To 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.
Recently, among many Libertarian Party groups I associate with online and off, I have heard many complaints about our top ticket candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. While I certainly agree that there are some valid concerns and issues raised, some individuals have spent a large majority of their time doing nothing more than attacking the top ticket.
I do appreciate dissent, and we should all be willing to declare our lines that should never be crossed. It is one thing that the Libertarian Party has done for the most part as the Party of Principle. We will call out candidates that are wrong. However, this focus of non stop attacks is not serving the party well. Voice your dissent and move on is the best way to handle the disagreement. I have even voiced my disagreement on my various outlets, but then I move on and get back to work for down ticket candidates, including myself.
One of the legitimate arguments that was brought in for support of Gary Johnson was that other candidates, though more consistent in their application of libertarian philosophy, was that he was the most experienced candidate available to carry the banner at the top of the ticket. It is hard when you compare the experience of a two term governor and self made millionaire to what was on the debate stage with him at convention. Only one other candidate on the stage in Orlando had the credibility and ability to get media, and that was John McAfee, who was a multi-national businessman.
So now is the time to stop focusing so much time on the blunders and start focusing on the candidates down ticket to get elected and into debates. You want to have a strong base going forward over the next four years, so that when we have the next go around, we have those more principled individuals with more credibility to their resume. We have around 100 candidates for the U.S. House and Senate, several gubernatorial candidates, a myriad of state legislative candidates, and plenty of those running for county and municipal races on the Libertarian ticket. If the people who spent as much time attacking Gary Johnson and Bill Weld went and spent that time promoting and volunteering for those locals, we would see many gains this year, as there is already a much larger interest in what we are saying this year ever since Trump and Clinton, two of the worst candidates possible for Democrats and Republicans, have driven people to seek other options.
We need to direct those people to looking into the people we have available for them to vote for at all levels of government. We’ve been plotting to take over the world and leave everyone alone, but we will only be able to do that if we actually start making headway in other races.
If you are one of the individuals focusing your time on Johnson or Weld in the negative and reading this, I implore you to stand up for the people who need your help. Doors are not going to be answered if no one is there to knock, flyers do not hand out themselves, letters to the editor must be written and submitted, phone calls aren’t made without someone to dial.
We have enough people in the party, and those that agree with us, that if we all went to work for the down ticket, we would no longer be considered a minor party. We would become the most legitimate threat to the two party system and start to dismantle the barriers to liberty.
The choice is yours on how to spend your time, but this is my two cents on the matter.
Yesterday was one of the busiest days I have had on the campaign trail. It all started with setting up for an event in Ogden for the Pride Festival. We had a booth set up to do some outreach on behalf of the Libertarian Party in Utah. After set up, I headed out to join in a rally for Governor Gary Johnson, this is where things started to get really interesting for me. As a person heavily involved with Utah’s Libertarian Party, I was afforded the opportunity to head back into the Green Room to get some words in with the media and also be with the two former Governors who are the top ticket.
During the time back there, I was able to speak with Governor Bill Weld at some length, and I was glad to have that opportunity. As many of you in libertarian circles know, I have been critical of Bill Weld’s past as Governor of Massachusetts. Speaking with him directly has given me the chance to see things from him in a different light, and I can see that he isn’t the same person now he was then. I’ve always prided myself on being able to judge a person’s character when I am able to meet with them, and Governor Weld was being very honest with his answers to me. I still don’t agree with everything, but I never have agreed 100% with every candidate who has run to represent me. The areas that matter most to me, he is on the right side of the issues.
One of the highlights of our conversation, after it turned from political issues, was laughing about how fast our shoes have been wearing out on the campaign trail. It was a very human moment, and something I don’t think I will forget.
Shortly after this, I joined in with the rally to listen to the speakers chosen, including Barry Short, Mark Madsen, and of course, the two Governors. It is definitely looking like Utah may be the place for a state to turn Gold. The crowd numbered between 1200 and 1800 from estimates given, which marks it as the largest libertarian gathering in Utah’s history.
This trend continued as I traveled back to Utah to finish out the day manning the booth at the Ogden Pride Festival. I have to say that in all my years volunteering to help with events like these for the party in Utah, I have never seen such a huge response from people asking questions, taking information, and saying they plan to vote libertarian this election.
Nearly all the material that was brought was handed out and several new libertarians pledged to support our nominees this year. We also were approached by the candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Utah, Misty Snow, where we had a great conversation about civil liberties. She seems to have a pretty good head on her shoulders, and I sincerely wish her the best of luck in her efforts; it’s not easy stepping up to run for office. She definitely seems like someone I would be able to work with on several issues that affect Utah, like dismantling the Draper NSA facility.
