Monthly Archives: November, 2016

I’m Mormon and a Libertarian

round_lds_libertarian_sticker-r61564c5dda0b4cf3958447aaf505f1ba_v9waf_8byvr_324I wanted to get a little personal for a moment and talk about my spiritual side. It is true that I am a member of the LDS Church and also adhere to the principles of Libertarianism. Some may think that they are mutually exclusive including some who may be in the Church. However, based on the religious doctrines that I have studied in depth and the principles of libertarianism I have studied, there is far more in common between the two than what is normally perceived.

 In order to understand the first line up of the religious doctrine to libertarian philosophy, we must go before the world was created. According to our beliefs, in Heaven there was a great assembly of all the souls that would eventually inhabit the Earth. During this meeting our Heavenly Father laid out his Plan of Salvation. This plan would require for us to come to Earth, forgetting our Heavenly home, and come to accept God through prophets he would send. Because of this mortal state, we would make mistakes and would be considered unclean in the sight of God. In order for us to return to his presence and reunite with him after our passing, we would need a Savior to atone for the sins we commit.

 God’s plan required us to have agency, or the ability to choose to accept to come back to him. This is the first instance of free will.

 Another entity we believe as Lucifer, stood up to God and offered an alternative. This alternative was to force everyone to be righteous and then there would be no need for us to have this agency. There would be no need for a savior. Through Lucifer’s plan, all would be guaranteed to return to Heaven.

 The flaw with Lucifer’s plan was that without the ability to make a mistake, we could not learn beyond that which we already knew. We would not grow as spiritual beings in truly knowing the difference between right and wrong, suffering and pleasure, sorrow and happiness. We had to learn these things in order to become more like God. We had to understand things through experience.

 Ultimately the proposal from Lucifer failed, and we came to Earth with free will: our agency. This is 100% in line with the philosophy of libertarianism, as we believe all interaction must be voluntary without any force or coercion.

 The next doctrine I find that falls in line with philosophy is what we consider “Articles of Faith.”

The first one that I find aligning with libertarianism is the second article: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” This is saying that you can only be accountable for the actions you choose to take. You are the only one responsible for what you do, no one else.

The next one I find aligning perfectly with libertarianism is the eleventh article: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

In the Book of Mormon, taxation is linked with slavery and bondage of the people. One king was described as wicked for, among other reasons, a 20% income tax on the people, while another king is praised for his righteousness for levying no taxes whatsoever.

Doctrine and Covenants 134, a chapter in scripture prefaced as “A declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general,” contains several verses which uphold the explicit right to private property. For example: “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.” If you fall into the faction of libertarianism that believes a cornerstone of rights is the right to property, this is one that definitely aligns with our philosophy.

David O. McKay, the man who served as prophet of our church from 1951 until his death in 1970, stated the following: “A man may act as his conscience dictates so long as he does not infringe upon the rights of others.” On of the highest leaders of the Church in our history understood the importance of individual liberty.

Towards the latter end of the Book of Mormon, one of the books that serves as a doctrinal instruction and testament of Christ in the Americas, the prophet Mormon, who later compiled the record of scripture offers a stark warning to those who would eventually read the passages. He had documented how secretive groups of conspiring individuals brought down two strong civilizations by infiltrating the governments and imposing their  wills on the masses.

As members of the Church, we are counseled to “suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain” and commanded by God to “awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you.” Many members of the LDS faith thus are sensitive observers and tend to oppose corruption and conspiracy— especially within government, since our scriptures also document such groups usurp political authority in an attempt to further their lust for control and power over others.

One of the prophets in my lifetime, Ezra Taft Benson, regularly cited individuals like Hayek and Mises when delivering advice to members of the Church. He spoke often of freedom and liberty, both socially and economically.

These are just a few examples of places that we align. While some members of the Church come off as more authoritarian, we are not supposed to force our will upon others. We are supposed to have voluntary acceptance of our faith. Some who have garnered power have used it to enact spiritually based laws, which would negate why we came to Earth in the first place: to choose. We must remember that free will is why we are here, so I do encourage members of my faith to start reading into libertarianism.

