Category Archives: Arkansas

Campaign Season is here!

I’d like to encourage all Libertarian Party of Arkansas members to be active campaigners for the many Libertarian candidates we have on the ballot in Arkansas this year. It took a lot of hard work and money to achieve ballot status for our candidates, and we need to make sure that effort was for a good reason.

You can find our list of Libertarian candidates at the LPAR web site. Pick out at least one campaign (or more) that you can commit to work for. There are many ways that you can help—from telling your friends, to door-to-door campaigning, to making a financial donation, to arranging events for the candidate, to attending events with the candidate, and much more.

Our candidate for Governor, Frank Gilbert, will provide the LPAR with continued ballot status if he receives at least 3% of the vote in November. That would save us a lot of time, effort, and money. It’s up to us to do what we can to make that happen. So let’s GET INVOLVED!

—Kathleen Wikstrom, LPAR Vice-Chair

The Non Aggression Principle, as I understand it

The “Non Aggression Principle” (or NAP) is an ethical doctrine that states that aggression is wrong, aggression being defined as the initiation of physical force or fraud against persons or property, or the threat of the same. In order to join the national Libertarian Party, you must affirm that you “oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.”

In a letter to Francis Gilmer in 1816, Thomas Jefferson stated it like this: “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” He went on to say, “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.” (emphasis mine)

We all understand that to practice the NAP we can never initiate force against individuals or against their rightly-acquired property. As I have come to understand this concept, I equate force with violence, whether physical (actually touching another person) or non-physical (fraud). This ethical stance does not include self defense, for in that case we are responding to an initiation of force against ourselves or our property. I am no pacifist. As R. Lee Wrights put it during a speech at one of our State conventions, “Break into my house and you’ll see how much of a pacifist I am.” This is the easy part of the NAP, and I think most people get that, heck, it was stuff we were taught in preschool. “Don’t take other kids toys, don’t hit other kids, etc.”

Taking this to a higher plane, how does this apply to our system of government? Most of us understand that codifying morality is in direct opposition to the NAP. For example, I may believe that prostitution is immoral, but it should not be illegal. To a sharper point, I believe that the “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” part of the Fifth Amendment is in direct violation of the NAP. If the owner of the rightly-acquired property doesn’t want to sell, no one, not even the government, should be able to take that property from the owner, regardless of the price offered. Again, those are things that I, at least, see as fairly easy concepts. But what about those things that we find both morally and ethically reprehensible? Wouldn’t it be one of the tenants of good government to correct societal wrongs?

In my opinion, the answer is a resounding NO. To back that up, I will go back to what Thomas Jefferson said above: “law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” Individuals, even those that are what society deems to be “outside the norm,” have rights, too. Even when their actions are reprehensible, as long as they do not initiate force, either violently or by fraud, against another individual or their property, they have every right to be as disgustingly repugnant as they want to be. To paraphrase a famous quote attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you do, but I will defend to the death your right to do it as long as you don’t initiate force against another individual.”

I do not believe that it is provided anywhere within the Constitution for our government to become the arbiter of societal wrongs. The “general welfare” clause has been brought up during discussions of this nature, but James Madison said this of the “general welfare” clause, in a letter to Edmund Pendleton in 1792:

If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.

If the “general welfare” clause allows the government to be the “righter of wrongs” (also becoming the arbiter of what is right and wrong), it would, in my opinion, completely invalidate the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution.

The real problem with having government make laws that make certain aspects of human nature illegal hinges upon the “or else” clause that is inherent in all laws. These laws have, as part of their inevitable conclusion, the barrel of a gun pointed at a person’s head. Let’s take anti-discrimination laws as an example. First, these laws provide that the government is the sole arbiter of what is, or is not, discrimination. Is that something we really want the government to decide for us? Next, if a business, as that is where most anti-discrimination law is directed, is found to be in noncompliance with this law, what happens? A government official will visit that business, point out the noncompliance, and probably extract a bribe (aka: fine). The government will then monitor the business for any further noncompliance. If the business continues this practice, it will be shut down and the owner arrested. What if the owner doesn’t want to be arrested? Well, here is where the “or else” clause kicks in. Now the owner is in defiance of the will of the government, so other government officials, with guns, will show up to arrest the owner, who will then either be incarcerated or killed—all because he or she was in violation of government approved behavior. Am I saying that I approve of discrimination? No. But there are much better, non-physical, ways to cure this “societal” ill, provided by a free market.

