1. What called you to volunteer for the LPNC?
So, I started out as a peace Democrat working for George McGovern in 1971. But in 1976, I was unhappy with Jimmy Carter and voted for Eugene McCarthy, And by 1980, I was so disenchanted with the Democrats’ fiscal profligacy and divisive victimization pandering that I voted for John Anderson. (He turned out to be the last Presidential candidate I supported financially for the next three decades). The 1984 Democratic national convention—they mandated delegate allocations for seemingly every variety of marginalized minority to engineer “diversity”—was the final straw and I changed my registration to R and voted for Ronald Reagan.
Of course, Reagan turned out to be a hugely disappointing budget buster, and then we got “read my lips: no new taxes” from the first George Bush, which also turned sour. I was set to vote for Ross Perot in 1992 until he quit the race; ended up sticking with Bush. And Bob Dole in 1996. And, with trepidation, the second George Bush in 2000. Then 9/11 happened, and Dick Cheney lost his mind: we invaded Afghanistan (“graveyard of empires”) and to compound that folly, Iraq for what turned out to be fraudulent reasons with no coherent strategy beyond, evidently, pumping HAL stock. And we doubled down on spying on our own citizenry and bootlessly hassling them at airports.
I gave up on the Rs and registered independent.
I’d gotten married in 1980, added kids to the family in 1985-87-90, and moved to NC along with a NY-based software/services company I co-founded in 1992, all of which limited the bandwidth I could devote to politics. But then in 2007—with the youngest a senior in HS and thus a bit more disposable time available to me—I got a call from the wife’s older brother (a dedicated Democrat). “Brad!” he exclaimed, “you gotta turn on the Republican candidates debate!” “Ralph,” says I, “why are you even watching the GOP candidates debate? It’s only May and the election isn’t until next year!” “There’s this guy on the stage who’s blowing the other candidates’ minds,” he persisted. So I took his advice and soon was treated to a replay of the famous sequence wherein Ron Paul explains the concept of “blowback” to Rudy Giuliani.
All I had known about Dr. Paul up until that day was that he was a Texas Republican Congressman and likely the best baseball player who never made the majors ever to serve in the House. But it was love at first sight, and I became a financial supporter of his 2008 campaign. And then in 2011-12, contributed both money and phone-banking time. Then, when the GOP would not even allow Dr. Paul time to speak at their 2012 convention (despite him having the second-most delegates of any candidate), it was a pretty natural transition to slide over to the Gary Johnson campaign. Gov. Johnson had started out running for the 2012 GOP nomination with a similar platform to Dr. Paul, but frozen out of the debates after the first one, had shifted gears to pursue and win the Libertarian nomination. I was pretty active in that 2012 campaign, even pinch-hitting for their NC campaign manager, Jason Melehani, for an Election Day TV appearance.
During the course of that campaign, I learned about the NAP and the Nolan Chart (which I first saw at the LPNC booth at the State Fair), and realized I had always been libertarian, at least since reading “Atlas Shrugged” in college. (TBH, I flamed out about 20 pages into “The Speech.” Maybe that’s why it took me so long to complete the journey! LOL). So once again I changed my voter registration, this time to Libertarian. And Jason turned me on to the Wake County Libertarian Party. I attended my first meeting at the now defunct (deservedly) Gourmet Factory in January 2013. And then my second-ever party meeting was their annual county convention in a rented classroom at NC State…and somehow, improbably, I came away from that meeting having been elected as treasurer. To this day, not quite sure how that transpired, but likely the main impetus was their desperation in the face of the imminent relocation of their incumbent treasurer to California, and a dearth of other volunteers. :-)
2. What recent development in the LPNC has you the most excited?
The pivot towards paying attention to municipal and county races.
At first glance, it’s hard to understand why so much more public attention is paid to Federal elections than local elections. Sure, once every few years the Federal government does something that impacts our lives: involvement in a foreign war that significantly increases the national debt, creation of an agency whose purpose is to make air travel more inconvenient, a court decision extending or limiting civil rights. But many more decisions are made by local governments every week that impact our daily lives with respect to education, transportation, health care, small business regulation, recreation, water supply, zoning and housing, and many more. It seems irrational that so much more attention is paid to the Presidential election and candidates than to the local mayoral election… and that turnout for national elections dwarfs that for local elections.
