Tag: LP

Grading President Trump’s Libertarianism: Personal Liberty

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address marks the midway point of his first term. This is the first of four articles to analyze his policies and how well they relate to the Libertarian Party’s platform and libertarianism in general.

The four points to be analyzed are:

  • Personal Liberty
  • Economic Liberty
  • Securing Liberty
  • Overall Liberty

The Presidents policies will be analyzed with regards to how well I believe they correlate with the LP’s platform.

Self-Ownership, Expression and Communication, Privacy

President Trump’s appointment of two anti-marijuana legalizations Attorney Generals (Jeff Sessions, William Barr) and his expansion of the Drug War, most especially concerning opioids and the wall, are attacks on self-ownership. When it comes to substance use, he favors an authoritarian approach to substance use.

Self-Ownership Grade: D

His attacks on NFL players for kneeling to highlight the need for criminal justice reform, as well as to support immigrants from Muslim-dominant countries, are violations of freedom of self-expression. At the same time, he created a special class of citizens for law enforcement officers and public employees in which crimes against them would be legally treated as hate crime. However, he has not taken much legal action to stifle expression which means the government is not growing in this area.

Expression and Communication Grade: C

President Trump hasn’t ended the NSA/DHS spying on American citizens, despite complaining about being bugged by President Obama. Our President has demonized Edward Snowden but praised Wikileaks. Basically, he only supports whistleblowers when it helps him. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court despite his anti-Fourth Amendment writings. Many credit Kavanaugh’s legal writings for building justification for the surveillance state.

Privacy Grade: D

Personal Relationships, Abortion, and Parental Rights

President Trump has not made an issue out of defining marriage. If he continues the hands-off approach on government involvement in marriage, that would aid his score. Removing government from personal relationships is the preference. However, he has been antagonistic toward transgender persons regarding bathroom usage and has banned them from military service. I see this as the all too familiar republican story of only being for small government when personal beliefs coincide.

Personal Relationships: C

Early in his administration, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, which keeps Federal funding from being used to pay for international abortions. Later, he authorized State governments to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Both moves reduced the amount of State involvement in the abortion issue. However, he does advocate for legislation to ban various forms of abortion, which re-engages the State on the issue. Many are concerned that he has stacked the Supreme Court with Justices who will overturn legal precedent on the issue.

Abortion Grade: C

President Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, signaling a commitment to end Federal involvement in our education. In this capacity, DeVos has worked to eliminate Federal involvement while promoting private and home-schooling options. Additionally, our President signed an Executive Order aimed at curtailing the amount of Federal involvement allowed in education.

Education Grade: A

Crime and Justice, Death Penalty, Self-Defense

The First Step Act is a great opening salvo at a larger and more comprehensive criminal justice reform. Trump has talked about going further on this issue. Yet, his expansion of the Drug War that criminalizes victim-less crimes and his State-centered approach on sex-trafficking contradicts a libertarian stance on crime and justice.

Crime and Justice Grade: B

President Trump is in favor of the administration of the death penalty by the State.

Death Penalty Grade: F

Our President portrays himself a champion of gun ownership rights. He has opposed various attempts at gun control on the Federal level. However, he banned bump stocks and advocates for enhanced background checks.  He also supports red flag laws. He has also expressed support for Senator Feinstein to pass Assault Weapon Bans. In terms of immigration, private property owners deserve the right to enforce their property boundaries, even on our international border with Mexico, however they see fit. Immigration reform should address that reality.

Self-Defense Grade: B

Rating Trump on personal liberty, I give him a C (2.0). He could really harm his score if he continues promoting State-centered solutions at the expense of individual rights. I am truly rooting for him to improve that score.

Stay tuned for the next article in which I will grade Trump’s policies on Economic Liberty.


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Libertarian Jeff Hewitt Delivers Passionate SOTU Response

Sanders Jett-Folk | United States

On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump presented his long-awaited State of the Union address to the American people. The Libertarian Party, represented by Riverside County (CA) Board of Supervisors member Jeff Hewitt, quickly gave a passionate response to the President’s address. In doing so, they hoped to unite Americans in the face of political division.

Jeff Hewitt: Bringing Americans Together?

Of the many themes that Hewitt presented in his statement, bringing Americans together was among the most important.

Hewitt stated that despite the division that Democrats and Republicans are trying to cause in our country, “…Americans are finding new ways to work together, to prosper, to help each other and to help themselves.”

He went on to say that new markets, voluntary exchange of ideas and goods, and innovation has “given all of us new ways to learn, to communicate, to travel, to heal ourselves, and to heal our world.”

He also denounced fearmongering politicians, such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump; Hewitt claimed they “try to frighten Americans by pronouncing disaster after disaster, which they say only they can save us from.”

Progress In America

A strong focus of Jeff Hewitt’s powerful statement was how far America has come over the years.

Hewitt spoke of America’s “agricultural and technological revolution” and expansion of “the circle of humanity to embrace the natural rights of people who were previously beaten down by centuries of oppression.”

