Matthew Kordon - April 2024

As Principled Outsiders, We Have an Obligation to Settle Political Disagreements

by: Matthew Kordon - Candidate for NC House 11

I spoke with a Republican voter recently who believed that because Libertarians have won few state and federal elections, they accomplish nothing with their campaigns. I could list plenty of reasons why that is not true, but I have a novel argument you might not have heard: Libertarians have the capacity to be the ideal mediators of the political landscape, time and again.

Mediation can end decades of gridlock. Mediation by a neutral third party creates democratic and rhetorical pressure to move the dispute to a legalistic, rational, or at least voted on next step. It often puts parties on the path of agreement.

To understand why we have a de facto power to mediate, consider elections. Many NC races this year have a Libertarian, Republican, and Democrat. Whether fair or not, the general public and journalists think of our party as being squarely in between the duopoly. Thankfully, the public knows how independent and focused we are on the issues of liberty and equality, so they respect our unique vision for North Carolina. Our staying power causes us to loom large; some parties rise and fall like Icarus attempting to fly... but not us. A comment by a Libertarian on a dispute between the other two during, say, a debate shifts the weight of the conversation considerably. This might help explain why Libertarians are often said to win debates such as the one Mike Ross won by a landslide in February.

If we are not careful, this can backfire. Saying something contradicting, radical, or unpopular can have the effect of uniting our rivals against us. Worse still is if we forfeit the high ground by saying something dubious or disingenuous.

We hold this power even in races between one Republican and Democrat. If our state party puts out a press release, it has the potential to be seen by a faction of the left or right who agrees, and they can proudly tout it as evidence that their side is popular and logical whereas the other side is without unbiased company.

An example of this happening is my own race against my Republican opponent. Philip Hensley was debating two left-wing activists on the social media site X on April 9 for what was at least the second time. Responding to an expression of dislike for Christian practices as justification for not supporting Christian school vouchers, Hensley said:

At first his remarks were iffy; calling the person a "bigot" seemed to me like exaggeration. What BFB said in response was to point out that they would not side against other Jews, being Jewish. Admittedly, this helped retroactively vindicate Mr. Hensley for being critical of BFB, but what he then said was atrocious: "Exactly my point. Therefore you are Anti-Christian." The implication was that all Jews are bigoted towards Christians.

Disgusted, the other left-wing person screen-capped the exchange and declared Hensley to be an "antisemitic goon."

At best, Hensley's words were a Freudian slip that he only agreed with in the heat of the moment and blurted out awkwardly, and at worst, Mr. Hensley has an actual aversion to all Jewish people. This outcry got my attention so I shared the post and wrote:

Unbeknownst to me, what I reposted twisted the truth by making it look like Mr. Hensley was initially replying to something slightly different, further incriminating him. Spreading misinformation intentionally is deeply unethical and sinister, so MovingNCForward ought to be ashamed, but this is not about them. MNCF is not running for office, Hensley is.

You will notice that I called his remark "mildly" antisemitic and asked that he apologize, hinting to him that if he apologizes, it will restore his reputation to me and others. I saw it as giving him a way out of the situation, but this was also a test. If he didn't apologize, then he reveals himself to be not only antisemitic but also very stubborn. After all, how hard would it have been to say, "Fine. What I said was unintentionally in bad taste. I apologize to the Jewish community and want to return to the subject at hand"? Perhaps he thinks apologizing makes men look weak when instead it shows an ability to pause and exhibit reflection, empathy, and humility, traits necessary in leadership.

Instead, Hensley responded by exhibiting rotten character traits: fits of anger, mocking others, lying about me and more people, refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing whatsoever, boasting about being able to outlast anyone in verbal argument, calling many different people "bigots" simply for disagreeing with him, refusing to help me clear his name out of spite, making fun of all Libertarians simply because he does not like me, and boasting that he gets more views on his posts than I do. Like Donald Trump, his strategy when someone points out a character flaw is to deny the character flaw and simultaneously flaunt bad behavior in their face to hide that he cares what they think of him.

Many left-wing users on X were overjoyed to see that I denounced his generalizations. It gave their view of him a seal of approval from someone of authority, doubly so when our state party backed my statement that his hate is unacceptable. Heck, the LPNC went further and suggested he drop out of the race (something Hensley had already demanded of me, which I laughed off).

So impressed were they of my conduct, that even though I handled the situation sternly, Biden-supporters spent the next few days saying nice things about me, clicking the heart button on my posts, and engaged me in earnest conversation in which they genuinely considered my Libertarian arguments! I cannot overstate what a huge, positive change that seemed to awaken in them. Although it feels too late to be an influence on Mr. Hensley, my conduct is winning the admiration of people on the other side. Perhaps as many as one hundred left-leaning residents of North Carolina have their opinion of Libertarians improved because of my actions.

Perhaps Representative Dahle was watching from the shadows and will likewise listen to my libertarian views with greater interest from now on, and, if she gets re-elected, perhaps she will be swayed on a few issues. I can tell Hensley will think twice before ever uttering something heinous publicly again, as he later deleted the antisemitic remarks to try to hide that he ever said them. It is not the apology I was hoping for on behalf of others, but it will do.

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