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Brian Doherty: Anti-Virus Pioneer John McAfee Enters Libertarian Party Presidential Race

Brian Doherty at Reason.com (excerpt):

John McAfee is the 70-year-old founder of the antivirus software firm that bears his name (though he has not been actively involved with it since 1994, and the company was bought by Intel in 2010). He’s also a colorful world adventurer who has been candid about his extreme exploits in everything from drug use (and sales) to private home antibiotic-tech experimentation.

He is also seeking the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party (L.P.), he announced last week via an exclusive story in USA Today.

Later in the piece:

Some are unconvinced the vibrant outsider is a true-blue Libertarian, pointing to parts of McAfee’s current platform that don’t match the general Libertarian vision of shrinking government across the board and restricting it to core functions of defense and adjudication, if anything.

McAfee on his website issues page discusses policies that imply expanding government spending, such as, under “education,” that “in the case of higher-education, we will work to make education attainable for everyone, regardless of income level or family income level. What’s more, the rampant student loan debt must be checked.”

His “economy” plank also seems unlibertarian when it hypes:

a large-scale public works program. This will focus on a few key areas. Initially, these public works will focus on physical infrastructure: the construction and repair of roads, bridges, highways, airports, etc. These initiatives will be pursued through two different avenues. One, we will fund and staff these initiatives through various federal programs. Second, we will offer states, counties, and cities funds to manage the programs on their own. This initial infrastructure push will provide a, relatively, quick way to stem unemployment.

Further down the road, we plan to introduce an IT infrastructure development program. In short, we will make a large amount of funds available to cities and townships to prompt wholesale implementation of smart grid energy programs.

As we have stated many times over, we see access to broadband as a fundamental human right.

McAfee is also a vocal supporter of “net neutrality” which most libertarian see as unwarranted government interference in the market’s functioning.

McAfee says that he understands these positions might not match Libertarian orthodoxy, but that “we have to be practical in life.” He tells me that, say, calling for cutting or eliminating Social Security will go nowhere because “a huge voting bloc” is dependent on it, not to mention “if you say you remove it, the people getting checks won’t vote for you and neither will their children and grandchildren” who don’t want to be responsible for them again.

He frames the public works program idea in our interview in terms of a solution to unemployment payouts and the welfare state, that giving people useful state jobs is both a better idea and more politically sellable than policies that could be perceived as “throwing people in the street to starve.” He thinks the way Libertarians have sold their positions in the past “scares people, and you can’t get more than one percent of the vote”—if you don’t offer solutions along the lines of public works government hiring, then no version of the Libertarian vision can succeed electorally “and you might as well go home.”

Read the whole thing here.

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Wang Tang-Fu

7 Comments

  1. Caryn Ann Harlos Caryn Ann Harlos December 30, 2015

    I am really surprised to learn I am not a woman. Of course I hold no position in the Party at all ( that is by choice at this point however when it comes to my state party—I have a personal rule about not getting into a leadership position until I have paid my boots on the ground dues for a year—which time has passed and I will be running for a position in all likelihood). Our State Chair is a woman. I actually had to step back and go through the roster in my head of our board because I simply do not mentally categorize people in that way. I don’t presume a woman would better represent me. I am an individual and not part of the hive mind.

    I don’t do identity politics. I want the most qualified people regardless of what anatomical bits or self-identity they have.

  2. Andy Craig Andy Craig December 30, 2015

    As I noted last time someone made a similar complaint, the L.P. actually has a better record on both female candidates seeking the nomination, and being put on the ticket for VP, than either major party.

    There’s certainly a gender disparity in membership, but if anything that disparity gets smaller among candidates and party leaders. We had the first-ever woman to get an Electoral Vote, we’ve nominated three different women for VP vs. only once each for the duopoly parties, a woman has come closer to winning our nomination than one ever has the GOP nomination (and indeed, closer even than Hillary did the Dems in 2008), there are lot of Libertarian women who run as candidates for other office or serve as state or national party officers, there have been multiple female LNC Chairs, etc.

    Sure, you can look at the current line-up and say there aren’t any female candidates for the 2016 nomination, at least with a serious chance of winning it (through Ruwart could yet run again). Which is…. just like every Republican nomination process to date, and just like every Democratic one that didn’t have a certain former First Lady running. Of course reducing that disparity is good all around, but the accusation that the LP has a uniquely poor record in that regard, isn’t really true.

  3. Wang Tang-Fu Wang Tang-Fu December 30, 2015

    Mr. Winger

    My deepest apologies for disappointing you or anyone else who shared those hopes. I am afraid I must confess that I am merely transcontinental, not transsexual. The shipping label may have been translated poorly. Again, my most sincere regrets. But despair not! I have been told that a fresh shipment of my female Wang cousins will be arriving at SFO soon. I hope you will get a chance to meet them. They are truly wonderful and wondrous young ladies, a true joy to all who bask in their presence.

  4. Richard Winger Richard Winger December 30, 2015

    Aw shucks! All this time I thought Wang-Tang Fu might be female, but no.

  5. Wang Tang-Fu Wang Tang-Fu December 30, 2015

    Hello Sally Sue, how do you do? Thank you for dropping by and sharing your opinion.

    I am not sure what or whom you are replying to but I shall endeavor to address your criticisms.

    “No. Women. Anywhere. ”

    Not exactly true, there are women involved everywhere from the national committee to state chairs and exec comms to local and county groups – you name it.

    ” And people wonder why the LP hasn’t had any substantial gains in 40+ years? ”

    I wouldn’t say that either. Why is it that John McAfee is seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party and not the Green Party or the Reform Party or the American Independent Party or the Citizens Party or the New Alliance Party or many other parties that have existed in the last 40 years (some but not all of which still exist to one extent or another)? To make a very long story short, because the LP has in fact made significant advances in the face of very challenging circumstances. In fact, you would have to go back nearly a century, when ballot access barriers didn’t exist in any meaningful sense and many other circumstances were different than they are today, to find a US “third” party that made more substantial gains in any kind of sustained fashion.

    “Token/chosen women are offered a bar stool not even close to the table? ”

    The wonderful women in the leadership as well as the rank and file of the LP are neither chosen nor token. They have earned their place fair and square.

    “Ugh just project Hillary into office now why don’t you!”

    It’s highly likely that either Hillary or one of the Republican clown car (mostly men) will occupy the oval office in 2017. I don’t have a big preference between the two, so it doesn’t much matter which one projects into office.

    I do want a good representative of the libertarian brand to head up the Libertarian ticket with lots of great Libertarians up and down the ballot.

    Now, would you please be so kind as to explain how your statements relate to this particular discussion? The relevance escapes me, but then I have the disadvantage of lacking female intuition.

  6. Sally Sue Voter Sally Sue Voter December 30, 2015

    No. Women. Anywhere. Gee, what changes in the party when half the population isn’t even mentioned nor considered? Same ol’, Same ol’, regardless of who runs and wins if this continues. And people wonder why the LP hasn’t had any substantial gains in 40+ years? And Token/chosen women are offered a bar stool not even close to the table? Ugh just project Hillary into office now why don’t you!

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