Volume 3, Issue 7 | April 2023
"Conservatives want to be your daddy, telling you what to do and what not to do. Liberals want to be your mommy, feeding you, tucking you in, and wiping your nose. Libertarians want to treat you as an adult." ― David Boaz
In this issue…
More than anything I want to say, at the top of my list is making sure I express how appreciative I am for all of you.
Every day, we build on the day before. The days become weeks, and months, and years, and we slowly advance the cause of Liberty, growing the party, taking action, showing up for those in need, and spreading the messaging. The grind, all of you getting back to it in the face of tremendous pressure, is how we scrap for our victories, inching forward. Of course, we look to influence legislation wherever we can as well.
And sometimes we have beautiful moments where it all comes together, and major progress is realized in one fell swoop. Like this month…
The North Carolina legislature passed a bill repealing the pistol purchase permit restrictions, a racist vestige of Jim Crow era North Carolina. Then, when Governor Cooper vetoed that bill, the legislature pulled together enough votes to override his veto.
This didn’t happen by accident. Combined with guidance on messaging from the people who serve you in the LPNC, you called, wrote, and didn’t give up. Not once, but twice you all bombarded your representatives' offices with phone calls, emails, voice mails, and even in-person visits, and you made sure the people you elected heeded the voice of the people who elected them.
And it was beautiful.
But we haven’t even gotten started yet. We have an off-cycle election season coming up with a number of local candidates, some of whom have a real shot at winning, but not without your support. We have initiatives developing to target the ABC monopoly in NC, an entity with violent and racist roots that maintains its tyrannical abuse of power with violence even today, all of which we explore in today’s Tar Heel.
We have LPNC activists fighting to end asset forfeiture laws that are so authoritarian as to defy belief. We have school choice, and marijuana legalization, and constitutional carry, and certificate of need, and a partisan battle that promises to get exceptionally nasty, even by today’s standards, with politicians switching parties, and vitriol pouring from both sides.
We have open roles on the LPNC staff that we need to fill. We listed the most pressing in today’s newsletter, but there are plenty of others. We have a full calendar of events around the state coming up that are futile without people to staff the tables and engage with crowds. We have mailings, and content, and research, and data organization, and meetups, and protests, and all these are just the baseline for things we hope to accomplish this year.
I’m not overwhelmed, though, at how long the road ahead seems. Instead, I’m hopeful. I saw what happened when you, the people of North Carolina, rallied around something that mattered. And this was only the first time in this environment. We'll get better, win more.
I am asking; give what you can. If you can give fifty dollars a month, that’s incredible, and we will take it gratefully. And if you can give five bucks a month, that’s incredible, we will take it gratefully. If you can give twenty hours a week, we will keep you busy, I promise. And if you can give one hour a week, then we have lots on the agenda that should suit you perfectly.
So thank you now for all you have done, and thank you in advance for everything we are going to do. Just make sure you’re part of it.
-Ryan Brown, LPNC Chair
There is a rare opportunity that we can't afford to miss
by Rob Yates
Comic by Noah Zenger
Official positions, events, campaigns, support, and on and on. There is no time quite like the present to get involved...
It has been a big news month for North Carolina politics. Over the last few weeks, we saw several bills passed and become law. This includes the pistol purchase permit repeal, which Governor Cooper vetoed, and which the legislature subsequently voted to overturn, due in no small part to the pressure campaign of you, the people of North Carolina.
We saw a representative switch parties and the torrent of local, state, and national publicity that came with it. We saw the state house pass a budget and a medicaid expansion bill. We saw a bill introduced covering safety and emissions inspections, another bill that shifts power from the governor to the general assembly.
At the national level, yesterday "officially" ended a covid "emergency" that many of us had ceased to acknowledge years ago. We saw Trump get arrested, grandstanding for all at the Tennessee legislature, and the RESTRICT act quietly making its way to restrict our Liberty. It has garnered the moniker "The Online Patriot Act," which is truly ignominious company, as far as legislation goes.
The machine moves forward regardless of how we feel about it. It's time to take a stand.
The stars are aligned for us to gain significant ground
The year 2023 is the relatively infrequent election cycle where there are neither state nor national level elections. There are definitely elections, though. In fact, a number of city and municipal level races are coming up in 2023, including city councils, mayors, and other municipal-level elected position. We expect to have several candidates. There are open races for several more to join. (We will have coverage on running for office next month, including filing dates, what it takes, and what to expect, as well as resources for candidates.)
In 2020, NC broke records as we pushed $1 billion dollars in total campaign spending. While spending was not that insane in 2021, it was still the most expensive down-ballot election year in history. We bounced back in 2022, with nearly $200 million in campaign spending, and 2024 projections are already at $150 million and more for the governor race.
Here in quiet, little 2023, though, spending is not expected (as of right now) to cross the $30 million mark total, and some projections are significantly less than that. The fundraising reports are coming, and the Republicrats and Democrans are predictably building up their war chests by cozying up with the big donor special interest groups who own their souls and ultimately control legislative action. But next year promises to be a doozy for spending and partisan aggression, and next year's candidates are locking down the money they need to turn their "base" into aggressive attack dogs against their opponents, while they all talk about "democracy."
Given that so much of the machine will be looking ahead, we have the chance to win races where we will be on relatively equal footing against uniparty candidates who don't have an unlimited ATM at their disposal. Further, the apparatus is in place. We have great candidates, infrastructure, materials, support, strategy, and the data to back it all up. However, these races take time and resources to win. We need people to message, phone bank, table events, fundraise, and so much more.
Every tiny contribution matters. They add up to a #2023goldrush.
So much more to do now and into the future
It isn't just local campaigns this year where there is opportunity to get involved. We have an immediate need for an Outreach Director as well as three committees that we are looking to fill. There are a number of other open director and staff positions for those of you who want to share your talents.
Especially with the success of the pistol purchase permit efforts, we are looking to effect positive legislative change where we can, and that takes resources. We already have people in NC working on driving legislative changes in a number of areas (which the Tar Heel will cover in detail in future editions). If you have ever wanted to be involved with the legislative side of things, but not running for office, let us know, and we can connect you.
