Austin Petersen and I corresponded through email. Most of the questions were submitted by IPR readers, or Libertarians on a couple Facebook questions.
Do you agree with Gary Johnson that Sharia Law and terrorism from extremist Muslims is a worrisome threat to our country?
I don’t see Sharia as a threat simply because I’m confident in the supremacy of American judicial processes and constitutional law.
Islamic terrorism itself is a threat however, and deserves to be taken seriously from a philosophical and national security perspective, but we must be careful that we do not become that which we seek to destroy. I am reminded of Nietzsche, who said: “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”
Americans must be on guard against violent ideologies, but we must not sacrifice our humanity or our liberties in order to do so. We do not stoop to the level of burning our enemies in cages as ISIS does, therefore if we reject barbarism four ourselves, we agree we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. We must be strong and project power, but also merciful and forgiving. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. With great power comes great responsibility. If our civilization is truly exceptional, we must demonstrate it by living our principles. I am no pacifist, but I believe in always seeking for peaceful resolutions to conflict and that war or violence must always be a last resort.
There is considerable evidence that the second War on Iraq was an unprovoked war of aggression based on faked trials. If the evidence is correct, would you support War Crimes Trials for President Bush and his administration (for launching the war), and for President Obama and his administration (for failing to prosecute the Bush administration), as is your duty under American Law?
If the evidence were to bear out that the administration deliberately lied to bring us into war, then I would support such measures. However, my understanding of government is that they are more often misguided than malevolent. Our government leaders are probably more inept than ill intentioned. As Isabel Paterson once said, “Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends.”
When judging aggression, intent matters, which is why we have murder in the first and murder in the second degrees. Bush may have been overreacting to the blood lust fueled by an angry nation in the wake of the attacks on September 11th. But if his intentions were malign, and not based on national security threats, then there absolutely should be accountability.
If you do not get selected to be the LP’s presidential candidate, would you consider running for vice-president?
I have not formally decided that yet. I’ve considered that. But due to my gregarious and outgoing personality, what presidential candidate would want a VP who would outshine them? No one likes an assistant who’s more talented, outgoing, and well liked than himself or herself, even if that assistant did nothing but good for them.
Since you stopped working at the LP’s national headquarters in 2008, what have you done to support the LP? Were you registered Libertarian in any state? Did you vote Libertarian?
I worked very hard behind the scenes while at the Fox Business network to promote the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, despite his inability to provide ratings on the network. I did that because although it was a sacrifice to myself to promote someone who was difficult to market, I thought it was the right thing to do. I have also conducted interviews with other Libertarian Party candidates, and given opportunities to people such as Kathie Glass, the Texas Gubernatorial candidate, and Alexander Snitker of Florida, who I brought to New York to interview with Fox.
You have claimed to be a “fusionist”. What does that mean, and how will that affect your candidacy? Would you be as interested in recruiting new LP members from the left as well as the right?
The old fusionists were conservatives only. I am proposing a new form of fusionism with the principled populists of the right, as well as the libertarian coalitions and some principled “blue-dog” styled democrats. I absolutely believe we can make great inroads with the left. Our positions on immigration, the war on drugs, and gay marriage make the Libertarian Party’s message particularly attractive to principled leftists, who are not wedded to progressivism.
It has been my observation, and the observation of several other people, that you behave in a manner that isn’t very presidential or even respectable on Facebook. Why should people support a candidate who engages in a sustained campaign of juvenile name calling to Party activists? Or seems to have a hair-trigger temper? Or responds to serious questions with flippant comments, sometimes unrelated to the question asked?
If behaving presidential means being politically correct, lying to constituents, taking away people’s liberties, and drone bombing indiscriminately in the Middle East, then I’ll proudly wear the label of being unpresidential. If you want someone who is politically correct, you can always vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, as many libertarians have strangely stated in recent weeks that they might do.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that a temper is the last thing that I have. I’m very slow to anger, but quick with a sharp witted jab in self defense, and it’s almost always lighthearted. I’m pulling from the classic Alinsky playbook. Why? Because it works, and because it’s what our enemies are doing to us. I gave an extensive talk on why libertarians need to learn to fight in my recent speech at LibertyFest, and it’s also available at my website The Libertarian Republic.
Yes, I’m a brawler. They don’t call me the Freedom Ninja because I’m a pacifist pushover. I’m a liberty champion, a warrior for the cause of economic freedom and personal liberty. I’m sick and tired of seeing libertarians lose because of our inability to connect with people on a social level making us think that we’re better than everyone else. We’re not. So having a sense of humor, and a sharp wit is a crucial element missing from I’d say 99% of libertarian campaigns. When libertarians nominate a winning candidate, they can say what is or isn’t presidential. Until then they would do well to listen to activists who actually get results. Or we could just run Gary Johnson again and hope for a geriatric miracle.
Besides being a public personality that has been a political commentator, what precisely *qualifies* you to run for this office? Have you ever held any prior offices? Why do you think you should start at the top and not get some in-the- trenches political experience?
That’s a good question, and it makes me wonder if they didn’t ask Michael Badnarik the same thing when he ran for president and won the nomination in 2004. What really qualifies one to be president? Does he need to have been a military commander, and ordered the death of enough people to get a taste for what’s in store? Does he need to have been a community organizer, spreading socialism and corruption in Chicago? Does he or she need to have been a college professor, spreading Progressivism and laying income taxes for future generations to suffer under? Is that what type of experience we look for in our presidential candidates?