One point made was how crime rates have decreased; “Here in America, violent crime rates have plummeted by 74 percent since their peak in 1993.”

Another strong assertion came about the decline of rampant poverty. “Since 1990, 1 billion people have transcended extreme poverty,” Hewitt said.

This fantastic progress, in Hewitt’s words, is the result of our laws holding “arbitrary political power subject to the rule of law.”

Limiting Government

Hewitt then discussed what the Libertarian Party firmly believes is holding our nation back: the government.

Speaking against rampant discrimination and division, Hewitt asserted that “Old-party politicians seek to divide us by nationality, by race, by religion, by gender and sexuality, and by any other means they can think of to create categories of people whose rights somehow matter less than the rest of ours.” He then affirmed the Libertarian belief that “All Americans should be equal before the law”.

Moving onto our economic situation, Hewitt stated that “Our federal government lacks fiscal discipline. Our national debt has skyrocketed to almost $22 trillion.” Affirming another Libertarian belief, he stated: “It is not acceptable for politicians to rack up this kind of debt.”

Hewitt then spoke out against the “absurd security theater” of the TSA, and the NSA’s “unconstitutional mass spying on Americans”. To summarize, “End the surveillance state!”

Continuing the Libertarian Party’s grievances against the government, Jeff Hewitt spoke against rampant war, stating that “Never-ending wars make Americans less safe.” He also renounced the “acts of cruelty” occurring against peaceful immigrants at the Southern border: “The United States should welcome immigrants.”

A Libertarian Future

Hewitt affirmed that the Libertarian Party can bring Americans together in this era of divisiveness.

“Libertarians stand against these injustices, and for the proposition that Americans deserve better”, he testified. “While Republicans and Democrats careen toward socialism and fascism, Libertarians stand for the timeless principles of justice; the self-evident truths of individual freedom; and the rights of every person to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

He went on to state that “Americans are better than our current government,” and noted that “elected Libertarians are already hard at work cutting taxes, slashing red tape, shrinking government, and offering thoughtful, pragmatic solutions to day-to-day problems.”

He ended his address by inviting people to “join [the Libertarian Party], as we seek peace, prosperity, and liberty for every American.”

Jeff Hewitt, the former Libertarian mayor of Calimesa, California, narrowly won a seat on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors in 2018. He represents the county’s 5th district. He defeated his opponent, former Republican Assemblyman Russ Bogh, with 51.9% of the vote. Many saw the race as a critical victory for the Libertarian Party, as Riverside County’s population is greater than that of 15 states. His delivery of the official Libertarian response shows how crucial this victory was.


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Libertarians Can Make the Most Progress in Local Government

Josh Hughes | United States

The Libertarian Party has proven that on the federal level, it is largely inept and incapable of winning elections. In fact, it has not had much success at the state level, either. The 2016 and 2018 elections were a huge opportunity for the party growth, but both were a flop. The national party is a mess without a clear leader or strong candidates. Many state parties are suffering from the same dilemma. Rather than wasting time and resources on national elections, the libertarian party needs to think local. Libertarians can not only have a better chance of success in local elections but also can do the most good for libertarianism. 

The Impact of Libertarians in Local Government

It is true that many local level seats are largely nonpartisan. “What difference does it make if a Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian is in charge of zoning regulations?” one may ask. The Libertarian party desperately needs elected officials in local government, before they can dream about a Libertarian in the Oval Office. 

City Council and Mayors Office

When it comes to the partisan seats, Libertarians can be very instrumental. The mayor and city councilmen control a lot of what happens in terms of city taxes and spending. Libertarians on a city councilor in a mayors office can lower local sales tax. They can also promote small business operation within their jurisdiction. They can decide what major projects the city will invest in. In some rare instances, cities can even decide whether to prosecute certain crimes. An example of such would be Baltimore recently deciding to not prosecute marijuana possession cases. Cities also have the power to decide what the minimum wage will be in the city. Combatting the left-wing cries for raising minimum wages, city by the city could be instrumental to the liberty movement. There are many things that local governments do that impact the everyday lives of citizens. 

State Legislature

Of course, growing their presence in state Assemblies and Senate could prevent either party from passing big spending bills. They could even form coalitions with liberty leaning members of either party to pass libertarian legislation. Peoples’ lives are much more directly impacted by local and state governments then they are the federal government. 

Looking To The Future

The Libertarian Party is not going to win any big elections in the near future. The next few years should be a period of rebuilding for the party, where they can develop a unified platform and leadership. It will also be a good time for them garner more support from the average American, who is currently facing a very polarized and divided nation. If the Libertarian Party wants to experience success in the coming years, it is important that they become more involved in local level politics, as well as work to gain the respect and trust of the average voter. You can’t win the presidency overnight, but you can certainly grow the movement in local governments, state legislatures, up to the House, up to the Governor’s office, the Senate, and then maybe one day, the White House. 


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The Libertarian Party Must Shift from Federal to Local Races

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.

Problems Solved?

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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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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