Challengers for Governor Aim to Restore Rights

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Challengers for Governor Aim to Restore Rights

by Ari Armstrong

[The following article originally appeared in the June/July 2001 edition of Colorado Liberty.]

"We need to put the Libertarian Party -- and liberty -- on the map of American politics," Bob Glass told party members May 20 at the convention.

Glass said he may seek the Libertarian Party's nomination for the governor's race next year against incumbent Republican Bill Owens. Glass said that "Owens went about an agenda to actively destroy our rights."

Glass faces competition for the nomination. James Vance writes on his web page (www.jamesvance.com), "Right now I am seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party of Colorado and endorsement as their candidate for governor." Vance previously considered running under the Reform Party banner, but he "felt more comfortable" with the platform of the LP. Vance also attended the convention.

A possible third contender is John Cochran, chair of the economics department at Metropolitan State College. Cochran holds an interest in the Austrian tradition of economics, advanced by such scholars as Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises.

Cochran said in some classes he uses part of George Reisman's book Capitalism as well as P.J. O'Rourke's humorous Eat the Rich, which discusses why some countries are wealthier than others. Dr. Cochran said "there's a chance" he will run for governor in 2002 or for some other office in 2004.

At the convention, Glass described his path to libertarianism. In junior high in New York, a "music teacher took me under his wing." The teacher had visited communist Europe and had come back with changed views about socialism. He was rumored to have voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964. A fan of Ayn Rand, the teacher attended Nathaniel Branden's lectures. Glass said he and his teacher "would talk about everything under the sun" during class.

During the 1970s, Glass met libertarians like Walter Block. Glass described that era as "wonderful days of intelligent, enlightening discussion" that would last until sunrise. Later, Glass met science fiction author L. Neil Smith, a libertarian writer who lives in Fort Collins.

Glass said the Libertarian Party of Colorado has "an opportunity to make the world stop and take notice." He said the LP can "send Bill packing back to Texas once and for all" and "send a lightning jolt right into the heart of the Republican Party" because of Owens' betrayal of gun owners.

Glass has addressed other Libertarian audiences. On June 5 Glass spoke at Denver Metro Libertarian Party headquarters. Jon Ford writes about the event in the June Liberty News of the Boulder LP: "[L]ocal civil rights activist Bob Glass made an impassioned plea for LP backing in his bid to unseat Governor Bill Owens... The rally was attended by approximately 40 people, including a half dozen from the [Boulder affiliate]." Ford reports that Glass wants to make "the Libertarian Party and philosophy... forces to be reckoned with."

On June 14, Glass spoke at the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition. Before the event, Glass was accosted by a man on the sidewalk handing out anti-Semitic literature denying the Nazi Holocaust. Glass is a Jew who lost family members to the Holocaust. Because he has recently made national news for his leadership role with the Tyranny Response Team, Glass has become a public figure. The lone man apparently showed up at the meeting specifically to protest Glass based on his ethnicity. Glass vehemently denounced the racist literature and wove several Jewish themes into his speech in response, earning enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Glass told the Colorado Springs group, "Bill Owens is more concerned with the acquisition and maintenance of power than with the principles of defending liberty." He added, "Our rights are no longer negotiable."

Glass denounced disarmament laws as subjective and arbitrary. He said Amendment 22 -- which Owens was first to sign -- treats a peaceable person as a "criminal because he doesn't get permission from Big Brother" to trade property.

Glass criticized Project Exile because it "does not differentiate between violent criminals and the single mother who carries a .38 in her purse for personal protection." Instead, anyone caught with an arbitrarily defined "illegal gun" will be "exiled" to prison.

Glass added, "The rule book [for federally licensed gun dealers] is like a New York City phone book. Not even BATF agents know all the rules." Yet people are being sent to federal prison because "they didn't fill out the right paperwork."

Glass said gun owners should not be fooled into voting for the "lesser of two evils." He said, "We are no longer going to vote for evil period. We're going to vote for liberty and the Constitution."

Glass celebrated the freedoms we still retain in America. "There's still enough freedom that I can stand here and talk to you," he reminded the audience. Unfortunately, Glass added, many of our liberties have been slipping away. "For too long, being in the business of destroying liberty has been respectable." He urged the crowd to change that trend by joining him in activism.

