Wrights to seek Libertarian presidential nomination

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.”

Lee Wrights for President
Brian Irving, press secretary
press@wrights2012.com
919-535-4548

40 thoughts on “Wrights to seek Libertarian presidential nomination

  1. Gene Berkman

    The Libertarian Party needs good antiwar candidates.

    Mr Wrights should run for Congress, which would be more in line with is credentials. He just does not have the credentials or resources that will cause Americans outside Libertarian circles to listen to him.

  2. Jill Pyeatt

    I agree that the antiwar message is an important one to get out.

    Good luck, Mr. Wrights, and I hope that’s a recurring them for your campaign!

  3. George Whitfield

    Mr. Wrights is a very dedicated and principled Libertarian. I am glad he is involved.

  4. Steven R Linnabary

    The Libertarian Party needs good antiwar candidates.

    Mr Wrights should run for Congress, which would be more in line with is credentials. He just does not have the credentials or resources that will cause Americans outside Libertarian circles to listen to him.

    I agree that Mr Wrights should run for Congress…in ADDITION to running for President. There is no prohibition to running for both simultaneously, and it might help his campaign.

    But I disagree that he lacks “credentials”. He probably even has a birth certificate . “Credentials” such as previous elected service hasn’t served the US very well the past few regimes, if ever.

    PEACE

  5. Robert Capozzi

    Agree with Berkman, Wrights makes a better congressional candidate than presidential one. I do admire RLW’s perseverance. It seems he really prefers to frame his campaign by what he’d do if elected, which doesn’t ring true for me, but I suspect that observers can see that he doesn’t actually expect to be elected; this is more a speculative what-if exercise.

    I do wish him all the best. As it appears Ron Paul and Gary Johnson will be seeking the GOP nomination, I trust Wrights and other would be L candidates are factoring those likelihoods into their list of considerations.

  6. Starchild

    What Steven Linnabary said @5.

    I think most libertarian-minded persons reading this site are likely to be aware of the degree to which Americans outside libertarian circles tend to be uninformed or misguided on many topics.

    But while it’s important to have an accurate sense of reality and to recognize these shortcomings of the body politic, let’s strive to avoid validating or reinforcing these shortcomings by appearing to give any suggestion that our own activists are at fault for not conforming to the erroneous thinking.

    Bruce Hornsby and the Range had a big hit (if unfortunately somewhat statist-minded) song that correctly points out the fallacy of the fatalistic attitude that says, “Well, that’s just the way it is, some things will never change.”

    {IPR editors, feel free to insert video link here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85KCbjxxzTE }

    In short, the real problem is not that Lee Wrights is in any way deficient as a presidential candidate, but rather that most people are poorly equipped or prepared to recognize good presidential candidates.

    “Dumbing down” our nominations to conform to popular prejudices is obviously a poor long-term solution. And given the lack of success we’ve had seeking short-term wins, it seems to me that long-term strategies for advancing freedom deserve more consideration in our presidential selection process.

  7. Michael Cavlan RN

    StarChild.

    Wow, is that you? The real StarChild?
    Right on. Agreed.

    Oh and trust me. Watch out for those from the “other” parties who will come and attempt to subvert your work. People like Bob Barr for the Libs or David Cobb and Medea Benjamin with the Greens.

    Just a friendly word of warning from someone who has been there, done that and gotten the Tee Shirt.

  8. Starchild

    Michael @10,

    Yes, Bob Barr is among those whom I had in mind when referring to “the lack of success we’ve had seeking short-term wins”.

    As to my authenticity, I’m *a* real Starchild, but I suspect others using the name might object to my being considered *the* real Starchild. 🙂

    Can you refresh my memory on how we know each other, if that’s the case?

  9. Michael Cavlan RN

    StarChild

    We have never met. I had heard of you from Paulie and Lib Girl. I have heard and seen pictures of you prancing around Lib Conventions and that you are the biggest, baddest motherfucker around.

    I have enormous respect for you and that and am fascinated just how people like you, Paulie and Lib Girl can belong in the same party as Wayne Root and his ilk.

    The words of warning on sabotage by people catering to the “other” parties are friendly and serious.

    It pretty much destroyed the Green Party.

  10. Robert Milnes

    Michael, I’ve been trying to get through to lib. radicals…well, for years. The Nolan resolution, the original not its opposite the amended which passed, was directly aimed at Root et al.
    The radicals are obstinate. Extremely. & not open to constructive criticism.

  11. Jill Pyeatt

    Michael Cavlan @ 12:

    Starchild was voted onto the CA Executive Committee, which is particularly excellent now because the committee lost a couple radicals.

