With less than two weeks left before 1,000 or so Libertarian Party delegates select their 2020 presidential and vice presidential nominees in an unprecedented online-only vote, you could probably forgive Jacob Hornberger for being a little irritable.
Hornberger, the 70-year-old founder of the Future of Freedom Foundation, has, after all, won a clear majority of the party's presidential primaries and caucuses, nonbinding though they may be. He has been in and out and back in Libertarian politics for more than two decades now. And yet ever since Rep. Justin Amash (LMich.) threw his hat into the ring on April 28, Hornberger has been all but ignored by the mainstream media, while Amash galivants on cable news networks and HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.
So it came as little surprise Saturday night that when the formerly Republican and independent congressman participated in his first Libertarian presidential debate, it was Hornbergerauthor of an eight-part blog series titled, "Justin Amash, LP Interloper"who came out swinging hardest.
"Even the libertarian-leaning conservative members of Congress have websites that direct children to the website of the CIAthe most evil agency in U.S. history," Hornberger charged in his opening statement, reiterating his critique of a student resource page at amash.house.gov. "Conservatives love free enterprise, but have long supported the evil, immoral, socialist, central-planning, Republican/Democratic system of immigration controls, which has brought death and suffering to countless people, as well as a brutal police state consisting of highway checkpoints and other initiations of force against innocent people."
Running as he is a "campaign of principle for the party of principle," in a cycle where many Libertarians seem particularly eager to shed their image as a refuge for ideologically alienated and/or politically opportunistic ex-Republicans, Hornberger portrayed Amash as someone merely tinkering around the edges of the welfare/warfare state.
"Conservatives love to 'reform,'" he said. "But reform of tyranny is not freedom. Freedom is a dismantling of tyranny.In this election Libertarian Party members are asked to trade away our principles for a conservative/progressive/libertarian mush, all for the sake of big publicity and the hopes of garnering votes. If we make that trade, we become like them. We become conservatives and progressives. We become the party of expediency."
Those who assume Amash will waltz to a first-ballot nomination over Memorial Day weekend should take a look at the Libertarian Party of Kentucky's post-debate voting exercise among one-quarter of confirmed L.P. convention delegates. In the first round of polling, Amash received just 33.3 percent of the vote, compared to runner-up Hornberger's 21 percent. (The party requires winning candidates to earn 50 percent plus one vote, using an instant runoff process in which the last-place finisher in each round, and everyone under 5 percent, gets lopped off for the next.)
Amash eventually won the informal vote, but it took him six rounds. Here's how the totals went, as reported:
Round 1: Amash 33.3 percent, Hornberger 21 percent, Jo Jorgensen 16.6 percent, Vermin Supreme 7.7 percent, Judge Jim Gray 6.6 percent, Adam Kokesh 6.2 percent, John Monds 5 percent, Arvin Vohra 1.5 percent.
Round 2: Amash 35.1 percent, Hornberger 23.3 percent, Jorgensen 18.5 percent, Supreme 9.3 percent, Kokesh 7.7 percent, Gray 7 percent.
Round 3: Amash 37.3 percent, Hornberger 22.4 percent, Jorgensen 21.6 percent, Supreme 10.1 percent, Kokesh 8.6 percent.
Round 4: Amash 39.3 percent, Jorgensen 24.8 percent, Hornberger 22.9 percent, Supreme 13 percent.
Round 5: Amash 43.8 percent, Jorgensen 30.5 percent, Hornberger 25.7 percent.
Round 6: Amash 55.6 percent, Jorgensen 44.4 percent.
Jorgensen, the 1996 Libertarian vice presidential nominee who caught Hornberger from behind in Round 4 and eventually elbowed him out, is campaigning in a sort of third lane between the no-holds-barred radicalism of Hornberger and anarchist Adam Kokesh, and the more pragmatic approach favored by Amash and Judge Jim Gray. "I'm offering something that's principled and practical," she said in her closing statement Saturday night.
Jorgensen was the only other debate participant to significantly challenge Amash, albeit in a much less abrasive way than Hornberger (who said that he could not commit to endorsing the congressman should he win the nomination). In her opening statement, she asked Amash a series of questions, most of which he didn't address.
