All of the candidates were invited to participate via email. I am unclear, however, if William Weld received the request. I will add any responses if they come in after the article’s publication date.
The candidates who responded were Mark Stewart, Dan Hogan, Kerry Douglas McKennon, Larry Sharpe and Judd Weiss.
Update: May 24, 2016 I have added answers from Alicia Dearn.
Can you tell us a little about your activism for the Libertarian party?
Dearn: I have always been a Libertarian, but I did not become active in the party until late 2011. From that time forward, I have helped with grassroots campaigning and legal advice to various Libertarian groups and causes, including some ballot access work. I have given away hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal services to Libertarian causes over the past four years. I also publish and speak on business and legal topics professionally, and I use those opportunities to educate people on Libertarianism whenever possible.
Stewart: Mine has been activism for “The Resistance” (www.weresist.us). I co-founded The Resistance to help liberty-minded people dislodge bad incumbents. It’s a vehicle and not a party, but the principles are very similar to those of the LP. Our only difference is that our candidates are willing to run in Democrat and Republican primaries — that’s where the media is, so we encourage that exposure. Resistance candidates who lose in primaries are then encouraged to continue campaigning as Libertarians. Resistance candidates who WIN in primaries actively make alliances with Libertarians to win the general election. They they govern by “small l” libertarian principles and can jettison their party if if blocks them
Hogan: Prior to 2013 I was employed in positions where political activity was limited because they were public sector or military jobs. Since entering employment in the private sector I have become more active.
In 2013 I was a candidate for the Manhattan (KS) city commission. In a 7 way pick-3 race I came in 7th. I refused to accept or receive any donations, and made no expenditures beyond the filing fee. I was also unable to attend many of the candidate forums due to the premature birth of my daughter who spent the first 73 days of her life in the NICU in Topeka. Many of the nights of the forums I was in Topeka. I am happy to report that she is a rambunctious 3 year old. In spite of missing many of the forums and without any advertising I received 4% of the total vote and was selected on 10% of ballots.
In 2014 I was the Libertarian candidate for the 67th district of the Kansas House of Representatives. Prior to the election I received a job offer that would take me out of Kansas and to my current location in Missouri.
In February of this year I filed to run for US House of Representatives for the 3rd District of Missouri.
I have been a Life Member of the Libertarian Party since 2002.
McKennon: I became a county chair in November of 2013. I am still my county’s chair. I am also a member of the LPTexas executive committee. I am currently the county coordinator for the state of Texas. I served as the LPTexas Platform Committee Chair from 2014-2016, when our convention ended. I am the current secretary for the national organization of Outright Libertarians. I ran for office in 2014 for the Texas State House and the Texas State Senate.
Sharpe: In the last few years I’ve helped the LP raise money at events and been an active member of my local chapter parties.
Weiss: I’ve been involved in the liberty universe since 1994, when I received a copy of Anthem by Ayn Rand, I was 14. It resonated with me so strongly that I immediately read her other novels, and then all other non-fiction work by her I could find. I even tracked down her out of print books in used book stores (this was before Ebay and Amazon.com). I feel like I learned a lot after I discovered Ayn Rand. I feel like I grew a lot after I discovered Nathaniel Branden. I soon read every book Nathaniel had written. Nathaniel was Ayn Rand’s protégé in the 1950s and 60s, and he took her philosophical underpinnings into the psychology realm with a practical personal development direction. Nathaniel Branden is one of most influential figures in the personal development universe, and he’s known as the father of the Self Esteem movement. More than Ayn Rand or anyone else, Nathaniel Branden is the single biggest influence in my life.
While in high school I started seeking out other libertarians and objectivists. I didn’t find any local teenagers my age except for one friend. We would sometimes go to a local Libertarian Party meetup at a Denny’s in Tarzana (a neighborhood in Los Angeles), but we were the only teenagers, everyone else was over 40 or 50. I went to a few Objectivist Center conferences in my early college years, and to this day I’m still in touch with some of the friends I met there.