We have a highly dedicated IT team that always needs good people for our internal development initiatives around data, website refreshing, and CRM maintenance, among others. The communications team needs people to contribute content, help build out our social media profile, edit, handle regular press releases, develop press contacts, and craft messaging and design materials. Our affiliates team needs support and people to start and join local affiliates. There are events through the summer, fall, winter, and into next year where we need people to manage our tables and actively engage with the crowds, building our presence and spreading our message.
Two candidates have announced their campaigns for governor next year, and they will both need people to help them compete. And then there will be a full slate of other candidates on ballot in 2024, and they will need the same support as candidates this year.
But mostly, we need you to represent the LPNC in North Carolina. We need you to spread the message and help other people see what we do. We need to come together to push back against self-interested, and well-funded, forces dedicated to advancing their own causes at the expense of our Liberty.
By Joshua D. Glawson, Strategic Communications Adviser
"Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion." -F.A. Hayek
November 10, 1898, is an infamous day that forever symbolizes the brute force of a tyrannical government leaving many murdered and others terrified for life and limb. With the unfolding of this day came the genesis of many of the draconian laws that carry the echoes of terror even today. These terrorists and their sympathizers eventually implemented liquor prohibition, alcohol control state laws - including the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, state income taxes, state sales taxes, restricted voting rights, various race-based laws, upholding of Jim Crow laws, and limited political representation. Their vicious control was tied to their racist, communist ideology.
More than a race war or riot, the evil that took place on this day is widely considered the only successful coup d’etat in U.S. history where innocent lives were brutally taken, peaceful people were threatened and banished, property robbed and destroyed, and official government seats uncivilly stolen; and, all of this was accomplished without one single evildoer ever being held accountable for unjust atrocities.
This coup d’etat occurred right here in Wilmington, North Carolina.
It had been around 30 years since the end of the Civil War and the signing of the Reconstruction Amendments, and many Southerners were still angered. By the 1890s, North Carolina had seen a significant increase in the number of Fusionists, who consisted of whites and blacks cooperating to create a post-Civil War state, with their own new set of pros and cons. The race-based cooperation angered the masses the most, leading to the production of numerous race-bait cartoons and articles leading up to November 10. It was the 1896 election of Republican Governor Daniel Lindsay Russell that sparked outrage for Democratic white supremacist leaders in North Carolina.
A dark coalition of bigoted Democrats was aided by paramilitary support from the Ku Klux Klan and communistic Red Shirts, who terrorized, whipped, and murdered those who actively voted against them or voiced opinions that opposed their posturing, asserting domination, power, and control. Much like their more outright communist and socialist kindred spirits plaguing the world at that time - and for some time thereafter, they incited violence and silenced civil discourse by threatening all for what they perceived as "the common good."
Such devious efforts in North Carolina were led by people such as Furnifold Simmons, Alfred M. Waddell, Josephus Daniels, and Charles B. Aycock. These tyrants would lead a committee that started a slithering movement called the White Declaration of Independence in which they wanted to forcefully remove any and all power from blacks and prevent Republicans from serving in government within North Carolina. Many of their caricatures portrayed blacks as being lazy, drunkards, ignorant, rapists, and uncivil. They wanted to scourge the entire population of North Carolina to "purify" it in the way they thought best.
Furnifold Simmons rallied hateful troops by calling on men who could "write, speak, and ride" for the white cause in November 1898. Simmons particularly despised pubs and distilleries, more for political and racial reasons than for health or civic purposes, and worked tirelessly throughout his career to end them and make North Carolina the first Southern state to pass statewide Prohibition laws. He associated distilleries with black "Republican recruiting stations."
Alfred M. Waddell wrote and spoke loudly in front of crowds calling for mass murder and violence against blacks in North Carolina, encouraging white supremacists to kill any black man seen voting in November 1898. Waddell acted as significant support for Simmons and Aycock.
Josephus Daniels led the newspapers in printing of false narratives and racist propaganda, stoking the flames of racial tensions, fearmongering, and provoking outright violence. With his caricatured portrayal of black men, he associated any and all consumption of alcohol with belligerence, rape, and general fears of chaos.
Charles B. Aycock ran his entire North Carolina political campaign around the ideas of what author Gregory P. Downs called, "[White supremacy and the] management of the state through education, public health, segregation, disenfranchisement, and alcohol prohibition."
By the end of the bloody day of November 10, 1898, at least 60 people had been murdered, with some counts suggesting upwards of 200. The coup mocked existing laws, tore officials from their political seats, and set precedent for an era that would send a cruel message across the entire state while allowing the perpetrators to maintain significant control.
For nearly 40 years, overall, Simmons held control and authority over North Carolinians in what is known as the "Simmons Machine" through acts of despotism, nepotism, and favoritism. This is still echoed throughout the alcohol control state laws, particularly with the appointing of officials in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission network in North Carolina today. The legacy perseveres, perpetuating nepotism and favoritism at the sacrifice of civility, liberty, and markets, and all at the expense of taxpayers, entrepreneurs, tourism, market representation, business development, and job creation.
When the first ABC store was opened in North Carolina by the General Assembly in 1935, after the repeal of the 18th Amendment, it was approved in order to raise more money and taxes for implementing the New Deal in the state while running a state monopoly on liquor and alcohol sales. It was a system that touted modern progressivism and extreme government control, while maintaining deeply embedded beliefs in eugenics and racist ideology associating blacks with alcoholism.
Once the reign of terror by white supremacists, Red Shirts, KKK, and others had subsided, and the centralized control of communists and socialists began to deteriorate in North Carolina, the remnants dug in and have remained intact through control via fascist means. These have consisted of continuous powers over social, commercial, and political entities. Just as the economist F.A. Hayek noted in his book The Road to Serfdom, "Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion."
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).
by Mike Ross, LPNC Treasurer and Gubernatorial Candidate
The NC ABC system provides no benefit, but protects its territory with the full force of the state.
