A couple of years ago, IPR sent some questions to Adam Kokesh. Some time much later than that we received his answers, and I am in turn very late in posting them here. My apologies. I meant for this to kick off a series, and there’s now an IPR interview with Jacob Hornberger. Which other candidates would our readers like to see interviewed and what should we ask them? Please comment below. I don’t know off hand if any of Adam’s answers would change now, other than that he was single at the time and has since become engaged. I’ll shoot him this link in case he wants to participate in any followup discussion.
On Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 6:19 PM Adam Kokesh
JW1 revised) What do you think the last LP presidential campaign, or the last several, should have done differently/better? Do you think LP convention delegates tend to use the wrong criteria in evaluating candidates? Do you think they have learned their lesson on this, as a whole? Or, is it a matter of who shows up, and do you believe that you can out-organize other campaigns in turning out enough supporters to the convention to capture the nomination?
The last three cycles, the LP has nominated national candidates who lacked consistent application of libertarian ethics and thus of course naturally, also lacked a compelling application of libertarian principles in policy. Aside from that, I could pick apart all sorts of lesser mistakes made by the campaigns, but without those two fundamentals, the rest doesn’t matter much. As for the delegates, I just want to see more grassroots activists who understand the movement and have the best interests of the party at heart come out to be delegates so the nominations aren’t decided by people who are just there for one candidate. I think with everything our team has accomplished in recruiting delegates over the past three years, I’m confident that we will not have many empty seats at the end of state convention season.
JW2) Do you plan to appeal to so-called pragmatic Libertarians, and if so, how?
I think my biggest appeals to Pragmatists are that I am one and our platform is the most pragmatic. Most of the people in the party who I’ve met who identify as “prags,” want a nominee who can unite people with an inclusive vision rather than an extreme one of limited appeal. This is the best feature of localization, the idea behind our campaign and platform. By giving each state in the union (and every native tribe) the chance at sovereignty, we don’t have to argue about whose vision gets forced on others. When government is localized, everybody gets what they want.
CM 1) You ran for U.S. Congress as a Republican in New Mexico. Why not as a Libertarian? Have you permanently converted from Republican to Libertarian, or do you plan to switch back and forth?
I only ran as a Republican because Ron Paul asked me to and he wouldn’t support anyone running outside the GOP. I was a lifetime member of the LP at the time, having bought a lifetime membership soon as I got back from Iraq as it was the first time I could afford it. I am more of a loyalist to principle than party, and if a libertarian sees more opportunity working with another party, I can’t hold that against them.
CM 2 revised) In previous IPR comments Andy Jacobs (whom you talked to in Columbus, video interview to be published later -p) points out you have embraced some positions of Hans H. Hoppe.
Corollary 1: To what extent do you agree or disagree with Hoppe’s immigration views?
Hoppe endorses the legitimacy of government borders and using force to defend them. I hold the position that the only legitimate borders are private property borders.
Corollary 2: What is your position on immigration?
Property owners should be able to decide who comes on their property. It is unethical for a government to interfere with anyone’s right to accept an invitation to my property.
Corollary 3: Are there any positions of Hoppe or the so-called alt right which you find to be repulsive and worthy of condemnation and dissociation?
All of them that aren’t libertarian.
Corollary 4: Do you believe that associating libertarianism with the alt right is a big problem for the party and/or movement?
It’s a problem in the sense that it’s one more thing for easily confused people to get confused about, but nowhere near our biggest problem in that category. If anything, the alt-right is a potential gateway to libertarianism.
AA1) Suppose the federal government actually is dissolved. Do you anticipate problems such as those which occur with international immigration and trade now happening between states? For example: would a person from Louisiana visiting a relative in Connecticut have to apply for a travel visa? Will there be roundups of “illegal” native born Californians who cross into Nevada and Arizona without permission? Will New Jerseyans caught in NYC without a work permit be held in the Tombs, Rikers, or a new prison camp on Staten Island? Will citizens of Indiana and Wisconsin commuting to jobs in Chicago have to cross international border checkpoints and how much will that delay their commute? And so on.
Will we see former US states slapping each other with trade tariffs and quotas? Will we see gun confiscation up north and theocracy down south?