"Would you use your authority as commander-in-chief to end our involvement in foreign wars, stop subsidizing the defense of wealthy allies, and bring our troops home? I will," Jorgensen said. "Would youuse your pardon power to free people convicted of exposing government corruption, violating unconstitutional laws, or committing so-called crimes when there's no victim? I will. Would you immediately stop construction on President Trump's border wall boondoggle, and work to eliminate quotas on immigration so that anyone who wishes to come to America could do so legally? I will. And last, where do you stand on one of the most divisive issues in America: abortion? Do you support the Libertarian Party platform? I do. It's not enough to be better than Trump or Biden. Our nominee must be deeply principled with a long commitment to our party."
Amash did address abortion in the debate, saying at first: "I'm pro-life. I believe that the pro-life position is a Libertarian position, and my goal is to work outside of the Libertarian Party to convince people of that. I work with pregnancy resource centers, for example, here in West Michigan, to try to get the message out and spread the message about life. I don't think that the government is most effective at doing that sort of thing. As a president, the Libertarian Party supports the idea of not funding abortion providers. So, the Libertarian Party is aligned with my position on that."
Hornberger then grilled the congressman further:
Hornberger: You of course pride yourself on being a strict constitutionalist, a supporter of the Constitution. And you supported a bill that calledI think it was in the past couple of yearsthat called for a nationwide criminal ban on abortion, in which people who were caught engaging in an abortion would be convicted of a federal felony involving a five-year jail sentence. Can you tell me where in the Constitution you rely on to support this federal felony offense for abortion?
Amash: So I'm not sure about the particular bill you're referencing, because it was in the past and I don't know exactly which bill
Hornberger: It's House bill 36.
Amash: But I can answer the question. The 14th Amendment provides the power to have the federal government address state violations of people's rights. And as someone who's pro-life, I believe that a baby inside the womb is a life. And if I believe that that person is a life, then I think it's appropriate for the federal government to tell states that it is not okay to discriminate against these lives.
Now, as a presidential candidate, as a presidential nominee, I won't be making the legislation; the legislature will decide that. Congress decides on the legislation and sends things to my desk. With the parties very divided over this issue, nothing's going to come to my desk that does that.
That's my view of it, and when I'm voting in Congress, that's how I would vote. But as a presidential candidate, with respect to people who are concerned within the party because there is a split within the party between pro-life people and pro-choice people, the president will have very little opportunity for that kind of thing, because there is a huge divide within the party. So the only thing that is likely to come to my desk as president is a bill to not fund abortion providers, no federal funding for abortion providers, and that is something that all Libertarians within the party agree on. At least, the vast majority of them agree on that.
Hornberger's most influential backers, at the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus and on the podcasting airwaves, have dinged Amash for backing the "Deep State" in the impeachment of President Donald Trump (despite Amash's lead role in nearly de-funding the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance operations back in 2013), and for potentially being another in a lengthening line of ex-Republicans who fail to ignite a lasting ideological fire.
"I even think that in some scenarios 1 percent might be better than 4 percent," libertarian comedian Dave Smith said to Hornberger on an episode of his Part of the Problem podcast last month. "I think those votes are worthless if you didn't actually convert people or introduce them to liberty or change their way of looking at the world at all."
Or as Ludwig von Mises Institute senior fellow and popular podcaster Tom Woods, with whom Smith taped an Amash-criticizing podcast last week, said at a Mises Caucus-sponsored event down the street from the 2018 Libertarian National Convention: "So yeah, we won't get the 70 million votes, but maybe we get 1 million people who say, 'I never looked at the world the same way again after I listened to those people.'"
Amash's answer to the broad critique is to remind people that most Americans are not self-identified libertarians, no matter how intrinsically libertarian they may be without knowing it, and that political actors wishing to have any kind of influence need to acknowledge the fallen world around them.
"I've been a libertarian my entire life, a small-l libertarian," Amash said Saturday. "And I believe that when you work within government, you have to make those changes that will convince people to come to your side.You have to present libertarianism to them with the issues that they care about or are concerned about right now. It can't be some kind of overnight experiment where we re-work all of society or re-work all of our government."
"In fact," Amash continued, "that's arrogance in the form of central planning of another sort, to come in and say, 'We're just going to throw out everything we have overnight and start anew.' We have to do things gradually and carefully, and we have to trust the people to make decisions through our constitutional system of government."
