Category Archives: Liberty

Can Frank Win?

This is a question I have heard over and over since Frank Gilbert announced his candidacy last year. To be honest, it is one of my favorite questions to hear a voter ask. The answer is always “yes.”

Frank has a track record of winning elections. In fact, he has held more elected offices than “front-runner” Asa Hutchinson. So, yes Frank can win; he already has. I guess the better and bigger question is, can Frank win the gubernatorial election? Once again the answer is “yes.” Will it be easy? No.

Before I go any further, I think it would be best if I defined what victory would be. The Libertarian Party is actually seeking two victories on Election Day: ballot access and a Libertarian governor. One is very much within our reach. With just 3% of the vote, the Libertarian Party will retain ballot access, ending the two-party system in Arkansas. This would be a huge victory for the Libertarian Party, saving us more than $30,000 in petition costs per election cycle.

Electing a Libertarian governor will not be easy, but it is doable. After all, the United States has been faced with more impossible challenges before. It was not an easy task for the founders to win America’s independence; in fact, it was improbable, but they did it anyway. Until Arkansas takes that same stand to declare its independence from the Republicrats and Demopublicans (as Frank likes to call them), Arkansas can never move forward.

Arkansas Republicans ran on repealing Obamacare, but instead they expanded it, along with every single Democrat in the Senate and House. Frank Gilbert is the only candidate in this race who unequivocally opposes the Obamacare “Private Option.” He is also the only candidate that supports putting parents back in the driver’s seat, by passing universal school choice.

Our quest isn’t as hard as what our founders faced. We can declare our independence through the ballot box.

But can Frank win? Perhaps a more compelling question is this: Can Arkansas win? We face the choice of a career politician, a D.C. lobbyist, or a hard-working and principled citizen like Frank Gilbert as our next governor. In my opinion, Arkansas can win only if Frank wins. And that can only happen if we stop asking questions about what is possible and start voting for the best choice, regardless of political party team-loyalty.

—Tyler Harrison, LPAR Executive Committee Member, At-Large

What To Do about Taxes?

All libertarians argue for cutting taxes, but they don’t always agree on how or how much. My preference would be to eliminate all taxes and let Americans make voluntary donations to any government programs they would like to see continued. Two of the most talked about plans are the Flat Tax and the Fair Tax. I believe either plan would be an improvement over the current system, but popular forms of each leave much to be desired for libertarians.

The Flat Tax would create one rate that would apply to taxpayers at all income levels, while eliminating most or all deductions and exemptions. There are various proposals, some of which retain some deductions and provide exemptions for low-income Americans. Rates of 10%-17% are being discussed.

The Fair Tax would eliminate the income tax and create in its place a national sales tax. One of the biggest benefits would be making the IRS obsolete, since income would no longer be taxed and tax returns would no longer need to be file. The Fair Tax proposal offers a tax rate of 23% on all consumption, with a monthly pre-paid rebate paid to all lawful residents of the U.S. with a valid Social Security number. (Those willing to forego the rebate and Social Security benefits could presumably work without having one.)

Either proposal would be a big improvement over the current system. I think all libertarians can agree on that. Both proposals would free Americans from filing complicated tax returns, estimated to cost the average taxpayer nearly 27 hours to complete. Both eliminate double-taxation of certain income that is occurring under current tax law. Both would bring an improvement in economic growth. Both would stop the social engineering and spending manipulations that are rampant in current tax law.

The biggest benefit of the Fair Tax, in my opinion, would be the elimination of the IRS, along with all the civil liberties violations the IRS brings to the table. No longer would the government have any need to know about our income or to snoop into our bank accounts and our business activities. Employers would no longer have to work as tax collectors.