Imagine for a moment that you are throwing a lavish party as a huge boon to your career. The catch is, you can’t afford the party. You hold the event at your home to save cost, but the catering, decorations, and particularly the fancy alcohol are beyond your means.
To get around this, you charge for drinks. You aren’t looking to make a profit, so you charge just enough to cover the libations and catering. You bring in a tiny bit extra, all of which you donate to charity, for the karma. The party goes so well you are asked to do it again the next weekend.
This time, you up the charge on the drinks just a little. You still aren't trying to make a profit, but party planning takes time, and you need to get some value back! Again, the party is a smash success, and you agree to throw one every Friday night.
Eventually, these parties are your full-time income. You take people’s keys when they come in to make sure no one drives drunk, and you refuse to overserve, as you don’t want to see people get hurt or regret coming. The parties get more and more popular.
You aren’t making the alcohol you serve, but you are serving enough of it that you feel like you should report it as income. Being an honest taxpayer, you make no attempt to hide the money. Word spreads about the parties, until one day the police rush in, decked out in body armor and guns drawn, to shut you down and lock you up for the abhorrent crime of serving people drinks without the state’s blessing.
On Saturday, March 11, the Gastonia PD raided a private business for being a speakeasy, a private facility serving alcohol without a permit. The owner had committed no other transgression. There is no information on how much the undercover sting operation cost the taxpayers. In return, though, the police confiscated:
"... 19 individual packed jello shots valued at $95. They also got 21 bottles of wine ($250 value), ten spirituous liquor bottles ($300), 82 beers ($200), an Apple iPhone ($200), a $300 laptop, and a $200 Square card reader."
This is an explicit example of the government interfering with the ability of private citizens to run a business. Instead of being given the room to succeed or fail on her own merits, the owner of this business was criminalized by the local government.
Like the hypothetical above, the point at which the ABC can assert dominion is extortionary in practice, and arbitrary at best. Can someone not charge for their time when purchasing alcohol that’s distributed to others? What about charging for a party but serving alcohol for free? Or even buying someone drinks as repayment for something?
Getting a liquor license is time consuming, expensive, and unnecessary, but it’s used as another way for the state to make money (nearly $23 million last year). If a license is granted, it puts that business under much more tax scrutiny than similar businesses, and holds them subject to ABC visits and pressures from appointed bureaucrats. Further, changes to regulations around alcohol production and consumption during quarantine proved how arbitrary and meaningless these restrictions are.
As governor, I will not watch the state close businesses and arrest people for “crimes” that have no victim and often provide benefits to the surrounding community. Nor am I willing to put police officers at risk by inserting them into situations or environments to enforce laws which exist solely to protect the interests of unelected government bodies. I will begin this by unwinding the corrupt ABC system on day 1.
I will ensure that your hard-earned dollars are used to stop actual violent crimes against person and property, while getting the government out of the way so you can earn more dollars without ridiculous state intervention. This is the core of my Liberty and Prosperity plan, to see all of North Carolina flourish under the simple idea of freedom.
In an article originally published in the North State Journal, Wake County Chair Travis Groo makes the case against new proposed health care legislation, HB 246. Groo argues that, while this bill is relatively low-profile in current public discourse, its impact would be significant, even compared to other legislation that gets more press. He highlights restrictive clauses in the bill that he believes will limit patient and provider options in choosing where and how they get their prescription drugs.
Steve Doyle of myfox8 Greensboro writes about Mike, his campaign, his announcement, and his Libertarian solutions to problems we are facing today. This story got picked up by several news outlets around the state.
The LPNC affiliate team is seeking regional liaisons to assist counties or regions in becoming official affiliates of the LPNC. Liaisons are responsible for following up with local organizers, as well as keeping open communication with those already active. They serve as coordinators between local groups and the LPNC; offering guidance, sharing information and resources, and updating contact information. They should be organized, with strong communication skills, and the willingness to attend virtual, bi-weekly meetings and work collectively to give updates, resolve issues, and find new opportunities.
Meetings are every other Monday at 8 PM.
Please e-mail Kimberly Acer at [email protected] if you are interested!
Coming out of state convention, the LPNC has a new Executive Committee. Over the next couple of months, the Tar Heel will sit down with each member so you all can get to know the people whom you have entrusted to be stewards of Liberty in our state. The EC is the public face charged with carrying the banner of Liberty for the world to see. Through these interviews, we can connect more deeply and personally with our new EC and understand their priorities for the LPNC.
For our first interview, we are talking with LPNC Secretary Dee Watson. Dee has been a candidate and a Political and Policy Director. She has also served on several committees, including the Strategic Planning Committee, the Convention Committee, and the Bylaws Committee, just in the past year.;
Tar Heel: Dee, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, and congratulations on your election. Before we get us into the LPNC discussion, tell us about you. You’ve been involved in several ways in the past. What has been the most fulfilling thing you have done to date?
Dee Watson: When I became P&P director it became clear we had no way to know what Libertarians were running in non-partisan offices. After the 2022 election, I worked with Ryan Brown [now LPNC EC Chair] and he wrote a python script to access the public data. He found out that we had five elected Libertarians. All of a sudden we realized we can win elections. We just have to be more strategic.
Tar Heel: If you would, tell me a little more about running as a candidate. What have you learned and how has that informed what you’ve done as Political and Policy Director?
Watson: I learned that voters aren’t swayed much by a flier or a sign. They are swayed by personal meaningful interaction. So we need to table and talk to people and really listen to what they are experiencing.
Tar Heel: How can you translate those lessons to action by the EC?
Watson: We need to increase tabling and other events where we can have conversations with people, face-to-face. We need to try to get every person who wants to help. Ten people aren’t going to reach NC. We need thousands, meaning we have to bring in all the help we can get.
Tar Heel: Obviously, you have been heavily involved in the LPNC at many levels and in many ways over the past few years. How is it different working on the EC now?
Watson: It is just really exciting to work with this group of people. We are all very active and excited about doing work with the party. It is a great group who really shows up.
Tar Heel: As an EC member what things do you want to prioritize, near term and over the next two years? Is that answer any different in terms of your specific priorities as Secretary?
