Libertarian Party

MIAC Report: Ron Paul Supporters Labeled Domestic Terrorists?

Ron PaulThe general rule for me is if Alex Jones says it, don’t take it seriously. And that’s what I said on Thursday to several friends that e-mailed me a link to a story about how the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) basically correlates libertarians and more specifically supporters of Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin, with potentially being a domestic terrorist or member of a militia.

UK Hacking Home Computers Sans Warrants Likely to Increase

Though news of this sort cannot be considered unusual any longer, I still find it insufferable and mildly shocking.  The likelihood of a British citizen having their personal home computer hacked by government authorities, secretly and without a warrant, has increased.  Even more infuriating, this intrusion may be at the behest of a foreign nation, thanks to a recent plan adopted by the EU.

Since the hacking may proceed if an officer believes there is sufficient reason to believe it would help prevent or detect a serious crime, the obvious question is, who decides what is considered “sufficient reason” and what is to prevent abuse of these over-reaching powers?  If there is truly sufficient evidence, why wouldn’t a judge simply grant a warrant?  This would at least grant some oversight.

Obama is Anti-2nd Amendment

As a gun-owner and someone who has escaped injury due to private gun ownership at least three times, I pay attention to the voting records of candidates regarding the 2nd Amendment.

I recently wrote about the NRA’s disappointing endorsement of Senator John McCain, in spite of his clear record of being an enemy of the right’s of gun-owners.  A much more logical choice would have been 3rd party candidates Bob Barr or Chuck Baldwin, as an endorsement of Barack Obama would have been equally unthinkable.

Obama has claimed to be a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, but his voting record indicates otherwise.

Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director, Richard Pearson, has this to say about Senator Obama-

Libertarians choose electability over purity, immediately reap rewards

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If nothing else (and there’s a lot else), 2016 has been a story of the struggle between sanity and any number of other alternatives.

Republicans chose…well, you know. With the biggest, deepest bench of fresh-faced, experienced, diverse candidates in a generation, maybe ever, Republicans instead have chosen…again, you know. Not sanity, that’s for sure.

Democrats, forced to choose between a fire-breathing democratic socialist and a very experienced but very under-investigation stick of margarine. Everyone tells you it’s better than the alternative, but it’ll probably end up the opposite. Ironically, as the corruptocrat has neared her inevitable nomination, it’s the socialist who’s become more electable.

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Libertarians faced a similar choice this past weekend at their national convention. Gary Johnson was the frontrunner for president, and Bill Weld his choice for vice president, both experienced former Republican governors. Ironically it was exactly their extensive experience that became a liability at the convention.

More radical delegates vocally opposed Johnson and Weld in favor of ideological pure and consequently less well-known candidates. One of those candidates, Darryl Perry, who actually favors the dissolution of the United States, argued that increased media exposure and election funding for the Libertarian Party would kill it.

Our continued fight for liberty requires “Human Action”

Freedom from Bondage

In his epic work, Human Action, Ludwig von Mises outlines three conditions necessary before a person will act. All three conditions must be met:

  1. The person must feel an uneasiness with the current situation.
  2. The person must have a vision of something better.
  3. The person must have a belief that a particular action will make that better vision become reality.

If we hope to ever get large numbers of people interested in our ideas and willing to act to advance those ideas, we must devise a way to satisfy all three conditions in their minds.

The first condition presents no challenge. Most people already feel uneasiness with the current political setup. Nearly everyone wants a “change.”

But change, to what?

This is a tough question, and one that most people cannot answer. Most lack a clear and preferable alternate vision. They don’t meet Mises’ second criteria. This is what differentiates those of us who understand the philosophy of liberty. We possess the vision. We know what a truly free world would look like. And if we want people to go along with us, we must communicate and spread that vision.

But why don’t more of us do so? What prevents most of us who “get it” from dedicating ourselves to the cause of converting people? Why is there no domino effect, wherein our vision spreads from person to person, with each new convert taking purposeful action to spread the vision? Why do so many people become impassioned with liberty for a time, only to subsequently turn away from what seems to be an intellectual dead end? What prevents their flash of vision from turning into action? The answer is that many never fulfill Mises’ third condition. They lack hope for victory.

#IAmUnitedLiberty: How Reality TV Influenced Stephen Littau’s Libertarian Views

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Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and friends and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

In 1999, I was living in a small studio apartment in Phoenix by myself and three years into my career. As the 2000 campaign was underway, I wanted to learn about the candidates. The news wasn’t terribly informative as it mostly covered how well the candidates were polling rather than where they stood on the issues.

Due to this frustration, I did the one thing I had often made fun of my dad for doing: I started listening to talk radio. One day there was a substitute host on The Rush Limbaugh Show. The host’s name was none other than Walter E. Williams.

As I listened to him, I realized he made so much more sense than anyone else on the radio. It was a shame that he didn’t have a show of his own, I thought. And though I had heard the term “libertarian” before, I didn’t have much of an idea about what they really stood for. Walter Williams was my first introduction to libertarianism and I was always thrilled when he filled in for Rush.

Still, Walter Williams ideas, as good as they were seemed a little abstract. The abstract, however; became more concrete as I started watching the reality show COPS (though, I don’t think they called it “reality” TV back then).

Rand Paul leaves GOP, joins Libertarian Party

In a move that is sure to send shockwaves through the Washington establishment all the way to the 2016 presidential election, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has announced Tuesday morning that he is leaving the Republican Party and joining the Libertarian Party.