  12. Catholic Trotskyist

    Robert Milnes, I’ve also been trying to get through to radicals and moderates of all kinds for years. Michael Kavlan is particularly unwelcoming of even constructive criticism, as he has repeatedly insulted and denegrated both PLAS and the beautiful and holy message of Catholic Trotskyism.

  13. Catholic Trotskyist

    As for Lee Rights, I don’t think he will be a great candidate, since he has too many enemies in all wings of the party. Still he would be better than Root. Currently I endorse Jim Duensing, despite his birtherism.

  14. Gene Berkman

    Starchild @ 9 – it is not a shortcoming of people that they expect people to have real world experience in the avocation they have undertaken.

    Mr Wrights has never served in public office, so anything he says is just words, with no record to go by. That does not convince me – let alone people who are not already libertarians.

  15. Jeremy C. Young

    I get so tired of this “experience” argument. Mitt Romney claims he has more “experience” balancing budgets than Obama does because he ran a business. John McCain had lots of political experience, but he lost anyway. Hillary Clinton claimed to have executive experience even though she was just married to the executive branch (yes, even though she was an important advisor).

    The reality is that the only people who have experience being President are people who have been President. The only qualified people in this country with relevant experience are Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush.

    When I vote, I don’t look for someone with experience, I look for someone with ideals and common sense. When you’re trying to decide whether to push the red button, no amount of “experience” is going to make the decision for you. The experience argument in presidential politics is a waste of time.

  16. Gene Berkman

    ” I look for someone with ideals and common sense.”

    How do you know they can implement their ideals if they have no public record to go on?

    How do you know they have common sense if you have not seen them in action?

  17. Carol Moore

    Given the lack so far of well known, popular, hard core libertarians running right now, Wrights candidacy is necessary to rally hardcore libertarians. And, depending on the ballot access laws of his home state, he may still be able to run for congress. Plus he could get lucky and win the lottery 🙂

  18. Jeremy C. Young

    Gene Berkman, how do you know whether someone can implement their ideals as President if all they have is a Senatorial or Gubernatorial record to go on? Implementing your agenda as a Senator is radically different from implementing it as President. Similarly, how do you know whether someone has common sense based on their record in a completely different public job?

    Being President is completely and radically different from any other job on Earth, except for running other countries. Presidents need a shining vision, a silver tongue, and an iron hand. None of those things are useful in virtually any other job. A Senator with vision is crushed from the get-go. A Congressman with a silver tongue is useless because he can’t get any bills passed. An Ambassador with an iron hand will cause a diplomatic incident and be recalled. The strengths that are necessary in a President are exactly opposite to those that are good in any other job.

    That said, the best you can do when trying to figure out what kind of a President someone will be is to look at how they campaign. Obviously they are putting on a public face for you, but they are also imagining what they might be like as President. Looking at their records will tell you nothing about that, because their records are irrelevant to their potential presidency.

  19. Gene Berkman

    I don’t want a President with an iron hand.

    Nor do I think it is the responsibility of the President to get bills passed. If anything, that exceeds his constitutional responsibility.

    While our history of running unqualified candidates for President has led to most people not taking The Libertarian Party seriously, it has had another effect specifically on libertarians. Because LP members put so much emotional energy – and not really very much of any other kind – into the campaign for President, LP members come to believe that the President should have the power he has arrogated to himself, rather than criticizing the expansion of Presidential power.

    In his book “Why Government Doesn’t Work” Harry Browne devoted a chapter to the power of the President- not to critique that power – but to make promises of how he would use that power to bring Americans freedom.

    And once again we can see the sanction of the victim as crucial to empowering the victimizer.

  20. TinFoilCap, Facemask & JockeyShorts to Match

    If Mr. Wrights’ campaign adds hundreds to the LP rolls and thou$and$ to the ballot acce$$ fund he will have been a good candidate. BUILD the base! A base that will work to build the LP is the only way it will ever succeed. More people building the membership the better!

    I know being among friends helps and practice makes perfect. His speeches seem to be getting better. He has that southern drawl like me and I don’t know how that will work in New York City ! Oh well, if he stays on message he will be fine !!!

    Don’t forget to $end him at least $40. You know in honor of the LP and David Nolan! Hey, remember 10% goes to ballot acce$$ !!!

  21. Jeremy C. Young

    Mr. Berkman, to be clear, I’m not a libertarian (in fact, I’m a proud statist, but also a supporter of all third parties). Given what you’ve said, then, what’s the point of having someone with any “experience” at all, if you don’t want the President to be powerful or pass bills? What exactly is the Libertarian role for the President, except to work to reduce the size, scope, and power of government from within? And if that’s the goal, then I still fail to see the point of someone with a political record. It doesn’t take a political record to reduce the size, scope, and power of government; in fact, such a record would tend to suggest that the nominee was less likely to do that.

