LPNC Convention Recap

A lot of Liberty packed into one weekend

by Rob Yates
LPNC Communications Director

Comic by Noah Zenger

A spirited reception, a campaign announcement, bylaws and new officers, and an all-star lineup of speakers...

The Silicon Valley Bank crash was actually a fitting backdrop for a full, productive weekend at the LPNC State Convention, with its theme of "Celebrate Local" a stark contrast to the national news headline.

I want to start by saying how gracious and helpful the staff at the Village Inn was. The service was excellent, the accommodations were comfortable, and we were allowed to conduct our business in peace. Shout-out to the woman at the counter (withholding her name for privacy reasons) who gave Treasurer Mike Ross and I some hope with her pursuit of Liberty.

Friday Evening

Registration and the welcome reception began Friday evening in the hotel bar. Old friends, familiar faces, and new Liberty warriors all came together to share some laughs and libations as we geared up for the weekend ahead.

We were happy to spare a few minutes to listen to Kelly Mann, Grassroots Director for The John Locke Foundation, who dropped by to share details on the wonderful and in-depth research the John Locke Foundation provides. Kelly is also a contributor to the Carolina Journal. If you are not using the resources these two entities make available, you are selling yourself short.

Of course, the highlight of the evening was Mike Ross announcing that he would be seeking the Libertarian nomination for North Carolina's gubernatorial race in 2024. After a poignant introduction by Liberty warrior Pastor Moses Colbert, best known for his ardent and selfless defense of those who have nothing, Mike gave his announcement speech to the gathered convention attendees. The crowd was boisterous with excitement, and the applause was loud as Mike finished his speech and introduced his team.

Saturday Business

Saturday started off extraordinarily smoothly given the unusual requirement that a convention Chair needed to be selected. Fortunately, LPMeck Chair Steven DiFiore was up to the task, and he did an outstanding job of, as one of the younger attendees put it, "herding cats, only they all have their claws out."

Steven delivered the State of the Party address for outgoing Chair Joe Garcia, and we observed a moment of silence to memorialize fallen Liberty warriors Donald Reid Deal and Tom Howe. After that, it was down to business.

Somehow, we got through ten bylaw amendment proposals, one resolution, and a 90-minute lunch break before Executive Committee and Judicial Committee elections began. There were even two votes that received unanimous support, proving that nothing is impossible.

Once nominations began for EC positions, I was struck by how many qualified and passionate people we have working together in the party. Elections went quickly, and we ended up with an exciting slate for the EC (I plan to get interviews with each of them in the upcoming weeks), as well as the Judicial committee.

For LPNC Executive Committee, the delegates elected:

  • Chair: Ryan Brown
  • Vice-Chair: Sean Haugh
  • Secretary: Dee Watson
  • At-Large: Christina Aragues
  • At-Large: Nick Taylor
  • At-Large: Mac Browder
  • At-Large: Angela Humphries

For Judicial Committee, the delegates elected:

  • Ken Penkowski
  • Phil Jacobson
  • Steven DiFiore
  • Tom Bailey
  • Sarah Brady

Saturday Evening - Time to Let Loose

Our speakers began as we were finishing up dinner, and we were lucky to have two of the most effective and powerful voices in the Liberty movement address us. Dan Smotz, host of The System is Down podcast, was the opening speaker, and Larry Sharpe was the keynote speaker. Their speeches, while different in substance, covered similar themes, as they called for party unity, reinforced the need for hard work, extolled the advantages of putting aside your ego to communicate, and closed with messages of hope.

We went straight into the auction, emceed by Larry. Items ranged from questionable to exceptional, but all those who won their bids were happy, and we raised some money to boot.

Sunday Forums

Sunday's session opened with energy, despite the weight of the time change hanging over us, as Christina Aragues gave a detailed seminar on how to run a successful campaign. Christina is an experienced candidate who has run some of the most successful campaigns in LPNC history, and she gives a fun and informative perspective on how to replicate her success.

