When tragedy strikes in the form of a politically or religiously motivated violence, people across the spectrum come out of the woodwork to condemn some favorite media villain. Sometimes it’s video games or guns; but after the heartbreaking Christchurch mosque shooting, it was memes. Yes, those innocuous images and inside jokes people share were villainized because of the shooter’s actions. He referenced memes during and before his actions and the media ran with it, branding “crab rave” and popular YouTuber PewDiePie as alt-right dog-whistles.
Francis Folz | United States
The 2016 Presidential election will be remembered in history as a watershed moment for the modern American republic. Despite over three quarters of Americans desiring third party candidates on the debate stage, the old guard of both establishment Republicans and Democrats alike shut out any voices outside of the red and blue camp. Partisanship was put in maximum overdrive and on display in the nation that prides itself on freedom, yet limits its choices for representation to two candidates. It is no surprise that voter turnout reached a 20 year low in the latest contest between the lesser of the two evils. But as a citizenry comprised of sovereign, astute people, when do we collectively abandon evil and start voting for only exemplary candidates deserving our vote? That time is now.
Regardless of political affiliation, it is apparent to the majority of Americans that our Republic is coming apart at the seams. Whether it’s the rise of violence against political opponents or blind support for dishonest politicians, both sides of the aisle are engaged in a heightened sense of devoted loyalty to their political overlords, even at the expense of violating long-held principles and dogmas. For Democrats, their political figures have incited violence to rally their base at the expense of civility and their previously-held beliefs in peace and love. Meanwhile, Republicans have encouraged conformity while a newly embraced and adored leader slowly and subtlety moves his base farther to the left. This how Americans continue to forfeit their freedoms while their political powers maintain control.
This scenario is nothing new to the Democratic and Republican party, which have perfected the art of conning the American public into complaisant support for over a hundred years. After all, FDR and Wendell Willkie conspired to bring the two parties together to create one monolithic, hybrid party in the 1940’s. The two parties have been two different rails of the same track ever since. It should be no surprise that the Republican and Democratic party continue to team up to create large deficits, initiate endless conflicts abroad, and undermine our constitution and civil liberties.
The two parties possess a stranglehold over all of our election outcomes by successfully deceiving the public into thinking their candidates and parties are significantly distinguishable from one another. For example, the Republican party proclaims to be the cabal of the constitution, fiscal conservatism, ‘small’ government, gun rights, and life for the unborn. Yet since 2010, Republicans have trampled our Constitution and Bill of Rights, ballooned the federal deficit, grown the size of government, failed to pass concealed carry reciprocity and pro-life legislation.
The Democratic Party promulgates the narrative that they are the faction for the people, the workers, the 99 percent, civil liberties, and peace. Beginning in 2008, Democrats, led by newly- elected Barack Obama, passed legislation benefiting big banks, imploded the healthcare industry by rigging the rules in favor of corporations at the expense of taxpayers, curtailed our civil liberties by reauthorizing FISA 702, and pursued destructive warfare against seven different nations, three more than President Bush.
If Americans ever intend to recover the freedoms lost at the hands of the establishment duopoly, it will require a third party, as is evident by this years’ midterms. Take the state of Pennsylvania as a case study. Despite 41% of Pennsylvanians approving of the work Bob Casey has done in his second term as senator and only a mere 30% of Pennsylvanians believing the senator deserves a third term, he leads his Republican opponent by double digits in every poll. Lou Barletta shares more in common with his Democratic adversary than Pennsylvania’s conservative Republican base, which begs the question why the Republican party would nominate such a lackluster candidate.
Enter Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate Dale Kerns, Pennsylvania’s only choice for fiscally conservative, socially laissez-faire representation. Mr. Kerns passionately advocates for a sharp reduction to federal spending which has grown exponentially at the hands of both Republicans and Democrats. Also, he plans to take on the Federal Reserve for their role in growing our debt and inflating our currency almost 100 percent in its 100 years of existence.