Most of the benefits of the Flat Tax over the Fair Tax center on the easier political road it faces, since flat taxes have been tried. There is also concern that a national sales tax could be created without ending the threat down the road of a new income tax on top of it. There are many arguments in favor of each proposal over the other, but I won’t go into all of those here. For more information along those lines, you might find these three articles of interest:

http://www.freedomworks.org/content/flat-tax-vs-fair-tax

http://ivn.us/2013/01/23/fairtax-vs-flat-tax-seven-reasons-to-support-the-fairtax-2/

http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/04/fair-tax-or-flat-tax/

But I also see problems with both. Proposals from both camps have a tendency to try way too hard to be basically revenue-neutral. With the level of taxation as high as it is today, why would we want revenue neutrality? We need to CUT taxes, STOP the printing presses at the Fed, and CUT GOVERNMENT SPENDING!

The Flat Tax leaves the IRS in existence. A big negative of the Fair Tax, in addition to the too-high rate being proposed, is its name. The FAIR Tax? Really? The only fair tax would be NO tax, and if that’s what we’re hoping to work toward, I can’t see any strategic sense in calling this the Fair Tax.

It’s one thing for libertarians to be ready to vote for either proposal as a step on the road toward greater freedom, but I think libertarians need to be looking at more radical proposals—proposals where revenue neutrality is not a concern.

—Kathleen Wikstrom, LPAR Vice-Chair

Drowning in a Sea of Red Ink

The declaration in the Biblical book of Proverbs, chapter 22, “the borrower is the slave of the lender,” is quite instructive to the current situation of the federal government and the deficit spending binge it has been on for over a decade now. It was bad enough during the George W. Bush presidency. The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were being paid for through increasing the debt load on the American people, and the Republican Congress instituted a Medicare prescription drug plan that had no funding mechanism to pay for it. But toward the end of the Bush administration and continuing on through the Obama administration, this profligacy has increased to new record levels.

The 2009 stimulus program added even more debt for the American people to bear. Foreign investors helped this along by purchasing a large chunk of this debt, and the Federal Reserve has been more than willing to help by monetizing the debt as needed. The first yearly deficit that surpassed $1 trillion (the actual increase in the total national debt) occurred during the last full fiscal year of the Bush administration, coming in at a robust $1.2 trillion. The deficit grew even larger, hitting $1.9 trillion in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011. After dropping to “only” $671 billion last year (as the sequester’s automatic spending reductions had at least some bite and revenues increased a bit), the national debt has already increased by approximately $800 billion in the first six months of this new fiscal year.

And if all of this awful fiscal news was not enough to digest, the American people are facing unfunded federal government liabilities of many tens of trillions of dollars in the upcoming decades. These are unfunded because, at the moment, there is not enough projected revenue to pay for much of the expected spending, which will be mainly in the area of entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid).

I propose that two steps are necessary to stem this tide of red ink that is swallowing the American Dream. First, we need a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will require bringing the budget in balance within five years of its adoption. Doing so would help to stabilize the spending of the federal government at around 18% of GDP. That is still too high for a truly limited, constitutional federal government, but it would be a starting point. Spending levels could be ratcheted down from there, and at least the flow of red ink would be stopped at that level of government. There is no lack of ideas for prudently cutting down federal spending, and we need to start implementing at least some of them sooner rather than later.

Second, we need to ditch the Federal Reserve and its fiat paper monetary regime and institute a modern day gold standard. As former Congressman Ron Paul and Lewis Lehrman wrote in 1982, in The Case for Gold, page 159:

It is necessary to balance the budget and institute a gold standard together. The discipline required for one mandates the other. If government is to be limited in size, the budget balanced and the market free, gold will be a necessary adjunct.

As the Bible instructs in Deuteronomy 25:15, “A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have.” The Federal Reserve has manipulated the U.S. dollar since its creation in 1913 and has so far destroyed 96% of its value. At this point, I guess we should be grateful that they have left us with even four pennies on the dollar. This manipulation must come to an end, by instituting a sound gold-backed dollar and Balanced Budget Amendment, as a line of defense against deficit spending.

—Ken Hamilton, LPAR Executive Committee member

The Militarization of the Police

For those who follow the news or participate in social media networks, it has been hard to miss the numerous stories about the killing or assault of innocent citizens (or at least, non-dangerous citizens) by police. What were once written off by some as “isolated incidents” have clearly become common occurrences in America.

