LP.org: Libertarian presidential hopefuls: Now there are 2 … or 3?

Adam Kokesh speaking at a mic wearing dark blazer, open-collar shirt (color photo)

Adam Kokesh, veterans’ advocate and candidate for the 2020 Libertarian presidential nomination

Both Adam Kokesh and Gov. Bill Weld have been appearing at numerous state Libertarian Party conventions this year, and now both have attended the party’s biennial national convention, which ran through July 3 at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans. Kokesh has announced he will seek the Libertarian Party nomination for president. Although Weld has so far not stated an interest in running, his attendance at so many state conventions signals a probable candidacy. Recent Libertarian National Committee Vice Chair Arvin Vohra added his name to the mix after losing his bid to be reelected to his party office, announcing his own candidacy for the Libertarian presidential nomination.

Kokesh came to national attention as a leader in Iraq Veterans Against the War after returning from Fallujah, Iraq, where he had volunteered to serve with a Marine Corps Civil Affairs team. According to his website, Kokesh ”has been arrested over three dozen times for protesting, smoking cannabis, not smoking cannabis, cursing, filming on the sidewalk, and even dancing.” He is author of the 2015 book Freedom! While in New Orleans, he led the March to End the Epidemic of Veteran Suicides in a route extending from the New Orleans Veterans Medical Center to the Libertarian convention venue.

“Veterans support the Libertarian Party,” said Kokesh, “because Republicans and Democrats don’t seem to care about 20 veteran suicides a day. End the drug war; free the V.A.! We march on the Libertarian National Convention in solidarity with our fallen brothers and sisters, because it is only the Libertarian Party that has a real solution to this horrific epidemic of Veteran suicides.” Kokesh said he wants to “maximize freedom for everyone I can, by localizing government so everyone gets what they want out of it. I’m running for president to turn the election into a referendum to end the federal government and become its bankruptcy trustee.”

Weld is a former Republican governor of Massachusetts with a libertarian-leaning record of social tolerance and fiscal prudence. He joined the Libertarian Party after former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson asked him to seek its vice-presidential nomination for the 2016 campaign, and he served as Johnson’s running mate that year.

Bill Weld

Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts, the 2016 Libertarian vice-presidential nominee

In his Libertarian National Convention address at a $100-per-plate luncheon, Weld explained his views that many government functions need to be privatized, using social service deliveries as an example. He called for wide-reaching criminal justice reform, cited racial disparity in the enforcement of drug laws, and called for a public health response to drug addiction rather than our current criminal justice disaster. He spoke strongly against gun control, citing the historical precedent of numerous tyrannical governments having banned guns before drastically curtailing their citizens’ liberty, or worse.

Weld also said that has come to terms with Steve Forbes’s idea for a 20 percent flat tax to replace the income tax, although it should be noted that the 2018 Libertarian Party platform says, “We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service,” and “We support any initiative to reduce or abolish any tax, and oppose any increase on any taxes for any reason.”

Weld said that troops should come home from Afghanistan now or they never will. He repudiated U.S. attempts to foment “regime change” abroad. He posited that the Libertarian Party could be a force in 2020 presidential politics, and that significant political change can come from unexpected places, citing President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron as candidates who came out of nowhere and won. When asked about his own presidential ambitions, he said that there are many good Libertarians, including Adam Kokesh, who could fill that role, and emphasized, “I want to shatter the Democratic–Republican duopoly in politics, and I want to help Libertarians do it.”

Arvin Vohra in suit tie speaking at lectern labeld with Libertarian national convention'

Arvin Vohra, the 2018 Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, a candidate for the 2020 Libertarian presidential nomination, and former LNC vice chair

Vohra, who announced his presidential candidacy on July 3, has long been adamant that the Libertarian Party should never compromise on any of its more controversial proposals. Libertarian Party opposition to the drug war dates back as the 1970s, and Vohra cites this as being correct but unpopular then, as well as a pioneering effort to make drug legalization a popular political reality today. He drew criticism last year for repeated calls to abolish all public schools, but contends that those who do not use public schools should not have to pay for them and calls public education ”welfare for the middle class.”