2020 Is a While Yet

Elections AheadIt seems to be never ending. Now that one election cycle has ended, I have seen the myriad of Libertarians asking “Who should we run in 2020?” To be honest, it is time to stop asking that question. It is time we start focusing on building a foundation instead of starting with the spire of the tower.

I certainly understand the drive for getting someone solid advocating on a national scale for what I also believe in. However, when we continue to focus on the Presidential election, we put the cart before the horse. All too often it becomes a former elected official from one of the major parties swooping in every four years with promises of their notoriety getting us to the top. We accept their grandiose claims, nominate them, lose the election, then complain about running someone better for the next four years only to have the cycle repeat itself.

While we certainly should run a top ticket each cycle, we shouldn’t wait four years to take action. Our focus needs to be cheetah intense at the local level every year. There are many down ballot positions that come available each year, whether it is a city council position or state House member. We need Libertarian County Commissioners. We need Libertarian City Councils. We need Libertarian legislators.

This gives us a record to run on in the future. This makes it so that we don’t have to borrow from one of the other parties to run a reputable candidate. We would now have the ability to showcase what we have done in practice instead of speaking in theory.

People would be able to take us more seriously when we field someone from within our own ranks that fought for decreasing government at lower levels before stepping up to the big time. We need to stop pipe dreaming about the Presidential Election, especially before the newly elected individual has been inaugurated. We need to identify the people who are ready to lead their communities. We need to donate and volunteer to get those foundation candidates elected.

If we ever want to be taken seriously, we need to start acting serious. This means that we don’t focus on the top before we have a record to run them on;

Take my advice Libertarians, from a former candidate who won a county position: we make our best efforts when we worry locally before we put people up for top dog. There are hundreds of races that are unopposed in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Let’s get some people in there and winning.

Let’s get the forgotten 47% of America their voices back. Let’s fight for liberty at every level. The change happens once we start to change our focus.

Do Libertarians Have What it Takes?

Third_Parties-matterEarlier today, I saw an article posted by a friend that crossed my timeline essentially taking the stance that the Libertarian Party tends to run a bunch of inexperienced individuals for office.

“I think and this is sad, that most Libertarians don’t give a damn about winning an election. The people inside the Libertarian Party are so immature that some nobody with no money, no resume, no experience, and no skills, calls himself a Libertarian and says that want to run for a seat in Congress and the party says: “Ok cool, there you go”

This is not how things go.

The author has looked at a couple of examples and used a broad brush to paint us in a bad light. It is a common theme that libertarians are used to, but here are the facts that we found about the candidates who ran for Federal office this year from the 120+ races:

  •  There were dozens of business owners who stepped up to run. These are entrepreneurs who know what small business needs to fix a broken system.
  • There were many with prior military experience. The average time we were able to find was 6.5 years of service in the Armed forces between those with verifiable time in.
  • At least one Congressional candidate in the race had actually been elected to a county policy board.

This is not an all inclusive list of the many experiences and talents that candidates brought to the table. The other thing that needs to be noted is that there were a total of 602 candidates recognized by the National Party.

We ran candidates for City Councils, County Commissions, Railroad Commissions, Governors, Attorney Generals, State Houses, State Senates, School Boards, and so many other positions.

The author also ignorantly states that the candidates just approach the Central Committees and say they want to run and are given the go ahead to do so. This is not the case according to the bylaws of nearly every affiliate in the United States. What is done in most cases is that a State Convention is held. These individuals who are running for office must state their case and qualifications to the body of voting members, in some cases hundreds of individuals. Even if the candidate is running unopposed in this Convention Process, they must still in most cases receive a 2/3 majority support in order to receive the nomination. Further, each candidate must face the opposition of “NOTA”or None of the Above.

These are vetted individuals in almost all cases, and most of the candidates are professional in what they attempt.

These individuals put in a lot of time, effort, money, and shoes wearing out to do what they do. There are plenty of critiques to be had in order to help make things better. This article was nothing more than a hit piece against the people who are doing more work than most in the fight for the author’s liberty.

Beyond the 2016 Election

libertarian-leade-2So here we are. The 2016 election has been decided and while the Libertarian Party had some great gains, we didn’t really win any seats. Does it show that we are starting to break through to people? You bet. But there is so much more that we need to do.

