Candidates Discuss Colorado's Future

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom

Candidates Discuss Colorado's Future

by Ari Armstrong

[The following article originally appeared in the January 2002 edition of Colorado Liberty.]

Candidates seeking votes statewide shared their visions for the future of Colorado November 13 at a forum in Denver. The event was organized by the Libertarian Party of Denver.

Rick Stanley, Alison Maynard, and James Vance speak at the November 13 candidates' forum.

Two Libertarian candidates spoke at the event: Rick Stanley for U.S. Senate and James Vance for Governor. They were joined by Alison Maynard, who is running for Attorney General under the banner of the Green Party. All other candidates for those offices were invited.

The exchange between the Libertarians and the Greens at the forum highlighted both the similarities and the differences between the groups.

Stanley began by criticizing the view that we must learn to live with shootings and terrorist attacks. "We wouldn't have school shootings if adults were able to keep and bear arms, as the Constitution guarantees," he said.

Gang shootings are largely the result of drug prohibition and the violent black markets it creates, Stanley added. "No profits, no drive-by shootings." He said drug prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution and should be repealed.

Stanley said the U.S. government didn't have its guard up prior to September 11. He agreed the proper course now is to "hunt down terrorists." However, putting U.S. troops in 145 foreign nations and bombing 19 countries made us more prone to an attack.

The current government has created war, economic controls, a loss of civil liberties, and "ever-expanding government," Stanley charged. "Republicans and Democrats won't make the necessary changes for a Constitutional and free society."

"Elect one Libertarian Senator," Stanley challenged. "Change the world you live in."

Vance began by stacking up the numerous volumes of the Colorado Code. "This is not my vision of Colorado's future," he said. Unfortunately, many old-party politicians only want to add more laws to the books. A Libertarian governor would "get rid of as much of this as he can."

Bill Owens is a reactionary, Vance argued. After the murders at Columbine, Owens killed a concealed carry bill and backed new gun restrictions. After Bush decided to create an office of homeland security, Owens decided to create a similar office. But the Democrats offer nothing better.

"I don't want to be a politician," Vance said. "I'd rather be a statesman. I want to be a representative of the people."

Vance said he'd count his stay in office a success if he could eliminate even one volume of statutes. "I don't hold any sort of idealistic perspective on this election." Vance said he wants to take a "step by step" approach and achieve "more liberty" in the next four years.

Vance pledged to take no money from corporations, special interest groups, or political action committees. Instead, he would accept funds "only from living, breathing human beings."

Because the audience consisted mostly of Libertarians and Greens, the discussion often led to issues of mutual interest. Some of Maynard's comments had Libertarians nodding their heads in agreement, though several times audience members asked pointed questions of candidates from the other party.

Libertarians and Greens have joined in limited political cooperation in Colorado. For instance, both parties protested the *Rocky Mountain News* when that paper mentioned only Republicans and Democrats in its 2000 voters' guide. Lloyd Sweeny represents the LP in the Colorado Coalition of Independent Political Parties, a group the Green Party also joined.

In terms of political goals, the points of both convergence and opposition are striking. In an interview in the November/December *Colorado Liberty*, LP founder David Nolan referred to a realigned political spectrum with Libertarians on one end and Greens on the other. However, at the forum, Steve Gresh, a Libertarian activist from Colorado Springs, noted the intersections between the parties.

For instance, both Libertarians and Greens see the old parties as entrenched and alienated from the people they're supposed to represent. Maynard said an attorney general from another party would "truly be a watchdog, truly be independent." Stanley said, "People in government break the laws on a daily basis. We have to say, 'No more'."

Libertarians and Greens both call for the repeal of drug prohibition. Maynard said the drug war is a waste of resources; Stanley said the drug war also eats away at our Constitutional rights.

All three candidates lamented loss of civil liberties, especially in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Maynard called for an end to corporate welfare, a goal Libertarians share. Maynard argued developers in Colorado are often subsidized by the taxpayers. However, while Libertarians want to end corporate welfare in all forms, some Greens want to provide corporate welfare for things like alternative energy production.

Libertarians are also big fans of well-protected property rights, backed up by civil liability. Maynard argued legal suits by property owners against polluters are bogged down by "a million technicalities." She cited an example of a mine that polluted a stream -- the taxpayers ended up paying most of the clean-up bill, while the polluter got off with a relatively minor fine.

On issues like election reform, the rifts between Greens and Libertarians became apparent. Of course both groups share the broad goal of fair vote counting. "It is going on in this state," Maynard charged, "there is election fraud." For that reason, Maynard calls for an end to voting by mail, preferring instead a "one-day-only polling election where everything is observed."

However, Libertarians were unwilling to accept Maynard's suggestion to fund campaigns with tax dollars. Mark Holden, a representative for state house, argued tax-funded elections would violate freedom of speech without doing anything to clean up the election process.

While Libertarians see the right to bear arms as a natural extension of the right of self-defense and the right to life, and an integral part of the Bill of Rights, Maynard said Greens usually disagree about the significance of the Second Amendment.

Maynard referred to a "rich-poor divide" in America. For Libertarians, the important issue is not wealth differentials, but increases in wealth for all people. Libertarians argue that, even in America's mixed economy, most people are able to significantly better their lives through appropriate effort. However, government interventions in the economy make it more difficult for some people to succeed, and those impediments to progress should be removed, Libertarians note.

While Libertarians blame the government's economic interventions for the difficulty some people have in earning a good living, Greens tend to look to a more powerful government to address such problems. Libertarians believe the Green Party advocates socialist policies rooted in the failed doctrines of Marxism.

Stanley's campaign issued a November 14 press release that referred to the "common ground" between the parties. That sparked a spirited e-mail debate between Gresh and Mike Rosen, the Republican apologist and radio personality who had received the release.

Libertarians and Greens share similar goals in some areas of public policy. They also disagree strongly about other policies and about the general role of a proper government. Libertarians face the problem that all political activists face: how can they join broad coalitions to achieve specific policy goals while remaining true to their core philosophy?

Regardless, the fact that Libertarians started fielding candidates and hosting forums more than a year away from the 2002 elections, and the LP won some significant victories in the past election, shows the party is no longer content to play the role of back-seat advisor to the Republicans and Democrats.

The Colorado Freedom