Vohra pledges to, if elected, work to shut down foreign military bases, end U.S. involvement in foreign civil wars, bring the troops home, eliminate the Department of Education and the Food and Drug Administration, massively downsize our 17 redundant spy agencies, defund the NSA mass surveillance program, abolish the Patriot Act, end the war on drugs, end all crop subsidies, cut all spending to 1992 levels, and abolish the federal income tax.

More than 1,000 Libertarians are paving the way in 2018 by running for local, state, and federal office this year. The 2018 Libertarian National Convention is the largest convention outside a presidential nominating year in 14 years. An esof activists have attended the convention, participating activist workshops and taking care of convention business such as electing officers for the next term.

36 thoughts on “LP.org: Libertarian presidential hopefuls: Now there are 2 … or 3?

  1. Anthony Dlugos

    Kokesh:

    I’m running for president to turn the election into a referendum to end the federal government and become its bankruptcy trustee.”

    Presumably, he has a law degree with a concentration in bankruptcy law, and some previous experience as a bankruptcy trustee in the individual or corporate world, or has attempted such a task on the public side in some political jurisdiction somewhere?

    I’d hate to think he’s suggesting his first attempt at liquidating an organization would be the the U.S. government. That would make him insane.

  2. Andy

    So now Bill Weld supposedly supports gun rights. It would have been nice if he would have done that while on the campaign trail as the LP’s VP nominee. It would also be nice if he had not lied to Libertarian National Convention delegates in Orlando, by claiming to support gun rights while at the convention, and then campaigning against gun rights after winning the nomination.

  3. Andy

    Kokesh has campaign volunteers who are attorneys who are working with him to write out the details of his liquidate the federal government plan.

  4. Anthony Dlugos

    lol. okay. he’s a shoo-in.

    I’d like to meet these attorneys. Who is it? Charlie “Bird Law” Kelly?

    In any case, he said HE was going to be the bankruptcy trustee.

    When has he been a bankruptcy trustee? What are his credentials for that job?

  5. Andy

    What credentials does Bill Weld have to be Commander-In-Cheif of the US military, which is one of the duties of the President of the USA? Bill Weld has never been in the military as far as I know. Adam Kokesh was in the Marines. So going by your standards, isn’t Adam Kokesh more qualified in this regard than Bill Weld?

  6. Anthony Dlugos

    Commander-in-chief is a civilian, not a military position, so Governor Weld is more qualified than Kokesh, on account of his previous elective office experience.

    I guess Kokesh would be more qualified if the role was staff sergeant.

    Does Kokesh intend on abolishing the military too?

    What is his previous experience in abolishing government programs, at any level?

  7. Andy

    What is Bill Weld’s experience in cutting government? Yes, Weld did cut government by a small amount (maybe 3%, or something like that) during his first two years as Governor, but he grew the size of government during the rest of his time as Governor, and he left the state government in Massachusetts bigger than it was when he became Governor by the time he left office.

    Bill Weld also has a long history of supporting politicians who increased the size of government, such as George HW Bush, George W Bush, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich, to name a few. He also thinks that Hillary Clinton is wonderful.

  8. Steven Berson

    Add in John McAfee as a likely re-tread in the list. Between him, Kokesh, Weld and Vohra is pretty poor pickings to me. I would much prefer to get behind someone more in the center between the pragmatist/purist divide (with Weld on one negative extreme, and Kokesh/Vohra on the other, and McAfee on his own gonzo bonkers branch)
    ALSO:
    Does anyone know if there is any validity to the rumors that Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, is also planning a run?

  9. Anthony Dlugos

    “Does anyone know if there is any validity to the rumors that Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, is also planning a run?”

    He’s a politically motivated rich person, so he is certainly considering it.

  10. Andy

    Patrick Byrne running would be very interesting. His company, Overstock.com, was the first major online retailer to accept payment in Bitcoin, and he has spoken at Porcrest, and he donated money to the LP Mises Caucus.