From our perspective, the case for doing the rational thing here is overwhelming. First, focusing on local government is congruent with the Libertarian preference for eschewing concentrations of power. Electing Libertarians to local office would likely increase the capability and willingness of county and municipal governments to resist state and Federal government encroachments on local decision-making.
Secondly, it is way easier to be competitive in local elections than in state or national elections. You need way less money and way fewer votes. In North Carolina, there are always a few local races where no candidate files to run (so if the LPNC could recruit someone, it would be an automatic win!), and there are always several more where the number of registered Libertarians in the pertinent election district is a significant fraction of—and sometimes even exceeds—the likely number of votes needed to win. Generally, those opportunities are in smaller counties…but WakeLP ran candidates for Water & Soil in 2022—Brian Lewis got 52k votes, an all-time record for any Libertarian candidate in any election in Wake County, although he did not win—and 2006—Joy Elliott won with 40k votes, then an all-time record for the county—and CumberlandLP ran Christina Aragues for S&W in 2022 and she set an all-time record for that county with 36k votes…and was only 66 votes shy of winning.
And last but not least, becoming active in local government affords us the opportunity to demonstrate the efficacy of Libertarian approaches to governance and normalize our presence at the table. Case in point: when TJ Rohr was elected to the first of his five city council terms in Lenoir (Caldwell), he was viewed with suspicion by the other councilors… but by his third term, his work ethic and principled teamwork had earned him enough respect that they appointed him mayor pro ten (to cover for the elected mayor when necessary).
3. What do you see as the biggest need for the LPNC right now?
Fundraising. If we are ever to develop the capacity to effectively compete politically in NC, we need to up our game to the point where we can engage professional services in order to build an experienced cadre that can deliver consistent quality in critical areas such as marketing, lobbying, recruiting and training volunteers and candidates, campaign support, I/T, and, of course, fundraising itself.
Even without professional help, we achieved much better results fundraising from individuals in the past than we are getting now:
We got lazy in the 2010s when the party was benefitting from the income tax checkoff to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars a year—the chart only shows funds raised from individuals and so does not include those dollars—and since the GOP took over the NCGA in 2011 and cut that off (because it was benefitting the Ds more than the Rs), we have never recovered. But having done it before, we know that it’s possible to up our game here.
4. What do you want to say to those reading this who are thinking about volunteering to get them to go for it?
Think local! There are lots of opportunities to spread the gospel that don’t require engagement with the national LP or running for office or even canvassing door-to-door or making phone calls. Every city and town and county in the state has a bevy of citizen advisory boards that attend to such things as development plans, local health care, transportation options, land use and zoning, water supply, libraries, energy, arts grants, and many more. Many of these boards have openings any resident can apply for (even if you are not registered to vote). Find one that looks potentially interesting and attend a meeting or two (virtually all are open and most are live-streamed).
It would be great for us and all our fellow citizens to have a Libertarian perspective at the table when these boards meet. “Hey, maybe instead of paying town staff overtime to manage that weekend event, we can find a private company willing to do that…if we allow them to run concessions, they might figure the profits would be great enough to run the event for us at a bargain rate, or even for free.” But even folks who are shy about speaking up can still gather intelligence, not only about what the board is doing but who is who in the local power structure. That sort of insight is invaluable to anyone considering running for local office… your advice could make the difference for a Libertarian candidate!
And if you are contemplating running for office yourself, a stint on a board or two will not only afford you a free education as to where the bodies are buried in the local political scene but give you the opportunity to make yourself known to the movers and shakers you would be working with if you won election.
Not gonna lie…parts of these meetings are deadly boring. But collectively, that’s an investment of time we need to make to ensure that when we do run candidates in competitive local races, they know what they are talking about on the campaign trail…and are well-prepared to do the job if they are elected.
5. What are your biggest goals for the next year?
With respect to the LPNC, I am focused on helping Timothy Conard’s I/T team, generally with CRM and infrastructure support plus a few specific projects such as co-managing the State Fair team, serving as treasurer for one of our gubernatorial candidates, helping with credentialing for the LPNC convention, and launching a intranet website exclusively for LPNC members. I expect to be reducing my state party workload to focus on Wake County in 2024.
