The 2018 Libertarian Party National Convention wrapped up over the weekend in New Orleans. After a weekend of discussion, debate, and parliamentary action, Nick Sarwark remained chairman and Alex Merced was elected to the position of Vice Chair.
By John Keller | United States
Adam Kokesh is a libertarian political activist, known for his show Adam vs. The Man. He announced his desire to run for President of the United States in 2020 on July 18th, 2013 and officially filed the paperwork on January 16th, 2018. Adam Kokesh is working to #FinallyFreeAmerica.
Keller: You are a veteran of the war in Iraq and a former marine. What was the moment that you decided you were changing from a marine into a political activist?
Kokesh: Some things are just decided for you! When I got out of the Marines, I moved to DC to study at GWU. While I was there, I came across the website for Iraq Veterans Against the War and I realized that I had to have my name on that list and joined right away. I really fell over backwards into full-time activism because I of the welcoming nature of the organization and the movement behind it. When I realized that the story of my experience in Iraq could be used to save lives, I had no choice.
Keller: You wrote a book titled ‘FREEDOM!’. To you what is the message of freedom all about? Why is Libertarianism better than conservatism or liberalism?
Kokesh: Freedom is what you have when no one is forcing their will on you. That is to say that freedom is a state of harmonious coexistence. Freedom is peace. Freedom is love and respect and appreciation for people. A Libertarian is someone who opposes the initiation of force. Why would you settle for anything less? Conservativism and liberalism are just different flavors of statism. Statism is the incorrect belief that it is ok, positive, or ethical for people to force themselves on others. It’s really that simple!
Keller: Trump has taken credit for the booming ‘success’ of the stock market. Is he right to take this credit?
Kokesh: That’s hard to call and I don’t really care. The stock market is a highly manipulated racket. I’m sure some things he does manipulates it up, some things down. Either way, buy Bitcoin. Invest in innovation. Buy real property that can’t be manipulated by government like the stock market.
Keller: There has been a growing movement, often credited in its growing traction to Ron Paul, to ‘End the Fed’. What does this slogan mean to you?
Kokesh: Ron Paul definitely deserves credit for bringing the crimes of the Federal Reserve System to the attention of the American people and his supporters deserve credit for sloganizing his message into, “End the Fed” at his rallies that I attended going back to his 2008 campaign. The slogan has come to mean something much bigger now. To me, it means end the federal government entirely!
Keller: The #LetRonSpeak Scandal quickly went viral. What was your stance on this issue?
Kokesh: The people with the Libertarian Party who decided to decline to give Dr Paul an opportunity to speak at the 2018 convention, National Chair Nick Sarwark and Convention Chair Daniel Hayes, definitely do not represent the base of the party and I hope they are never in positions to make such an embarrassing mistake ever again.
Keller: Arvin Vohra has been stirring up quite a storm online with comments about rape and school shootings and many speculate his actions are harming the Libertarian Party. Where do you stand on this controversy? Should Vice Chairman Vohra step down?
Kokesh: It’s not so much the controversy about “inflammatory” that concerns me so much as his statements advocating for violations of the nonaggression principle. Those clearly go against what the party stands for. He should and will be replaced at the upcoming national convention.
Keller: Recently you were arrested in Texas, mere hours after official filing candidacy for President of the United States. What was this experience like? What charges did the police have against you?
Kokesh: I’ve been arrested over three dozen times relating to my activism, mostly in civil disobedience. This one was unplanned. I can’t say it was scary, but it was disturbing because, as you can see from the video, the officer who pulled me over was determined to arrest me even though I had not committed a crime. He broke multiple laws and violated police procedure in order to come up with an excuse to arrest me after unlawfully ordering me to stop recording. When he entered my vehicle, the first thing he did was turn off the other camera I had rolling. I was jailed for ten days and have still yet to be presented with any official papers regarding my charges or the police report despite my repeated requests. Welcome to the United Police States of America! Fortunately, with self-driving vehicles on the horizon, most of the excuses that police use to harass people will go away.
Keller: Your campaign is on the philosophy of voluntaryism, with a peaceful and prosperous people without the threat of government. When this idea is depicted it is often, almost exclusively, depicted as chaotic anarchism. What makes your vision different from the media portrayed voluntaryism?
Kokesh: I have no idea what you are talking about. I have NEVER heard anyone say that a voluntary society would be chaotic. It is contrary to the very definition. A voluntary society is one in which all human interactions are free of force, fraud, and coercion. As for my campaign, it is based on the practical policy of localization, the idea that political power should be localized as opposed to centralized. Voluntaryism is the philosophy that leads me to that practical policy.