Next was the Governor candidate forum. Mike Ross answered questions about education, the second amendment, criminal justice reform, and nullification, among others, laying out his plan for a successful Libertarian candidacy and governorship. When he thought he was finished, the three presidential candidates each surprised Mike with a question of their own before their panel started.

As mentioned, the next item on the agenda was a panel with presidential candidates Chase Oliver, Mike ter Maat, and Jacob Hornberger. They answered questions about their candidacies, their solutions to problems we are facing as a country, Libertarian messaging, and host of others for about 45 minutes. The session was engaging and educational from three exemplary stewards of the Liberty movement and representatives of the party.

The day and the event closed with a presentation by Kim Acer covering our affiliate strategy. She explained where we stood, where we would like to see growth, and how we plan to achieve it. For a theme of "Celebrate Local," instead of the contrast of the national background under which we opened convention, Kim's affiliate discussion was a perfect and appropriate ending. I highly encourage anyone who is not currently participating to join your local affiliate or start one yourself; we have several unaffiliated counties waiting for you to organize.

There is plenty more to come from convention. There are videos, pictures, speeches, and additional write-ups and interviews, but I wanted to make sure to capture some of the magic of the weekend quickly, before it got too far away. Zac Lentz and the convention planning committee nailed it. Now it's time to take the energy from this weekend and ride that to so much success for the party.

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A Return to Freedom

by Joshua D. Glawson

It is often said that North Carolina was "First in Freedom." From the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Halifax Resolves, North Carolina became the first state to resist the tyranny of Great Britain. Yet, throughout NC state history there have been incremental attacks on that freedom, whether through state controls, state income taxes, bureaucratic red tape, or an overzealous police force. This deterioration of Liberty in North Carolina is hastening.

According to World Population Review, North Carolina now ranks as number 18 in freedom, as of 2023, while, according to the Cato Institute, North Carolina was number 16 in 2019. North Carolina was ranked number 10 in the US as of 2008.

Cato's report suggests the main reasons for the decline in freedom within the state have been caused predominantly by state fiscal spending policies, dwindling affordable housing supply caused by bureaucracy, stringent controls on occupational freedoms, higher percentages of victimless-crime incarcerations, and lower-than-average personal freedoms permitted by state and local laws.

Health: North Carolina spends nearly twice as much tax dollars on hospitals as other states when compared to tax percentages. With regulations preventing the expansion of the private medical market in the state, Certificate of Need laws have increased state spending on hospitals while simultaneously limiting patient access to medical care. These regulations have undermined the quality of medical care available in North Carolina. US News has ranked NC as number 30 for health care.

Housing: In the NC housing market, there has been steady growth over the past decade, but affordable housing has also become an issue. The John Locke Foundation notes that this is primarily due to state regulations that put strict limits on lot sizes, home sizes, parking, multi-unit housing, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs). These bureaucratic limitations have prevented people from creating more affordable housing and a possible source of income, while cookie-cutter neighborhoods by larger corporations continue to populate large swaths of the state.

Civil: When comparing North Carolina's victimless crimes incarceration rates, punishment percentages, and civil restrictions to the rest of the US, a recent report has ranked North Carolina at a dismal 42 out of 50 states. This goes beyond the overreaching ABC control state policies, perpetuation of the unjust War on Drugs, marijuana legalization, out-of-touch digital gambling policies, and strict approaches to gun laws (35/50). The Institute for Justice has indicated that North Carolina's Department of Justice continues large transfers of taxes to the DOJ in their equity program, and some of that money is obtained from asset forfeiture programs.

With these three key areas in mind, we as Libertarians of North Carolina can begin working together towards making improvements and corrections. If we continue to focus solely on big-picture and national-level ideas, we will miss our mark here in our own state of North Carolina. Change begins within each individual and works its way outward through our relationships, our work, our cities, our counties, our state, our region, and finally to the national level and beyond. By focusing more of our energy and efforts on these we can show true improvement and incremental progress for our Movement and the state of North Carolina in the name of Liberty. But we can't do it alone, we need your skills and abilities.

