Below is ATPR’s exclusive interview with Jim Bouchard, the Libertarian Party candidate for Congress in Maine’s 1st congressional district:
1) First of all, how long have been a libertarian and what made you discover that you are one? On that angle, how long have been involved with the Libertarian Party of Maine? Additionally, please provide some background information about yourself, such as your profession, civic involvement, hobbies, etc?
I’ve been a “libertarian” much longer than I’ve been a “Libertarian!” I didn’t as much choose to be a libertarian as I discovered I was one––and that happened some time ago. It seems a lot of people experience this discovery––and more every day!
I finally joined the Party officially just recently so I could represent the LP in this race. I’m an author and speaker. My focus is on “character disciplined leadership.” My business evolved out of my career as a professional martial artist. I take the principles and strategies of character and leadership I learned as a martial artist and translate them for business and organizational leadership.
I’ve been active in the martial arts for over 30 years––25 years as a professional instructor. I originally got involved to help me stay off drugs! Martial arts helped me transform myself from a dropout and drug abuser to Black Belt––from a loser to a leader.
I’ve written several books, the latest are THE SENSEI LEADER and THINK Like a BLACK BELT.
These days I stay quite busy on the speaking circuit and conducting corporate leadership workshops. I also serve as a volunteer mentor working with incarcerated youths at Long Creek Youth Development Center in Maine.
2) Gary Johnson’s selection of William Weld as his running mate has drawn some ire in libertarian circles due to Weld’s past support of gun control as Massachusetts governor. Are you staunchly opposed to any type of gun control?
I am opposed to gun control, however, I understand the need for tough restraints when you have proven yourself unable to handle the responsibility.
Freedom and responsibility are inseparable. If you’ve committed a violent crime, or you’ve obtained a weapon unlawfully––if you’ve used a weapon in commission of a crime, then you’ve surrendered your right to keep and bear arms.
If we enforced these existing laws justly and uniformly––there would be far fewer incidents of the type that cause an outcry for more control.
3) Will you be in attendance at the Libertarian Party national convention this upcoming weekend, and even if you won’t be, which LP presidential candidate are you supporting? Did you vote in the Libertarian Party of Maine’s straw poll?
Unfortunately, no. I’ve entered this race late and we’re very busy launching the early stages of the campaign.
Throughout the campaign so far, I’ve been very interested in both Gary Johnson and Austin Petersen. I heard Darryl Perry speak too, and he’s got a great presence and interesting ideas.
The fact is that the Libertarian Party has a deep bench!
I voted for Gary Johnson in the last presidential race and would be proud to do so again. The younger guys are bringing an amazing energy to the Party and to the cause of liberty in the country––they’ve restored my faith in the younger generation! What bothers me now is the vitriol being displayed on social media. Some folks have got to stop acting like a bunch of schoolyard kids fighting over whose Dad is best. Support your candidate––there’s no need to rip the others. That’s part of what is destroying the Democrats and Republicans––we don’t need internal hyper-partisanship within the LP––that’s not the LP I joined.
I heard Austin Petersen speak at our state convention and spent some quality time with him discussing issues. I left very impressed and he has my full support as of now. Having said that, I’d be very pleased with either Austin Petersen or Gary Johnson.
4) Do you consider yourself to be an minarchist or anarchist libertarian, and why? Also, if you had to choose, would you consider yourself to be more of a “right”-libertarian or “left”-libertarian, or neither?
If pressed, I’d have to say I’d lean more “minarchist” and probably a bit to the right. Having said that, I don’t feel bound by those labels.
I am a staunch Constitutionalist. The Constitution affords us a durable, yet adaptable framework when we honor it properly. The Constitution transcends the labels “left” or “right.” There’s room for both.
We must adapt to ever changing societal, technological and environmental conditions––but there is no reason to operate outside the limitations of the Constitution. We can solve our problems and we can innovate for our future while protecting individual freedom and liberty.
5) In the 2012 Republican primaries, Maine was Ron Paul’s second best state in terms of percentage of the vote (36.14%) and the closest he came to victory in any state (just 1.84% short of Mitt Romney). Do you feel that the philosophy of libertarianism is catching fire in Maine, and if so, do you think it could help propel your campaign to victory?
That was exciting, wasn’t it? He really scared some folks up here!
I believe strongly that libertarianism is the natural state of most people in Maine. We’re fiercely independent and we traditionally abhor government intervention.
Unfortunately the past few years have seen the emergence of a dependent state––that is we’ve taken more from the federal government than we contribute. We fight for scraps from the table and often ignore the long term costs of federal assistance.