  11. Anthony Dlugos

    paulie,

    do we know that is true? It is Andy we are talking about, and I have a hard time believing the CEO of a publicly traded company would donate money to the “Mises Caucus,” and an even harder time believing he would believe their garbage or associate with a gaggle of losers.

  12. Anthony Dlugos

    but yes, a donation plus any sort of sympathy for them would be an absolute disqualification.

  13. Andy

    Foolish statement from Paul.

    You know, it is funny that back in 2006, Paul and I petitioned in Auburn, AL, and we gathered signatures to place a guy who worked at the Mises Institute on the ballot for state legislature as an LP candidate. While there, Paul and I both went inside the Mises Institute several times, and the candidate who worked there even gave us a tour. Paul displayed no rabid hostility like he does today. Now he acts like the Mises Institute is the great Satan, and anyone associated with it in any way is processed by this great Satan.

    Oh, Paul also donated money to Ron Paul for President in 2008.

    So now, Tom Woods, Andrew Napolitano, Doug Casey, Ron Paul, Walter Block, Thomas DiLorenzo, and anyone else associated with the Mises Institute are all trash according to Paul, and without even hearing anything that Peter Byrne has to say, Paul is willing to dismiss him as a candidate for office, because he sent Michael Heise a donation for the Mises Caucus (I think it was like $5,000). Byrne could have the makings of a really good candidate, if he decides to run for office, but if we are to take Paul’s advice, we should all dismiss him just because he sent Michael Heise a donation. This strikes me as irrational.

    Does anyone else here agree with Paul, that Peter Byrne, the founder and CEO of Overstock.com, the first major online retailer to accept payment in Bitcoin, should automatically be disqualified just for sending a donation to the Mises Caucus? So do not listen to anything he has to say, just disqualify him for consideration based on this?

    This strikes me as being mentally ill.

  14. paulie Post author

    Yes, I used to be in denial about the dark side of the “paleo” libertarians. It’s become a lot more clear to me more recently as it has helped pave the way for the altreich and “libertarians” for Trump.

  15. Andy

    Oh, Paul also supported John Sophecleus as the LP’s candidate for Governor of Alabama in 2002, and John Sophecleus is also associated with the Mises Institute, and he is in fact still on their website to this day.

    So if we are going to play the game of irrational guilt-by-association, Paul needs to disqualify himself from support for anything.

    Sophecleus was involved with a 3rd amendment lawsuit involving the government quartering highway/road workers on his property. I never heard what the outcome of that lawsuit was.

  16. Anthony Dlugos

    “Tom Woods, Andrew Napolitano, Doug Casey, Ron Paul, Walter Block, Thomas DiLorenzo…”

    Yikes. Hide your unenumerated rights from that crew.

  17. Thomas Knapp

    Given the current speculative field of Weld v. Kokesh v. Vohra, I’d have to go with Vohra.

    Subtract Vohra from the equation and I’m on NOTA.

    But I doubt that speculative field will be what we actually see.

    I’d support a “moderate” candidate with an impressive resume if that candidate could bring himself to not run 180 degrees against the LP’s platform, and especially to to not emphasize the issues on which he does disagree with the party (e.g. “we do not support the legalization of drugs other than marijuana”).

  18. Andy

    Tom, I am surprised you are so opposed to Adam Kokesh.

    Between Kokesh, Vohra, and Weld, I would vote Kokesh. Between Vohra and Weld, I would vote Vohra. Weld is absolutely unacceptable.

    Adam Kokesh has a very good introduction to the liberty movement book in Freedom, plus he has around 230,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, with around 66 million views, and lots of good videos on a wide variety of topics related to liberty. If he won the nomination in 2020, lots of people would be exposed to his book and his videos (which are also posted to DTube which is connected to the Steem platform), which would be a good thing.

    If more people, like Larry Sharpe, or Patrick Byrne, or anyone else, enters the race, this could change things.

    I spoke to Michael Heise a little while ago, and he confirmed the story about Patrick Byrne.