In conclusion, the Non Aggression Principle should be the guiding principle for all we do in life, not just in the political sphere. Realizing that violating the rights of the individual (even those individuals whose actions are morally repugnant) violates the NAP is essential to understanding this ethical principle. Laws that define appropriate human behavior violate the NAP. Even if they are intended to “do good” by correcting inappropriate behavior, violation of these laws ultimately leads to the initiation of force against a person or their property. To that point, I will leave you with one more quote:

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent. —Mahatma Gandhi

—Mark M. Young

We the Employers need to adopt new hiring criteria

We the EmployersEvery couple of years, voters hire representatives to do the job of protecting the interest of the people. It has been common practice to elect lawyers and business owners, in the hopes that they have answers that the “average” person does not. But this strategy has not worked out well for “We The People,” — we the employers need to adopt new hiring criteria.

After all, lawyers and business owners have, at the very least, a dual focus: on their own career and on representing constituents. I’ve had a career, but now I’m a stay-at-home mom. Raising my children is my career. Their future is my focus, and a better future for Arkansas means a better future for my children. That’s why I’m running for Congress.

I’m not running for Congress so that I can begin campaigning for re-election the minute I step into office. I’m not here to make deals and sell our country’s future to increase my own power, the power of my party, or the power of government. I’m not here to make important contacts, gain status, get a title, or create new regulations that will benefit my business.

I’m here for one reason: to make sure my children have MORE freedom—to make sure they aren’t indentured to an over-reaching state with an endless appetite for squandering the labors of the people it was created to protect. I want to reduce, and even eliminate, the enormous burden of debt that we are leaving to our children.

The future of America is intricately tied to the future of my children. That is why I will work tirelessly to restore freedom for all Americans and why EVERY vote I make will be for more freedom and less government.

-Debbie Standiford, Libertarian Candidate for US Congress, Arkansas’ Second District

Why I Left

Since joining the Libertarian Party, I have been asked numerous questions by friends, family, and strangers. Usually the first question is, “What the hell is a Libertarian?” My favorite one is, “Aren’t they the ones that want to legalize weed?” Both of these questions are great, and provide an outlet to answer why I am a libertarian, and more importantly why I am a member of the Libertarian Party.

To give you a little background information about myself, I have considered myself a libertarian since 2010. I was an avid Ron Paul supporter, and I would probably still be in the GOP, had he not been treated the way he was at the RNC convention. It was there I realized “you people” were not welcome in the party.

I was now politically homeless. After attending my state’s Libertarian Party convention a little over a year ago, I was sold. For once I was in a room where I was not a “Paulbot” or a Continue reading

We Are Libertarians

We Are Libertarians

We are not “Republican-light.” We are not “Democratic-light.” We are Libertarians.

It is tiresome to continually be asked why we would want to run a Libertarian candidate against a “good Republican” or “a good libertarian leaning Republican.” Would this same person ask that of the Democratic Party? Would this same person expect the Democratic Party to not run someone against a “good moderate Republican?” Of course not. So why do they ask us? As Mark Axinn, LPNY chair said, we could just as easily ask “why are they running against so many good Libertarians?”

I believe Republicans and conservatives do this because they have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be a Libertarian. They believe we share some sort of camaraderie with them but can offer no proof of what makes them think this way. They throw around words like “Republican-libertarian,” and “conservative libertarian,” and “constitutional libertarian” like these word salads have some sort of meaning. They do not.

A libertarian is someone who believes in the non-aggression principle, plain and simple. Simply put, the non-aggression principle states that no man may initiate force or fraud against another person or his property. This is also called “classically liberal” in many circles and fits just as well as the word libertarian. The political party that upholds these libertarian principles is conveniently named The Libertarian Party. Republicans and Democrats have no such moral compass. This is evident in the sort of legislation both parties have brought us. However, since I am talking about the Republicans today, let’s see what they have done to this state and country recently.

  • Republicans have brought us, in the last legislative session in Arkansas alone, a bill that steals $125 million from the taxpayer’s pockets to give to a for-profit steel mill.
  • The Republicans also passed legislation in the last session making it more difficult for the Libertarian Party to get on the ballot, restricting our freedom of speech and freedom of choice.
  • The Republicans also passed legislation increasing an already ridiculous burden for the citizens of Arkansas to bring ballot initiatives to the people to vote on.
  • The Republicans also brought us a bill to be voted on that will double their term limits.
  • The Republicans have also brought us a bill making it much more difficult and expensive for a person to get certain body modifications to their own body. And this was all just in the last session alone!
  • Now, in the current fiscal session, the Arkansas Republicans are trying to ram the private option funding through the House any way they can! The private option is the largest expansion of Medicaid in Arkansas history and was passed initially last session in our Republican-controlled legislature! And one of the biggest supporters of getting this passed in this fiscal session? Nate Bell, the supposed “libertarian Republican!”