Watson: I want an efficient structure for the party to support candidates in local elections. As secretary, there is a lot of boring administrative work that needs to be organized. It is my job to make sure people can find the LPNC documents that they need. Some people might think that is kind of boring, but people wasting time looking for where something is stored is no fun, and I want to minimize that kind of morale drainer.
Tar Heel: Candidate recruitment, serious campaigns, and grassroots growth are focuses of the LPNC, and the national party, in general. Where can candidates go to learn how to run successfully locally, and what support can they expect form the EC?
Watson: They should contact our wonderful candidate coordinator and fellow EC member Christina Aragues. We are trying to get resources ready for people. We hope to have design templates for signs and rack cards, issue papers, and help with websites. Most importantly please join the candidates' slack channel so we can communicate with other candidates across the state. If you don't know or have questions, reach out to me. I am here to help.
Tar Heel: Following up on that, what advice would you give people who are considering running?
Watson: Please consider running locally and getting involved in your community. The best way to do that is to join a planning board or some kind of citizen’s advisory board to start.
Tar Heel: OK, back to the EC. What are the biggest areas of improvement you see available for the EC, and how do you propose addressing them?
Watson: There is a lot to do, but the number one thing is to integrate as many volunteers as possible and give them meaningful work.
Tar Heel: You’ve been on a few different podcasts and interviews recently, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Any plans for more public appearances?
Watson: I was really surprised that Larry Sharpe and Dr. Dan had me on. I am always so busy I never went looking for interviews, but those fell in my lap so I did take the opportunity. So if our great communications director needs me I will be there. [editor’s note: the Communications Director is barely OK, but appreciates the compliment]
Tar Heel: Well, we certainly hope to see you putting yourself out there more. On those appearances, you have spoken with authority on a number of issues. Personally, what are the top issues for you right now in NC, and how do you think we should address them?
Watson: As of last week the pistol permit regulation was repealed. I think NC is ready for constitutional carry.
Tar Heel: Thank you again for your time today. Before we go, do you have any final thoughts or messages you want to share with the people reading this?
Watson: If you want to get involved with the party then please do so, and know that we would love to have you! Find something that interests you and really dig in. The county affiliate that gets the most news coverage, has the most events, and gets the most interaction from out of state has two members that never have a meetup. They meet at parades and city council meetings. Their activity is extraordinary, and their bylaws are three lines. Focus on the activities that are meaningful to you. I promise, there is something for you to do, whatever your availability and whatever your interests. And the people are really wonderful, so reach out and introduce yourself, and we can take it from there.
This month, the Tar Heel caught up with LPNC Gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross. Mike announced his candidacy for the Libertarian nomination for the 2024 North Carolina governor race earlier this month at the state convention. Mike’s political profile has grown over the last two years as he led the charge to fight for the rights of homeless veteran Joshua Rohrer, who was assaulted by police leading to the death of his service dog, as well as Pastor Moses Colbert, against whom the City of Gastonia retaliated when he also defended Joshua.
We asked Mike about his candidacy, the issues that matter, his campaign strategy, Libertarians running competitive campaigns, and a whole host of other topics.
Tar Heel: Mike, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, and congratulations on your announcement. It's a big commitment to run for governor, and it had to start somewhere. What influenced your initial interest in politics and what specifically attracted you to the Libertarian philosophy?
Mike Ross: I've always been engaged in keeping an eye on how we are ruled, but it was only as things have continued to get worse that I felt the need to actually run for office. The idea of a free and independent people being the best route to prosperity for society is something I've always believed in, and Libertarian philosophy actually embraces governing with this idea in mind.
Tar Heel: You’ve been active politically, but not as a candidate. What finally changed to make you take the leap?
Ross: As I continue to see Republicans and Democrats pushing division instead of solutions, while embracing policy that is good for special interests but bad for North Carolinians, I felt like the largest group of voters in this state deserve having someone on the ballot who will make them the only special interest that matters.
Tar Heel: Now that you’re in the race, it’s certainly no secret that, while we are growing as a party, it has not yet translated to significant electoral success. How do you see yourself able to change this?
Ross: The veil of the uniparty has been lifted, and I see more people of different ideologies waking up to the systemic dismantling of Liberty at all levels of government. While being governor would allow me to bring real positive change to the lives of regular North Carolinians, I'm aware that at this point it is a very low probability shot. However, it's a great opportunity to grow the movement and inspire future candidates to fix things locally.
Of course, I'm running to win. If we want to be a serious influence on the North Carolina political landscape, it starts with being serious. I have a great team, and we have a strategy mapped out from now until the election. To have a shot, what I really need is volunteers to help out.
Tar Heel: How important is messaging, and what can we do to get our message out there more effectively?
Ross: Messaging is essential. We are competing against hundreds of millions of special interest money. To try to compete with money would be silly, but bringing an inspiring message with Libertarian solutions that will bring real improvement to regular people's lives is a way to fight back. Inspired people sharing the campaign with everyone they know is far more powerful than money.
Tar Heel: Do you see this differently on a national level, a state level, and at local levels?
Ross: Yes and no. The needs of every locality are different, but the root idea of decentralizing power resonates at all of those levels. The uniparty generally does the same thing at all levels as well, but the power is mostly only exerted by those in larger areas, and then disproportionately exerted on areas that just want to be left alone.
Tar Heel: Your campaign PAC is named "Fire the Uniparty.” What does that mean, and how do you message that to people under the umbrella of the uniparty?
Ross: Despite the theater of the Republicans and Democrats hating each other, they always seem to work together when it comes to advancing special interests over the people. I think the messaging is pretty straightforward… just tell the truth. The records of both Republicans and Democrats give plenty of evidence that despite what they say, they don't actually care about their voters.
Tar Heel: I know family is important to you. How are they handling what promises to be a long and intense campaign?
Ross: They're hanging in there. The time away will definitely be a sacrifice, but they understand why I have to run.
Tar Heel: Following up on that, what are the most important issues to you in North Carolina, and how does being so devoted to your family inform what issues you prioritize?