The War on Drugs is yet another example of government overreach which has wreaked havoc on the American public. Over the last 40 years, the American prison population has exploded to 800% of its former size as a direct result of America’s toughness on victimless crimes. Coupled with mandatory minimums, more Americans are going to jail longer for misbehavior as deemed by society. To combat these victimless criminals, America has divulged into a police state. Dale recognizes these problems and the solutions necessary to fix them. After all, his campaign is centered around the premise that addiction is not a crime and that no one can run your life better than you. This serves as a stark contrast to Bob Casey and Bob Casey-Lite Lou.
At this point, most people interject and concede that although Dale Kerns may be the best candidate ideologically, he doesn’t stand a chance to win. It’s worth noting Donald Trump had a 1% chance of winning the presidency one day before the election, yet became the first Republican in almost 30 years to carry Pennsylvania on his way to the oval office. It is possible to elect any candidate despite all the preconceived odds stacked against the individual. However, people continue to choose the obsolete red and blue teams instead of principled alternatives. How come?
The answer lies in an unfounded notion that the establishment parties have ingrained in the American public. We are routinely fed the lie that third party candidates can’t win an election for no other reason than they are running outside of the two party duopoly. That lie is reinforced by minuscule media coverage of outsider candidates and inhibiting them from participating in televised debates. And then whenever five or seven percent of people decide to vote their conscience or against this unjust system, third party candidates are disparaged and delegitimized as, despite the countless flaws and missteps of the establishment nominees.
It is time for a second American revolution, only this struggle must be fought with dogmas and ideas, forged by a new political party. The old guards of American politics have enthroned themselves as our de-facto leaders, dictating everything from our economy to our health care to our behavior. Unfortunately, it’s abundantly evident that reform is impossible within our current, century-old two party system. It is time Americans embrace the freedom our Founding Fathers intended for us to enjoy, and it starts by embracing and electing third party candidates.
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By John Keller | United States
Since the presidential election of 2016, many have speculated that the Libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld endorsed Hillary Clinton before the election. Is this true?
In an interview with MSNBC on 30 September 2016, Bill Weld is credited with endorsing Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. He made the following statement:
“I’m not sure anybody is more qualified than Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States.” – Bill Weld
The question must be raised: Was Bill Weld wrong? Let’s take a look at the numbers. Seventeen presidents were former governors, what Gary Johnson’s job was. On the other hand, thirty-four presidents were former lawyers or secretaries, what Hillary Clinton’s career was. Even looking at the vice presidential picks, the Clinton Campaign was more “qualified”, whereas twenty-four vice presidents had been senators, as Tim Kaine was, and only sixteen vice presidents were governors, like Bill Weld.
But it is the second statement that Bill Weld makes that is forgotten by the media. He continued:
“I mean that’s not the end of the inquiry though. I mean, we were two-time governors and I think Gary is very, very solid. You know, at this point, we overlapped as governors and I thought highly of him back when we served together, but having spent the last several months with the guy, I mean I don’t even just like the guy I love the guy, I think he is very solid and deep. I think his insight that it pays to have some restraint about military incursions for the purpose of regime change before we still American blood on foreign soil and put boots in the ground in countries where we just don’t like what the government in that country is doing. I think that’s a valuable insight. I’m not sure it’s characterized the foreign policy of either Bush, the most recent Bush, or the Obama Administration and I think that might be a refreshing change. I think he and I could bring a much more tranquil approach to Government in Washington because we wouldn’t be screaming at one of the two parties about how stupid they are. We would work with them both.” – Bill Weld
Furthermore, the rest of the interview seems to be his expression in favor of Gary Johnson and himself for the national ticket. The next question that must be raised: was it wrong of Weld to speak in favor of Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Trump? He spoke plainly on MSNBC on the 30th of September of 2016:
“I do not view those two candidates the same way. I think very highly of Mrs. Clinton, I think she is very well qualified, I think she did a great job in the debate the other night. She kept her game face on… I thought Mr. Trump by the end of the debate was out of control…” – Bill Weld
Bill Weld was looking at it from a realist perspective in an unreal election cycle. Businessman against a career policy maker in the debates when unspoken traditions of policy discussion were broke. Mr. Trump threatening to jail his opponent was, to the common politician, very unprofessional. Threatening to lock up opponents in an election is commonplace in shame democracies that are in essence dictatorships, and it is not commonplace in a constitutional republic.
