The Libertarian Party of North Carolina's new executive director believes the growing public dissatisfaction with the government in general and the “two-party” system in particular offers a new opportunity to move public policy in a more libertarian direction.
“As the Democrats and Republicans move us relentlessly down the road to hell, kicking the can as we go, more and more Americans can feel the heat rising,” said Brad Hessel, who was appointed last month.
Hessel said the advent of the Tea Party, the Occupy Wall Street Movement and, in North Carolina, the growth rate of unaffiliated voters, which is dramatically outstripping that of Democrats and Republicans, are evidence of this discontent.
“These are all signs that most Americans believe something is very, very wrong with our political system,” he said.
“Accordingly, I believe the Libertarian Party is on the cusp of a major opportunity to raise the consciousness of our fellow citizens and enlist their help in redirecting our localities, our state, and our country towards a more libertarian state of being,” he said. “We can offer North Carolinians a viable political alternative congruent with the principles on which the United States was founded and which can afford us and our children more choices instead of crippling financial and moral debts.”
“Democrats and Republicans actually agree on – and are wrong about – most of the important issues,” he explained. “They agree on maintaining hundreds of military bases abroad, killing civilians in a half-dozen or more countries with drones or special forces, invading or threatening to invade countries whose leaders they dislike or supporting coups against them.”
They agree about spying on Americans or claiming the right to jail or even kill us with no trial, he added.
“And speaking of jail, they agree about pursuing the so-called 'War on Drugs,' ruining the lives of thousands and thousands of Americans by jailing a higher percentage of our population than any other country in the world for committing the 'crime' of doing a simple, harmless, consensual act – possessing or using recreational drugs” he observed.
“They agree about bailing out the banks with taxpayer dollars and maintaining artificially low interest rates to siphon wealth off from the 99 percent in favor of the 1 percent,” he said. “And they enthusiastically agree about spending money we don’t have on things we can’t afford, and putting our kids into hock.”
“But Libertarians would end all of these fiscally ruinous and morally dubious policies,” he concluded. “We offer a better way — a financially conservative, socially accepting way — forward. The best government is that which governs least, and we seek to pare our government back to focusing on the tasks it was designed to accomplish: national defense, safeguarding liberty, and providing a stable currency.”
Hessel, 60, was born in Manhattan and raised in Tarrytown, New York. The election of 1960 got him started in politics. At age seven, he was an ardent JFK adherent. His mother was active in the civil rights movement and his Aunt Hilda was involved in the anti-war movement.
He registered to vote as a Democrat in 1971 and worked as a Congressional intern for Rep. James J. Howard. (D-NJ). In the 1972 election, he was a table coordinator for First Vote, which he described as a “front organization” for the Sen. George McGovern presidential campaign registering voters in Manhattan.
Hessel attend Brown University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1975. While in college, he read “Atlas Shrugged,” an epic 1957 novel by Ayn Rand, which inspired his journey across the political spectrum.
The novel explores the themes of reason, individualism, capitalism, and the failures of governmental coercion. Many libertarians credit Rand's novels and speeches for igniting the rebirth of libertarianism in the 1960s, and her thought is still a major influence in the general libertarian movement.
Hessel volunteered for and contributed to the independent presidential campaign of John Anderson in 1980, and changed his registration to Republican in 1984.
He moved to Raleigh in 1991. Hessel has operated a knowledge management consulting practice there since 1999.
In 2008, Hessel volunteered for the Ron Paul presidential campaign, changed his voter registration to unaffiliated, worked for the Ron Paul campaign in 2012, and finally went to work for Libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson in 2012.
Hessel said he's a libertarian both because he believes it is the political and social philosophy most compatible with man's origins…and most suited to guide us into the future.
“Homo sapiens have been on the planet for about 250,000 years, and for all but the last 10,000, for the most part the best evidence is that, as hunters/collectors, most of us were pretty much free to do whatever we liked,” he explained.
While it might have taken hours to obtain sufficient food to survive, he noted that there were no time clocks, no bosses, no mandated days off, no restrictions as to whom anyone could associate with, where or when anyone could go someplace.
“It was only with the invention of agriculture and cities – and the concomitant need for centralized planning and the consequent ascendancy of the one percent – that liberty became constrained for the vast majority of humans,” he observed.
Over the last few centuries, as human ability to produce food and material goods more efficiently and cheaply accelerated, an ever-larger fraction of the human population has enjoyed more freedom again, Hessel noted. “This inevitably lead to the more and more people expressing their unhappiness with an arrangement where only one percent of the people call the shots for everyone else,” he concluded.
“I see Libertarianism as the political and social philosophy most compatible with – and dedicated to recreating – the mode of relating to each other and living life we enjoyed for most of our existence and, naturally, to which we are best suited. And as we move back in that direction again, Libertarianism can contribute to making that transition happen more smoothly and quickly.