I’ve been a libertarian activist for a while, but it really kicked into higher gear after attending FreedomFest 2011 in Vegas. I met so many people. And I was also exploring a new hobby of photography at the time. I had a really cheap setup, it was my first decent camera, and looking back, my images were sloppy back then compared with what I’m capable of today, but people loved the photos, and tons of Facebook profile photos started popping up when I released the album of photos on Facebook. Then Alexander McCobin asked me to please photograph the 2012 International Students For Liberty Conference. I wasn’t interested in traveling so far for a conference, but he persuaded me. Just a month before that February 2012 conference I finally bought my first decent lens, it took my photos to an entirely new level. When I released the Students For Liberty photos on Facebook, they exploded. Tons of new Facebook profile photos changed, and suddenly many event organizers in the liberty universe were asking me to photograph their events. I’m not a professional photographer, it’s a hobby, I’m an enthusiast. But I’m always obsessive about what I do. So I got pretty good with a camera pretty quickly. By the end of 2012 there was an insane clamor to book me as a photographer throughout the liberty related universe. And I’ve been flown all over the country, and all over the world, to photograph the movement.Before me, photos at liberty events were terrible. I try to capture the event as a powerful art piece. At this point there are now over 25,000 Facebook profile photos out there that are mine. The response has been incredible. People are using my photos of them for everything online. LinkedIn, websites, bios, wikipedia, book jackets, and most importantly…. Tinder. Girls are swiping right to libertarians now, and I proud to be helpful with that ?
Photography is still not a profession that I live off of. But I enjoy it, and I’m proud of it. I make my income as a Commercial Real Estate Broker. My background is in sales, as an entrepreneur. My photography of liberty events has been my attempt to improve our presentation and boost sales in the liberty cause.
For those of you who already have a running mate, if your presidential candidate is not nominated, do you intend to remain a candidate for the vice-presidential nomination?
Dearn: I’m independent and will work with anyone nominated by the party.
Hogan: Since I do not have a running mate I will address this one in a different manner. I will seek the nomination without regard to who the presidential nominee is, with the exception of Austin Petersen. This has nothing to do with Mr. Petersen personally or politically, this is due to 12th amendment limitations. Since we both reside in Missouri we cannot be on the same ticket.
Sharpe: I will support any candidate to he best of my ability.
Weiss: I don’t think I’m a viable candidate for anyone other than John McAfee. John is incredibly trusting of me, he gives me full flexibility to keep my voice, even if we’re off message. He trusts me, and I’m tremendously grateful for that. In fact he actively encourages me not to hold back. The videos and messaging I’ve put out lately would be impossible if I were running with any other candidate. I suppose I could have that sort of flexibility were I running with Perry. But John and I are very aligned in our bold unconventional approach. We make an exceptional team.
Where do you place yourself on the purist/pragmatist scale?
Dearn: I’m an “apex Libertarian,” meaning that I’m a dot on the apex of the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz”. But while I have consistently strong Libertarian beliefs, I am not an anarcho-capitalist. I think that there is some legitimate place for government as outlined by the U.S. Constitution, which was heavily influenced by Natural Law thinkers. Further, I’m pragmatic in that I believe that to get people to accept Libertarianism, you will have to baby step them through it. We are so far down the road towards socialism with a century of nudges that way that we can’t hope to leap to the other end of the spectrum. But we need to start making progress in the right direction, right now.
Stewart: 7 out of 10 towards pragmatism. We can move to purity later, but we need to get elected first. Elected does NOT mean forever losing your principles; it means you have a new role, one where your principle then can move OTHERS with you.
Hogan: I would have to say I lean significantly towards that pragmatic side of the spectrum. I think things should be considered heavily from the viewpoint of their practicality.
McKennon: I am pretty pure, but I prefer to call myself principled. I am willing to work with other in government to get laws repealed. Many might disagree with the following: I will take baby steps toward Liberty instead of nothing at all, while I continue to fight for complete and total Freedom.
Sharpe: In between facing the pure with one step in that direction.
Weiss: That’s a false dichotomy. There is no war between the purists and the moderates. It doesn’t exist. But there is a war, it’s between the engineers and the salesmen. Between those who are focused on being right, and those who are focused on being effective. Engineering and Sales are two extremely different skillsets. Right now the libertarian movement is predominantly an intellectual movement, which means it’s basically a bunch of engineers dominating the sales department. We are substance without sales, and therefore we have very little sales to show for ourselves. And we’re resentful of the other parties that focus on sales without substance, and we’re helplessly watching them dominate. It’s painful and frustrating.