The total length of the interview with MSNBC on September 30, 2016, was seven minutes and forty seconds (7:40). Throughout the interview he made a few statements in favor of Mrs. Clinton, totaling thirty-four seconds (0:34). Thirty of those seconds was made responding to a question about the debates in which he was expressing that he thought Hillary Clinton performed better than Trump. No harm in expressing who you think won a debate the libertarians were even in, right? But the four seconds that killed him was the statement mentioned formerly in this article in which Bill Weld said, “I’m not sure anybody is more qualified than Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States.” However, the statement he followed that up his remark about Hillary Clinton was a one minute and four second (1:04) praise of Gary Johnson on how experience was the end of the inquiring and that Gary Johnson would be a better president than Hillary Clinton, although he may not necessarily be more “qualified”. Throughout the whole interview, thirty four seconds (0:34), or 7%, of the interview was expressing approval of Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Trump, and seven minutes and six seconds (7:06), or 93%, of the interview expressing that Gary Johnson and himself were the right choices for America.
The other moment in which many thought Bill Weld endorsed Hillary Clinton was on 1 November 2016 in an interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Many think that Bill Weld gave up on the campaign, but after failing to get into the debates it was clear the campaign strategy had to be re-examined. That is why Bill Weld made the realistic statement:
“I think in the real world that’s [aiming for 5% of the vote] probably correct… we thought for the longest time we might have a chance to run the table because we’re such nice guys and centrist party and etc etc, but not getting into the debates really sort of foreclosed that option. So now it is the 5%, your right.” – Bill Weld
Bill Weld was looking realistically at the coming election. The Republicans and Democrats had just spent millions of dollars to keep Gary Johnson out of the presidential debates and himself out of the vice presidential debate, keeping them at 12% national and then pushing them back down towards 2%. In order to have a successful ticket in the future, the Libertarian ticket knew they had to reach 5% to get matched federal funds, guaranteed ballot access, and more of being recognized as a major party. Although the goal changed, the message did not. In the same interview he gave the following statement:
“Well, we are making our case that we are fiscally responsible and socially inclusive and welcoming and we think we got, on the merits, the best ticket of the three parties if you will and so we would like to get there. Having said that, as I think you’re aware, I see a big difference in the R candidate and the D candidate, and I’ve can in some pains to say that I fear for the country should Mr. Trump be elected. I think it’s a candidacy without any parallel that I can recall. It’s content-free and very much given up to stirring up envy and resentment and even hatred and I think it would be a threat to the conduct of our foreign policy and our position in the world at large.”
It is clear the message had not changed, but the goal of the campaign had. He wanted to see a Libertarian presidency but the current, realistic climate made it impossible, and so he expressed when asked about referring to Trump as “unstable” during the interview:
“Oh yeah, yeah I mean that psychologically.” – Bill Weld
In the research done in this article, I am of the opinion that Bill Weld did not endorse Hillary Clinton and that a study of what was actually said proves he supported the Libertarian message to the end of the campaign. Although the goal of the campaign may have changed in the end weeks, and he may have preferred one candidate over the other in terms of the duopoly, he stood by the libertarian message through the end of the campaign and even continues to fight for libertarian principles today.
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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.
Craig Axford | United States
It’s become fashionable to depict our species as a greedy, stupid, and unprincipled killing machine. Unquestioning acceptance of the idea that everywhere we go we leave nothing but death and destruction in our wake has become almost compulsory in many circles.
This one-sided view of humanity is dispiriting to say the least. In addition to failing to consider the big picture or take the long view, it’s a narrative that tends to undermine the very values those proclaiming it claim to hold dear.