6. What is something about you that most people wouldn’t know (“fun fact”)?
My first job after graduating college was with Simulations Publications, Inc. (“SPI”) in New York. This was 1975, so pretty much pre-computer gaming; they were all paper-based (I would say “board games” except the role-playing games did not usually have boards). They published two bi-monthly magazines, “Strategy & Tactics” and “Ares.” Each issue came with a game insert: historical for S&T and fantasy/sf for Ares. Among the games I worked on were “Punic Wars,” “Frederick the Great,” “Lützen,” “Drive on Stalingrad,” “Cobra,” “Spies,” “Battlefleet: Mars,” and the licensed product games “War of the Rings” and “Dragonslayer.”
7. What other roles do you hold in the party, state or affiliate?
My only other official role is providing I/T support for WakeLP. I did serve as WakeLP treasurer for eight years.
My company, Intelledgement, LLC, coordinate a team of service providers who support WakeLP candidates (campaign financial reporting, headshot photography, business cards and name tags, website content and hosting, branded campaign e-mail services, door-hanger and yard sign design and production).
by Phil Jacobson
In the enclosed picture, you see my first involvement with the Libertarian Party of North Carolina. It was in 1976, during the Presidential campaign of Roger McBride, at the Fayetteville airport. (I'm the scruffy one in the back.) There weren't many of us then. There were no regular LP meetings in most parts of the state, and there weren't many opportunities like this. And yet, the LPNC is still active today, like no other (ahem) "small" political party.
A continuous core of serious activists has always existed in party, but none of those in the photo will be at this year's state convention, except for me, who will attend only online. The others are no longer active with us. Some moved away. Some passed away. Many burned out. Still, the organization survived, slowly growing (on average) for over forty years. But so have serious internal controversies. Some of the controversy was about issues which were important to voters. Some was about issues only libertarian scholars usually care about. Some was about issues of internal organization. Sometimes a clash seemed personal.
But the organization is still here and active. Why? Because among those of us who have remained active a certain ethic has evolved, which over time has transcended most controversy. I've been calling it Respectful Disagreement.
The most controversial issues were the ones most important to us as individuals. One of the most fundamental issues is the question of how much government we are willing to endorse, "limited" or "none." That one is still with us. In my case a related issue is which of the party's officially stated goals is most important: educating the public about our ideas or trying to get our candidates into elective offices. At other times, there has been controversy over which individuals should represent the party as candidates.
Still other times, the issue was how "radical" we should present ourselves to the public, during elections and between them. Should we emphasize our opposition to the Drug War? Should we stress our belief that the government should stay out of people's bedrooms? Should we put a lot of energy into defending the 2nd Amendment? Exactly how far do we take the notion of religious freedom? Most recently, I have seen controversy develop over the use of Federal funds to support the Ukrainians in their war with Russia.
There are really no perfect answers to any of these questions - at least none which turn the LP into a perfect advocacy machine. We should not expect such neat perfection of strategy. Instead, we should remind ourselves that the core of our beliefs is that each individual should have both the responsibility and the ability to decide what or who to support, based on that individual's personal beliefs. Nor should we expect to find allies outside the LP who will stay with us on all issues, especially not on the most important ones.
Instead, we have found the most success by being "Single Issue" libertarians. We attend rallies with civil rights advocates to oppose excessive use of force by police. We find a different set of external allies (for the most part) when we demonstrate against the income tax. We find yet another set of allies when we lobby for ballot access reform. This same kind of shifting alliances happens within the party itself. Support for one Presidential candidate may find LP members gathering together one year who had been behind several different candidates in previous years. Special interest groups within the party all have unique membership lists.
But why should it be any other way? Individual choice is the whole point of libertarianism. Respectful Disagreement is why we survive. Respectful Disagreement is how we grow.
by Harvey Carpenter
On September 13, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law the "Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994," better known as "The Crime Bill." Joe Biden, who was then a Senator from Delaware, drafted the Senate version of the legislation. Within the bill's 356 pages was a provision that funded 100,000 new police officers.
On September 12, 1994, then Charlotte City Councilman Mike Jackson (Republican) submitted a resolution to the Charlotte City Council proposing that the city of Charlotte would NOT accept any funds apportioned to Charlotte by "The Crime Bill" for additional police officers.