Ross: My platform covers the issues in more detail, but the economy, education, and healthcare are the most important issues for me. I'm blessed that my family is doing well in those areas, but millions of North Carolinians are suffering in those areas because of bad policy designed to benefit special interests at their expense. Stopping the government from making things unnecessarily harder for families is why I'm doing this.
Tar Heel: Polling shows that those are issues that are important to families in North Carolina. Coming back to messaging, how do you get your platform and the Libertarian argument out to North Carolina families?
Ross: I think it's going to take a grassroots movement to make it happen. I'm going to spend a lot of time talking about tangible Libertarian solutions and how they will make people's lives better. Real solutions, unlike the power grabs the uniparty proposes that won't make a difference for regular people. Combining digital content with boots on the ground in all 100 counties is the way I'm hoping to reach them.
Tar Heel: You’ve already had some success in getting some earned media and using the opportunity provided by other people’s platforms, with a nice interview on Larry Sharpe recently, and a solid article a couple weeks ago about the campaign. How do you build momentum from those?
Ross: I think it is about consistency and having a great team working with me. I'm going to keep building contacts and taking advantage of any opportunities to reach people.
Tar Heel: OK, break it down for us. What would you like to say to the Tar Heel readers and North Carolina more broadly?
Ross: To the Libertarians of North Carolina, I cannot do this without you. If you're able to help my campaign reach millions of North Carolinians, I need your help. Follow me online and share my content. Visit my website and sign up to help volunteer. If you're able, donate to my campaign. To actually fire the Uniparty will only be possible if we can start a true grassroots political revolution and that is going to take as much help as I can get. I can't do it without you, so let's change the world right here in North Carolina, together.
Tar Heel: Thank you again for your time today. Before we go, do you have any final thoughts you want to share?
Ross: I'd just want to thank them for taking their time to read this interview and tell them I hope to make them proud as a Libertarian candidate. If they want to learn more about my campaign, please check out firetheuniparty dot com. [editor's note: the website link is at the beginning of this interview]
This month, the Tarheel sat down with Steven DiFiore, recently elected Mecklenburg County Libertarian Party Chair. Steven has been active in both the state and local party, having served the prior two years as an At-Large member of the LPNC Executive Committee, and having also run for Charlotte city council and state governor previously.
Steven is taking over from Jeff Scott, who the Tar Heel interviewed in February, and who continues to serve on the LPMeck Executive Committee in an At-Large role. Mecklenburg is also the most populous county in North Carolina, and, as we have noted in the Tar Heel before, one of the taller mountains to climb for the Liberty movement.
Nevertheless, Steven, a lover of the arts, and know to be quick on the retort with a wry sense of humor, is certainly up to the task. We asked him about his history, his vision for Meck, and how the state party can continue to come together in this expansive Chair Chats interview.
Tarheel: Steven, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We asked Jeff this same question first, so it seems fitting. You are in Charlotte now, and we are glad to have you! Are you originally from Charlotte? Can you give us a little of your backstory, and how you ended up specifically in the Queen City?
Steven DiFiore: Well, I’m originally from New York State, but don’t hold that against me. I’m from the Adirondacks, which is the rural mountainous part of New York close to the Canadian border. My grandparents lived on the Crystal Coast and our family would visit every year while I was in high school. These summer trips are how I first fell in love with North Carolina. When I was in my early twenties I moved from the frozen north to Emerald Isle in 2004, and then to Charlotte a year later when I applied and was accepted by UNC Charlotte. I’ve been here ever since.
Tarheel: And further to your backstory, when did you realize you were Libertarian? What issues are most important to you? Tell us your Liberty journey.
DiFiore: When I was in New York, I was part of a college program called the Senate Session Assistant Internship. As part of the program, I moved to Albany and worked as an intern for a state senator in the state legislature. Senator John L. Sampson from Brooklyn as I recall. It was a fun and interesting experience, and you got to see how the sausage was made.
Unsurprisingly, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I had always thought that individuals and communities were best suited to make decisions for themselves, but that viewpoint had no fertile soil in the state Capitol. I wasn’t too interested in politics and government until years later when I was at UNCC. In 2008 I was writing my senior thesis about the American elections, both national, state, and local. It was during the course of my research that I happened upon a few speeches by our very own Michal Munger when he was running as the Libertarian candidate for Governor of North Carolina. His positions were so sensible and well thought out, especially compared to his competition, that I just knew I was more in his camp than anyone else. It helped that during the 2008 Republican primary, an obscure Texas representative, Ron Paul, had fueled the ember of anti-establishment sentiment that had been dormant since my time in Albany NY. When he mentioned that he was a Libertarian, I thought, if both he and Mr. Munger are big and small "l" libertarian, perhaps I am too. When our party attained ballot access that year, I went to the DMV and switched my party registration, and I haven’t looked back.
Tarheel: Politically, Mecklenburg is a unique place, both in the south and for a city in North Carolina. What challenges do you see for the Libertarian Party to grow in our city?
DiFiore: Partisan pull is probably our biggest challenge in Mecklenburg County. Our voting public has been indoctrinated their entire lives into the notion that there are only two choices. It is a difficult hurdle to overcome, but it also provides an opportunity. Many of the smaller suburb cities of Charlotte have non-partisan elections. That helps overcome the strong partisan preference our voters carry with them into the ballot booth. In Charlotte, which has partisan elections, it’s a bit more difficult, but there are still opportunities. In the At-Large race, for example, it’s the top four vote getters that win those positions. While there are many Team Red and Team Blue folks who will never cross the aisle and vote for a member of the other team, that strong preference isn’t so strong with Libertarians. When I ran locally for the first time, most of my initial conversations, you know, just explaining who we are as a party and what I wanted to do as an elected official. I had the ability to write my own introduction and not get stereotyped by those I met as they had no pre-conceived notions. It’s still an uphill climb, but the unique demographic mix in Mecklenburg County has some significant advantages and opportunities for our party’s future growth.
Tarheel: Whenever we get candidates here, we like to ask about their campaigns. What differences can you give our readers between the campaigns that you ran? How did the office make a difference?