Consider the “obituary” published for the Great Barrier Reef in the October 11, 2016 issue of Outside Magazine.This unfortunate commentary will hopefully go down in history as one of the greatest premature pronouncements in history.
The obit for the largest coral reef ecosystem on the planet declared that after 25 million years in existence that included numerous environmental changes, at least a few of which were pretty stressful even relative to current events, Homo sapiens proved to be too much for the reef to handle. According to the article “The Great Barrier Reef was predeceased by the South Pacific’s Coral Triangle, the Florida Reef off the Florida Keys, and most other coral reefs on earth.” In the final sentence the author asks mourners to send donations to the Ocean Ark Alliance “in lieu of flowers”.
But why would anyone bother with a donation to a conservation organization dedicated to saving ecosystems that have just been declared dead? Even if this piece of hyperbole was intended to scare people into action, as presumably it was, the only reasonable emotional response to this sort of rhetoric is a paralyzing mortification.
Coral reefs are, of course, vital ocean ecosystems that are facing increasing stress from climate change, pollution, and other impacts associated with human activity. That we need to do more to protect these and other areas isn’t in dispute. However, urging people to act by falsely advertising the moment to save a particular ecosystem has passed is like including a solicitation for funds to facilitate grandma’s recovery with a premature announcement of her memorial service.
Humans have been having a profound impact upon the environment for quite some time. For example, a major extinction event on the continent of Australia has been strongly linked to the arrival of people there roughly 45,000 years ago. That the first humans to arrive in North America may have pushed much of the megafauna there over the edge has also long been the subject of considerable speculation. It’s widely understood that before European settlers arrived indigenous peoples in the Americas engaged in intensive agriculture.
However, it’s important that past interactions with the environment be considered in context. The state of human knowledge at the time is relevant to any judgment we might care to make regarding past human activities. To say that concepts like population biology and ecology were merely foreign to our ancestors is to risk underestimating the degree of human ignorance relative to our own throughout most of human history. They lacked the information needed to even speculate about the possibility of many of the theories that we take for granted today. Just 200 years ago the idea that humans might actually be able to engage in agricultural and industrial activity on a scale that would change the global climate would have been extremely difficult to imagine and impossible to demonstrate using the available data.
The good news is that as our understanding of the natural world has grown, our desire to protect it has generally increased as well. Just in the United States alone the Endangered Species Act, Wilderness Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Antiquities Act, and the creation of the National Park Service all serve as prominent examples of legislation that reflect changes in values that can be directly linked to increases in our knowledge.
Globally efforts to protect habitat and conserve resources have also seen dramatic advances. According to the World Bank, between 1990 and 2016 the amount of land under some form of protected status rose from 8.2% to 14.4%. Terrestrial and marine areas combined receiving some form of protection increased from 6.2% to 12.8% between 1990 and 2014.
Though greater optimism is justified, it shouldn’t be unconditional or uninformed. Realistic evaluations of the challenges we face and accurate assessments of both our progress and our failures are necessary to building and maintaining any momentum we might achieve. However, we have fallen into the habit of focusing almost exclusively upon our failures while minimizing, ignoring, or even denying our progress. The environmental movement, in particular, seems to have turned cheerleading for pessimism into a kind of dystopian art.
This toxic atmosphere of continually pending disaster has left people increasingly convinced that government is a failure and other institutions are utterly unresponsive to growth in human knowledge or evolving social values. To see the cost of this distrust and cynicism one need look no further than the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Humanity has, to be sure, failed at times. Like its individual members, our species makes mistakes. Sometimes we need to make them a number of times before the lesson of those mistakes begins to sink in. Positive change doesn’t occur everywhere at once or at the same pace everywhere it is happening. But celebrating our successes is as essential to persuading others to join us as data. Happy warriors are much better at recruiting new soldiers than those urging people to join a lost cause. The world could use a few more happy warriors at the moment.
Other recent articles by Craig include: Winter Is Pub Season, But The Rest Of The Year Belongs To Nature & Equality: The Yeast That Makes Liberty Rise