Maj is running under the guise of the Libertarian Party, but exaggerating his grassroots and solution-based style. Maj’s appearance as an outsider separates him from the “self-interested, politically corrupt posers” who he says currently run the city.
Kevin D’Amato | United States
After a lackluster performance in the contentious 2018 midterms, the Libertarian Party is refocusing. Local races, not federal ones, seem to be the future for the third-largest party in American politics.
Besides winning ballot access for a few states, it seems like 2018 is another year in history libertarians would rather forget. Crushing defeats in all types of positions took place, including incumbent state legislators Laura Ebke and Brandon Phinney, who secured 43% and 10% in their races, respectively.
As founder of the Mises Caucus Michael Heise put it on Election Day: “We need to accept that federal office is not realistic right now. If we’re lucky we make the ballot, but even then we are kept out of the polls, excluded from the debates, and blacked out by the media.” Heise went on to say that the way to victory is through running “local initiatives” and by pursuing “winnable state-level races”.
Michael’s advice is sound and logical. In fact, looking at previous elections, localized candidates performed much better on average. The federal libertarian candidate who did the best by far was Gary Johnson in the New Mexico Senate race. Despite polling as high as 22%, which was second place, prior to the election, the former governor only managed to get 15%. This is even more disappointing after realizing how much money and time he poured into the run. Artie Buxton of South Carolina, on the other hand, won a bid for school board with 68% of the vote. Without a doubt, that victory was won with much less than the nearly $400,000 that Johnson used.
The New Libertarian Way to Victory
Local and state races are not only more successful historically, but also more strategic. Without endless supplies of money like the Republicans and Democrats, the Libertarians need to be inventive:
- Low profile races add up over time, building a strong grassroots base.
- Local races create experienced candidates who can work their way up the political ladder.
- Proven records of victory provide a defense to arguments against the lack of “winnability”
The largest lesson for any Libertarian is that the real upcoming race is 2019, not 2020. Local races are the future of the Libertarian Party. The long game is the path to change.
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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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By John Keller | Florida
Paul Wolfe is running for school board in Alachua County in Florida. 71 Republic’s own John Keller sat down with him to discuss his campaign and the policies he is running on.
Keller: You are entering a career in politics. What inspired you to run for office?
Wolfe: In this race, my inspiration to run for office came from the Parkland tragedy and subsequent rhetoric being used to push an anti-gun message. I felt that, as opposed to tackling a problem that will never truly be solved on the firearm end, I wanted to help secure our schools against these threats here in Alachua County. My campaign couldn’t be stuck on that single message, so I have chosen to diversify a great deal with school safety still being at the forefront, but many other issues being included and addressed.
Keller: With so much attention drawn to Congress and national politics, what inspired you to run locally?
Wolfe: The saying goes, “All politics are local”. If I choose to run for something larger after my work at the local school board has concluded with positive results, then so be it, but I wanted to start locally to prove myself and that my policies have the ability to work. Also, age restrictions would have prevented me from pursuing any state or national office, so I was forced to take that into consideration as well. When I first started to look for a place to take my ideas, I thought that making the big step to the Florida Legislature would have been bold enough. But, after some thought, I felt it best to go with something that I knew very well, having just been a recent high school graduate: The School Board.
Keller: What three positions define your campaign for school board?
Wolfe: For school board, my first main campaign point is school security, a top priority. Without school security, the learning environment is unsafe and students may be afraid to even come to school. As such, increased partnerships with local police forces and hardening our schools against threats are included in this topic.
My next point is our school facilities. They are crumbling, with many foundations being cracked and flooding being prominent in schools after even heavy rain (the rain being a common occurrence in Florida). In order to address this issue, I have chosen to support our local half-Cent Sales Tax initiative with funding going directly to our school facilities to help fund projects. I have also long advocated for a re-visitation of the school budget to find where inefficiency wreaks havoc on the revenue we already have, and allocate those monies more effectively.
The third point I have chosen to run on is teacher compensation. Our teachers are paid at the bottom of the list on average compared to the rest of Florida, and many counties with a much smaller tax base somehow find themselves being able to afford higher salaries than us. We should revisit our budget, as I mentioned, and find a way to allocate for at least 3% salary increases over each of the next four years, a total of 12%, to get us back on track with the rest of the state.
Keller: What change do you want to see?
Wolfe: Change is something that our school board seems afraid of. Change in leadership, change in policy, change in testing, change in relationships with the state of Florida. We need a younger person, who has seen the problems with public schools, who has experienced them less than two months ago, in order to make these changes happen for the better.
Keller: How can people get involved in your campaign or learn more if interested?
Wolfe: If readers would like to know more, my website is www.paulwolfe4ac.com, my campaign email is [email protected], and my phone number, which can be reached any time between 8am and 8pm, is 352-231-2485.
Keller: Do you have any final remarks to make?
Wolfe: My final remarks would be this: If you wish to see a change in the world, be that change. If you want to see your local municipal government take a direction, run for that office. If you want to see something in your state Constitution change, advocate actively for it. If you want to see our Congress turn from the destructive path it is on, run for that office. By simply talking about change, we do nothing. But running for office, taking charge in local communities of efforts, and being so loud you cannot be ignored can all be ways by which we affect change in our communities. I would like to thank 71Republic and John Keller for giving me this platform on which to communicate these ideas and look forward to answering any questions readers may have on these issues.
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By Owen Heimsoth | United States
Robert J. Healey did not look like your typical politician. He was an older looking man with long curly hair and the beard of a Viking.
In an interview after Healey’s unexpected death in 2016, a local restaurant owner described him like this: “He really looked like he rolled out of the ’60s, but he was sincerely one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met.”
After running twice for governor and four times for Lt. Governor in the state of Rhode Island, (once on the platform of abolishing the office, in which he won 39% of the vote under the Cool Moose Party) he decided to take another stab at the Governor’s Mansion. He would run under the newly founded Moderate Party, after the original candidate dropped out for health reasons. He threw thirty-five dollars and thirty-one cents of his personal money into his campaign and accepted no outside money. Healey said that he spent that money on a prepaid cell phone.
He did some grassroots campaigning to get his name out there in the state and won 21.4% of the votes.
His end-of-campaign thank you was extremely powerful and reflected on his impact on the gubernatorial race. The full text can be found here.
“As you know, we did not destroy that campaign, it imploded on itself. Our outstanding performance demonstrated that people were dissatisfied with the system. The real story is that there are just too many out there still willing to play the party politics game.
Together we shocked the system. We worked together toward a worthwhile goal and that should not be taken for granted, nor should it be minimized by political pundits. We all worked too hard to let this happen.”
He also threw around humor about fending off accusations of ruining the campaign of GOP candidate Allan Fung in the thank-you.
Healey is one of the only people running under a moderate party to run for such a high office, and he showed that the US is ready for a new moderate/centrist party to shake up politics.
A 2013 NBC poll shows that 51% of Americans who consider themselves political moderates. Many identify themselves as socially left-leaning and fiscally right-leaning. Robert J. Healey himself leaned in this way but focused more on economic reform in line with the Moderate Party platform.
The party is currently in the middle of a heated primary between Ken Block, the founder of the party who ran for Governor as a Republican in 2014, and Bill Gilbert who is the current Chair of the party and Bob Healey’s Lt. Governor candidate. They may not win, but the Rhode Island Gubernatorial race will certainly be one to watch this November. If they can pull a decent chunk of the vote without perennial candidate Healey on the ticket, they may legitimize themselves as the real deal in American politics.