And you wonder why these word salads like “libertarian Republican” have no meaning.

Federally, things are just as bad, if not worse. Republicans brought us the PATRIOT Act, Homeland Security, TSA, Medicaid Part D, multiple stimulus packages to prop up private companies, multiple wars to massively increase the military budget, pork, etc. I could keep going, but you get the point. All of these programs stole money from our pockets and stole freedom from our lives.

These are supposedly the “fiscally conservative” Republicans. And yet you wonder why Libertarians candidates run against “good Republicans.”

As independent reporter Steve Brawner said in the Times Record today, “”Libertarians are the party of less government — really less government…That sounds like Republican rhetoric, but Libertarians are a lot more serious about it, and the party’s less government philosophy lands it to the left of many Arkansas Democrats on social issues.” Mr. Brawner gets it. Why don’t the Republicans get it?

This is the reason the Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing party in Arkansas, because we get it. We get that the people of this great country and great state are fed up with the false choices they are being given at the ballot box. We get that people are finally saying, “ENOUGH!” The Libertarian Party is giving these voters real choice, a real difference from the eerily similar Republican and Democrat parties. People every day are fed up, looking around, and realizing that they too are Libertarians.

R. Lee Wrights, the Vice-Chair of the Libertarian National Committee, said today on his Facebook page, “Libertarians do nothing for America or themselves by joining and supporting our oppressors! WE gain nothing and America loses every time someone falls for this load of elephant droppings. Republicans cannot be trusted. We have learned even the Democrats have more integrity than Republicans. Not by much, mind you, but by a degree. Democrats tell us they are going to take our money and give it to others, then, they get elected and do it. Republicans lie through their teeth and tell us, “Vote for us, we are not like that!” Then, they get elected, take our money, and give it to their friends. Republicans and Democrats are two wings on the same bird of prey.”

I could not have said it better myself. We are no longer content with elephant and donkey droppings. We are no longer content pulling the lever for these people who campaign one way and then legislate another. We are no longer willing to play their games and allow them to run roughshod over us. We are not Republicans. We are not Democrats. WE ARE LIBERTARIANS! And, in Arkansas anyway, we are here to stay and to win.

Rodger Paxton
LPAR Secretary

LPAR 2014 Post-Convention Press Release

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas nominated 26 candidates, the largest number in its history, for the 2014 election ballot at its state convention, held this weekend in Little Rock.

Heading the state Libertarian ticket is Frank Gilbert, running for Governor of Arkansas. Gilbert currently serves as constable of Dekalb Township in Grant County, attending to the rural areas of northwest Grant County. Gilbert also served as mayor of Tull, Arkansas, for eight years, coroner of Grant County for two years, and is a former president of the Bauxite Education Association.

“I am excited by the opportunity, as the Libertarian Party’s nominee for Governor, to carry the message that free men and women have an absolute right to conduct their lives in any way they choose, so long as they don’t infringe on the equal rights of others,” Gilbert said, “as well as our absolute responsibility to bear the result of our actions. The Libertarian Party is the only political entity that has that message for the voters of Arkansas. I believe it will be a refreshing change from the politics-as-usual of the old parties. I intend to campaign vigorously throughout the state.”

If the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor receives at least 3% of the vote, the party will be automatically certified to run candidates in the next election cycle, without having to petition for a spot on the ballot.

Libertarian candidates nominated for other statewide races are Nathan LaFrance, U.S. Senate; Christopher Olson, Lt. Governor; Jacob Holloway, Secretary of State; Brian Leach, Auditor; Chris Hayes, Treasurer; and Elvis D. Presley, Land Commissioner.

Libertarian candidates for US Congressional seats are Brian Willhite, 1st district; Debbie Standiford, 2nd district; Grant Brand, 3rd district; and Ken Hamilton, 4th district.

Candidates for Arkansas House include Wayne Willems, District 15; Marc Rosson, District 20; Greg Deckleman, District 31; Rodger Paxton, District 51; Taylor Watkins, District 80; Eddie Moser, District 95; Michael Kalagias, District 96.

Candidates nominated for other Arkansas races include Valerie Emmons, Pulaski Co. Justice of the Peace, District 2; William Brackeen, Pulaski Co. Justice of the Peace, District 13; Christian Parks, Lonoke Co. Justice of the Peace, Ward District 2; W. Whitfield Hyman, Springdale Constable; Jacob Faught, Gentry Constable; Glen Schwarz, Pulaski Co. Judge; and Shawn Hipskind, Saline County Judge.