  19. paulie Post author

    Oh, Paul also supported John Sophecleus as the LP’s candidate for Governor of Alabama in 2002, and John Sophecleus is also associated with the Mises Institute, and he is in fact still on their website to this day.

    I’ve never seen Soph associated with the kind of nonsense coming from the LP “Mises” caucus.

    So if we are going to play the game of irrational guilt-by-association, Paul needs to disqualify himself from support for anything.

    It’s not a secret that I used to defend the “Mises” institute quite a bit. I’ve done so in past IPR threads. I’ve always been aware of their nasty undercurrent of dog whistle bigotry but chose to minimize it in my own mind. With what I have seen of how it has metastasized into the alt right and much overlap with the cult of Drumpf, the rise of far right nationalism globally and the support it gathers from the Rockwell-Hoppe bunch, I can no longer ignore it. That doesn’t mean I would write off everyone who was ever associated with it. Jeff Tucker for example is doing good work these days from what I have seen and he used to work there.

  20. Steven Berson

    Patrick Byrne has spoken at the Mises Institute on a number of occasions, the last time I think about 2 years ago – videos of these are available on the net and are easily found with a Google search. That does not necessarily mean that he has donated to the LP Mises Caucus – which is not the same thing as speaking at the Institute.

  21. Thomas Knapp

    Quoth Andy:

    “Tom, I am surprised you are so opposed to Adam Kokesh.”

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that I am “so opposed” to Kokesh. To the best of my recollection I’ve never made any public statement about Kokesh that could really be considered negative at all.

    I find a lot of his specific activities worthwhile. He’s certainly hard-working as an activist, and I view much of what he does more positively than many do. He puts himself out there, he’s not afraid to take personal risks of being arrested in civil disobedience, etc.

    On the other hand, while I I find his approach to a presidential campaign interesting, I don’t find it particularly compelling. I don’t think it would be wildly successful on any of the metrics I consider important in a presidential campaign. I don’t think it would rack up impressive vote totals, nor do I think it would have the effect of focusing positive public attention on the party’s principles or platform, nor do I think it would bring in new party activists of any type other than the type that we’re already fairly successful at bringing in, although it might be slightly more successful with that type.

    To put it a different way, Kokesh is pursuing a campaign strategy — making a presidential election a referendum on the existence of the state itself — for which we already have a better-known, more experienced, better-qualified candidate who already gets a plurality (and sometimes a majority) in every presidential election: NOTA.

    If we want to make a presidential election the kind of referendum that Kokesh wants it to be — I’m not necessarily saying we should, but if we want to — we should nominate NOTA and then campaign for NOTA.

    If the party nominates Kokesh, I don’t think I’ll have any problem at all voting for him or working to support his campaign. But of the existing prospective contenders, he is not my choice. Not because I am “so opposed” to him, but because I don’t prefer him. Or, more accurately, his strategy.

  22. Andy

    Patrick Byrne did donate $5,000 to the LP Mises Caucus. I spoke to Michael Heise, the founder and head of the LP Mises Caucus, yesterday and he confirmed this to me.

  23. Andy

    Tom, Adam Kokesh is running on the same platform that Darryl W. Perry ran on in 2016. You supported Perry in 2016, so why would you not get behind Kokesh for 2020?

  24. Andy

    People vote NOTA, or do not vote at all, for a variety of reasons, and it is not necessarily a vote against the existence of the state.

  25. Thomas Knapp

    “Tom, Adam Kokesh is running on the same platform that Darryl W. Perry ran on in 2016.”

    I disagree. But even if I didn’t …

    “so why would you not get behind Kokesh for 2020?”

    I didn’t get behind Darryl until the field had had time to form, and then I chose from the available candidates.

    I will do the same thing this time.

    Right now, of the available prospective candidates, I don’t prefer Kokesh to Vohra or NOTA. As the field changes, my preference might change as well.

  26. Andy

    How was Darryl W. Perry’s platform different from that of Adam Kokesh? Perry also called for shutting down the federal government.

  27. Thomas Knapp

    “How was Darryl W. Perry’s platform different from that of Adam Kokesh?”