We’re getting tremendous response from all sides. We have liberal Democrats committing to our campaign and very conservative Republicans in our camp. We have a lot of folks who refuse to pin a party badge on, but who are excited about what we’re doing. Combined with the excitement we’re seeing in the Libertarian Party in Maine––I am seeing a path that can win us this seat!
6) In the first congressional district election in Maine in 2014, an independent candidate won 8.87% of the vote in three-way race. Do you think you’ll be able to surpass that performance, and if so, how will you go about doing this?
Our first goal is to get into the polls at 20% mostly drawing from unaffiliated voters, and those who feel the major parties have done them wrong. When we hit that goal, we’ve got a plan to shift into overdrive and win over disengaged Democrats, particularly small business folks and disappointed Republicans, particularly those who feel the GOP sold them out after the last congressional elections.
The strategy is simple. We’re telling the truth, even when it’s tough to hear. We’re pulling back the curtain on the professional political class and demonstrating clearly how simple it is to get our system back on track––if we have the courage to oppose the status quo.
7) According to the Portland Press Herald, a 2014 Forbes study ranked Maine second to last in terms of business climate, and broken down into categories “Maine ranked 40th for business costs, 36th for labor supply, 45th for regulatory environment, 48th for economic climate, 48th for growth prospects, and 27th for quality of life.” Mainers appear to be lamenting that there are very few prospects in the state to earn a decent living. Is there anything that you, if elected congressman, can do to improve this statistics?
Believe me, I understand this first hand.
Not only did I operate a brick and mortar business with my martial arts centers, but now as I travel the country I see how successful business can be in other states. Maine is a fabulous state with a tremendous work ethic. We have brilliant people, talented artists and artisans and a deep commitment to the environment.
Some of the costs you’re talking about are probably unavoidable. We have a cold climate, and it’s expensive to heat large buildings. It costs more to move supplies and equipment to the northeast corner of the country.
Having said that, the best thing I could do to improve the business climate in Maine is to work to dismantle the complex web of regulation that handcuffs business and development. There are still a lot of areas where state and federal regulations are at odds––this creates a lot of uncertainty and it’s expensive.
Most of all––if we focus on our core mission of freezing federal spending, that will have the immediate effect of putting money back in the pockets of Maine citizens and businesses––and they can use their money to grow.
8) Maine’s neighboring state of New Hampshire is home to the Free State Project. Do you support the idea of a mass political migration to the “Live Free or Die” state, and would you like to see a similar movement sprout up in Maine?
That would be fabulous! Of course the first step would be to eliminate the state income tax! I enthusiastically support all state legislators who work toward ending the income tax––whether they’re officially Libertarian or not.
9) What are the three most important issues facing the nation, and more specifically (if they are different), what are the three most issues facing Maine’s first congressional district?
There are some issues that affect Maine more than some other states, particularly those relating to our fisheries and natural resources. Having said that––it is time to focus on the over-arching national issues that can restore power to the states so they can each address their unique circumstances more effectively and efficiently.
The first is to cut up the federal credit card. Not One. Penny. More.
The federal government acts like a mob of teenagers plundering the mall with mom’s credit cards. The debt is exploding with no signs of slowing down and the interest on the debt is a time bomb and the clock is ticking down. We’ve got other issues––but until and unless we stop borrowing and spending, the rest is moot. Once we put the breaks on spending, then we dig into duplication, fraud, waste and abuse. In our preliminary research we’re finding enough there to make the personal income tax obsolete––and that’s before we start talking about cuts. Finally––we’ve got to define our role as a military power now and for the foreseeable future. Are we the world’s police force––or do we want to focus on our own defense? Are we going to continue to waste our treasure and dishonor our warriors by sending them on endless nation building campaigns, regime change and constantly shifting alliances? I believe in a strong military built for today’s conditions. I believe in military as a defensive response, or as a last resort if we need to take the offensive. I do not believe we should engage in any military campaign without the consent of the American people––and that means Congress declares war, not the President. I support a Constitutional Amendment that restricts the President’s war powers to a strict 48 hour limit. And when we send our warriors into battle, we give them the tools and support they need to win––to complete the mission decisively, and we must honor our obligation to them when they come home.
10) If any, what are your three favorite libertarian books, and in that same vein, who are your three favorite notable libertarian figures, past or present?
The Autobiography of Ben Franklin––so of course, Ben Franklin.
Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin had a big influence on my thinking.
Most recently, Taking a Stand by Rand Paul has been a tremendous inspiration.