I align with the radicals in that they are bold. So am I. I’m supportive of the moderates’ attempt to get more people involved, but I think they have a terrible sales approach.
It’s a sign of a weak salesman to ask the engineering department to compromise an incredible product so that more people are comfortable with it. Good salesmen should be able to sell a stronger better product. Being bold generates excitement, which is critical for sales. You might lose some customers that aren’t comfortable, but those customers were probably not coming over anyway. It’s far better to present a strong distinct alternative, than offer something comfortable but bland, that inspires nothing but apathy. Apathy is death for sales.
The radicals do not give enough attention to presentation. The moderates are trying to make sales, but are too uncomfortable about selling a powerful product.
If you’ve seen my videos lately, they are my attempt to resolve this. Please link them in this article.
Do you have any thoughts on the future or governance of the LNC, or preferred strategy and goals for the party beyond the 2016 presidential campaign? What will you do to increase the size and strength of the libertarian party?
Dearn: I would like to see the Libertarian Party continue to gel as a national movement. I think we can do more to coordinate between the LNC and state and county affiliates, empowering grassroots activists to grow their piece. I think that the best way for us to gain as a movement is to support local candidates and work on flipping elected candidates to our party. It is important for national candidates to stump for the local candidates and bring awareness and fundraising to each race. I would also like to see outreach task forces for different groups, such as women, ethnic minorities, and different religious and business groups. Libertarians have a lot to offer our communities and if we all reach out to our friends, neighbors, and social networks, we can grow the movement exponentially.
Stewart: Yes. I enunciated them in March 2016 on http://www.weresist.us. Just substitute “Libertarian” for “Resistance” and you have a 7 point possible blueprint for electoral success by 2020.
Hogan: I think that a lot of people view Libertarians as hippies or eccentrics. While this may be true in some cases I think the public needs to see us from many more angles. If the public sees us a one way or another, present what they don’t expect which is more likely the actuality.
When I was in the military many people were surprised to learn that I wasn’t a Republican. Sometimes I was admonished for this, sometimes given credit, sometimes just looked at with bewilderment. Members of the Armed Forces comes from all walks of life, they aren’t just Republicans.
We need to show the public that Libertarians do come from all walks of life.
McKennon: I believe that the future of the party lies in the hands of it’s members. We must be the activist that move us forward. Our leaders at the LNC are their to provide guidance and a strategy and will need all of our help.
I will do what I have done since joining the party. Which is talk to individuals about the party, about Liberty and about joining the party whenever I get the chance to do so. I am a firm believer in grow the party…grow the vote!
Sharpe: Step 1: Communicate a positive, easy to hear message of maximum choice and opportunity for all.
Step 2: Repeat Step 1.
Weiss: We need to focus on our environment. We’ve been ignored in the corner for decades; continuing down the same path, doing things the way we’ve always done, that should not be an option on the table right now.
How do we make the Libertarian Party a more pleasant environment for other libertarians? How do we make the Libertarian Party a more pleasant environment for casual liberty enthusiasts? How do we make the Libertarian Party a more pleasant environment for politically apathetic people who just like pool parties and Facebook?
How do we make the Libertarian Party a more pleasant environment?
I want all Libertarian Party members to repeat that in their head 5000 times. How do we make the Libertarian Party a more pleasant environment for ourselves, so that others would like to be involved too? Because there are so many liberty activists who would love to participate. So many. They’re here. They would love to help. But scheming to take down other libertarians all the time…. they’re not going to be a part of that. Most liberty activists want to see improvement in the world, they’re just not into spending their time fighting with other people.
What planks, if any, of the national platform do you disagree with? Why?
Dearn: I agree with all of them. I just read them all again to be sure. Libertarians are spot on with the best way to organize our laws, society and government.
Stewart: Since I’m an LP newcomer, I am in “listening mode” on LP platform. I happen to think platforms don’t matter to elections (and we all know they have been irrelevant to governance). Candidates matter. We should nominate the best presidential candidate and run with his positions.