Just as free and voluntary division of labor brings success in unhampered markets, this microcosmic Movement in North Carolina will only gain ground with your help. Whether that help is writing articles, tabling or boothing, writing our representatives or our senators, petitioning, public protesting, helping with your Libertarian Party county website, podcasting, providing video and marketing materials, sharing ideas, etc., we will be far more successful with you on our team.

How long will it take you to make a decision? Should you wait until NC plummets to rankings across the board of 50 out of 50, or do we do something about it now while we have a chance? Are you dreaming that Democrats or Republicans will be swayed? Do you wait on the state to make appropriate changes, or are you a person of action that takes your sovereignty into your own hands?

We need you to help reignite the torch of Liberty in the hearts and minds of fellow North Carolinians, to remind the state and the rest of the country why we were First in Freedom.

"The urge toward action, i.e., improvement of the conditions of life, is inborn in man. Man himself changes from moment to moment and his valuations, volitions, and acts change with him. In the realm of action there is nothing perpetual but change." - Ludwig von Mises

Joshua D. Glawson is a writer and speaker in the Liberty Movement. He has been active with the Libertarian Party of California since 2015. He now resides in his home state of North Carolina. Check him out at Home - Joshua D. Glawson (joshuadglawson.com).

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Messaging Matters

The way news travels is no accident

by Rob Yates
LPNC Communications Director

Comic by Noah Zenger

Media is designed to stoke fear and sow division. Fortunately, we are able to ignore it.

Go to any major media source and do a quick scan of the headlines. This test applies to individual sources, like Fox News or the NY Times, as well as amalgamations of other news sources, like MSN dot com. Count the number of headlines that are designed to create tension or spark anxiety. Then count how many announce some sort of positive development, relief, or uplifting news. The disparity is chilling.

This phenomenon is not the sole purview of news on the national stage. Check out any local NC state or city news site or Twitter feed. See how many times the word "breaking" appears, or some derivative, placed strategically and deliberately to trigger people's visceral fight-or-flight response and drive more clicks and extended lingering on that site.

News is a commodity

Media outlets have battled each other for market share supremacy since corner store readership and annual delivery subscriptions were the prime metric for daily newspapers. As the airwaves became the dominant vehicle for the distribution of information, first through radio and then television, ratings were the driving force motivating news agencies, as ratings equaled advertising dollars.

This model was hypercharged with the rise of the 24-hour news networks. The public-facing product backed by massive corporate conglomerates had to continually convince potential viewers that they had a better product than other channels, and also that it was necessary to keep watching.

To accomplish this, a model emerged based on quick soundbites implying urgency. Warnings lights flashed, alarms sounded, and intense messaging triggered actual anxiety at the prospect of missing a report. This approach, of consistently outdone hyperbole, proved so effective that it spread to sports, pop culture, and even weather reporting.

An unfortunate consequence of this anxiety-inducing marketing model for the news is that, as viewership settled around nebulous "right" and "left" political persuasions, people began to view anyone on the other side as a potential enemy.

Certainly, this is not to imply that political polarization is a recent phenomenon. Rather, while the bulk of the vitriolic political rhetoric historically ebbed and flowed around major election cycles, we found ourselves immersed in "reporting" that sought to present every snippet or sound bite as life-or-death important. (I know this itself sounds hyperbolic. There is not enough room to fully explain here, but I have written on this in detail if anyone is interested).

The internet as a news source

Now we are faced with a news model where the internet is by far the primary method of information distribution. Manifestations range from classic media websites, to social media, to podcasts, and encompasses every other variation of sharing information at the speed of light at our disposal. This drives multi-faceted outcomes.

Subscription-based services for journalists and content creators who value truth and nuance have exploded in popularity, showing that some modicum of sanity remains in our national discourse. In contrast, bad information, lies, viral clips lacking context, and even ideological purity tests have all found fertile soil in a world where those with ill intent can say most anything without facing direct consequence, and those with pure intentions acting in good faith and pursuing truth suffer punishment for deviating from approved messaging.