“I’m not leaving the party,” the Tea Party standard bearer said in a statement, “the party has left me.” Paul has long considered himself a libertarian Republican, so this announcement simplifies that description considerably, while leaving uncertain how he will caucus his votes in the Senate.

This also puts the younger Paul on the opposite trajectory as his father, former Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, who ran for President first as a Libertarian in 1988 then later as a Republican in 2008 and 2012.

Senator Paul has of course not officially announced his candidacy for President, but given his campaigning, fundraising, and network-building over the last two years, that is all but certain. It is unclear how this latest move affects those plans. Paul’s statement doesn’t mention the future 2016 campaign directly.

It is certainly a historic move, though. This makes Rand Paul officially the first Libertarian in Congress. In most years, there are Libertarian Party candidates for House and Senate races across the country, but they rarely get more than 1-5% of the general election vote. If anyone can improve on that performance, it may be a sitting US Senator.

However, it is unclear if Paul will have a chance to prove that any time soon. He is up for reelection for his Senate seat in 2016, but he may opt to run for President instead. Officials in his home state of Kentucky were already working to change state election law, which currently prohibits candidates from running for both Senate and President in the same election.

Lead By Example, Not With A Label

“I’m not sure how active I can be in the liberty movement while I’m building my business.”

That is pretty close to what I recall from a conversation over dinner last week, where I was having my brain picked by someone who is “dipping their toe” in the world of politics after previously being fairly apathetic.

The response to my guest was probably not what he expected, but it led us into a great conversation. I told him, “Lead by example, not with a label.”

While that may sound simplistic, I know many in the liberty movement who may as well wear a sign around their neck that says “I’M A LIBERTARIAN. HOW CAN I PISS YOU OFF TODAY?” Typically, these are the same people who cannot stop talking about the evils they perceive in government, pausing only to breathe and possibly to find their original point after they take the conversation off course. Unfortunately, these are the first and only conversations some hold with a libertarian.

Often, these libertarians are so consumed with “spreading the message” that they forgot conversations involve both talking AND, the more important aspect, listening. They have an agenda to push that will not be deterred by their conversation partner’s interests (or lack thereof), concerns, or beliefs. In my experience, this results in a very few follow-up conversations and even fewer converts.

I am guilty of doing this myself, but I sought a better way to build my own team for liberty. What I found was an easier path that is also a better way. By “walking the walk” conveyed in the talking points prepared for conversations, I found by being a positive example of libertarianism, people sought out to talk to me, instead of my constant searching for the next potential target/victim.

Incrementally Advancing Freedom

With relative success in the 2012 Presidential elections – considering Ron Paul in the Republican primary and Gary Johnson as the Libertarian candidate in the general – libertarians maintain our strongest position in modern history.  With opportunity in front of us, hopes abound to create a “broader freedom movement” – a term which rankles top libertarians.

With this opportunity comes risk – specifically, the risk of being co-opted again, a la Tea Party 2010 – therein diluting an otherwise powerful message.  With CPAC 2013 in the near term, the 2014 midterm elections in the – ahem – mid-term, and the 2016 Presidential election in the far-term, we should expect more posturing from establishmentarians, mostly on the Right, for their votes.

It might be tempting to reject all policy ideas that don’t immediately get us to the Promised Land, or to support policy ideas when we disagree with their proposed end states. I don’t think we have to do either/or.  I believe we can work incrementally within the existing framework to build bridges and, as the minority, work our ideas upward within a broader movement, strengthening both the broader movement and ourselves.

Messaging Strategy

When presented with new opportunities, the typical impulse for political movements on the Left and Right is to look for new policy positions to woo more voters.  But libertarians don’t have a policy problem; we have a messaging problem.

A Few Personal Observations From a Contentious Town Hall Meeting

assault weapons

This past Saturday, I decided to meet up with Colorado Libertarian Party members to take part in a town hall meeting at the Smoky Hill Library in Centennial, Colorado. Several members of the state legislature hosted the event: Sen. Nancy Todd (D-Sen. Dist. 28), John Buckner (D-House Dist. 40), and Su Ryden (D-House Dist. 36). Senate Majority Leader, Morgan Carroll (D-Dist.29) was a no show.

When I received the invitation, in my inbox, there were 11 others who RSVP’d to attend the event. I really had no idea if we would be the only individuals in attendance who would challenge these legislators or if we would be in good company. All I knew was all of these legislators would be Democrats in favor of most, if not all, of the gun control measures (at least in principle) being considered at the state capitol. I fully expected that we would be crashing their party.

As it turned out, the Colorado Libertarians who responded to the Meetup invitation were not the only party crashers (I’m not entirely clear on who was part of ‘our group’ and who wasn’t). Before the meeting, several of  us were outside with our pro-gun rights signs. Rep. Ryden and Sen. Todd were kind enough to talk with us briefly before the meeting started.

Just before the meeting started, we were advised to write down our questions on the 3X5 cards the meeting organizers provided to us rather than take random questions from the citizens. As the meeting progressed with a small number of the questions being read, many in attendance were not too pleased with this “I thought this was supposed to be a town hall meeting,” one person complained. About halfway into the meeting after several unsatisfactory answers from the legislators concerning the right to bear arms, one elderly gentleman stormed out.


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