Concerns about potential abuse of using military tactics for domestic policing date back to the time of the Constitution, when the Founders worried about standing armies and intimidation of the people.

Most reasonable discussions about the use of SWAT teams focus on already-violent situations, but, increasingly, SWAT teams are being used to turn non-violent situations into violent ones. While the fear of terrorism drives much of the support for the militarization of police, SWAT teams are much more likely to target non-violent “criminals,” primarily as part of the failed War on Drugs. But even most people who support drug laws would oppose turning their enforcement into potentially violent situations that put innocent citizens and police officers in harm’s way. The likelihood of armored vehicles and military gear being used for good is far outweighed by its potential for harm to citizens and police officers.

The number of raids conducted by SWAT-like police units has grown from a few hundred a year in the 1970s to approximately 50,000 raids in 2005, according to surveys conducted by Peter Kraska, a criminologist at Eastern Kentucky University.

For those interested in reading more about this scary path, as well as a detailed history of how we got here, I highly recommend Radley Balko’s recent book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop. Balko had this to say about the situation:

Law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier. Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop—armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.

There is reason for concern that police officers are tempted to turn non-threatening situations into dangerous ones, in order to get the chance to use their “cool, new equipment.” SWAT teams have been deployed in many American cities, leading to the deaths of innocent citizens as well as police officers, to break up illegal poker games, to capture someone suspected of defrauding the federal student loan program, to raid the homes of low-level drug users, to raid bars suspected of allowing underage drinking, and other non-threatening situations.

Assault-style raids have also been used to enforce regulatory law in recent years, including IRS raids at respected Arkansas businesses, including Mountain Pure Water in Little Rock and Duncan Outdoors in Conway. (Check out this 17-minute video about the raids on those Arkansas businesses.)

In a review of Balko’s book at Amazon.com, John J. Baeza, a retired New York Police Department detective, had this to say:

A profession that I was once proud to serve in has become a militarized police state. Officers are quicker to draw their guns and use their tanks than to communicate with people to diffuse a situation. They love to use their toys and when they do, people die.

The days of the peace officer are long gone, replaced by the militarized police warrior wearing uniforms making them indistinguishable from military personnel. Once something is defined as a “war” everyone becomes a “warrior.” Balko offers solutions ranging from ending the war on drugs, to halting mission creep so agencies such as the Department of Education and the FDA don’t have their own SWAT teams, to enacting transparency requirements so that all raids are reported and statistics kept, to community policing, and finally to one of the toughest solutions: changing police culture.

The effect of militarization on police culture has been startling. Dogs are now routinely shot. Women have been sexually assaulted during routine traffic stops. Elderly citizens have been killed for resisting unwanted medical treatment in nursing homes. Unarmed innocents have been killed for what is classified “resisting arrest.” The police are clearly out of control.

There’s only one way to stop this escalating militarization of police, and that is for the people to stand up and say “no.” It’s time to get America off the road to becoming a police state.

But perhaps it’s time to consider a more radical solution. Let’s compare the aggressive military mindset of today’s police forces to how a private police service might operate. In fact, such a service already exists, in the city of Detroit, where the government police department has thrown up its hands in failure, informing people that they enter Detroit “at their own risk.” According to a recent article at freethoughtproject.com, the Threat Management Center is filling the void:

The Threat Management Center’s sole priorities are the protection of the people under their charge. They have specific incentives to focus exclusively on safety, and find non-violent ways of defusing tense situations before resorting to force. Since they’re privately funded, they have a direct incentive to make their customers happy. Any form of misconduct can instantly result in a loss of funding. The best part? The Threat Management Center doesn’t exclusively protect paying customers. Yes, they protect people for free.