To add to this, the government, including federal law enforcement agencies, are actively engaged in controlling the narrative spread online. Our tax dollars go to throttling free speech and paying professional rabble rousers like "Brooklyn Dad Defiant" and "JoJofromJerz," who serve only one function - to divide people around political ideology and further a government narrative.

To make matters worse, advertising dollars now come from metrics like clicks and the average time per user on a site. With an exponentially larger pool of competitors, those information peddlers who cannot distinguish themselves based on quality or competence instead push the most egregious distortions of the truth in the pursuit of fear-mongering for followers.

For example, late in 2022 I read a headline in a local city paper, "Child Deaths from COVID in NC Increase by 140% Over Last Year." The article itself didn't give the number of covid-related deaths. It talked about anecdotal reports of doctors concerned about strained health systems, it talked about the importance of getting your children vaccinated, and it talked about how dangerous covid was to children under 18 as proven by the increase in deaths not actually reported in the article.

Technically the headline was accurate. Seven children had died with covid in the first 12-month period covered, and ten in the second 12-month period, roughly a 140-percent increase. In fact, total deaths under 18 related to covid in North Carolina since the pandemic started: 31. Again, that's total. That barely registers statistically. But fear-mongering around covid was the acceptable position to take, and so that's what was being pushed by news agencies at all levels who depend on advertiser dollars and feel the pressure from government-backed harassment campaigns.

Celebrate Local!

National news is mostly a waste of time, excepting some entertainment value. The tactics adopted by large news organizations remain effective, however, and local state, county, and city news affiliates have adopted these methods, stoking fear and driving polarization.

The good news is that all we need to do is ignore the fear-mongering messaging. It really is that simple. Instead, use that time and energy to go make change where you can actually have a meaningful impact. In this newsletter, we have contributions from people like Joshua Glawson, who is looking for assistance in visiting designated social areas in cities around NC as a way to combat the ABC tyranny. Or Eric Rowell, who is holding local politicians' feet to the fire, demanding that they practice what they preach. Or our very own Phil Jacobson, who brings some common sense to the Ukraine war funding discussion.

We have so many places where volunteers can do wonderful things, help people, and make the world a better place. Turn off the news, and go to your next county affiliate meeting. I promise, you will be happy you did.

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A Libertarian Call to Action

It's time to change the world, starting in our own backyards

by Rob Yates
LPNC Communications Director

Comic by Noah Zenger

If we want to be vehicles for meaningful, positive change, we must remember to keep our focus local.

Mid-November of last year, the Federal Reserve announced that it was running a twelve-week pilot, partnering with several massive banks, to test a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) for the U.S. Dollar (if you are unfamiliar, here is the Fed's definition and description, and here is an objective description). Few major press outlets covered the story in earnest, and those that did gave a brief and cursory summary of a project that could "speed up payments."

The Fed, unsurprisingly, has not published any examination of the downside of a CBDC, but has released a "study" that masquerades as objective, while the White House was lauding the possibilities a CBDC presents before the pilot was announced.

I want to make sure I am crystal clear about this… There is perhaps no current lever available to the government that is more potentially dystopian and tyrannical than a CBDC. Any potential upsides of CBDCs are dwarfed against the ability of the Fed to simply turn off your money for any reason – wrongthink (by their definition), exceeding some arbitrary carbon cap, donating to the wrong candidate, purchasing the wrong book, refusing a medical procedure…

I predicted these developments years ago, which certainly fueled my reaction. I make no claim to prescient prognostication; rather, it is easy to foresee that, when granted tools enabling greater control of the population, the state and its actors will inevitably use them.

My first instinct on reading that CBDCs were becoming a reality in the U.S. was to write something and immediately send it out to our entire subscriber base. I wanted alarm bells ringing and red lights flashing.

I actually wrote, "This is the hill we die on!" on our message boards. My penchant for the dramatic notwithstanding, I maintain that the potential for abuse of a Federal Reserve sponsored CBDC is so draconian that we should, in fact, do something. I encourage you to all contact your representative and senators and demand that an actual U.S. CBDC never see the light of day.