DiFiore: The first time I ran for office, I had no idea what I was doing, which is sub-optimal to say the least. However, I’m a fast learner and I didn’t make the same mistake twice, even though I think I made nearly every campaigning mistake at least once. What I think helped me through that steep learning curve and fostered future opportunities was that I created a team to help me in my campaigns and I approached the whole endeavor as a professional. For my first campaign, I created my team as I went, starting out mostly alone and building up a team as I went along. For the second campaign, my first order of business was putting together a strong campaign team. I can’t overstate how important it is to have a good team with a diverse set of skills to help on the campaign trail. The better the team, the more effective you can be at the local level for sure. I have no doubt that the team that I had for the Governor’s race would have seen me to victory for the City Council race if I had them when I first ran. I’ll say that running a statewide race is an order of magnitude harder than running locally, especially for a guy who still has to work a full-time job, but again, a campaign team helps shoulder that burden and is an absolute must for any serous campaign in my opinion.
Tarheel: Great insight, thank you. Further to that, what can you share about your campaigns that might help future candidates? What should they all be aware of, what pitfalls lie ahead, and what expectations should they have coming in?
DiFiore: I’ve already said that a team is absolutely necessary, but as the candidate you must embody the positive qualities of leadership and treat your volunteers well. They are volunteers after all. That can be hard, because there is a lot that needs to get done in a campaign to have any chance of making an impact, which means both you as the candidate, and those on your team will be spending a lot of time on the race and not with your family or furthering your career. That can be difficult to manage and keeping goals realistic without becoming self-defeating can be quite a balancing act. As a candidate, you will have an opportunity to grow as a person and as a leader. I would urge you to take that opportunity. If you avail yourself of the opportunity to grow, you very well might inspire others to become the best versions of themselves too and grow the party.
Tarheel: You are very open about ties you have with the Spanish community. Can you talk more about that, and maybe explain why it’s such an important demographic to share our message of Liberty?
DiFiore: During my first campaign I had the good fortune to meet and befriend a few local politicians, including local Democrat, Christina Cano, who is a Tejano with significant ties to the Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx communities. Additionally, I’ve worked in the construction industry for nearly a decade, and a significant number of my colleagues have been or are Hispanic or Latino. I should also mention that my better half, Mariana, is a Mexican citizen from Durango, so that helps my Spanish speaking community street cred even though my Spanish is very basic.
Over the past decade Mecklenburg County has been growing by leaps and bounds. A significant number of our new neighbors seeking their future and prosperity are from south of the border. For them, America is a shining city on the hill, and ours is a movement and political ideology amenable to immigration and multi-culturalism. America is a melting pot after all. As these communities tend to be close-knit, full of hard-working people, and don’t carry with them the political preconceptions that hinder our efforts with other demographics. My views aren’t Machiavellian though. The GOP and DNC don’t really have anything of substance to offer. They won’t improve the lives of all Americans. As I mentioned earlier, partisan pull is a tough hurdle to get over and if we have an opportunity to be first to figuratively bring our neighbors a welcome to the neighborhood pie, the more likely we’ll be to be able to organize effectively for political change, especially at the local level.
Tarheel: You also have been one of our more enthusiastic participants in the Charlotte Pride parade tabling event. Following up on the last question, the Tar Heel has previously aggressively pointed out how communities that are considered “marginalized” in the broader narrative are not viewed that way by Libertarians. What are we doing right in spreading our message that we will not compromise in our defense of everyone’s rights, and where can we do more?
DiFiore: While I know that Charlotte PRIDE isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I’ve always had a good time tabling there. It has a fun festival atmosphere and the organizers are very easy to work with. PRIDE festivals are more or less mainstream, as there are corporate sponsors galore alongside local business and organizations. This gives us a great opportunity to be seen and to put our best foot forward as evangelists for the cause of Liberty and freedom in our local communities. Folks come from all over the place to visit Charlotte PRIDE and we’ll have the opportunity to interact with not just folks from our own community but from other states and regions too.
One of the things we’ve done well in Mecklenburg County regarding our participation with Charlotte PRIDE is we keep it light-hearted and fun, while still doing the work of spreading the message and growing our local support base. We understand that not everyone will agree with us on every point, but even the folks who disagree with us walk away from our table with the thought that at least we're nice folks even if we emphasize guns and property rights a bit much for their taste. One of the things we do well is not infantilize or tokenize people, regardless of which “marginalized” community they perceive themselves to be in. Our emphasis on individuals and their individual rights and concerns is a boon to our outreach efforts. Where we can do more is on the volunteer and engagement front. Especially for high-energy festivals like Charlotte PRIDE, we need salesmen and carnival barker types, which at the moment are in short supply. I have hope, though, that as we grow, the more extraverted types will fall into our orbit.
Tarheel: OK, another question I asked Jeff almost exactly, but it comes with the territory since we have all attended arts events in Charlotte together! Art is, by its very nature, inherently political in that it is so deeply engaged with humanity. It should be the biggest sole marketing platform for Libertarians out there, with a rigid adherence to free expression, and yet we see so much art seems to have abandoned its purity and grown into a mouthpiece for political parties. Do you agree with this, and, if so, why do you think this has happened?
DiFiore: I absolutely love the arts. The theater and music scenes are some of the main reasons I stay in Charlotte, despite the high taxes. I disagree that the Arts are inherently political. They are inherently expressive and convey meaning, but that doesn’t have to be political.
There is the stereotype that theater folks and artists tend to be liberal leaning, and in my limited personal experience that seems to be somewhat true, but not fully. It takes all types to make a world after all, and good art is good regardless of the politics of those who create it. That being said, there is some art that outright pushes a political agenda or view, and sometimes I disagree with what is being pushed. Those are the shows I don’t patronize. It’s as simple as that to me. I can’t deny the cultural impact that growth of government power has had on all aspects of life, including art. As the malignancy of government corrupts all it touches, there is even greater cause to engage and maybe help other who share a common love of art to see another way of doing things.
If you’ll indulge me, I’ve an anecdote that highlights what I mean.