The road didn’t come to a dead end on November 8th. No, it just took a detour and there are still miles ahead. So what are we to do now that the election is over? Do we go back to sleep and hope that there is another candidate in four year? Should we hedge our bets on some personality stepping forward to follow?

My answer is no.

What I would like to offer you are a few things you can start doing as we lead up to something even more impressive four years from now. It is going to take some work. It is going to require more than being on Facebook in a Libertarian group arguing whether anarchy or minarchy is superior. Dust of your jacket, lace up your shoes, and get ready to build.

  1. Live libertarian. The first thing you need to do is to live by example. This is probably one of the most underrated and least discussed thing among libertarians from what I have encountered. We need to step up and truly be the change we want to see. This means that we need to be the ones acting without government. So it’s time to organize a food drive, attend a cancer run/walk, do a coat drive for the homeless, gather blankets for the women’s shelter. We talk about the need for people to step up and do these sorts of things without government coercion. So it’s time that we all start doing what we can, so that when people see us running for office, they know we are putting our time and money where our mouths are.
  2. Pay your dues. Make sure to pay your state and national dues. We can’t do much without money to help candidates. There are still states that haven’t secured ballot access, and a lot of the funds raised go into those efforts. Other affiliates are using the funds to pay for things like filing fees to get candidates on the ballots in their states. We need to make sure that these sorts of things can be paid for so that we can focus on more important things like running a campaign.
  3. Outreach, outreach, outreach! There are opportunities every day for you to recruit people in your community. Whether you sign up to volunteer to run the Nolan chart at a community festival where your state party set up a booth, or talk to your co-worker at the water cooler, take the opportunity to try to get people involved in the party. Everyone can find a way to be a spokesman for the party. Find out how you can get communicating with other people and get them showing up.
  4. Help candidates. We cannot wait to help out in 2020. There are local elections in 2017. Let’s get some candidates running and elected into city councils, county boards, maybe even a couple Mayors. It is 100% possible to get great people into office in these levels. This gives credibility should that candidate seek higher office and gives people in the community a sense of what can be achieved by libertarians once they are elected. So help identify races, run if you can, support those who step up with your time (and money if you can).

Just a few things you can start doing right away to help the movement. We need to stay active, vigilant, and grow our ground game. Things will continue to get better so long as we stay dedicated.

My Final Electoral Thoughts of 2016

LiberporcTo the Members of the Libertarian Party:

The 2016 election has ended. It ended much the way that I expected it to. What I am about to say will apply to many of you. There are some who this doesn’t apply to because I know there were efforts taken by those willing to do the hard work it takes to make a difference; most you did not. If you think I am writing about you after reading this memo, it likely is about you, and if the shoe fits, it’s yours to wear.

First off, it is beyond clear now that the so called “pragmatic approach” so many elected to take at the National Convention has failed once again. What could have been a prime opportunity to truly embrace our unique identity as libertarians was white washed by Hillary praising and half measures by Governors Bill Weld and Gary Johnson.  While certainly the most government experience present as candidates, when it came to what opportunities were available to the duo, they fell short.

One could argue that they were trying to be more centric to appeal to people, one can even claim that we may not have garnered the media we did in the election. What these claims ignore is that the mountain we must climb as a third party is already a high bar, so we should remain as consistently principled in our approach as possible. We are not centric in our ideology. We are not a grab bag of Democrat and Republican ideas. We are a totally separate option. We also wasted the opportunities with the media with several praises of one of the other candidates in the race.

From experience speaking with many people in my area, I witnessed the disappointment from many voters first hand. I saw so many people come up to me as I did outreach throughout the season telling me that they considered supporting our ticket, but couldn’t after either not sticking to principles or praising Clinton. It is one thing to keep a campaign clean and above the mudslinging, it is quite another to make statements about another candidate being the most qualified in the race.

For all the promises of debates, hitting at least 5%, and possible electoral votes, these all fell flat as this ticket floundered all the way to election night on so many chances.