Avoid the distraction of federal politics

In this newsletter, I try to give a lot of space to the people who have given decades of their lives fighting for Liberty. We are in a unique situation right now, as Libertarians, where – distant as it may be – there is a real light at the end of the tunnel, if we are simply willing to run it down. But the people who set this table… they had no idea if they would ever enjoy the fruits of their labor. We all fight for Liberty for Liberty's sake, but the founders of the party and the LPNC had no expectation of success, and yet they fought on.

When I sent out the distress signal about CBDCs, the response was surprising. People who are much wiser than I were not against me writing something about it – they were supportive, in fact. But they were skeptical of impact and cautioned on expectations. We had to fight for eight months to get 45 minutes of body camera footage released for one incident in Gastonia; how can we expect to drive change at the Federal Reserve and why should we waste time and energy there?

I encourage you all to be fully educated regarding all the ways our tyrannical federal government surveilles your activity and restricts your rights. But the fact is, federal politics, impactful as they may be, are ultimately a distraction. For every onerous Federal policy we lament, there are myriad onerous city, county, and state policies we are ignoring. That opens the floodgates for much bigger government imposition.

A call to action

I can't tell you what to do, nor would I want to. It's antithetical to everything in which I believe. I can tell you, though, that there has never been a more opportune time for our message to spread. The number of unaffiliated voters is higher than registered Dems or Repubs, driven by a more than 100-percent increase since 2004. Disenchantment with the two-sided uniparty has never been higher.

We have the best message, but the forces that oppose us are powerful, well-funded, and have huge reach. Relying on the power of our message alone to advance Liberty is screaming into the void when facing the selective and targeted narrative control fostered by the front line of the state and its behemoth information apparatus.

The solutions are right there waiting for each of us to take action. Give $5 a month; volunteer one hour a week; run for local office; speak at a city council meeting; join a school board; join a county affiliate; bring a friend to a meeting; attend state and affiliate conventions; email a representative each day; phone bank for an hour; attend a tabling event; share the right book with a friend… The list of possible action extends to the horizon.

If you aren't sure where to start, reach out; I promise our Volunteer Coordinator has plenty of opportunities. Start small, it all makes a difference. Just do something.

Think locally, act locally, change the world

I hate the cliché of the new year representing some nebulous opportunity to make a change, but I recognize the perfection of the timing. Make 2023 the year you find a way to give what you can to the cause of Liberty, right here in North Carolina.

We need to win locally to stop the tidal wave of authoritarianism that is the natural consequence of a people ceding political power. Let's change the political landscape in North Carolina so that we would never worry about something like federal control through CBDCs because the tyrannical arm of the federal government would know better than to ever try and invade North Carolinians, physically, virtually, financially… and we, our children, and their children, never have to fear the government again.

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Dee Watson and Larry Sharpe

LPNC Political Director talks NC with Larry

Dee Watson, LPNC's very own Political Director, NC candidate, activist, mom, and Liberty warrior, sat down with Libertarian Renaissance man Larry Sharpe to talk all things North Carolina politics. The discussion covered education; police reform; Pastor Moses, Joshua Rohrer, and Gastonia; NC Liberty developments and what's next; and a lot more. Take a few minutes to listen to this insightful, funny, considerate, and passionate conversation between two of the staunchest mainstays at the vanguard of the Liberty movement.

Watch the full discussion here.

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Get out and Vote!

It's time we make election day count

by Rob Yates, November 2022
LPNC Communications Director

republicratWake up and panic, everyone, if you haven’t voted! Remember that this (like every election before it, and very election after it) is the *most important election in our lifetime*!

It would be comical if it wasn’t so consequential, watching the two parties paint the stakes as successively higher each year, should the horrible event come to pass where the other party wins, that is. Then we rinse, wash, and repeat, and wait for the next election cycle when we are told that, no, forget last time, this is the most important election of our lifetime, and if the other party wins, our democracy will crumble, fascists (or is it communists, I can’t keep track anymore) will take over the country, and everyone who isn’t a disabled trans person of color will be forced to sacrifice their children and then go work in a gulag (or is it the straight, rich, white men who are safe this time? Again, it’s so hard to keep track).