As a VP there to support my presidential candidate, the only distinctions I would then utter publicly are to me MORE liberty-minded than my president. (To the establishment masses I am “bad cop” to his “good cop”). If he is fighting for a “penny plan”, I say “the establishment is lucky it’s not a whole nickel (5% cuts vs 1% cuts)”. If he is fighting for more “zero deficits in 10 years” I say “if it were me, it would be three years – so take what my President is offering”.
Hogan: While I agree with section 2 (Economic Liberty) for the most part, I do disagree with a portion of section 2.1 (Property and Contract) specifically as it pertains to eminent domain.
I think eminent domain has a place, though VERY limited one, in government. If a project serves an actual public purpose such as roads or schools I think the process is reasonable if the person is compensated substantially above fair market value.
A few years before I relocated to Manhattan, Kansas there was an iron works in the heart of downtown. By the time I got there it had been removed and replaced with a shopping center. Based on what I was told by the residents, this iron works had been removed via eminent domain and this was still a major point of contention in the town. Retail space is not a reasonable use of the eminent domain process. While it does serve a “public purpose” it serves greater purpose to the company that will be moving in.
With this being said, I don’t think the government should simply swoop in, throw money at a citizen, and then take their land. The citizen in question should be given ample opportunity to rebut the proposal and present alternatives.
McKennon: I am support our current platform. I was very proud of the changes to the LPTexas platform that were made this last convention.
Weiss: I took a closer look into the whole LP Platform controversy. While some of the proposed platform changes seemed fine and harmless, the change regarding abortion is alarming. I’m hardcore pro-choice, and government should not be involved in this matter, I don’t want that removed from the platform. And I honestly can’t understand why the other changes are proposed. Even though some of the proposed changes are acceptable, there’s no need for them, the current platform is just fine. I brought this up with John McAfee and he agrees completely.
Do you think anything is going right in our country?
Dearn: America is still a wealthy and privileged place to live in comparison to many places in the world. We still prosper from our gains over two and a half centuries of liberty. But we have slowly been heading towards socialism for the last century. We have time to reverse it. If we fail to reverse it, then all the good that America has created for its citizens and the world will fade into history. So yes, there are many good things still (mostly because of our free markets), but liberty is under serious attack.
Stewart: YES! But almost all of it is private! Municipal governments have helped improve their communities. States don’t and the Feds have been lachrymose.
Hogan: I think there is much greater interest in the political process among young people, and I think people are starting to realize that the two party system doesn’t work. Changes are coming down the pipe pretty quickly now, and I believe they are going to start coming faster.
As with any organization or group, Human Capital is the most important thing there is. People make a business, a community, and a government. With people becoming more aware we can start making those progressive moves which will improve the nation as a whole.
McKennon: One thing…we can still be part of the process. We still have the power to make changes for the better.
Sharpe: WE are VERY slowly seeing the duopoly as one big party full of different rhetoric, but similar governing. Our time is now.
What libertarian related books have you read lately? Have any of them impacted you, or caused you to change an opinion? If a book doesn’t come to mind, how about the same questions regarding a movie?
Dearn: Most of my time is spent reading law and business books, articles, and arguments. None of these sources are strictly Libertarian. But everything I do as a lawyer confirms my Libertarianism. I see constant infringements upon people’s rights to property, the fruits of their labor, or their free movement. Everyday people — our neighbors, friends, and family — are suffering from government restrictions. I do not need to read much Libertarian philosophy because I am in the trenches of statism all day, everyday, trying to help the victims.
Here’s an example of something I read the other day: a complaint by the California Department of Industrial Relations against a small company who is a client of mine. The company worked on installing internet cable into a public building. They paid union wages but failed to hire enough workers as “apprentices” from a state approved program. The company had attempted to comply by calling the DIR, who refuses to give advice on how to comply. Then, when they failed, the DIR fined them well into the six figures — more than any profit they could’ve made on this project by a fair measure. So this small business will likely bankrupt and the owner lose his retirement. It’s immoral. Nothing I read reaffirms my Libertarianism as much as legal complaints by the government.