Suppose the federal government lasts forever. Doesn’t seem very likely, does it? The better big picture question here is, “How will the federal government end?” Clearly, it is not sustainable and we can already do far better. I have absolute confidence that the American people will not tolerate any unjustifiable interference in the rights of travel and commerce that we currently enjoy. While localization of government does not promise that there will be no problems with government, it does guarantee that they will be smaller in their destructive impacts and much easier to correct.
As for gun confiscation in some areas and theocracy in others, hypothetically, yes, but I don’t imagine that anyone will be forced into a theocracy any more dominant than the current theocracy of statism and any gun control policies will be in line with local cultures and gradual enough in effect that anyone who wants to get out of the way of any imposing gun control will have the opportunity to move or secede before involuntary confiscation happens. When government is localized to the community level, people will have the chance to form communities based on their preferences for gun control policy and religious affiliation, or whatever is important to them.
XX1) Does the President have the power to dissolve the federal government? If yes, what would be the legal/constitutional mechanism for doing so? If not, is this a problem for your campaign?
No, the President does not, but the American people do. This campaign is an appeal to that one document of authority higher than The Constitution, namely The Declaration of Independence which says we have not only a right but a duty to alter or abolish systems of government which no longer serve us. When the American people clearly declare that we will not put up with this nonsense any longer, no one can stand in our way.
Xx2) During the fallout from the controversy over your breakup with Marcy and one or more other then campaign staffers quitting at the same time, you wrote that you had some problems with a personally authoritarian leadership style that you learned in the military and that you were working on this problem. Do you believe you have made significant progress on that? Are you getting along well with your current staff and significant other if any? Do you anticipate more issues with staff shakeups going forward?
The only significant leadership experience I had at the time was as a Sergeant in the Marines. I’ve learned a lot since then and I would encourage everyone to join our public weekly team “Kokesh Kitchen Cabinet” conference call Wednesdays at 7pmET to hear our team in action. FMI: https://kokeshforpresident.com/transparency/
I’ve been dating with the intention of finding “the one” for ten years. I’ve had four serious failed romantic relationships in that time. I’ve finally gotten old enough to be patient enough to take the time to do it right. I’m not seeing anyone right now.
XX3) Have you made any attempt at creating broadcast-length (30 second and 1 minute) youtube ads that your supporters could pay to put on the air if they chose to? If not, do you have any plans for doing so?
Yes! Absolutely. We have plans for a series to coincide with state convention season, January-April next year.
Xx4) How closely do you plan on cooperating (or not) in sharing your campaign data and lists with the LNC and/or state and local LPs?
We share everything we can with appropriate NDAs to ensure personal data is not abused.
Xx5) As additional candidates join the race, how closely do you intend to work with them in setting up joint forums/debates? Will you debate only certain candidates or any who will debate you? If the former, what criteria will you use to choose which ones you will or won’t share the stage with?
We’ve been working together very well so far and with the other candidates in the race taking it seriously enough to travel to debates, and we really are running as a team. I’ll debate anyone a state LP asks me to.
How about general election debates – who will or won’t you debate from the other parties and independents? Do you have a strategy to get invited to the main debates with the Republican and Democratic nominees? If not, do you have a strategy to gain maximum publicity from those debates?
I can’t say exactly what our approach will be to debates other than the ones on the main stage, but generally speaking, I’d like to do as many as we can. We have a strategy that will either get us in the main debates or allow us to leverage them for massive publicity, but some things have to remain a surprise to be effective.
Xx6) Do you plan on seeking or accepting the nomination of any party besides the LP? Will you support whoever wins the LP nomination, only yourself if you win, or do you have specific criteria on who you will or won’t support if it is not you – if so, what are they? If you are unhappy with the LP nominee, will you seek or accept any ballot lines that you can still get for yourself at that point?
No. I will most likely support whomever is the nominee with at least an endorsement, and certainly if it’s any of the current team of candidates, but I reserve the right to withhold on the chance of a freak occurrence takeover of the party. Unless we nominate someone like Adolf Hitler, there’s no way I’d run with another party or write-in or anything else.
Xx7) Have you made much in the way of an attempt of getting on to not specifically libertarian shows on broadcast radio and/or TV? Is this something you plan on doing as part of your campaign stops going forward? How about submitting editorials to daily and weekly and college publications around the country?