11) Out of the current crop of U.S. Representatives, are there any that stand out to you as being the most liberty-oriented? For example, Congressman Thomas Massie has been pushing for an audit of the Federal Reserve. Would you work with him in support of an audit and eventual abolition of the FED?
Thomas Massie is fantastic. He has a wonderful way of explaining this complex mess in terms everyone can understand. Yes––I would absolutely support him in abolishing the Fed. I would support an interim step in the form of an audit––by why wait?
No bureaucracy should conduct it’s business in secret or operate free from oversight in a democratic republic. Let’s just end it––it’s become a piggy bank for crony corporatists.
Trey Gowdy is a tremendous defender of liberty. He is courageous in his convictions and is someone I greatly admire.
12) Are you opposed to pork barrel spending, even if, hypothetically speaking, most of your constituents would be for a project in your district requiring congressional appropriation of taxpayer money? Ron Paul was noted for supporting earmarks during his tenure.
Pork is wrong. Period.
One of our district’s largest employer is Bath Iron Works, which builds navy vessels. It competes well in this market because they build tremendous ships. I would work to assure that they’re competing in a fair game on a level field. If they can do the best job for the American people––then I’ll do my best to promote the value of their work. There are two major problems when it comes to pork, however. The first is that it’s expensive to send money to the federal government and bring it home again. There is a lot of value lost in the transfer.
The second is the endless game of burying pork in complex bills, attaching pork to unrelated legislation and stuffing pork into the cracks to buy votes at the last minute. Many of these projects are nothing short of ridiculous and would never attract legitimate investment. I support a strict “de-coupling” rule that assure that all legislation is limited to one issue and that each issue and appropriation, no matter how small, is debated on its own merits. Along with that, we need a strict rule change to assure that legislators have time to read what they’re voting on. I’m all for publishing ALL legislation online so engaged voters can see it too.
13) Do you support a non-interventionist foreign policy in line with the LP platform? Which, if any, of the wars since the 20th century to the present day, were justified by the presence of the U.S. military?Additionally, what is your position regarding the situation in Israel/Palestine and the U.S.’s current role in it?
Probably one of the most difficult questions we face. I believe I answered most of this earlier.
Having had the honor of knowing some impressive military people on the inside of the Middle East conflicts, I’m leaving open the option to assess each new conflict as it comes. I’m also invoking the privilege not to judge some of these actions based on the outcome. I’ve heard first-hand accounts that cause me to believe that some of our most controversial engagements were launched with confidence in intelligence that we know little about––and sometimes that ignorance is willful. I do believe that some of our actions saved lives and prevented further violence and catastrophe.
At some point, however, we must assess the effectiveness of any operation and have the strength to pull back if our desired objectives are unattainable––or if we’re about to cross the line where our military force is being used to impose our will on sovereign nations or change regimes for any purpose other than our defense, the righteous defense of allies or to conduct a righteous humanitarian intervention. The greatest example of a righteous intervention was World War II. Hitler had to be stopped. It would have been wrong to sit that one out. End of story. However––the American people should not have been lied to in order to get us into that war. It’s wrong for our government to conduct covert operations without our knowledge and consent––without a declaration of war from Congress. One of the most egregious offenses of late were our actions––or lack of them––in Benghazi.
The current administration had the authority to conduct itself according to its policy and strategy. When that strategy failed––they lied to us about the cause of that failure and covered up the chain of events that led to the disaster. The timing of that cover-up is suspect to say the least. Defend your policy. Have the strength of character to admit failure and the confidence of leadership to appeal for understanding and support––but don’t lie.
And don’t expect us to swallow the lie. We’re not stupid––and we’ve got you on YouTube.
Israel and Palestine is a very difficult question. My position is that we stand ready to support Israel directly should it come to that––and if the American people would support that position.
However––for the time being we can be a supportive ally simply by avoiding criticizing Israel when they defend themselves. Let’s make sure that if we commit to war, in our own defense or in the defense of an ally, that we are truly defending liberty and freedom against tyranny and oppression––not imposing our will or our ideology or fighting for cheap resources––just another form of conquest.
14) A significant issue in Maine is drug abuse. Libertarians are known for their staunch opposition to the so-called “War on Drugs.” How could the number of drug overdoses be reduced while simultaneously ending the government’s prosecution of non-violent drug users/distributors? Also, what positive developments do you see on the horizon if Mainers vote to legalize cannabis in a referendum this November?