Keller: Within the Libertarian Party there is a philosophical divide between minarchists and voluntaryists. As a voluntaryist, what do you have to say to the question of minarchism? In essence, how is anarchy preferable to minarchism?
Kokesh: There is no such divide. When you join the party, you take a pledge that says, “” That is voluntaryism in pledge form. The people who take that pledge and mean it sometimes identify as minarchists, but they always want whatever the government does to be voluntary. So I’m a minarchist myself in that sense because I’m a voluntaryist. You can have as much government as you want, as long as it’s voluntary! The divide in the party is between people who believe in the Party’s Statement of Principles and take their pledge seriously, and infiltrators like Bob Barr, Gary Johnson, and Bill Weld, who pretend to not understand the pledge they took in order to misrepresent the party. Sadly, many Libertarians are fooled into supporting them, with the obvious disastrous results and negative consequences we saw in the last three election cycles, but the effectiveness of their infiltration would not have been possible without the support of hundreds who infiltrated the delegations of the last three nominating conventions. A big part of my campaign is to encourage people who believe in the principles of the party to be delegates so that isn’t possible again. Frankly, it’s embarrassing that they were able to take so many vacant delegate slots. If I have anything to say about it, they will all be filled with real Libertarians, not infiltrators. So far, our success this year is undeniable. We are halfway through state convention season, and only about a dozen (out of over 1,000) delegate slots are empty.
Keller: You campaign on the peaceful dissolution of the national government. What will that look like in office, how will you accomplish such a goal? What role will Congress play?
Kokesh: On day one, I will sign my one and only executive order declaring the federal government bankrupt and of no authority. I will resign to become “Custodian of the Federal Government” to oversee the process as a bankruptcy agent. The executive order will be as detailed as possible in laying that process out in a clear, legally binding way. Congress will have no authority, but may have some minor role to play in the apportionment of certain agencies and resources. Every federal agency will be either liquidated, localized to the state level, or spun off as a private institution.
Keller: You campaign on dissolving the national government, but often states can be more tyrannical than the national government. As president, what actions would you take against such injustices, if any?
Kokesh: I would have no such authority and will make no promises that I cannot keep. However, the premise of your question needs to be put into perspective. Yes, States can occasionally be more tyrannical than the federal government, but if you added up all the injustices committed by state governments and compared them to the injustices of the federal government, it would be like comparing a schoolyard bully to the mafia! And to be fair, you would first have to subtract all the State injustices made possible by the federal government. More importantly, when people see the benefits of localization, (which they will immediately, because on day one, federal laws will not be enforced) there will be a race among the States to dissolve down to the County level. Then a global race to localize. Eventually, government will be so local that it will be … voluntary.
Keller: Recently, you announced and have been working to implement “Operation Big Easy Book Bomb”. What is this operation and why was it enacted?
Kokesh: We are putting a copy of my book, FREEDOM! in every residential mailbox in New Orleans. 205,000 copies. We want to deliver the message of FREEDOM! directly to the people. Once we show that it can be done there, we will do it in every city in America.
Keller: As of late, the Democratic Party faces a small identity crisis and the Republican Party is losing faith in Donald Trump. What makes you the best candidate for 2020 and what should attract disillusioned voters?
Kokesh: I’m not the best candidate for President. In fact, asking who is the best candidate for President is like asking who would you most want to kick your ass? If your answer is, “NOBODY!” vote for me, because I will resign. I don’t need to attract disillusioned voters. The government is doing a fine job driving them away. We just have to show them that there is an alternative to government: freedom.
Keller: If people are interested in getting involved with joining your campaign, what steps can they take to do so?
Kokesh: Check out KokeshForPresident.com, click on volunteer, and fill out the form. But more importantly, don’t wait for direction and don’t ask permission to spread the message of freedom! Have fun waking people up and do something that you enjoy. Talk to your friends and family about why you care about freedom.
Keller: Do you have an final remarks to the readers, to supporters, and potential voters?
Kokesh: I’m the last President you’ll never need and I approve this message.
I would like to thank Adam Kokesh for his time. Be sure to visit KokeshForPresident.com and be sure to read his book “FREEDOM!”, which you can find here and follow his Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for all updates.
By Ryan Lau | United States
In a new development Sunday, tensions are rising between candidates for the Chairmanship of the Libertarian Party. This July, incumbent Nicholas Sarwark will attempt to defend his seat against Think Liberty founder Joshua Smith. The election will take place at the Libertarian National Convention in New Orleans.