With all the hyperbole around each election, the constant bombardment of crisis pimping from the perpetual news cycle, and the rhetoric increasingly nasty from a populace that is more polarized every minute, it can be hard to find a reason to go vote. In fact, there is an argument to be made that the act of voting is supporting a system that is rigged against anyone not on team red or team blue, and voting is a tacit endorsement of that system. When that system represents a massive, twisted game where the players are politicians and special interests with bottomless pockets, and the rest of us are the collateral damage, it’s easy to understand why one would want to do everything possible to not support that system.

Despite this, I am here to implore you, please, go vote, and vote Libertarian! All we have is our grassroots drive, fighting for each inch, to take back the power from the politicians, and voting is the quickest way to advance this cause.

The game is so rigged it isn’t even cute anymore

Over the last few months I got into a bit of a Twitter back-and-forth with Kyle Parrish, a useful idiot running for NC’s 5th as a house candidate. I’m not one to shy away from some verbal sparring, but I don’t look for it either; I went after Kyle because, unprovoked, he was spouting off really disgusting things about Libertarians in general, and attacking David Coatney, Libertarian NC House candidate, over some manufactured nonsense (not fit to reprint here, this newsletter is far too classy for his drivel).

David is well-equipped to handle himself, to be clear, but this unprovoked nastiness demanded attention, and many members of the LPNC joined in over subsequent weeks. For my part, I tried to be respectful (mostly), and consistently challenged his points, even asking him repeatedly if he would debate me. Eventually, after ignoring, deflecting, hiding, and cowering, he blocked me, and that saga ended (for the moment).

I am writing this to convince you to vote, though, not to repeat some silly story about a Twitter fight. I mention it because Kyle has about as much of a chance of winning his race as I do, and I live in Mecklenburg and am not on the ballot. Nevertheless, he attacks anyone not on Team Democrat, viciously, repeatedly. He spews vile and hate-filled rhetoric, mostly against Republicans, but with a healthy dose of anti-Libertarianism in there, and then occasionally asks why the country isn’t more united, and says "only Democrats" can bring us back together.

Again, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone reading this. The only thing the two sides of the uniparty seem adept at is spitting venom at anyone on the other team. Even within the party, Kamala cackled like a stoned hyena when Colbert asked her about disparaging remarks she made about the man for whom she would eventually work as Vice President. Her excuse, “it was a debate,” is a perfect example of how the political game is designed for the players to go all-in to win, only to win, and to win at all costs. This is not unique to either major party, and it is not going to change as long as the prize is more power to hoard.

Kyle learned that he was a pawn in a game here (right at the 10-minute mark), and it is almost enough to make me feel bad for him. As a worthless candidate with no chance of winning, the party for whom he parrots and champions has done essentially nothing to support him, a fact he laments a bit, not realizing how damning his self-pity is as it speaks to the broken system as a whole.

They would never spend any money or resources on someone who can't win for them. It's about winning, none of the leaders of the other two parties care about principles. This is what we're up against. This is why doing nothing is not an option.

Libertarians can make a difference in a way we never have before

Recently, we received some of the greatest news of 2022 – North Carolina became the second state in the U.S. to pass 50,000 registered Libertarians! Trailing only California and its massive population, we are at the vanguard of the Liberty movement. Our message is the right one, and it is spreading

Of course, this is not something that happened overnight. Rather, it is the diligent work of dedicated LPNC volunteers who have pushed us this far for years. And it is immense progress since 2008, when North Carolinians regained the ability register as Libertarian.

I readily acknowledge that this game is rigged. I understand your hesitation to vote, and your concerns that you are throwing a vote away or even validating this broken system that crushes people in its own relentless power hoarding. But sitting back and doing nothing guarantees the outcome.

Instead, have some hope, and a little faith, that our message, the right message, will win more hearts and minds, and we will grow organically, regaining the power that was taken from us. One way to help do that is to vote Libertarian.