A few years ago, I was at a Charlotte Symphony concert and that year there was a bond on the ballot for the arts. Unsurprisingly, many in the arts community were in favor of the bond. After that specific concert the Maestro addressed the audience and asked them to vote yes on the bond. I couldn’t help but scoff at the Maestro’s comments, which started a conversation with a woman next to me. She was every bit a caricature of a big government lefty type, but we both loved the Symphony and earlier in the evening we discussed the different musicians playing, the conductor’s resume, and the sorts of shows we were looking forward to in the future. She seemed surprised that an obviously kindred spirit in the arts might have different politics. She asked why I didn’t support the arts. In our conversation I explained how I loved and supported the arts... after all I had purchased rather expensive seats to hear the Symphony play and was a season ticket holder. I just didn’t think others should have to subsidize the art I love. I ended by saying that I don’t like that my tax money goes toward supporting the Panthers Football Stadium and I don’t like the idea that working class families have to pay some portion of their taxes to support symphonies they may never get to enjoy. I remember her saying that she never had thought of it that way before and it was something to think about. I saw her at the next concert after the election and asked her about the bond, which passed. She said she did vote for it, and was happy it passed, but was thinking more carefully about such things in the future because of the points I had brought up last time. Personally, I think that is as much of a win as I could ask for in that situation.
Tarheel: OK, on to questions about MeckLP. What is unique about the party in Mecklenburg that has created such tight knit bonds? How can we build on that to grow the party here?
DiFiore: In truth, I’m not sure there is any particular magic sauce to the camaraderie we share here in Mecklenburg. We’re all in this together and we look to have fun while growing the party and creating positive change in our local communities. The nuts and bolts of politics aren’t for everyone, and Charlotte in particular has a strange political culture. The largest segment of our membership isn’t directly involved in local politics but involved in social clubs and non-political activity. For example, the book club, Carolina Freedom Fellowship, has been an unbelievable success. The Loaded Libertarians Telegram group is a great way for us to get together and put holes in paper the most fun way possible. We have Libertarians who love cars, musicals, or even hiking and jogging. One of the things we’ve done well in Mecklenburg is to foster a culture of fun and fellowship. If we looked for them, we’d be able to find differences and lines of division. That wouldn’t be helpful though, and it wouldn’t grow our movement. I know for myself, I’m always looking for a common thread, something we can agree on and work together on. I think that the positive and mindful attitude we adopt as an organization helps us move in a positive direction. I think that keeping things fun and doing more in the community is the surest path to continued growth in the county.
Tarheel: What is the biggest single issue in Mecklenburg that you think we can be messaging around, and how do we get that message out? Are there any available levers here in the Queen City, media for example, that we aren’t pulling where we should be?
DiFiore: Mecklenburg is a big county, with both the largest of the state’s cities and a bunch of small towns. There are even a few unincorporated areas. There is no biggest single issue, which is both a challenge and an opportunity as far as messaging goes. The challenge is finding the few issues that make the top of the list for each area, but that is also the opportunity. Outreach to the different municipalities or communities of interest is how we’ll learn what those messaging points will be, which is something we’ve engaged in already. In Charlotte, for example, a lot of folks are stressed about the cost of living and we have a libertarian solution for those issues. The smaller towns are nervous about Charlotte growing even larger and swallowing them up. We have a libertarian solution for that too. As far as levers are concerned, media is a big one that we haven’t had a good grip on for a while. However, technology and innovation continually provide more opportunities and options for getting the word out, fostering connections and relationships, and getting the work done of improving our local communities.
Tarheel: And just for you, anything big planned in your life or politics in the next two years?
DiFiore: I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. You’ll just have to keep an eye on the Meck. [editor's note: Stephen paused before answering, and had a huge smile for this one. We will be sure to keep you all updated on any developments.]
Tarheel: Thank you again for your time. One final question I ask everyone, what advice would you have for people just joining the Liberty movement, with passion but maybe looking for direction?
DiFiore: My advice is for those of us already in the movement. When we meet a new and passionate convert to the Libertarian cause, be a good Shepard. We were all new at one point and someone took us under their wing to show us how to temper and direct our passions. It is up to us to be good leaders and make sure that new people don’t feel like they are suddenly intruding on a close-knit clique, but have instead fallen into the open and welcoming arms of a community that values them.
by Rob Yates, Communications Director
This February, the Libertarian Party organized the "Rage Against the War Machine Rally" in Washington D.C. Hundreds of people gathered at the National Mall to protest the government's endless wars and military interventions overseas.
I attended the "Rage Against the War Machine Rally," and I am sharing my experience hoping to inspire increased activism against the war machine and the military industrial complex from coast-to-coast.
The rally opened on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial, with Lincoln’s 19-foot marble statue the backdrop, and the Reflecting Pool the centerpiece for the audience facing the stage, as the Washington Monument towered in the distance. D.C. is a beautiful city, a shiny veneer covering the corruption it hides within, and the blustery wind of the late-winter weather formed a stark contrast with the energy of the audience who gathered for the speakers before marching to the White House.
The list of speakers was a venerable who’s who of activists from across the political spectrum, all fighting to end the incredible death, destruction, and suffering that is an inevitable consequence of military conflict between nations. Among the notables who took the podium were Jimmy Dore, Scott Horton, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, and Roger Waters (on video).
As speakers took to the stage, the crowd listened with rapt attention to insight around the root causes of war and violence, and the ways in which the United States has played a central role in perpetuating these conflicts. The speakers called for an end to the never-ending wars in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria, (and that's the direct military action we know about...), to stop funding a proxy war in Ukraine, and for the United States to redirect its resources towards addressing the urgent domestic issues that are currently facing our country.
An Army veteran spoke of his own experiences on the front lines and how they led him to question the legitimacy of the wars he was fighting. He argued that the U.S. government's policies in the Middle East have only created more instability and violence, and that a more peaceful and non-interventionist approach is needed.
A college student (and self-described Libertarian) criticized the government's use of taxpayer money to fund military interventions around the world. She argued that this money could be better spent on domestic priorities like healthcare, education, and infrastructure.