Before the election, Smith hopes that he may be able to debate Sarwark on a number of policy differences. 71 Republic may sponsor this debate. So far, the only slated meeting of the two candidates will take place at a forum in Long Beach, California. Additionally, a debate at the Nebraska Libertarian Party State Convention was planned, but then canceled.
However, it is still possible that a debate between the two may not occur. Despite Smith’s firm advocacy for one to occur, Sarwark has yet to confirm his availability. In the following video obtained from an anonymous source, Smith asked Sarwark to increase the number of debates beyond one. Sarwark replied calmly, stating that “I’ll have to see about scheduling”.
Without a doubt, the ultimate victor of this race may have a huge impact on the future direction of the party. In the above video, Sarwark and 2020 Presidential Candidate Adam Kokesh agreed on the importance of the party’s future. After Kokesh stated he has “a lot of interest in the future of the party”, Sarwark agreed, remarking “that’s good, we all do”.
However, it is possible that voters may not be able to see a debate between the two candidates prior to their critical election if the two cannot reach an agreement on a time and place for such a debate to occur. What are your opinions on the subject? Please add your comments below.
By Mason Mohon | USA
Alex Merced is a New York Libertarian, who ran for a New York Senatorial seat in 2016, and Comptroller in 2017. Now, Alex is running for Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Convention. Alex has an extensive amount of Libertarian theory and ideas explained on his YouTube channel, and he is constantly advocating Libertarianism across social media. You can find Mr. Merced’s website here. He has B.A. in popular culture studies with a minor in marketing from Bowling Green State University. Merced has been involved with the Libertarian Party on many levels and holds potential for the liberty movement, so I decided to interview him. Alex was gracious enough to provide us with insight on his thoughts on many matters.
71R: What drew you to the Libertarian Party?
Merced: I’ve been passionate about the Libertarian message since 2007 when like many my age was “woken up” by the Ron Paul 2008 campaign. I tell the exact details of this story in my youtube video “The Aspirational Libertarian”. Ron Paul got me into broader libertarian activism and education, Michael Sanchez who was the LP candidate for NYC Mayor in 2013 was aware of my work and drafted me to the Public Advocate candidate that year and I’ve stayed involved ever since.
71R: What do you think of the current political climate for Libertarians in New York?
Merced: The devil’s in the details. In order to win larger elections, you need to win down-ballot races and have down-ballot candidates. The problem is ballot access rules make those races the hardest to participate in until we earn statewide ballot access. So many people will often criticize people like myself for running statewide and citywide races but right now it’s about building up the momentum to earn ballot access in 2018 so we can compete down ballot going forward. So right now all eyes are on Larry Sharpe 2018, I am volunteering as the policy director of the campaign currently. (50k votes for governor is how a party gets ballot access in NY. we got 17k votes in 2014 and 48k votes in 2010) (The only time a New York candidate has broken 50k votes was Norma Segal in 1992 for US Senate which does NOT earn the party ballot access)
71R: Tell us a bit about your 2016 Senatorial bid.
Merced: There are two politicians who I always said if I can run against them I would jump at the opportunity: Anthony Weiner and Chuck Schumer. To me the represented the epitome of politics as usual so while Weiner ended up taking care of himself 2016 Schumer was up for re-election so I threw my name in for the nomination and successfully got the nomination of the LP. I traveled the state with the help of the entire NYLP who truly became my family during that journey. I ended getting the 3rd highest statewide vote total in NYLP history and met a lot of new people who have become involved with the LP since and still to this day get contacted regularly by people over the state voicing their support.
71R: Tell us a bit about your 2017 Comptroller bid.
Merced: [It consisted of m]eeting New Yorkers all across the state, [and] many of them were workers depending on their pensions. The issue came up a lot and I did some research I was shocked to see the conditions that NYC pensions were in and that neither of the candidates for the duopoly had any relevant experience (a career politicians vs a former pro-football player) so I decided to take my decade in the financial industry to give people an option with relevant experience and a focus on real solutions to the pension bomb that is the NYC pension system. The Democrats essentially ignored all the city issues and campaigned against Trump which was effective in blue NYC but many workers expressed appreciation for my efforts to teach them about the pension issue and are trying within their union to push for many of the reforms I discussed. I know we can’t always win an election, but if you can articulate answers to people change can happen even if it isn’t direct.
71R: What made you decide to run for LNC Vice-Chair?
