Candidates Hold Forum Oct. 11
by Ari Armstrong
[The following article originally appeared in the November/December 2001 edition of Colorado Liberty.]
Five Libertarian candidates for the 2002 elections gathered to discuss their views at a forum held October 11 in Denver. Rick Stanley, candidate for U.S. Senate, helped organize the event. Bob Glass and James Vance, gubernatorial candidates, also attended, as did W. Earl Allen and Mark Holden, candidates for State House.
John Adams warned of a divisive two-party system, Stanley reminded the audience. He said the Libertarians are working to challenge today's unresponsive duopoly. "We have the Constitution on our side. It is time for the defenders of liberty to stand up and take action."
"I cannot allow these two parties [the Republicans and Democrats] to win any more or trample the Constitution any more," Stanley said.
Bob Glass said the September 11 terrorist attacks will continue to profoundly shape American political discussions. "It will never be 'politics as usual' again. Thousands of folks just like you and me were murdered."
Glass said the horrible tragedy has "made all of us stop and question our own lives," adding, "life is very precious, and very fragile." He asked the audience, "If our lives were to end suddenly, what would people say about what we stood for? How do we want to be remembered?"
Glass warned Libertarians to stand guard against the further erosion of the liberties upon which our nation was founded. He fears the "suffocation of liberty, with the enthusiastic support of both [major] parties," noting "the Democrats and Republicans are eager to rubber-stamp any type of draconian policy, for the illusion of security."
Glass urged Libertarians to "be patriotic, defend America, and protect our liberties." He said the terrorists are "people who hate us simply because of who we are," for the free and open society that Americans embrace.
"It's going to be the Libertarian Party that speaks out against the insidious evil of surrendering liberty for the illusion of security," Glass predicted. "We're the only party that's going to do anything about it."
James Vance said he wants to be a "statesman for the people of Colorado." Noting that he is a "trained political scientist" with a Master's degree in the field, he said he is best qualified to be governor.
"This race is not about who the best libertarian is; this race is about who has a shot at winning the race," Vance said. The Libertarian candidate must "appeal to the general population of Colorado."
"A Libertarian can win this race, if it's the right candidate. I am that candidate," Vance said. He added that Libertarians cannot "talk purity while attempting to put people in office." If Libertarians attempt to "push purity too hard," they will be perceived as radical. "I want to represent the people," Vance said.
Vance argued Libertarians will have a difficult time attracting the gun vote. Instead, Vance is reaching out to "target markets," starting with Generation X. Vance added that he wants to audit the government to look for redundancies and ways to outsource. He also said he wants a state-wide concealed carry system.
W. Earl Allen of Broomfield said socialists believe "we can do more" through government intervention. Libertarians, on the other hand, believe that "less is more" when it comes to empowering politicians.
"When Americans are allowed the freedom" to deal with social problems, "they have always prevailed," Allen said.
Allen challenged the view that government needs to play an ever-larger role in education, noting that government spending is unrelated to educational quality. "The less money spent in any state [by government], the more education actually happens." He added, "Less government spending means more parental responsibility" over education.
Allen said schools today are often "government indoctrination centers," in which students are "taught that government is the only solution to problems."
Government also handles transportation and economic growth poorly, Allen said. Traffic jams and other delays are the result of "turning transportation systems over to government." Politicians should not seek to restrict growth, which helps the economy.
Mark Holden of the Denver Tech area said, "I'm not a politician." Holden works as an engineer and securities trader. He said that he personally witnessed the "blind, heavy hand of government persecution" when an employee of a company Holden was with made false accusations, resulting in a government witch-hunt and the bankruptcy of the business.
Holden likened government to a magic genie that people pursue to fulfill their wishes. Unfortunately, govern-ment intervention often makes problems "larger and more complex." Holden added, "Government has the reverse-Midas touch. Everything it touches turns to mud."
Holden urged people to solve their own problems and reduce their dependence on government. He applied the point to a number of issues.
Education: "We had the best-educated population in the world, until government decided to 'fix' it."
Drug Prohibition: "The war on drugs is not only a failure -- it's making the problem worse."
Civil Arms: Holden said he wants no more anti-gun legislation and he'll seek to repeal existing intrusive laws. He said the ideal for concealed carry is the Vermont system.
"I will always vote the Libertarian Party line," Holden said. He plans to tell voters that "liberty will better their lives." He's currently looking for volunteers to walk his district, talk with voters, and help with finances.
Following their formal presentations, the candidates fielded questions from the audience.
On the issue of drug prohibition, Stanley said Libertarians "have to educate." He emphasized that Libertarians believe drug addiction is bad, but that it's an individual choice and prohibition creates more severe problems. He noted prohibition creates a "profit motive to push drugs on our kids," a problem Libertarians would solve.
Glass added that many grasp the "tyranny of the drug war. Despite the propaganda, more people understand what a complete and utter scam this whole War on Drugs is."
Allen agreed, noting Libertarians "can gain a lot of support and broaden our base" by calling for an end to prohibition. People from "all sides of the political spectrum" are interested in reform, he noted. Referencing a line from the film Traffic, Allen said, "How can you wage war on your own family?" He pointed out the drug war results in innocent people being "killed in the cross-fire" and leads to police corruption.
Holden said we could double the police available to target violent crime if we'd stop prosecuting non-violent drug offenses.
In a subsequent interview, Vance said he would advocate medical marijuana, but he said the issue of drug prohibition repeal "will NOT be a primary or secondary item on my platform. It will be something I am willing to discuss openly if asked."
Dealing with Ds and Rs
Glass and Vance were asked how they would deal with a non-Libertarian legislature if elected.
Glass said the key is to "be true to your own convictions, true to your philosophy." The "whole idea is to shrink dramatically the size and scope of government." He said that government would have to be scaled back in steps, but that principles are not open for compromise.
Vance said he would "use the libertarian philosophy to appeal to people" and use his "government position as a bully pulpit."
Both Vance and Glass said women have the right to get an abortion. Glass admitted that abortions are traumatic and that most people are uncomfortable with the process even if they support its legality. Of course, Libertarians oppose any government support of abortion.
In Vermont, any law-abiding citizen can carry a concealed handgun without a special permit. Libertarians support this system, but how should they deal with more restrictive proposals? The consensus among the candidates was that Libertarians can support any law that increases the amount of freedom.
Glass noted, "If you have to ask permission, it's not a right." However, "a concealed-carry permit can save a life." He said it's appropriate to "move in the right direction and keep pushing."
Holden said a firearm is a piece of property that should fall under the general freedom to own property. Allen said if a law makes us more free, it should be supported. Vance said he would support a concealed- carry system that entailed a background check, then later work to remove the requirement for the check. Stanley argued that "no state law can go beyond the Second Amendment."