Absolutely! We have a great media team lead by Marus Pulis, (firstname.lastname@example.org) and by being willing to do almost any podcast interview, I regularly get invited on shows outside of the movement. If we had a volunteer who specifically wanted to help with editorials, I would love to incorporate that into our strategy!
Xx8) Given that LP nominates P and VP candidates separately, but P candidates sometimes endorse VP candidates for the nomination, do you plan on working as a “team” with a candidate for the VP nomination? Just let the delegates choose whoever they wish with no meddling from you if you are the P candidate? Would there be some plausible VP candidates you would have a problem being on the same ticket with? If you do not get the P nomination, will you run for the VP nomination as sometimes happens with candidates who do not get the P nomination?
There are a number of great candidates I would love to have as a running mate. They would have to credibly endorse our platform however. Right now, the candidate who would have the platform closest to mine is Cynthia McKinney. If she were to be the nominee, I would love to be her running mate and vice versa. My criteria for a running mate would be the most capable person who could carry out the bankruptcy of the federal government without me and help win the election. I will probably weigh in with the delegates but I don’t have any other plans for working with a running mate before the convention.
These questions suppose that the bylaw will not change which allows these offices to be voted on separately. What do you think of amending the bylaws to make the ticket one which is voted on jointly? Are you in favor or opposed to this change and is it important to you either wat?
I wouldn’t want to change the process for a joint nomination because I would rather that decision remain with the delegates.
xx9) Tell us a few things that are not generally known about you, especially anything that may come us a surprise to people.
My one major hobby outside of politics is off-grid alternative construction. I have a dog named Baloo and he adopted a family of feral cats, a mom and five kittens. When I’m done with politics, if not sooner, I’m going to put out an album of folk songs.
xx10) Other than dissolving the federal government, will you campaign on any specific issues? Suppose you somehow get elected President but do not have the power to dissolve the federal government, do you have a “backup plan”?
There are so many issues resolved or at least radically improved by dissolving the federal government it’s hard to say which will resonate with people the most. A big part of the campaign will be using issues that resonate people to connect and show how ending the fed will immediately improve countless lives. Winning decisively will be enough because that will represent the American people withdrawing their consent from the federal government. If we don’t win the election, the backup plan is to run again until we do. I understand that a black swan event is required for any Libertarian to win in 2020, but we can build on past success and have a breakthrough year by cracking 10% with a unifying message that inspires independents and traditional nonvoters. That will set us up to build or win in ’24 and win by ’28. As long as I have the support, I will run until the federal government ceases to exist one way or another.
TLI 1 revised) Do you believe lack of experience in lower office will be a problem in running for (not) president? Or do you see it as a more of a plus? Why or why not?
I think that the platform makes it irrelevant. Especially if you see that on our endorsements page, we are not asking for any personal endorsements: https://kokeshforpresident.com/endorsements/
If someone more capable of executing the bankruptcy comes along and credibly embraces the same platform, I will probably suspend to endorse and support them.
TLI 2 revised) What do you think of so-called “conspiracy theories”? Do you believe in some yourself? Are you open-minded about them? Do you plan on making them campaign themes or will you try to avoid talking about them? Do you see association with conspiracy theories and theorists to be detrimental to the public image of the party and your campaign, or do you see them as a fertile recruiting ground for new supporters?
I’m not a conspiracy theorist so much as a conspiracy realist. Some are obvious and undeniable, some are speculative. There are enough real ones to motivate me to do something without wasting too much time on speculation. Depending on the specific issues and conspiracies, they can be both helpful and harmful for the party.
TL3) How much money do you realistically hope to raise and if you qualify, would you accept matching funds? Would any money you raise be used for television advertising?
Our last filing was $185k and change. I hope to continue that success and raise another $200k+ before the convention. Johnson ’16 raised a total of about $12m. I think we can beat that. As for matching funds, I have not decided one way or another.
KL 1) You met 2018 LP Illinois lt governor candidate David Earl WIlliams III before the 2016 election at an event in northern Illinois. Would you consider David Earl Williams III as a possible VP candidate?
David is a great guy and I would love to have him on the team in any capacity. Although his name hasn’t come up yet, I would love to hear him make the case for himself.
KL 2) What are your thoughts on the Constitution Party?
It’s a bad dilution of effort that should be focused on the Libertarian Party.