Merced: With a lot of the controversies surrounding the current Vice-Chair many voiced concerns that while they want a Vice-Chair that is less divisive they still want someone with a bold libertarian vision and understanding of libertarianism who can still put forward a positive broadly accessible message. I originally was considering a run for At-Large but then I got a call from Johnny Adams of the Johnny Rocket Launchpad asking me to consider the run for Vice Chair. Afterwards, I got a similar call from many influential libertarians who will be making public endorsements over the next several months. It was clear that people believed that I could serve as a unifier of different interests (bold libertarian views with pragmatic and positive packaging). At the end of the day, my goal is to serve the movement in whatever way I can, as I do believe a libertarian change in our life is a matter of a drastically different quality of life for many. So I enter the race with every intention of being the most effective Vice-Chair I can be not just in its day to day responsibilities but as a public face for the party.
To learn about many of my other goals and ideas for the position please visit AlexMercedforLNC.com.
71R: How do you think you’ll be able to utilize the knowledge from your previous two races in this race?
Merced: I’ve been a two-time County Party Officer and three-time Candidate. I’ve learned about the needs of serving in these positions and want to take those lessons learned in helping national provide chapters and candidates the support to grow more and more. The LNC has made many positive investments during the years and I hope my experience can add value to the conversation. I also hope to be very active in communicating affiliates and independent caucus groups to help them feel even more represented and involved with national. Cohesion and Unity is a high priority for me.
71R: How has your minor in marketing assisted you in politics and furthering the LP?
Merced: I am academically trained in cultural studies and marketing, I professionally work in education and finance, and technology and media is a passion for me. Having a diverse amount of skills, knowledge, and perspective has helped me be able to get a lot of mileage out of my projects on a shoestring budget. This also shows me that most problems have pretty simple solutions if your willing to learn more and learn often.
71R: What do you think of Arvin Vohra? In what ways will you be better than him?
Merced: My personal experiences with Arvin have been positive. He’s been kind to me even gave me a very warm introduction when I spoke at the 2016 LNC. That being said he’s become very divisive as of late which to me isn’t the role of being an elected leader. An elected leader should aim to promote the principles of the organization in a way that unites and grows the organization I feel this has not been achieved as of late which is why I’ve been trying to double down my positive accessible outreach efforts. I try to be an example of what I’d like to see, I always find it more effective than telling others what they should be doing.
71R: What do you think of Nick Sarwark?
Merced: Again, my personal experiences with Nick have been fine, I think he ran the LNC 2016 quite well. I do think the back and forth with Tom Woods was unnecessary and counterproductive but overall I think Nick has been fine although I think anyone overtime in a leadership position becomes polarized whether they aim to be or not. (Anyone with enough time will have everything they say parsed and over analyzed resulting in factions for and against them, which is a good reason to have a regular rotation of leadership so these divisions don’t get too deep.)
71R: Who is your preferred LNC chairman?
Merced: I will be making an endorsement at some point and I am leaning towards Joshua Smith. Mainly, I’ve got to know him pretty well over the last several months and feel we have complementary skills and being from different coasts gives good exposure. Essentially you generally would want the Chair and Vice Chair to kind of be opposites, one to be a more calm figure looking to keep everyone together and the other one willing to be more willing to find a hill and fight to defend it. (I feel Sarwark and Vohra had many of these same complimentary features but Vohra especially is starting to become too divisive within the party for that pairing to survive 2018. I think I can work well with Nick although I think we overlap more so than compliment each other).
71R: Do you have plans to work together with a candidate for LNC Chair to replace Nick and Arvin together?
Merced: I consider everyone running for both positions friends and family. I hope to be amicable and work with everyone to make sure all the delegates know what their options are and vote for what they think will move the party forward the best.
71R: What kind of Libertarian do you consider yourself?
Merced: I stopped embracing particular labels long ago. Let me put it this way…
I want to give people more control over their life, body, and property and lessen governments control over it.
How far can that go? I’d love to find out. I’m always willing to push the envelope further in that goal but I don’t feel it’s necessary to make an absolute guess of how far the liberty agenda can push. How about we push, assess, then push further, repeat till you can’t push any further. The most important thing is to get people on the same page of pushing and that’s where I focus my energy.
71R: What else would you like people to know?
Merced: I’m an open book. I’ve over the last 10 years probably fallen into every libertarian sub-group you can think of at some point or other. Over 2000 videos on youtube document my intellectual evolution over the years. My convictions are deep and part of me, but I, more importantly, want to foster the asking of questions, the hope for a better tomorrow that’ll help others develop their own convictions.