I personally could have far more tolerated the ticket without Governor Weld. Because of him on the ticket, I had to hold my nose to cast my ballot for the Libertarian ticket this year. The only reason I placed that vote was to help my state preserve ballot access for future candidates like myself, and possibly you the reader, to run.

I argued against Governor Weld because of his history. What I learned on the campaign trail further solidified my disagreement with him being the Vice-Presidential nominee. I held my tongue to stay out of the constant arguing amongst libertarians, but I regret this decision. I should have brought this to light when I first overheard it. I owe everyone an apology, and it is something that will likely haunt me.

On August 6th, the Johnson/Weld campaign held a rally at the University of Utah. I had originally been scheduled to speak at the rally, however, in the “wise judgement” of the campaign management, I was excluded in favor of Republicans, a Bernie Delegate, and someone who had only been in the party a couple weeks as a recently converted State legislator from the Republican Party to Libertarian.

Despite this exclusion, I decided to show unity even though this would have helped propel my own campaign for the U.S. House and it hurt to schedule work off to attend. I was allowed into the green room, got some photos and one on one time with both governors. Things were going well, all things considered.  As the speakers started filing out, and Governors Weld and Johnson moved over to the door, I overheard a quirk that should have sent me ringing the alarm bells.

Though a joke, I’m sure, I don’t consider this a joking matter in the least. Governor Weld stated to Gary that things would be so much easier if they could just get rid of the 5th amendment in regards to opposition. The worst part wasn’t even just that Bill Weld stated something like this, it was that Gary Johnson agreed with him and laughed about it. Therefore, I regret staying silent so long. Due process is something that we need to defend and it is not something to quip about. This in combination with so many bad stances taken should have been enough for me to speak out more boldly. While I certainly corrected the record on libertarian stances when the ticket went off script, I neglected to speak about this issue.

I can tell you this much, if I am in a position as a delegate again, I will never support another Republican cross over candidate. It is one thing to come to learn and leave the old ideas at the door as you learn about and advocate libertarian principles; it is quite another to have a whopping three weeks’ time in the party and run for Vice President. Thankfully, I never voted for Weld in Orlando, but I should have fought harder to get someone like Larry Sharpe on the ticket.

This is the revelation I have on the top of the ticket from this election. The rest of this writing applies to some issues I observed in my own race and races across the country.

Where was the same level of motivation and dedication to down ballot candidates that you all had for Gary Johnson and Bill Weld?

This obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, as there are many dedicated volunteers who have helped us out, but the clear majority focused at the top instead of also helping build the foundation for a future of the party. The number one reason why individuals argued for the ticket we got was experience. So answer me this libertarians: how the hell do we advance things if we don’t get people into positions to get that experience? Are we just supposed to keep having former Republicans and Democrats come over and use our ballot access while promising the world? Or doesn’t it make sense that you build a foundation so we can make greater strides?

When are we going to stop bringing over the Welds, Barrs, and Roots? Are we ever going to learn our lessons about them?

To further illustrate this point about top down instead of bottom up, I have seen over thirty different polls online asking who we should run in 2020. Why are we focusing on 2020 when there are local elections in 2017? What about the midterms in 2018? We shouldn’t wait four years before we start getting people into office. We need to be supporting those principled individuals to get into the ground work and start implementing libertarian policies!

I get it. It is elating to feel a part of a Presidential campaign. However, there are so many people running to represent you across the board that need your help. We need people to help phone bank. We need people to donate if they are able. We need people to door knock. We need people to help man outreach booths. We need people to hold signs in parades. We need people to help hand out material at public events.

Most of you jumped at the chance to do it for the top ticket, but forgot about the state legislative candidate. You left out the Senate candidate. You left behind that County Commissioner candidate. You let down that Congressional candidate. You could have done so much more than what you did in races that could have made a huge difference.

There were at least 16 federal elections with only the Libertarian and one major party candidate that could have used the help. There was a myriad of two way races at the local and state levels that could have used your support. Is it great you help Gary? Of course, however, you failed the people who could have made the biggest impact on the political climate where you are most affected: your community.