Stewart: All have been at the macro and pragmatic level, and I prefer short articles, so my list includes
Victor Davis Hanson
But even when I don’t have him on by nightstand, my brain still goes back to MY original Libertarian, who reminds us all how “if I were king” is the prescription for totalitarianism. That’s
who brought me to voting Libertarian in 1996. I have never wavered from voting LP for the top post since then, other than a one-time write-in (Sarah Palin in 2008).
Hogan: Between work, family, and graduate school there hasn’t been much time for free reading or movie watching lately. Hell, I still have four episodes of the “The Blacklist” on my DVR I haven’t had the opportunity to watch yet.
McKennon: Right now, I’m reading ‘Free to Choose’ by Milton and Rose Friedman. I really believe that the title says it all about the Liberty we strive for. I mean who doesn’t want to be Free to Choose.
Weiss: The most recent liberty related book I’ve read is “In Order To Live” by Yeonmi Park, detailing her escape from North Korea. It’s a powerful story, and it gives you a personal insight in to the value of liberty, but I understanding what it’s like to live without it.
What qualities do you think are most important for a presidential candidate?
Dearn: My first question for any elected official is, “Are you a moral and ethical person?” We must have people in power who are firmly grounded in their moral and ethical beliefs. That way we can trust them to make decisions based on principles instead of political expedience. My second question is, “Can you articulate and persuade people towards Libertarian principles?” It is important to educate the voters on Libertarianism in ways that they can assimilate those ideas into their everyday lives. It is also important for our first Libertarian President to be able to negotiate and persuade Congress towards Libertarian policies. My third question is, “Are you going to help grow the party locally.” We must grow our grassroots and the national ticket is the face of our local activists.
Stewart:For THIS year:
Just…be…NORMAL. Dems and Repubs are about to nominate two freaks.
Without the media bias, almost any of our current crop of candidates would be toe-to-toe more appealing than Clinton and Trump. (Remember, in a 3-way race, all we need is 40% in a state to get all its electoral votes). Of the 28 P and VP candidates in play, at least 20 are NORMAL, and thus better than Clinton and Trump.
It’s every LP member’s job to crack the media bias. We need to write letters to editors. We need to call radio talk shows. We need to Blog, tweet, and attend online forums.
As media starts revealing that LP has two normal candidates (P and VP), we gain. That they just may be STELLAR candidates is a bonus. That their positions are likely in sync with at least 40% of the electorate is a bonus too.
“Socially liberal, economically conservative” is a rough, but good-for-now slogan that a high percentage of voters identify with. Our Presidential nominee needs to use that with mass media, and our minions need to use this phrase in micro ways to move voters (and eventually the media) the LP way.
Hogan: To say that experience in the government is necessary is a short-sighted assumption. Look what that has gotten us over the last several years. Even in our current search for a nominee I think there are several things we have to consider.
I think honesty and ownership are two incredibly important virtues that are completely absent from our government as a collective. Be honest about your dealings and take ownership of your mistakes.
Openess to critique and suggestions are also very important. If you can’t receive constructive criticism how can you expect to improve in the job? If you aren’t willing to at least listen to the advice and suggestions of other s how can you expect to be effective?
McKennon: Our President must be principled and prepared to fight for individual Liberty for All. Experience is important and will weigh heavily in many of our decisions, but we can not have someone who is lacking in principles. I personally want someone I can trust to be fair, honest and respectful.
Sharpe: Confidence, Good Communication Skills and a clear understanding of our principles.
Weiss: Ultimately a Libertarian Presidential candidate needs to be able to sell our message of liberty. Governing experience is simply not relevant for an LP candidate. The ability to catch attention and turn heads and introduce these ideas well, that is all that matters. We need someone that can generate excitement, and help push the liberty movement further than it’s ever been. John McAfee is the exciting lovable eloquent Rock Star to do that for the Libertarian Party. We need someone cool for once. We need someone exciting. We have no hope if were boring and uninteresting.
A list of all the vice-presidential candidates can be found at www.lp.org.
The candidates will be selected by the delegates to the Libertarian Party’s National Convention in Orlando, Florida Sunday May 29, 2016.