The Libertarian Party is the third largest party in Arkansas. The Libertarian Party of Arkansas formally submitted more than 16,000 signatures to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office last October in order to run candidates on the 2014 ballot.

Release: AR Libertarians are Back!

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 1, 2013

The Libertarian Party is Officially Back on the Ballot

(Little Rock, AR) The Libertarian Party of Arkansas (LPAR) is officially a recognized political party for the second time in history and will now be able to run candidates for office in 2014.

Last month the party submitted signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in order to fulfill the requirement of collecting at least 10,000 valid signatures from registered voters in the state. According to Martha Adcock at the Secretary of State’s office, more than 12,000 of the 16,000 submitted signatures were verified as signatures of registered AR voters.

During the 2012 general election, more than 100,000 votes were cast for Libertarian candidates in AR. However, the Libertarian Party was required to re-petition the state after Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate, did not receive three percent of the vote in 2012.

Dozens of potential candidates have already come forward, hoping to receive the party’s nomination to run for office in 2012. Frank Gilbert of Tull, Glen Schwarz of Little Rock and Shawn Hipskind of Alexander have all announced that they plan to seek the party’s nomination for Governor.

The LPAR will nominate candidates at their convention, scheduled for February 21-23 in Little Rock.

“While we are excited about the prospect of running candidates in 2014, I must say, this has been an exhausting process,” said Jessica Paxton, LPAR Chairman. “The ballot access laws in our great state were written by Democrats and Republicans who have a vested interest in imposing crippling requirements on anyone who dares to challenge them.”

Libertarians advocate lower taxes, more personal freedom and less government intervention.

“A major issue here is that hundreds of thousands of voters cast their ballot for third party and independent candidates every two years here in Arkansas,” said Paxton. “And the powers that be are trying to silence that dissenting voice by requiring this petition process that costs tens of thousands of dollars, takes thousands of man-hours and then, by the time we have access to the ballot, our resources have been exhausted before campaigning even begins.”

The LPAR is now seeking candidates to run for office in 2014. “Whether running for city council or congress, we want liberty-loving Arkansans to take advantage of our efforts and represent true freedom on the ballot,” says Debbie Standiford, Chairman of the Pulaski County Libertarian Party.

If the Libertarian Gubernatorial nominee earns three percent of the vote in the 2014 election, the party will automatically retain ballot access for 2016. If less than three percent is earned, the party will have to again submit 10,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office for verification, a process that cost the LPAR almost $40,000.

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In 2011, for the first time in party history, the LPAR submitted enough signatures to the Secretary of State to be a certified political party. In 2012, 15 Libertarian candidates appeared on ballots across Arkansas and received more than 100,000 votes. Frank Gilbert, former mayor of Tull, AR, became the state’s first elected Libertarian when he was elected Constable of Dekalb Township. Gary Johnson, the party’s presidential nominee, tripled the Libertarian vote totals from 2008. Johnson received 16,276 votes, or 1.52 percent. Falling short of the three percent needed to retain ballot access for 2014, the LPAR lost ballot access after the 2012 general election.

In the fall of 2013, the LPAR again circulated a petition in order to obtain ballot access for the 2014 election. The party collected 16,505 signatures and submitted those to the Secretary of State on October 15, 2013. The Secretary of State verified that the LPAR met ballot access requirements on November 1, 2013.

LPAR in the news – “Third option for voters now on the menu”

A fantastic article by Steve Brawner, and independent journalist in Arkansas.

Third option for voters now on the menu

At the Cotham’s in the City restaurant near the Capitol, two potential candidates for governor are eating lunch at the same long table.

That might be awkward if they were both Democrats or Republicans, or if they were one and the other, and both had a chance to win. Instead, they’re both Libertarians — Frank Gilbert, who was elected a Saline County constable last year, and businessman Shawn Hipskind. A third potential candidate, Glen Schwartz, isn’t at the restaurant.

“In the past, Libertarians probably had to play ‘rock-scissors-paper’ to see who had to run for governor,” Gilbert jokes.

Party chairperson Jessica Paxton and her husband, Rodger, the party’s previous chairman, say their party has some momentum going into 2014. They point to the government shutdown as evidence that Republicans and Democrats can’t be trusted to run the government and that the government can’t be trusted at all.

Party members are under no illusion that one of their own will be elected governor next year, but it was nevertheless a time for celebration. A couple of hours earlier and after months of work, they had submitted 16,441 signatures to the secretary of state’s office in order to qualify for next year’s ballot. They need 10,000 valid ones.