The training that they give their officers is designed to fill their “mental toolboxes” with non-violent ways to diffuse potentially-violent situations. Dale Brown, founder of the Threat Management Center, said, “We make sure that in that toolbox, there are so many options to create a non-violent outcome that it’s almost impossible to have violence.” Brown summed up his company’s goals and policies like this:

We are not looking for people, and we do not accept people, who are human predator oriented, people who like to fight or people who like to shoot people… We’re not looking for the kind of mindset that says “you know what, it’s OK to use violence as long as you can legally explain it.” We’re looking for people who don’t want to use violence under any conditions. What we emphasize is 100 ways in a situation which would normally be fatal-force oriented, 100 ways, to not have a violent or fatal incident take place. We protect communities here in Detroit, upscale communities… we have approx 1000 homes that depend on us for safety. And we have approx 500 businesses that are our clients as well. And then the people that cannot afford our services, we help them for free. The reason that we can do that is because there is a healthy profit margin leftover from excellence from providing for our major corporations. We offer free training to families. We call it Free Family Friday. Typically, the prosecutor’s offices, the shelters in the area for domestic violence victims, stalking victims are sent to us for assistance. We protect them for free. We escort them to court. If they have a violent ex-husband or boyfriend or neighbor or some stranger that’s coming after them, we will literally stay with them, transport their kids to school. We stay with them at their homes with our rifles and keep them alive. And in 20 years, none of us have had a court date and, more importantly, none of us have been killed. And the most important, no one who has ever come to us for help in 20 years has ever been injured or killed after coming to this organization.

This is an impressive record, and it indicates the possibilities for effective law enforcement without violating people’s right. If the police cannot start focusing on protecting the people rather than threatening them, private security companies may be our best option.

—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

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

Where are all the small government liberals? They’re everywhere!

Persuasion.  It is the cornerstone of the political philosophy of any classical liberal, libertarian, or voluntaryist you’re likely to meet.  We oppose the initiation of force to achieve political, social, or economic goals and as a result, are left with no other option when trying to accomplish a goal than to try to persuade others that our ideas are correct.  Now, it’s no coincidence that in a country founded on classical liberal philosophy that persuasion is a crucial part of the fabric of the American experiment in self-government.

From the floor of the United States House of Representatives to the comments section of any political blog floating out there on the interwebs you’ll see individuals debating ideas and trying to persuade each other to their side.  On topics ranging from Obamacare to foreign affairs you’ll find no shortage of heated, passionate debates between individuals carrying the banner of their beliefs.  Typically on any subject you’ll find the cliché “big government liberals” vs. “small government conservatives” waging a war of words.

A person must ask themselves though, is mainstream American thought so unoriginal that we are so easily divided into these two neat, tidy little groups?  Are these two labels really Continue reading

Repeat something often enough and it becomes truth

Repeat something often enough and it becomes truth

by Mark Young

Being a “political animal” of sorts and keeping my eye out for news articles opinion pieces that source historical events for political propaganda, I’ve been very concerned with some of the news articles opinion pieces I’ve been reading recently about nullification.

In particular these two news articles opinion pieces:

The real lesson of “Green Eggs and Ham”

Just secede already

In both of these opinion pieces the authors are tying nullification to John Calhoun of South Carolina and infers that the history of nullification began with the South Carolina Nullification Ordinance of 1832 and ended in 1865. Both authors make statements that place the entire history of nullification square on backs of The South and slave owners. Nothing could be further from the truth, on either account.

In “Just secede already” Chuck Thompson states “it’s the same old obstructionist strategy that’s been pursued by traitorous Southerners” and is part of the “same soiled fabric that stretches from John C. Calhoun and South Carolina’s 1832 Ordinance of Nullification—an argument that essentially said that if a state didn’t like a federal law it could simply ignore it”. Of course that law referred to here is The Tariff of 1828 (aka The Tariff of Abominations).