I and two others appealed to then Mayor Richard Vinroot (Republican) and the entire City Council to SUPPORT Councilman Jackson’s resolution. In our presentations, here were some basic points that we asked everyone to consider (link to VIDEO).
Wasn't "The Crime Bill" legislation a gross infringement on the Bill of Rights (and more specifically the Tenth Amendment), which delegates all specific powers within the Constitution not enumerated to the Federal Government to be reserved to the States and to the People?
Federal mandates will ALWAYS accompany Federal subsidies - every time, without exception. In other words, there is no money received by Local and State governments from the Federal government that does not also come with directives on how that money may be used.
How necessary was it for the city of Charlotte to receive Federal funding in order to provide police services? Was Charlotte not sufficiently viable economically to fulfill this important need of the Community, without looking to the Federal government for financial assistance?
It was NOT an oversight by our Founding Fathers that local law enforcement was reserved to State and Local jurisdictions and was therefore, by design, separated from the Federal Government and the US Military.
Accepting Federal funds for local policing was a very dangerous precedent that would further the slippery slope towards centralizing law enforcement powers under the Federal government, and away from the States and Local Police.
The Charlotte City Council's response? An almost unanimous rejection of Councilman Jackson's resolution. Amongst the discussions between Council members prior to voting was heard a snicker or two, along with a quip by then Mayor Richard Vinroot that "there must be a full moon out tonight." One Councilman’s response during the discussion, Republican Pat McCrory (who would later become Governor of North Carolina) stated that he would rather see Richard Vinroot's Charlotte receive the appropriated funds than Washington DC's Marion Barry receiving the money.
Almost thirty years later the march towards a centralized and nationalized US law enforcement continues, unfortunately at rapid speed.
Dr. Mary Ruwart is a Libertarian author, speaker, and activist who previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Biology at UNC-Charlotte. Dr. Ruwart was the Libertarian candidate for Senate in Texas in 2000, and was a keynote speaker at the 2004 Libertarian National Convention and at the LPNC state convention in 2018. Additionally, Dr. Ruwart has served on the boards of the International Society for Individual Liberty, the Fully Informed Jury Association, and the Michigan chapter of the Heartland Institute. She is currently one of the scholars leading the Libertarian Solutions 3.0 online learning course run by Liberty International.
As we move into 2023, it’s tough to know which way the world is turning. Covid has wreaked havoc on our economy, our rights, and our health. Although the worst of the crisis is supposedly behind us, it’s uncertain what 2023 will bring. Many of us are still mourning our losses and frustration abounds. This is when we are most vulnerable, when we must take care not to be our own worst enemies.
The government has accumulated power throughout the crisis and it may seem at times that there is little we, as libertarians, can do. In our understandable frustration, it’s easy to lash out at our families, friends, and fellow libertarians instead. If we do, our abusive government will have succeeded in dividing us and we will be doing its dirty work for it. In times like these, we should be coming together and acknowledging our real enemy and vent our frustration constructively.
How do we do that? We come together and help those who are not in a position to fight the good fight. For example, in Gastonia, not far from where I used to live in Charlotte, members of the LPNC and Spike Cohen's "You Are The Power" have been holding rallies, speaking at public meetings, and raising money to help abused and disadvantaged homeless people being harassed by city and county government. These activists are building bonds with local community members, forming a diverse coalition of people from across all political, cultural and economic spectrums. If we expect others to embrace our philosophy of non-aggression, we have to be a living example of our principles in action. Be the neighbor known for offering a hand up, not a hand out. If we invest faithfully in our cause, the people we are trying to reach will have extra incentive to invest a little faith in our ideas.
Joining a coalition to obtain justice allows us to unite with those who feel the same on a single, simple issue. Our comrades in arms are more likely to listen to the libertarian message when they see our dedication to justice in action. Not only do we thwart the injustice of the state, but we gain sympathizers for the libertarian ideal. Isn’t this a much better way to release our frustrations than fighting among ourselves? This is the time to embrace our libertarian colleagues and together do good. Let's not let "them" divide us, but unite us!