  22. Robert Capozzi

    Iron hand, no. Iron will, yes.

    “Restraint” is not an easy quality to nurture. “Getting it done” is something most people want. Doing nothing is generally not something people admire. Undoing damages is doing something, and yet, somehow, most still don’t quite see it that way.

    Post-Seinfeld — the show about nothing, where success can be won by doing the opposite — there is hope in this hopeless situation.

  23. Tim C

    I was present to hear Mr. Wrights speak. He has a simple, clear policy argument. He states it with clear, forceful passion. A message simple enough to explain his reasoning and still survive the 5-second sound bite media. Isn’t that what the LP needs – a candidate who doesn’t need 800 pages of Ayn Rand to explain what is really a very simple idea?

    As far as an “iron hand” President – Shouldn’t the President build a vision in the minds of the populace and then lead them through the process of demanding their Congressmen legislate toward that vision?

    I would much prefer Presidents to do that vs. making a bunch of back-door deals with the Congressmen directly. Which is exactly what Congressional experience breeds. Back-door dealing and outright bribery become the only methods open for consideration, the American people be damned.

    I, for one, am tired of elitist politicians considering us to be stupid and in need of a nanny government. Mr. Wrights could not possibly be as bad as our last series of Presidents, experienced or not.

  24. JT

    Gene: “Mr Wrights has never served in public office, so anything he says is just words, with no record to go by. That does not convince me – let alone people who are not already libertarians.”

    Ross Perot had zero political experience when he ran for President in 1992 and 1996 (he did have a hell of a lot of $ and media though). His lack of experience didn’t stop him from getting 19% and 8% of the vote respectively in the elections. And he was actually leading in 1992 until he started acting nutty and turned people off.

  25. Robert Capozzi

    28 JT, true, although none of the pack has Perot’s stature as a public figure. Perot’s lead for a while in the polls is VERY significant, I agree.

    Wrights is a “movement” guy, more in the Bergland/Marrou/Badnarik mold (although Marrou did have somewhat of a public-office resume).

  26. JT

    Robert: “28 JT, true, although none of the pack has Perot’s stature as a public figure. Perot’s lead for a while in the polls is VERY significant, I agree.”

    Yes. But Perot only became a public figure because he was very rich and then announced he was running on Larry King’s show.

    Millions of Americans WILL vote for an alternative candidate for President–including one without any political experience–if they think he has an attractive message and can realistically compete with the Republican and Democrat. The latter kills the dreaded Wasted Vote Syndrome dead, which I think is the biggest hurdle alternative candidates face along with restrictive ballot access laws.

  27. JT

    Michael: “And Perot’s message was about pocketbook issues which are very important to most of us.”

    Yes, his message was an economic one, the core of which was the rising debt. (Geez, if only we still had the debt level of the 1990s! ) And Libertarians are the only ones who want to solve that massive problem that threatens to eventually ruin the American economy (as opposed to playing Republican-Democratic shell games) without also injecting government into matters of personal choice between consenting adults.

  28. Jeremy C. Young

    Robert Capozzi and Tom C, I agree with your points. “Iron will” is better than “iron hand” — so I would say that Presidents need a shining vision, an iron will, and a silver tongue. The silver tongue part is where I agree with Tom C; the President should use his/her argumentative and oratorical skills to try to bring the people around to his/her point of view, rather than launching backroom deals with other politicians.

  29. Michael H. Wilson

    JT that may be the case, but very seldom have I heard a Libertarian spell out a way to do so.

    “We must reduce the debt this nation is passing on to its children and we can do so by…”

  30. JT

    Michael: “JT that may be the case, but very seldom have I heard a Libertarian spell out a way to do so.”

    From the mind of the late, great Harry Browne, former two-time Libertarian candidate for President:

    http://www.harrybrowne.org/GLO/SocialSecurity.htm

    Most of it talks about the Social Security disaster, but toward the end you can read about addressing both that and the U.S. debt.

  31. Michael H. Wilson

    JT I am familiar with Harry’s work. The U.S. Senate and U.S. Congressional candidates of the Libertarian Party need to be on the same page with this issue and related ones.

  32. JT

    I guess they mostly focus on other pressing issues that don’t seem as wonkish. But at least there’s a Libertarian answer to that very thorny problem.

  33. JT

    I should add that greatly reducing taxes AND spending would cause the economy to grow at a much faster rate and therefore greatly reduce the future debt burden by itself.

  34. George Phillies

    During my nominating campaign, I spent considerable time identifying actual areas where the budget could be cut. Of course, this was before the Federal government took complete leave of its senses and ran trillion+ yearly budget deficits.

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