In “The Real Lessons of Green Eggs and Ham” Jesse Jackson goes even further when he defines nullification as, “one of the last-ditch philosophical stands of the slaveholders, the historically disreputable — and thoroughly discredited — concept that a state could “nullify” a federal law by declaring it null and void.” He also, as does Thompson, place the nullification doctrine squarely upon South Carolina and John Calhoun when he states, “The concept was most famously expounded by South Carolina Sen. John C. Calhoun almost two centuries ago.” Then Jackson goes on to say, “It has been struck down repeatedly by the courts and was never accepted outside the Confederacy. Since it was used mainly to protect slavery in the South, it eventually helped lead to a horrible Civil War, and eventually the idea was totally discredited.” (emphasis mine)

Of course all of this is an attempt to tie the idea of nullification to secession, The South, The Confederacy and, most importantly, slavery. History, on the other hand, tells an entirely different story. One which I’m sure that neither of these two State apologist, nor any of its adoring fans, will like to hear.

Nullification has a long history in these United States and the idea began not soon after the Constitution was ratified and the government was in its infancy. The year was 1798 and it was espoused by non other than Thomas Jefferson, in The Kentucky Resolution which stated;

That the several states who formed that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under colour of that instrument, is the rightful remedy

James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution”, helped pen The Virginia Resolution which stated;

the General Assembly doth solemenly appeal to the like dispositions of the other states, in confidence that they will concur with this commonwealth in declaring, as it does hereby declare, that the acts aforesaid, are unconstitutional; and that the necessary and proper measures will be taken by each, for co-operating with this state, in maintaining the Authorities, Rights, and Liberties, referred to the States respectively, or to the people

In the October draft of The Kentucky Resolution, Jefferson made, what was quite possibly, his strongest statement for the “absoluteness” of the Constitution when he wrote;

Let him say what the government is, if it be not a tyranny, which the men of our choice have conferred on our President, and the President of our choice has assented to, and accepted over the friendly strangers to whom the mild spirit of our country and its laws have pledged hospitality and protection: that the men of our choice have more respected the bare _suspicions_ of the President, than the solid right of innocence, the claims of justification, the sacred force of truth, and the forms and substance of law and justice. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution

Old Jefferson always did have a way with words and was a constantly stirring the pot, so to speak.

Both of these resolutions were in opposition to The Alien and Sedition Acts. These acts were an affront to the very principles of our founding and basically voided the First Amendment protections of our freedom of speech (among other things). Those two resolutions “nullified” Acts of Congress, which had passed by vote and been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, yet they were rendered unenforceable in the States because they just simply didn’t comply.

This was the first such instance of nullification but it wasn’t the last time nor was it used by those “traitorous Southerners”, to “protect slavery”, EVER. How can I make such a bold statement? History, if one would actually bother to look it up and read, tells us otherwise.

The fact is slavery, at that time, was legal (albeit de facto) in the United States. The slave owners had nothing TO nullify. No the facts of history are that several States (Connecticut in 1854, Rhode Island 1854, Massachusetts 1855, Michigan 1855, Maine 1855 and 1857, and Kansas 1858)1 used their legal power of nullification to make The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 unenforceable. Wisconsin went even further by declaring The Fugitive Slave Act “unconstitutional”, using wording taken directly from the Kentucky Resolution. Even though that decision by the Wisconsin court was overturned by the US Supreme Court, Wisconsin refused to file the U.S. Court’s mandate upholding the fugitive slave law!

To find out how South Carolina really felt about nullification at that time one only has to look at its secession resolution which states;

“The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them.”

Does that sound like they were in favor of nullification in this instance? Doesn’t to me either. Matter of fact if one wants to look even further you see this as a recurring theme. When Mississippi seceded they said;

“It has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union, and has utterly broken the compact which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain.”

You see similar statements in the Georgia secession document;

“The non-slave-holding States generally repealed all laws intended to aid the execution of that act, and imposed penalties upon those citizens whose loyalty to the Constitution and their oaths might induce them to discharge their duty”

Also the Texas secession document states;

“The States of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, by solemn legislative enactments, have deliberately, directly or indirectly violated the 3rd clause of the 2nd section of the 4th article [the fugitive slave clause] of the federal constitution, and laws passed in pursuance thereof; thereby annulling a material provision of the compact”

Even today, we are seeing several States nullify Federal law by allowing the use of Medical Marijuana or actually legalizing the use of marijuana in small quantities. Of course they don’t mind THAT kind of nullification and so completely ignore those nullification resolutions simply because it doesn’t help pander their propaganda.