*Editor's Note: We at the Tarheel did something a bit different here his month. We looked back and found LPMeck Chair Jeff Scott's planks for his 2020 campaign for state senator against Jeff Jackson. We were astounded at how prescient this was, as it would be a perfect set of campaign goals even now, for 2023, and so we are publishing them today, just as he did three years ago.
by Jeff Scott for NC
Fire Mandy Cohen
Pressure the new governor to fire and replace Dr. Mandy Cohen and the senior management team at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Pressure the new governor and state legislature to reverse the lockdown and allow the economy to resurrect itself. Zero liability for commerce means that when businesses reopen, their requirements should be no more onerous than the rules in place in 2019. Every business, and every business man and woman is essential. We must roll back restrictions to repair the damage from the public overreaction. Regulators of health and safety must consider both the benefits and the costs to frivolous state impositions like obsessive surface cleaning and plexiglass barriers. Businesses can voluntarily take additional safety measures to transact if they perceive inordinate panic in the behavior of their customers. But businesses have no legal obligation to cater to their most paranoid customers, and fickle customers are free to spend their dollars elsewhere for any reason they want.
The Governor does not enjoy immunity for crimes. The cause of excess deaths in North Carolina and elsewhere is the illegal response to what we now know is a minor disease. The U.S. economy and North Carolina were shut down based on wildly inaccurate models that predicted 2.2 million American deaths. Since then, millions of North Carolina residents continue to suffer financially, physically, and mentally. Crises are like drugs for those in office, offering Governors the option to retain powers over the public.
Does the Governor have authority to prolong an emergency declaration motivated by virus eradication? The series of absurd reasons for containment permits him to bypass state law and federal Constitutional rights. Cooper, like other Democratic governors who are being challenged in Ohio and Michigan, conveniently expanded his privilege to keep people under virtual house arrest with no legal consequences to himself. He threw North Carolinians under the bus. When will "non-essential” business owners, their employees and their customers get a chance to speak up?
The emergency declaration is an exercise of power that should be reviewed by the courts. The ballot box is an insufficient remedy because the damage has been extreme. If courts are unwilling to review any action based on public health, it’s rendering itself useless. North Carolina should not suffer from judicial indifference over Cooper's destructive actions.
If we don’t challenge the Governor's decision, whether he is still in office or out, the tyranny manifested under the guise of a COVID-19 response can be applied to a wide array of "public health" issues. That includes obesity, drugs, racism, guns, and rights of association and protest. Not only that, but "public health” indoctrination and propaganda included gag orders, censorship, and tight media control. The federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) even stopped evictions on the grounds of "public health." This is just the tip of the iceberg when one stops to consider a Federal takeover of public health.
CDC confirmed that 94 percent of the deaths attributed to the virus were from people who had as many as two to three other serious illnesses. The majority of those deaths are individuals 75 and older. Six percent of the deaths were directly from COVID-19, according to the CDC. The Governor made a calculated tradeoff to allegedly save lives in the short run while destroying the livelihood of North Carolinians in the long run.
Businesses are struggling, and many will never re-open. Drug overdoses and suicides have increased. Many people were unable to get treatment for conditions not related to COVID-19 because hospitals were closed to accommodate the rush of patients who never arrived. Forcing doctors to make poor decisions for patients does not help public health and clearly violates medical ethics.
Children are struggling because many of them cannot attend school in person. Dentists are seeing a surge in cases of cracked teeth from the rise in tension. Masks provide no real protection against this virus and are promoted as a social-psychological device, not a medical one.
Families have been barred from seeing their loved ones in hospitals and long-term care facilities, and residents in long-term care facilities have suffered because of the lack of in-person communication from their loved one. People living alone, of all ages, have been forced into solitary confinement and are dying at increased rates due to loneliness and lack of self-care.
The courts must end the Governor's crusade and hold him accountable whether he is returned to office or not.
by Thomas Hill
"Libertarians are different because we believe that all rights are individual rights, given to every human being by virtue of their existence, and not dependent on any written document or government favor. We're different because we believe that two people, two hundred people, or two million people don't have any more rights than one person. We are different because we realize that when it comes to rights, there is no number greater than one." - Lee Wrights (1958 - 2017) Past LPNC Vice-Chair and 2012 LP Presidential Nominee Runner-Up to Governor Gary Johnson
It was an honor and a privilege to manage the Lee Wrights' 2012 presidential campaign. Spending 23 months traveling across the country with one of my best friends was an adventure I will never forget. I put nearly 40,000 miles on my 1999 Nissan Maxima, visiting over 20 state LP conventions. Lee was a hit on the debate circuit. He often stole the show with his southern charm, quick wit, and solid understanding of the history of our party, our philosophy, and our nation.