Voting matters. It matters for ballot access, it matters to uniparty candidates who think we are spoiling their elections, it matters for making Liberty issues prominent on voters' minds, and it matters to cement our position as serious participants in this conversation that has been hijacked by partisan self-interest.

So go vote. Then come join us for an election party, or come to a protest against State tyrant over-reach, or just donate $5 a month if that’s what you can do (if every registered Libertarian donated $5 monthly, we would bring in $2.5 million annually, which is still not even a hundredth of uniparty spend in NC in 2020, but we could do a lot with it). Then, keep voting, and keep showing up. Find a place to volunteer. Recruit someone else. And vote again. We will win if we don’t give up.

To quote WakeLP Chair Travis Groo, "…it’s a gold rush. Vote gold!"

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Third Party Debate

Davidson College Hosts U.S. Senate Libertarian and Green Candidates

-Rob Yates, LPNC Communications Director

For those of you who watched Cheri Beasley "debate" Ted Budd, on Friday, October 7, we want you to know, we at the LPNC feel your pain. A series of progressively ridiculous question dodges with empty platitudes and party-line talking points serving as filler, if nothing else this event was standard fare in the farcical world that has become our political discourse. Both sides, of course, claim “victory,” in the most unfortunately accurate reflection of the hollow mess we have made buying into the enmity-driven drivel of our politicians.

Fortunately, there is a rational alternative to team red and team blue, where serious Bray Hoh Kaliner Debatepeople have principle-based solutions to actual problems on which reasonable people can disagree and remain friends. On September 15, Shannon Bray, Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate, sat down with Matthew Hoh, Green Party candidate, for a debate moderated by WRAL radio host Pete Kaliner. The two met on Pete's Charlotte show to continue the discussion the next day.

The first event was hosted at Davidson College. The room, set in old brick with modern finishings, set the perfect backdrop for a discussion of current problems with people who understand the history and importance of the position they seek, with meaningful answers produced on a foundation of research, understanding, and humanity, as opposed to rubber-stamped and fully vetted gobbledygook that the other two regurgitated last Friday.

Bray Hoh Debate 2Kaliner went through seven topics, ranging from the economy and environment to foreign affairs and education, with a series of questions underlying each. After a short break, there was a Q&A session for audience members to raise questions important to them, the citizens and residents of North Carolina. While Kaliner kept the event moving, the structure was loose and the discussion friendly, with a significant focus on areas of agreement between Bray and Hoh, such as decriminalization of cannabis and non-interventionist military policies.

They ended the evening discussing the polarization in the country, commenting on social media and modern politics and what they are doing to drive us further apart. They both expressed hope and optimism for where the country is going, and they proved it by sitting down next to each other, despite each one espousing apolitical philosophy that, at its core, is diametrically opposed to the other's

Bray Hoh Debate 3On his show the next day, Kaliner took both candidates to task much more aggressively, pushing back on answers about abortion, economics, and the electoral college, and not allowing them to get off the hook with incomplete conclusions or baseless assumptions. Nevertheless, the events were both friendly and positive, and proved conclusively that the narrative “we must hate each other” is an utter and dangerous falsehood.

Constantly faced with voting choices billed as the lesser of two evils, with the common refrain from the average voter, "voting third party is a waste of my vote,"; it can certainly seem like the only option is to dig ourselves more deeply into the hole we have created, more bitterness, anger, and polarization as the engine. Instead, I submit that, if you don’t like the way things are, then stop voting for it. The only wasted vote is one for a party-groomed and donor-approved member of team red or team blue.

First, stay tuned, as we will be providing you so much more through this newsletter and all the exciting things the LPNC has planned, and we are confident we can change your mind. And second, if you can’t vote for Shannon, vote for Matthew. Anything is better than a vote for the uniparty duopoly that we pretend is a representative democracy. And check out the debates; both candidates made the case for themselves, and then heartily endorsed the other as a second option.

Dignity and decency in politics isn’t dead, it’s just suffocating under layers of fallout painted red and blue as the two major parties try to turn us against each other to secure your vote. It’s time we chose better.

Bray Hoh 4

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