The best part of the evening was discovering the booth next to us featuring Even Stevens, a sandwich company in Utah. This company has the Libertarian solution to “who’s going to take care of the poor” question we are often asked. Essentially what this sandwich shop does is to donate one sandwich to a charity for every sandwich you buy. They do this without government mandates or interference. They do it because they care about the people who need some help.
I am certainly excited for what has been happening in Utah, and every day that passes I feel we are getting close to being included in the 1st District Debates. That is one thing I would sincerely ask for you all to donate what you are able as we start doing our Top of Utah Tour this week. Just head to www.Craig4Congress.org and give your best donation.
We are getting so close to changing the landscape of politics, and Utah is the place for it to happen.
For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know me to be downright
blunt in my positions. I am not someone who is afraid to tell the truth, and I am not going to hold anything back.
I am honestly aghast at how the more radical elements of the Libertarian Party were treated the weekend. I am a member of the radical caucus myself, and I would say pretty close, if not fully, an anarchist. What I personally witnessed caused me to have to step out more than once during the convention.
While there will be some disagreement between the anarchist and mincarchist elements of the Party, there were several times where it went from slightly disagreeable to outright hostility.
This is not to say anarchists are without flaws, as one of the more radical members of the party majorly embarrassed the party with his display on stage doing a strip tease. There was no respect whatsoever in what that individual did, and it makes our movement look ridiculous. We are trying to create a better way for the American people, but doing things like stripping on stage is not going to help you in the least.
For those who don’t know as much about the more radical elements of libertarianism, it
really boils down to two principles: self ownership and the principle of non-initiation of aggression. It literally is about as libertarian as you can get, as the smallest form of governing, is when you are fully allowed to govern yourself.
More than once, we were called fools, purists, stupid, and other names as arguments were brought to the floor in opposition or support of various platform changes. Out of every proposal, the only one that really set a new standard that anarchists/radicals seem to agree with is that the Libertarian Party has added a new plank that opposes the administration of the death penalty
That new plank makes it clear where we stand as a Party, and I am glad we were at least able to get this done. Another bright light that came of convention was the election of Caryn Ann Harlos, a fellow member of the Radical Caucus, to be the Region 1 Representative of the National Committee. This was by and large the greatest choice to represent the West (minus California, who has their own Region).
Outside of business measures as a delegate, things were far better with the amount of educational seminars, motivational speeches, and togetherness in various hospitality suites. I did enjoy being able to see so many people who were advocates of more liberty. I was able to speak one on one with John McAfee, Adam Kokesh, Darryle Perry, Shawna Sterling, Larry Sharpe, Austin Petersen, and just about everyone I am friends with on social media that I got to meet for the first time face to face. It took a minute to recognize a few of you, but definitely great to finally put names to faces.
The one thing that was clear throughout the convention is that pragmatism was more important to the majority than principle adherence. Gary Johnson and Bill Will, both former serving Republican Governors, were selected as the Presidential and Vice
Presidential nominees after two rounds of voting each. Gary Johnson won with 55% of the voting delegates, Bill Weld receiving 50.5% of the delegates, barely meeting the threshold.
I personally am not overly excited about either nominee, but will be helping every candidate at every level I can, and also working with John McAfee’s #VoteDifferent Initiative to unsure that I do what I can to help all down ticket races in the Libertarian Party get some wins. This will be the majority of my focus outside of my own race for Utah’s 1st Congressional District.
It was certainly a lot of fun to be there, but I am worried about the massive compromises that have been made, especially with appointing Gov. William Weld. There is nothing more I can do, but I do want you to know that I did cast my delegate vote in favor of principles.
I do ask that everyone get out an keep educating the nation about our local, state, and federal candidates who can better articulate the philosophy of freedom. We may not be former governors, but at one point, neither were they.
I would also like to thank all the other candidates who ran, but especially Austin Petersen. He and I have butted heads since he declared in July of 2015. When meeting him face to face he was beyond cordial and he stuck to his principles, though I may agree with some of them. He was the most consistent of the candidates. I like to think that I am able to see character once I look someone in the eye, and I can tell you that Austin is the most genuine out of everyone I met (though John McAfee isn’t far behind). Once you get him one on one and the bumper sticker soundbite is gone, he is far better than I ever gave him credit for.
I hope that all the candidates who weren’t selected continue to work toward the greater liberty that we all seek. I know most will stand tall, but some of them are seemingly in the mood to “take their ball and go home” in mentality. I had hoped that we could put things aside and work together so that we can actually make a difference. I will be available to answer questions anyone may have at Craig_Bowden@Craig4Congress.org.
I will also be releasing the Winning strategies video once I can get home and have some time to unpack.