HICKORY, N.C. (April 16) – R. Lee Wrights, a longtime libertarian writer and activist, announced today at the N.C. Libertarian Party State Convention that he will be seeking the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States. Here is his statement:
“I’m returning to the place where this campaign began … ten years ago. North Carolina is where I was born, where I grew up and where I became involved in the Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement. It’s here in North Carolina that the seed for this campaign was planted and nourished.
“For the past two years, as I’ve traveled around the country visiting Libertarian groups, people — especially young people — have been asking me: ‘Why isn’t the Libertarian Party out front in opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why isn’t the LP anti-war? Why aren’t we demanding that we bring the troops home.’ I heard this over and over again, and the message was quite strong at the 2010 national convention in St. Louis.
“After hearing from all these activists, it was clear to me that they were right. It was clear to me that the Libertarian Party — and our nation — is tired of war. It became clear to me that it was time for someone in the Libertarian Party to start talking about this issue. And it became clear to me that that someone must be me.
“On July Fourth, appropriately, I formed a presidential exploratory committee because I believe the Libertarian Party faces a critical test in 2012 and I want to make sure that we’re up to the challenge. The Libertarian message in 2012 must be loud, clear, and unequivocal — stop all war! Stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop the war on drugs and alternative lifestyles, stop the war on civil liberties. Stop All War!!
“Now, those of you who know me, and there are many in this room, are probably wondering ‘Lee Wrights calling for us to stop all war.’ Do pigs fly?
Yes, I know I have a bit of a reputation as a warrior. I know what it’s like to wake up every day angry. For most of my life, that’s what I lived with. Starting every day with a new dose of anger, and ready to battle whatever circumstance life decides to throw at you that day. Life becomes a struggle that fuels even more anger. It can be a dangerous way to live — for the individual and for anyone he comes in contact with.
“But I also know what it is like to live in fear, fear generated by war, and the threat of war. As one of the younger members of the ‘baby boomer’ generation, I grew up during a time when the nightly news offered, on all of the three channels we received, a daily dose of battlefields and body bags. Jungle warfare in a far away land didn’t seem so far away to a six-year-old boy watching it unfold before him in his living room every night at suppertime.
“It was the Atomic Age, and in school we were taught to ‘duck and cover,’ to get under our desks if they dropped the Big One on us. We heard that the world on the verge of Nuclear War, and a beloved president was gunned down in cold blood. Race riots were going on, it seemed, everywhere. Anti-war protests turned into violent and deadly confrontations.
“Like many baby boomers, I grew up afraid of being sent to this horrible place called “war.”
“Now we are raising yet another a generation of children who have known nothing but war. There has been war their whole lives. It is time we allowed our children to know the freedom only peace can bring them.
“War is a vicious cycle, that people lock themselves into without every realizing they have a choice… not being at war. My life has taught me that the first step to ending war … any war … is to make the clear and conscience declaration: “I am not at war.”
“So I say to you, my libertarian family and friends: I am not at war. I am still a warrior, but I am not at war.
“We must Stop the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must Stop the War on drugs and alternative lifestyles, we must Stop the War on civil liberties, we must Stop the Wars on food, healthcare, guns – you name it.
“We have waged war on poverty since the 60’s, and people are still poor.
“We have waged war on ignorance since the 70’s, and our children still cannot read, write, or critically think.
“We have gallantly fought the Demon Drugs for decades, and all we have done is put more people in prison for non-violent crimes than any other nation, while funding terrorists who kill people all over the world.
“We have never won any of these wars. We never will.
“It is time to Stop All War!
“It’s time to stop supporting politicians, regardless of party, who don’t even come close to fulfilling their campaign promises. Democrats and Republicans have used myriads of excuses to wage War, and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 are just the most current excuse!
“There is absolutely no doubt that 9/11 was a terrible, horrendous event – a double tragedy.
“First and most obvious tragedy was murder of 3,000 people.
“But the second tragedy was more subtle, and perhaps more devastating — like tremors following a major earthquake. The terrorists achieved exactly what they set out to do. By killing only a few thousand citizens, along with themselves, they were able to send untold millions into such a panic that they have turned their backs on the very principles this great country was founded and built upon.
“Lying buried beneath the tons of stone and steel that once was the World Trade Center, along with thousands of innocent Americans killed, are the remains of those precious American siblings — Liberty and Freedom.
“Politicians — Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives — have manipulated this calamity to instill mindless fear in Americans, to divide us, and to con us into surrendering more and more of our liberty to insure our security.
“This is the greatest tragedy we now face as a nation; the State’s manipulation of fear.
“It’s fear that causes people to act and think in ways they never would in its absence.
“It’s fear that turns brother against brother and allows politicians to rob citizens of their riches and freedom.
“It’s fear that causes citizens to willingly sacrifice their liberty before the great false god of Security, promised them by a government that seeks to enslave them.
“It’s fear that government uses as a deflection in the hopes that citizens will not notice the real terror that is produced by the parties that control its Houses.
“It’s fear that government uses to keep you distracted, swatting flies while their vultures pick your bones.