I have a unique position on this issue. As far as I know, none of the other candidates have openly admitted a drug problem––past or present. I am a former drug abuser. I know firsthand the dangers of drug abuse. But for luck, I should have been dead or in jail several times over. The “War On Drugs” is a failure. I completely understand the good intentions behind this war––but we’ve lost. We’ve lost for one reason––people want to do drugs––and they will find a way. The effects of our current policy are catastrophic.
We’ve criminalized entire generations of young adults, particularly young men, and more particularly minority young men.
We’ve unintentionally created a thriving criminal industry, enabled devastating violence and we’ve all but destroyed several of our largest cities.
We condemn the most desperate, lonely, troubled and vulnerable members of our society to an inescapable cycle of petty crime, joblessness or incarceration. Portugal already conducted the experiment––and it was successful. They were skeptical––as we understandably are––but they decided to de-criminalize drugs and focus on treatment.
Their results are nothing short of amazing. Use has declined significantly. Violence and crime have dropped as have drug related fatalities. Most impressive and important, the incidents of first time use is dropping––slowly but steadily.
They’ve saved millions––we’d save trillions––and that’s even with a significant portion of resources redirected to treatment and support.
Amazing what people will do when their natural rights are intact.
But––we also have to accept that we can’t save everyone.
15) It’s been reported in Ballot Access News and IPR that the Libertarian Party of Maine is having difficulty obtaining ballot access for its soon-to-be-named presidential candidate. Will the LP Maine succeed in obtaining ballot access this year? And as far as your campaign is concerned, will you be able to obtain the “Libertarian” ballot label next to your name, or will you be listed as an independent?
It’s not looking good––right now. But the Party is making progress!
One of the goals of this campaign is to assure that the Libertarian Party is taken seriously in Maine. Because I made my decision to run so late––I have no option but to run as a write-in candidate. My sanity has already been openly questioned for this move. I don’t see this as a set-back. I see it as a great challenge and a great opportunity. I see this as way to engage on a very personal level with the people of Maine and to do democracy the way our founders did it––small groups of engaged and caring citizens meeting in their kitchens, parlors, churches and pubs!
16) What is your opinion of libertarians discussing so-called “conspiracy theories,” such as alleged government involvement in 9/11, vaccines purportedly causing autism, chemtrails, freemasonry, the Bilderberg Group, “New World Order,” etc? Do purveyors of so-called “conspiracy theories have any merit”?
Conspiracy theories rise out of two conditions: ignorance and secrecy. These theories are believed by and promoted by people of all political leanings––I have not seen that it’s any worse with Libertarians. I don’t mean to be disrespectful or dismissive––but most of this is pure crap. We’ve got real issues that make the worst suspicions of the conspiracists seem trite.
Our government is spending us into bankruptcy. They’ve created an unmanageable, uncontrollable bureaucratic machine. The major parties have created a professional political class that places partisan loyalty above patriotism and winning above service. You think the government could have masterminded 9/11? They can’t even hide their “secret” NSA data collection warehouse or erase the traces of their email. No––I do not believe any of the conspiracies you asked about have an ounce of merit behind them.
There are real conspiracies––but they’re really not well hidden. We now know our own government is spying on us––and they shouldn’t be. We know there is rampant cronyism––and we keep electing the worst offenders. We know they’re spending us into bankruptcy––but we keep handing them the credit cards. Let’s focus on the obvious problems. It’s not as glamorous––but there’s enough there to keep us busy.
17) Lastly, and possibly most importantly, is taxation theft? On that closing note, is there a campaign website or Facebook page where readers can learn more about you?
The way it’s practiced today––it’s getting pretty damn close! Especially when a tax is not tax but a fine––until it’s not a fine but a tax. I suppose it turns on what “is” is. Sorry––
We do need to fund the operations of our federal government, and there are some activities the founders couldn’t anticipate that we can agree we do better as a nation than as separate states.
We can do all of this without punishing productivity, without crippling our middle class, without redistribution (which is stealing) and without trampling on the Constitution and on individual rights and freedoms. Like most of our federal government, our tax system has simply grown to and unmanageable, unpractical and unimaginable level of complexity. The current system treats citizens as suspects.
Of course simplicity threatens power and control. That’s why they’re hanging on tight––and part of the reason I support congressional term-limits.
We need to end the current system and we need to find another way to fund our government. We’re not going to make meaningful progress in this area until and unless we remove the driving force behind all this expansion and complexity––we’ve got to stop the spending––now.
Not One. Penny. More.
My website is facebook.com/Jim-Bouchard-for-US-Congress and my Twitter handle is JimForME.. I’m on Facebook at:
I’d like to thank Jim Bouchard for participating in the interview. -Krzysztof Lesiak