I suppose it’s the delegates’ decision to make on what makes one qualified. As of now, running for president seems to have been a good decision, since now the liberty movement, at least according to the polling I’m seeing, is looking for a younger, fresher face to lead our movement into the future. I’m the beneficiary of the generosity of hundreds of small donors, hundreds of volunteers across the country, and millions of people listening to what I write online, encouraging me to go on. The people telling me to quit seem to be a small, vocal minority. I think I’ll just keep going on and see what else this campaign has in store for me and my little rugged band of devoted freedom fighter followers.
If Obama hasn’t closed Guantanamo but the time you took office, would you close it right away?
I would work with the congress to close Guantanamo bay in a manner consistent with due process and constitutional law. At the moment we are stuck due to jurisprudence, so we will need new legislation reforming the criminal justice system to deal with the enemy combatant status created by the War on Terror. I would rely on legal minds such as Judge Napolitano, Randy Barnett, and Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee to help on such issues.
You have been quoted as saying: “The platform will change in 2016 with me at its head.” Oh, really? Can you elaborate?
Platforms always change. There are additions and subtractions. It matters very little in the end, since no one but Libertarian Party members or perhaps a few members of the press will read it. It’s mostly a way for people to feel good about themselves that they changed something that has little affect on anything but a few people’s egos. It’s sort of how liberals advocate for recycling. It doesn’t do any good for the environment really, in fact it might actually be more harmful. But it makes people feel good, so they do it because that’s all they care about. Themselves. That’s probably what platform fascists think about themselves as well. They want to feel good about themselves. Forced allegiance to a set of principles written by a collective is the furthest thing from libertarian I could ever imagine. The nominee’s platform is what really matters since that’s what the American people are more likely to read about. It’s a shame that so many people spend so much time on something that hasn’t reduced government in any measurable way.
The Libertarian Party is known as “The Party of Principle”, yet you find it appropriate to ridicule a very important part of our Statement of Principles when you talk about our Non-Aggression Principle. Why should any of us support someone who doesn’t agree with a key component of our Statement of Principles?
I hate to break it to you, but political parties aren’t actually very good representatives of principles, since no two libertarians can really agree on what those principles are specifically. Are Republicans monolithic? Are Democrats? Perhaps generally? Maybe. Parties are tools, not debate clubs. They’re meant to get people elected to public office. They serve no other purpose.
As Alinsky stated: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” It’s also my favorite weapon. If you think that I’m rough on my opponents seeking to undermine me in the movement, how do you think I will treat Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio when I face off against them? And will not the American people reward me for my moxie and my cleverness? And what about when I must face off against Vladimir Putin, or Al-Baghdadi? Will my satirical pen not cut them to the quick? I will bring down hostile governments around the world, not through force of arms, but through force of humor. I am the boy who will point out that the emperors wear no clothes. So yes, the point is to make people laugh at dictators, whether those dictators are Islamic Jihadists, or anyone who demands we pledge allegiance. “I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man…”
The non-aggression principle doesn’t appear anywhere in the platform from what I can see, since the party isn’t the Pacifist Anarchist Party (although that does sound like a fun party).
From what I understand, the founders of the party were so terrified of the feds they required a pledge not to commit acts of terrorism or violence so that the big bad government would leave them alone. It’s a shame too, because our much more muscular founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to bloody war with the Empire. The Libertarian Party pledges not to do anything that might make the feds uncomfortable. Not very inspiring to be honest. Sorry, but I reserve the right to revolution if things get bad. At that point we’ll be beyond the need for parties.
Let’s get rid of this silly pledge once and for all and find something more useful to pledge to. How about we pledge allegiance to a flag? Flags at least have decorative value on top of making people feel something. After all, it’s the feelings of the tired, old guard that really matter, not our policies right? Not the future of liberty? We’re not interested in advancing our cause, just demanding purity in thought, right? We don’t want change. We want to remain the same. We think the reason that voters don’t vote for us is because there’s something wrong with them, not that there’s something deeply wrong with us, right? Sorry. But if you want to change the world, you must start with yourself. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change.
For now though, I’ll take the pledge not to commit violence for political or social goals. I have no interest in such things. It is interesting though that the party requires one to pledge to something that the president must violate on day one of taking the oath of office. Not very wise. But then again, if the founders of the party were wiser, perhaps we’d have won elections by now?
The LP currently takes a non-position on abortion, saying that is in an issue we don’t wish to get involved in except to say the government shouldn’t be involved. Would you change that? If you were President, and were presented with a bill to prohibit all abortions, would you sign it?
I believe in the consistent pro-life ethic but murder is a state issue, not a federal one. I’d have to read the bill before I sign any of them.
Violation of privacy has become a huge issue with many Americans. How would you help restore our natural and constitutional rights of privacy in this time of surveillance in the name of “keeping us safe”?
–No answer provided
Can you give us a quick outline of how you think “illegal” immigration should be handled in our country?
Sure! Worker visas for anyone who wants to work. Student Visas for anyone who wants to study and mass amnesty for people who are living and working here, just like good old Ronald Reagan did, but better! Then we can look at a more humane naturalization process that’s simpler, faster, and more efficient. Perhaps something like Ellis Island, where they did a disease check, security check, and you’re done?