“President Obama was elected on a platform of winding down and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Instead of supporting the troops by bringing them home, he has sent thousands more young men and women to die needlessly to prop up a corrupt government in Afghanistan, calling it a war of necessity. It is no so thing.
“Now he’s committed the United States to another unnecessary, immoral and unconstitutional war in Libya, in direct violation of his oath of office, calling it a humanitarian war. It is no such thing.
“The President has also reneged on his promise to reverse the trampling of civil liberties begun under the Bush Administration. He’s done just the opposite:
“He’s expanded federal power to invade our privacy and curtail our rights.
“He might not call it the ‘war on terror,’ but President Obama still uses 9/11 as an excuse to justify voiding the Bill of Rights.
“He signed yet another extension of the deceptive Patriot Act.
“We’re all now suspects, not sovereigns.
“President Obama has contradicted his campaign promise to bring us together. Instead of seeking compromise and reconciliation, he turns every issue he faces into a War by labeling anyone who opposes him as an enemy.
“No one is safe from being labeled an ‘enemy of the state’ and incurring the wrath of the federal government’s war-making power. The United States continues to keep hundreds of people prisoner – indefinitely – under the excuse that they are “enemy combatants,” even though no war has been declared.
“What is most frightening and appalling of all is that President Obama has sanctioned the assassination of an American citizen, making himself judge, jury and executioner, in total disregard for the rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
“So where does that leave us?
“2012 is absolutely critical year for the Libertarian Party. The race for the Libertarian Presidential nomination must not be about personalities, not about radicals and reformers, but rather about principles — the basic, core principles all libertarians believe in.
“Stopping all Wars begins with stopping the War around ourselves and within our Party. Fellow libertarians are not the enemy. The statists are the enemy!
“We don’t need to refine, revise or remake the libertarian message! Instead, we must embrace it, wear it proudly and not be afraid to speak truth to power.
“As I have traveled and visited with libertarian groups these past few months, it has been made clear to me that the Libertarian Party is ready to champion this message, and that it’s a message that resonates with people outside of the party. Just look at all the reappearance of all the hippie anti-war signs and paraphernalia of the ’60s.
“I wish I had kept my tie-dye shirts, but they probably wouldn’t fit me.
“One of the slogans I recall was ‘What if they gave a war but nobody came.’ If enough of us say, ‘I am not at war’ they can’t have them anymore.
“Now I have come full cycle … returning to my roots, to my home state, to announce to you, my libertarian family and friends that I am a candidate for the 2012 Libertarian nomination for President of the United States of America. And if I am honored to earn the nomination of the Libertarian Party, I intend to take the Stop All War message to all 50 states.
“And I begin my campaign for the Libertarian nomination and the presidency with a Declaration of Peace. When I take the oath of office at noon January 20, 2013, I will issue a Declaration of Peace and proclaim to the world that the United States of America is at peace with itself, with its people, and with the world.
“My first order of business will be to disengage the United States from the tangle of misguided, immoral and unconstitutional military conflicts we are involved in by using the same authority and power as Commander-in-Chief so many presidents have abused to get us mired in these quagmires in the first place.
“I’ll make this intent clear to everyone — the incumbent president, the Congress and most significantly the Joint Chiefs of Staff — during the campaign.
“In the months prior to my inauguration, I’ll communicate directly to the Joint Chiefs and tell them straight out: I fully expect you to have a withdrawal plan in your hands, ready to be implemented, by the time I put my hand on the Bible to take the presidential oath. I expect that plan will cover a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and all other ‘wars of choice’ and combat areas to be completed no more than 90 days from my inauguration. I expect the plan will allow for complete removal of U.S. troops from non-combat areas, including Korea, Japan and Germany, within one year from my inauguration.
“Finally, I will tell them they are authorized to use whatever force is necessary to respond to any direct attack on U.S. forces during this withdrawal.
“My goal will be that by January 20, 2014, the only U.S. troops abroad (unless we’ve been attacked and are fighting our actual attackers) will be U.S. embassy guards. But that is just the beginning. Again, using the power and authority many presidents have abused and misused, I will stop the wars on the American people and refuse to enforce any law that is unconstitutional.
“That means I’ll be telling the Attorney General and the director of the FBI to stop enforcing unconstitutional drug laws, and to drop any prosecutions already underway under these laws, unless the charges involved an act of violence.
“I’ll also direct the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the heads of our intelligence agencies and any other executive department involved to stop the illegal spying on and harassment of Americans for exercising the right to free speech under the guise fighting terrorism.
“As the 2012 Libertarian nominee for president I am ready, willing and able to take this bold stand, and I will not be afraid or shy away from speaking truth to power. I haven’t done so in the past, and I won’t start now. I will carry the bold, solid, simple and clear libertarian message – Stop All War – to all 50 states. I will proudly stand beside any Libertarian running for U.S. Congress or local office who is willing to join me in proclaiming that message.
“And to support that end, ten percent of all campaign donations I receive will spent for ballot access for the Libertarian Party so that the Stop All War! message can be heard in all fifty states.
“It is time to Stop All War!
“Please join me.”