy is more freedom: true freedom.


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