Glass recently made numerous media appearances. On June 11, he appeared on Bill Maher's national ABC television show "Politically Incorrect." He joined Chuck Baker's radio program June 13 on KKCS 1460AM and Joseph Michelli's show June 18 on KVOR 740AM, both in Colorado Springs. From the northern part of the state, Mark Call invited Glass to be a guest on 1360AM. On June 7, Glass published a Speakout column in the Rocky Mountain News defending his activist group.

Glass hosts his own radio show Saturdays on 1060AM. He also publishes a magazine, The Partisan View, and he is president of the Tyranny Response Team, a group now active in nearly 20 states. Vance Crafts a Message of Reform

James Vance, who scheduled a speech with the Denver Libertarian group on July 10, cites the internet as one of his major issues. "The concept of monitoring programs scares the hell out of me," he said. On his web page, Vance adds that the internet "MUST be preserved as a censorship free refuge."

Another issue is taxation. Vance wants to "obliterate the state income tax; eliminate it from existence." He said that goal could be accomplished through spending cuts and outsourcing government projects, though with a "possible slight increase in the sales tax." He said there are a "lot of areas that can be eliminated" from government, and he is looking to Oregon as an example of a state without an income tax.

Vance also seeks to support "firearms owners' rights." Vance worked with his father, a licensed gun dealer, though James no longer owns a gun. He wants to "eliminate redundant or Constitutionally illegal laws." He offered Amendment 22 as an example of a law that may not pass Constitutional muster.

Vance wants to implement a statewide system for concealed carry of firearms. Any person without a felony could "qualify at a firearms range." The process would be similar to the current hunter's safety program. The concealed carry provision could potentially be incorporated into the driver's license, he said.

Vance said two other issues are also important even though they may not be as central to his campaign. "The freedom of speech and expression issue is big on my personal agenda," he said.

In terms of campaign finance reform, he wants to eliminate all federal tax funding of campaigns and advocate "ballot access for every party" and for independents. Some Libertarian issues, like national defense, aren't as relevant to state politics, he said.

Vance shares with Glass harsh words about Owens. He writes on his web page, "I believe that Governor Owens has openly betrayed the citizens of Colorado since April 1999 when he went from a Governor supporting firearms rights, or at least claiming he supported them, to one who has bent to every knee-jerk gun law that has come down the pipe in reaction to the Columbine tragedy."

However, Vance envisions a more activist role for the state than Glass does. For instance, he supports the restrictions found in the National Firearms Act. Vance writes,

"I believe that while many laws are unnecessary or restrictive, there are some that are a good idea in the modern society we live in. However, I do believe there should be no further laws added to the books that would in any way restrict or prohibit gun ownership.... I do make a specific distinction between a firearm and Class 3 weaponry in my stance on firearms rights. Why? Well despite what hard core Libertarians believe I MUST make a distinction between 'the right to keep and bear arms' and the right to keep and bear weapons of mass destruction. Now true, these might not fall under that precise category as the government like[s] to define them since 'weapons of mass destruction' are usually SCUD missiles, nuclear devices, and that sort of thing, but the day a rational citizen can successfully make a legitimate, non paranoid argument, and then defend that argument against me as to why a person needs hand grenades, pastique, or a fully automatic AK-47 to 'defend house, home, and family,' is the day I'll change that stance."

However, most libertarians and gun owners would classify automatic guns as small arms, not "weapons of mass destruction." Automatics have always been legal in the United States, even though starting in 1934 the federal government required a tax to be paid for a license. Keeping an unlicensed automatic is illegal according to federal statutes.

Vance also sees a proactive role for state government in terms of advancing Colorado's economy. He writes, "[W]e are no longer an isolated world, but a global network. Being prepared for this new world means altering the way we do business... [and] the way we govern ourselves as a community in the global arena." He seeks to "[u]tilize the Colorado State Lottery funds to not only beautify [and] protect Colorado, but market it!"

Vance is eager to set up a debate with Glass. He reports the Boulder Libertarians have been working to organize such a debate.

Vance works for IBM as a project manager in the web hosting division. He earned his masters in political science and his bachelors in history at the University of Colorado, Denver. His web page is at www.jamesvance.com.

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