    Perry: “I believe … that the United States government, as it exists today, should be abolished!” [Accompanied by a ton of specific issues positions that pretty clearly imply he doesn’t think the president has the power to simply dissolve the federal government by executive order and instead will have to do things at the policy level other than ordering the dissolution of the federal government]

    Kokesh: “The platform is simple. When elected, I will swear in, walk to the White House, and sign one executive order. This executive order will lay out the process for dissolving the federal government in a peaceful, orderly manner.”

    Perry favors abolition of the federal government, but he ran for president.

    Kokesh favors abolition of the federal government and is positioning his candidacy as a referendum on that, not a presidential campaign — “Kokesh for Not-President.”

    There’s a difference.

  28. ATBAFT

    That’s great! A one plank platform for the LP: “Abolish the Federal Government.” Maybe the corpse of Murray Rothbard will be re-joining the LP but I seriously doubt many others will respond to this ultimate in macho-flashing.

  29. Seebeck

    Kokesh needs to realize that liquidating the federal government will not raise the $21T to pay off the debt, and even if it did, then more debt will be accumulated to rebuild the Hydra, because the sheeple want their Big Nanny.

    Agree with Tom in part. Right now, this Prez field is pretty lame. I would do better, but I’m neither rich enough nor crazy enough to even consider running. Drop me a PowerBall jackpot and we’d talk about it.

  30. Anthony Dlugos

    Kokesh has nothing better to do.

    I agree wholeheartedly with TK that Kokesh appears to be a hard-working activist, and appears willing to put his money where his mouth is, and on multiple occasions. Doesn’t make him qualified at all for public office, though. Especially THE public office.

    On the other hand, it concerns me that an activist would even WANT the position of president. True activists would comprehend the nature of the compromising involved and refuse even the thought of taking the office on principle. Either he doesn’t realize this, or its some kind of publicity stunt. Either way, we can’t waste the highest profile elective campaign on the planet indulging him. As I’ve told a couple other people in the party with the activist mentality: the worst thing that could ever happen to them would be to be elected to any public office executive position. Once they realized how constrained the office is, they’d understand they got elected to what would seem like a prison cell. Multiple career politicians who end up President remark about how limited their options are once they take the office. Imagine what an activist would think when faced with a federal bureaucracy that don’t give a sh*t about orders from a person who has about 5 minutes before they have to start thinking about an election again.

    As an aside, you can expect the presidential field for our ticket to be “pretty lame” this far out. Heck, the democratic and republican fields are “lame” too. Anyone legitimately qualified (meaning they have something to lose, reputation if nothing else) is going to wait until much closer to the election itself before announcing. The more they have to lose, the longer they’d wait.

    Running for president as a Libertarian creates a multitude of problems that running as a Demopublican does not, the least of which is that there isn’t a machine behind them that can protect our candidates. Anyone defecting from the dinosaur parties would need to see a perfect scenario unfold and would wait for the very last moment to announce. They’d be putting a political career they spent an entire lifetime putting together for what would amount to a long shot bid, backed by a party that doesn’t have the resources to protect them.

  31. paulie Post author

    Patrick Byrne did donate $5,000 to the LP Mises Caucus. I spoke to Michael Heise, the founder and head of the LP Mises Caucus, yesterday and he confirmed this to me.

    He lies a lot, so it’s possible he told you the truth, or not.

  32. paulie Post author

    Adam Kokesh is running on the same platform that Darryl W. Perry ran on in 2016. You supported Perry in 2016, so why would you not get behind Kokesh for 2020?

    Too much friendliness with and support with paleo/altreich sources, lack of response to IPR written questions, self-admitted dictatorial personality that has led to repeated and contentious staff shakeups.

  33. paulie Post author

    Maybe the corpse of Murray Rothbard will be re-joining the LP

    Or support David Duke, or the Cheeto Benito Don Drumpf, or Kim Jong Un. Who knows, if crazy old uncle Murray could be brought back from the dead he maybe would go through a Bernie Sanders phase?

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