In conclusion, as hard as Jackson, Thompson and others of their ilk try to tie nullification to the Confederacy and slavery a cursory reading of historical documents proves otherwise. Nullification did not start with Calhoun, nor did it end in 1865. Nullification has a long honored tradition in our “political experiment” and was never used to promote slavery as these two charlatans attempt, and fail miserably, to insinuate. The real problem is this one small, but very significant, issue. Most people don’t/won’t do even the most cursory reading of any historical documents and will take, on faith, the words of these two men. Of even greater concern, at least to me, is this a deliberate attempt by these two men, if not THE SYSTEM in its entirety, to misinform a public, that they know will take their assessment at face value, or have they been deluded themselves and actually believe their lies? If it is former it is despicable, if it is the latter it is pathetic.

Just my thoughts.

2013 Convention Details!

We are excited to announce the 2013 LPAR State Convention to be held on April 27th at the Comfort Inn and Suites Downtown Little Rock (707 Interstate 30). This year, our convention will be in two parts: a business session and a social event. We invite you all to join us as we gear up for another exciting year!

Convention Tickets are available for $20 through April 20th by clicking HERE. Your ticket includes admission into both the Business Session and the Cocktail Caucus.

BUSINESS SESSION

From 2:00-5:00pm we will convene for our business session that will include speakers, Executive Committee elections and District Caucuses. Reports will be given by our Secretary and Treasurer. Our keynote speaker will be Brett Bittner, elected Libertarian, Executive Director of the LPGA and the Chairman of the Libertarian State Leadership Alliance. If you want to know “Why Libertarians Lose and How Libertarians Can Win,” then you won’t want to miss Mr. Bittner.

If you have been a member of the LPAR for one year (as of April 27th) then you are eligible to run for a position on our Executive Committee. Positions elected by the full membership are Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and an At-Large Representative. First, Second, Third and Fourth District Representatives are elected by the members who reside in those particular Congressional Districts. If you don’t know which district you live in, click HERE.

Parking at the Comfort Inn is free of charge. Please arrive a few minutes early to receive your name tag and a packet of information. The ballroom is located in the area behind the front desk.

COCKTAIL CAUCUS

Paid attendees will also be invited to attend a social gathering immediately after the business session at the Cornerstone Pub and Grill (314 Main Street, North Little Rock) where a light “Pub Fare” buffet dinner will be available.  A cash bar will be offered in our private upstairs room and additional food may be purchased off the menu.

Limited street parking is available in front of Cornerstone but additional parking is available in a lot behind the building. Our group will be congregating in the upstairs area.

OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO MENTION:

Per our bylaws, you must be a member of the LPAR by March 28th in order to have a vote at the State Convention. Click HERE to join the LPAR for as low as $10/year or to make a donation. If you are unsure of your current membership status, please email Rodger Paxton at chair@lpar.org for more information.

If you would like to extend your stay in Little Rock, we have a block of rooms available at the Comfort Inn and Suites. Convention attendees can enjoy a reduced rate ($85/night for a standard and $95 for a suite) that includes a complimentary hot breakfast, fitness center, business center and wireless internet. Call 501-687-7700 by April 12th to reserve your room at this reduced rate.

If you have an agenda item you would like to add to our business session, please see page 10 of the LPAR BYLAWS.

“Petition to place item on agenda
A petition signed by ten percent of the delegates attending any Convention shall be sufficient to automatically place any legitimate item of business on the agenda of the Convention for its consideration.”

Our light dinner at Cornerstone will include Cheese Dip & Salsa with Tri-Colored Corn Tortilla Chips, Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Warm Pita Bread, a Veggie Tray with House Made Ranch and Honey Mustard, Chicken Fingers with Ranch, Barbecue & Honey Barbecue Dipping Sauces as well as House Marinated Meatballs. If you have any dietary restrictions, please contact Jessica Paxton at jesspaxton@gmail.com or 901-488-7040 by April 12th.

As always, we look forward to seeing you there!