Republicans and Democrats don’t have to do that because their presidential candidates won at least three percent of the vote in 2012. Third parties, who have trouble reaching that threshold, say such rules stack the deck in favor of the established two parties.

“The Republicans and Democrats say that, ‘Oh, we can’t have a cluttered ballot. Oh, we can’t give you too many choices because you’re not smart enough to determine between four people whom you would want to vote for, so we can only give you two,’” Jessica Paxton tells me over a plate of food that’s getting cold while I interview her. “I say, crowd the ballot. You know, if 12 people want to run for governor, let them.”

There was a time when Arkansas Republicans were where the Libertarians are — irrelevant but aspiring. Now they control both houses of the Legislature.

But that situation might be different. Democratic dominance was a holdover from the Civil War, but the two parties’ policies were not so very different. Libertarians are different. They mean it when they say they support smaller government. They typically support major cutbacks in social services and the military. They also usually favor gay marriage, abortion rights and ending the war on drugs.

They will have a convention next spring to nominate candidates. Paxton says she expects the party to compete for many positions and that members are interested in running in all four congressional districts and for the U.S. Senate seat.

That last one might have an impact in a close race. A recent Talk Business/Hendrix College poll found that Democrat Mark Pryor and Republican Tom Cotton are separated by only one point. Jessica Paxton collected 2.6 percent of the vote running for Congress in the 1st District last year.

Interestingly, that poll found that the largest bloc of Arkansas voters aren’t Democrats (31 percent) or Republicans (25 percent) but independents (36 percent). Counting the 8 percent who say they are “other,” 44 percent of Arkansans told a pollster they don’t identify with either of the two major parties.

Still, voters who call themselves independents tend to vote one side or the other. Pollster and analyst Jay Barth, a Hendrix College professor, said 71 percent of independent Arkansans voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. The three third-party presidential candidates only won about 2.5 percent of the vote combined.

Will voters give third party and independent candidates a chance in 2014? They haven’t much in the past.

However, there were many choices on the Cotham’s menu, and diners seemed capable of making their own decisions. Even rock-paper-scissors involves three choices.

Steve Brawner is an independent journalist in Arkansas. His email address is brawnersteve@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevebrawner.

Read more: The Courier – Your Messenger for the River Valley – Third option for voters now on the menu

LPAR making history – again!

It’s an exciting time for the LPAR and we invite you to celebrate with us!

On October 15th, members of our Executive Committee will be heading to the Capitol to turn in 16,000+ signatures from our ballot access petition drive. We would love to have you join us on the Capitol steps at 10am for a press conference. Immediately following the press conference, you are welcome to continue on to the Secretary of State’s office for a front-row seat to the signature hand-over process.
For those of you who have recently joined us, or for those that need a refresher, here is why this is an incredibly important day:The state requires 10,000 signatures of registered voters here in Arkansas in order to grant us “New Political Party” status. Once we turn in those signatures, the Secretary of State has 30 days to verify that 10,000 of our 16,000 are valid. Upon verification, the LPAR will be a recognized political party in Arkansas and will therefore be able to run candidates in the 2014 elections.

If you can’t join us, but would like to help with our mission of spreading true liberty across Arkansas, click HERE for a list of ways you can get involved.

We look forward to seeing you on the 15th! Email chair@lpar.org if you are interested in running for office, setting up a county affiliate or want more information about upcoming events.

In liberty,

Jessic PaxtonLPAR Chair

LPAR Ballot Access Drive 2013

The LPAR’s ballot access drive begins tomorrow! That’s right – we are officially on the way to regain ballot access for the 2014 election!

For those of you who weren’t around during petition time two years ago, here is how it works:

We have 90 days to gather 10,000 valid signatures from registered voters in AR and turn them in to the Secretary of State. (We really gather 15,000-16,000 to account for signatures that are “thrown out” due to unreadable entries, incomplete entries, those who signed and aren’t properly registered to vote, etc.) Once we have turned in the signatures, the SoS’ office has 30 days to certify that we DO have at least 10,000 valid signatures. Once that happens, we are “official” as far as the state is concerned. At that point, we will be able to run Libertarians for partisan offices around the state in 2014! Since we will be a “new political party,” we will nominate our candidates during the annual convention (Spring 2014) instead of participating in the primaries.

Would you like to volunteer to help gather signatures? Whether you have one hour, one day or one week to give, we could sure use the help! To request a petition packet, send your name, address and phone number to chair@lpar.org and we will get in touch with you asap.

Are you interested in running for office in 2014 as a Libertarian? Send an email to candidates@lpar.org with your name, address, phone number and what office/race you are considering so that we can help you through the process.