During his presidential campaign, Lee published an opinion piece entitled, "Libertarians Can Make A Difference By Being Different". In his unique way, he reminded his party peers that all it takes to make a difference is to simply be ourselves.
"Libertarians are different because we believe that the Golden Rule, an idea shared by people and cultures all over the world and throughout history, not only applies to one-on-one relationships but to all human relationships and to relationships among nations. We are different because we mind our own business. We're different because we insist on leaving people alone."
As Libertarians, we believe that our philosophy of self-ownership and non-aggression, when soundly understood and properly applied, maximizes our human potential to prosper by creating a space for individual freedom to flourish.
The iconic proto-libertarian novelist and political theorist, Rose Wilder Lane, once said, "Freedom is self-control. Nothing more. Nothing less." When we give up control of our thoughts, emotions, and choices, we give tyranny the fertile soil it requires to grow as it steadily consumes our self-worth and dignity
Humans too often idealize celebrities, politicians, and institutions. In doing so, they give up their spiritual gold, their sacred source of self-empowerment and self-worth. This only enables and emboldens tyranny and the further decay of individual liberty and self-determination in our communities and our nation as a whole.
"Libertarians are different because we believe in the radical idea that individuals have the right – and the responsibility — to live their lives as they see fit. To make decisions about their lives, their families, and their safety without unwanted hindrance or interference from any one or any government. We're different because we actually believe what our nation's founders believed: that government's only legitimate role in society is restricted to protecting the individual rights of citizens."
In this age of greed, envy, and entitlement, Libertarians are different because we circumscribe our thoughts, emotions, and actions with the principles of generosity, respect, and compassion. We believe in giving our neighbors a hand up instead of a handout. We respect our neighbor's peaceful choices and have empathy for their problems and life struggles.
by Sean Haugh
At a time when the national Libertarian Party and several of our state parties find themselves mired in controversy and infighting, we here with the Libertarian Party of North Carolina just keep on growing and doing our thing, blissfully unaffected by it all.
How do we accomplish this? For over 20 years we have practiced a party-building philosophy we call the NC Way. Simply put, if you want any amount of greater Liberty at all, in any direction, or even just on one issue, we welcome and embrace you in the Libertarian Party. It doesn't matter where you came from politically, nor even really how far down the path to total freedom you want to go. If you want freedom, you have a place with us.
We very openly love ALL our fellow Libertarians here in NC. One great thing about us is we are neither left nor right, just Libertarian. So we can bring in people from all over the political spectrum. Once we put them all at the same table at a local meeting, we come to find out we all have a whole lot more in common with each other than we ever did with the parties we fled.
We've never cared much for caucuses here, and as far as the National Committee is concerned, as long as we don't need their support for ballot access (and we haven't since 2008), we hardly care what they do. We have our own work to do here at home, and we are putting together our own teams of people at the local level do carry it forward. A lasting political party is built from the ground up, not from the top down.
Sure, caucuses are active here, and the Mises Caucus is particularly strong in NC, as it is everywhere across the country. But the NC Way means we see people as individuals, not as representatives of some collective identity. When they started showing up, we welcomed and embraced them and put them to work, just like we always did with everybody else.
To me, these newer members aren't "the Mises Caucus." They are people, they have names. People who have brought new enthusiasm to the party. People who do the administration and outreach work that helps us grow even more rapidly. People who run for office and represent us well to the voters. People who embrace Libertarian principles and love all their fellow NC Libertarians. People who have become my friends and allies, and whom I am glad are on our side.
So I look at all this infighting going on elsewhere and am kinda puzzled. It doesn't have to be like that. No one has to show up for a fight. Besides, we have bigger fish to fry with all these authoritarian Democrats and Republicans in office.
It really doesn't matter where you came from politically or why you want more Liberty or what particular freedom issue matters to you the most. You have friends and allies here in the Libertarian Party of NC. We have been doing it this way long before there was a Mises Caucus, and we'll still be practicing the NC Way when the next flavor of the day in the Liberty movement comes along.