Of course, the speaker list, and the rally itself, was headlined by Liberty icon Ron Paul, who spoke passionately about the need to end the endless cycle of conflict and bring our troops home. Dr. Paul is a well-known vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy and has been a leading voice in the anti-war movement for decades.
In his speech, Dr. Paul emphasized the importance of liberty and individual rights. He argued that the government's obsession with global military domination is a violation of the principles of limited government and non-interventionism. "We cannot maintain a free society at home while constantly waging wars abroad," he declared to cheers from the crowd.
Dr. Paul also praised the efforts of fellow anti-war activist and former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, another featured speaker. Gabbard, a Democrat who famously resigned from Congress in 2022 over the federal government's captivity to special interests, including those who promulgate endless wars, has been a frequent ally of Libertarians on issues of foreign policy. In her own speech at the rally, she reiterated the need for a foreign policy of restraint and diplomacy, arguing that "our strength as a nation lies not in our military might, but in our moral authority."
One of the most striking aspects of the rally was the diversity of the attendees. People from all walks of life came together to voice their opposition to war and the military-industrial complex that fuels it. There were veterans of past conflicts, many of whom had been disillusioned by the realities of war and the toll it takes on soldiers and civilians alike. There were families who had lost loved ones in wars overseas, as well as young activists who had grown up in a world where war has been a constant presence throughout their lives.
Politics were cast aside for the day, with members of every party represented, united in the common humanity of wanting to end the suffering perpetuated on innocent populations by the infliction of military aggression.
Of course, the Libertarian principles of limited government, individual rights, and non-interventionism were on full display at the rally. Many of the speakers and attendees argued that the government's endless wars not only violate these principles, but also harm the very people they claim to be helping. Nothing violates core Libertarian principles more deeply and more completely than wars of aggression, and members of the party showed up to defend those most defenseless, the victims of the United States government’s infinite war campaign.
As Dr. Paul and others pointed out, the principles of liberty and non-interventionism are not just important for moral reasons, but also for practical ones. The endless wars and military interventions overseas not only cost trillions of dollars, but also result in the loss of countless innocent lives and destabilize entire regions of the world.
The Libertarian Party, along with allies like Tulsi Gabbard and other anti-war activists, are working to build a movement that puts an end to the war machine and promotes a more peaceful and prosperous world. As Dr. Paul put it in his speech, "the cause of liberty and peace is not an easy one, but it is a righteous one."
ESA Expansion in NC? (John Locke – March 23, 2023)
Gov. Roy Cooper signs NC Medicaid expansion into law. But it comes with an asterisk. (The News & Observer – March 28, 2023)
North Carolina legislation would remedy coerced debt for domestic abuse victims (WBTV – April 5, 2023)
North Carolina Democrat switches parties, giving GOP veto-proof control in legislature (PBS – April 5, 2023)
North Carolina County Mulls 1-Year Bitcoin Mining Moratorium (Decrypt – April 6, 2023)
NC Senate passes bill shifting power from governor to General Assembly (WRAL – April 6, 2023)
North Carolina House passes state budget, moves to Senate (ABC 11 Eyewitness News – April 6, 2023)
From the Field: North Carolina Governor Proposes $160 Million for Affordable Housing (National Low Income Housing Coalition – April 10, 2023)
NC bill could end car emission tests and require safety inspections every other year (WECT News Wilmington – April 10, 2023)
North Carolina Armadillo Project | How to report an armadillo sighting (WXII Winston-Salem – April 10, 2023)
The Law, by Frederic Bastiat
Review by Eric Rowell
Reading Bastiat was my "red pill" moment. I wasn't introduced to him in K-12, or in my macro econ class at NCSU, or in law school; it was only while listening to the great Dr. Walter Williams on a podcast while performing menial legal work around a decade ago that I learned for the first time about one of the most important political economists of the 19th Century. Bastiat changes the way a person thinks. After reading Bastiat you won't be able to read a news story or listen to a politician speak without seeing how the law is being perverted to serve injustice in one way or another.
Whether it's a story about government giving away money to nonprofits (forced charity), or about government giving business incentives (opportunity costs), or about any number of stories calling for the government to "do something" by spending other people's money (legal plunder); his clear, concise, and always entertaining style of writing demonstrates the fallacies inherent in all of these myths used by government to justify itself.
The Law is arguably Bastiat's most important work. Written just a few months before his death in 1850, it is a slim volume and can be read over a weekend - or even listened to in about 2 hours. It explores the role and purpose of law in society, and argues that law should protect individual rights and property, not be used to oppress and plunder. I don't have the space here to go into his arguments in depth, but I cannot encourage Libertarian readers of this newsletter strongly enough to familiarize yourself with Bastiat and The Law.
Do you oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals? Do you challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and wish to defend the rights of the individual? Are you already Libertarian, but you want to do more and you aren’t sure how?
Go here if you want to Just Ask Questions and Get More Information
OUTREACH DIVISION (DIRECTOR)
We are looking to appoint a new Outreach Director. This is a critically important role, as we look to implement a grassroot strategy and expand. If you'd like to be considered for the position, please email [email protected].
The Outreach Division is responsible for direct contact between the LPNC and the general public at the grassroots level. The rest of the state party will also use the Outreach Division as a tool for support, growth, and development. This director should work on the development of affiliates, student organizations, and coalitions.
Supervisor: Executive Director
The LPNC is looking for members to join the following committees. Joining a committee is a great way to get involved on a more limited basis while still meeting great people and helping shape the LPNC for years to come, especially if you are new or don't have lots of extra time.:
If you would like to be on any of these committees, please email [email protected] by April 15 and indicate your interest.
The Tar Heel is honored to promote the endeavors of LPNC members. Here we feature businesses, podcasts, blogs, seminars, or anything else our members send our way.
Whiskey and Wisdom Podcast
Check out New Hanover Affiliate member Tyler Yaw and his co-host Chris Kellum in their exploration of the world, its people, and its spirits. They smartly and succinctly cover a truly eclectic array of engaging topics, all while enjoying the quintessential American libation.
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