For the record, this is not me complaining about my own run either. I had some wonderful supporters who regularly helped me out and it reflected in the results of 5.59% and over 11,000 votes which set a record for the party in my state and put me with only two other third party candidates in my district’s history. Some of Gary’s volunteers even did double duty with me. Don’t think this is a blanket for everyone, but if the shoe fits, you had better wear it and accept the bed you made.

The only two disappointments I had in my own run was when I was so close to being in the debates in October. I let people everywhere know the polling was going on. I asked for support, and in a moment I could have used it, too few stepped forward. I ended up excluded over .5% in the polls. If I could have gotten more support, I know without a doubt I would have been on that stage. The second disappointment I had was when I asked for support to protest the exclusion only four people showed up to support me outside of the venue. This was heartbreaking beyond measure. If you followed the campaign at all, you saw how much I put into it. I was not a placeholder.

Now, before someone wants to jump in and start blaming libertarian “purists” or throwing out accusations my way, or to others, we are not the reason why the race was low. We were not the ones who failed to show up. This may be anecdotal, but from what I experienced, it was radicals who were showing up for outreach, it was radicals who were donating, it was radicals fighting tooth and nail in tons of races. There were radicals all over the place pushing for the most libertarian direction possible.

Most of the donations I personally received in my race were from radicals. Even though I wasn’t endorsed by the Libertarian Radical Caucus, several of their members stepped up to help with their time and money, seeing that while I wasn’t as far down the path they had traveled, I was sincere in what I was doing and truly believed in the principles I spoke about.

This brings me to my final point: I am sick and tired of feeling like we aren’t welcome in this movement. There are constant attacks against anarchists in the party and it needs to stop. We fight for liberty as hard as we can. We are out there doing ballot drives, manning outreach booths, running effective campaigns, and even when we didn’t get our choice in, we gave Gary Johnson and Bill Weld a chance. Many of us still volunteered to help the campaign. Some of us donated. It wasn’t until they continued to go against principles, including against our platform, admitting such on national news, that we started correcting the record and dropping support.

But seeing as how we are one of the smallest minorities in the country as radicals, we are not the cause of this. It falls square on you for choosing them. I don’t know what would have happened with a different ticket.  We had a chance to have someone advocate for libertarianism in a way not ever presented before, as the two most horrible people possible stepped up for the major parties. As of now, we also see that all the excuses of government experience are now thrown out the window, as President-elect Trump has none.

To further illustrate the point, look at Evan McMullin’s results in his home state of Utah and compare them to Gary Johnson’s results in the state of New Mexico. Evan McMullin, basically a nobody at all, garnered 20% of the vote at home. Gary Jonson in contrast as the former Governor of New Mexico only managed to get 9% of the vote. We literally could have nominated just about anyone and focused on stopping the electoral college 270 minimum to force the House vote and possibly had success.

I’m done accepting promises from former Republicans swooping in to run and being accepted with open arms almost immediately with their lofty promises. For all the promises made, none of them happened. We didn’t get into the Debates. We didn’t get 5% of the vote. If this continues, there is no real party of principles, because the people we are running end up lacking principles, yet we continue to accept hand me downs looking for the ballot access we fought for. Where were they during these efforts?

I am not giving up on the efforts of liberty, but I hope what I have stated today helps to take stock of your part in this campaign season. I hope that if you were one of those who could have done far more, you take it to heart and do what you can going forward.

I will personally take about two weeks of time away from most things political. After that, I get back to work on the movement for liberty. As a Chairman of a County affiliate, my work doesn’t end after a Presidential cycle; I hope your own contributions don’t cease and you work to help grow the party and educate people about the philosophy of libertarianism. I sincerely hope that you don’t go to sleep for another four years until it’s time for another Presidential race.  We have elections in 2017, 2018, and 2019 before we get to the National Convention in 2020.

We need tomorrow’s leaders to step up to run. We need volunteers to man those booths as we do outreach. We need people helping man the phones. We need people to door knock and hand out flyers.

Will you step up?  Will you do your part? Will you help truly grow libertarianism in the world?

I will be there. I will be in the trenches with you if you’re willing to help dig in. Will you join me? Will you prove me wrong from 2017 up to 2020 about what I saw this year?

It is your choice libertarians.

In Liberty

Craig Bowden