Read the rest here:
- Were the Capitol Rioters Really Libertarians? - Foundation for Economic Education - January 29th, 2021
- A Florida Senator Wants to Exclude People With Felony Convictions from the State's Minimum Wage Increase - The Appeal - January 29th, 2021
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- The political beliefs of the Class of 2024 by race, gender and other factors - Duke Chronicle - January 29th, 2021
- Livorno, the Rebel City Where Italy's Communist Party Was Born - Jacobin magazine - January 29th, 2021
- HB79 Allowing Minor Party Members To Vote In Primaries Passes Government, Elections And Indian Affairs Committee - Los Alamos Daily Post - January 29th, 2021
- Mostly libertarian demonstration gathered outside of closed, guarded Texas Capitol Sunday - WJTV - January 23rd, 2021
- Groups across Texas head to Texas Capitol for "mostly libertarian" demonstration - ArkLaTexHomepage - January 23rd, 2021
- Wikipedia 20th anniversary | The libertarian internet dinosaur has become the worlds largest encyclopedia - Inspired Traveler - January 17th, 2021
- Marshawn Wolley: Like the tea party, Trumpism will die - Indianapolis Business Journal - January 17th, 2021
- How the right claimed liberty and made it a toxic word - New Statesman - January 17th, 2021
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- We all bear the responsibility to come together - Williston Daily Herald - January 9th, 2021
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- Libertarian and Green parties cry foul over ballot change - Niagara Gazette - January 7th, 2021
- Libertarian, Green parties file injunction in lawsuit aimed at state efforts to quell third parties - The Daily News Online - January 7th, 2021
- Yellow Gadsden flag, prominent in Capitol takeover, carries a long and shifting history - The Conversation US - January 7th, 2021
- 17,000 Onondaga County voters have a decision to make: Should I enroll in another party? - syracuse.com - January 7th, 2021
- Sue Lani Madsen: End this madness of brother against brother - The Spokesman-Review - January 7th, 2021
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- Boris Johnson's lockdown rebels have gone quiet. But it won't be for long - The Guardian - January 7th, 2021
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- Libertarian Ron Paul: Legalize Bitcoin and Abolish the IRS - Decrypt - December 6th, 2020
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- Be Cool Like Kennedy! Donate to Reason, and Help Us Spread #HotFreedom - Reason - December 6th, 2020
- The Libertarian Argument Is the Best Argument Against Immunity Passports. But is it good enough? - Practical Ethics - December 6th, 2020
- From Libertarians To Nationalists, Millennials Are Shaping The New Right - The Federalist - December 6th, 2020
- Pinecone: The fringe political party saving the youth from political nihilism in Georgia - New Eastern Europe - December 6th, 2020
- 'We're Gonna Need a Bigger Website' - Reason - December 6th, 2020
- The Trials and Tribulations of Third-Party Candidates - University of Georgia - December 6th, 2020
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- A record 3 million Hoosiers voted in the 2020 election - IndyStar - November 29th, 2020
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- Charles Koch and Brian Hooks: Believe in People - Reason - November 29th, 2020
- By the Numbers: Local communities were Biden country in Nov. 3 election - Reporter Newspapers - November 29th, 2020
- Opinion: Please don't let me bleed to death in the street - easternnewmexiconews.com - November 29th, 2020
- The Libertarian Moment That Never Comes - The New Republic - November 7th, 2020
- Meet Marshall Burt, Who's About To Become the Libertarian Party's Only Sitting State Legislator - Reason - November 7th, 2020
- Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate puts a wedge in a race that is too close to call - WCNC.com - November 7th, 2020
- Newly Launched Chicago Thinker Aims to Promote Conservative and Libertarian Views on Campus - The Chicago Maroon - November 7th, 2020
- Maybe Jo Jorgensen Finishing With 1% Would Actually Be Pretty Good? - Reason - November 7th, 2020
- Libertarian candidates share conversation and coffee - The Wellsboro Gazette - November 7th, 2020
- Cotton win good news, say parties of two rivals - Arkansas Online - November 7th, 2020
- Libertarian Free Will and the Kalam, Revisited | Jonathan MS Pearce - Patheos - August 17th, 2020
- Floating Cities and Sea-Level Rise - an unsinkable idea - Anthropoce - August 17th, 2020
- When Joe Biden Tried To Paint Clarence Thomas as a Crazy Libertarian - Reason - July 31st, 2020
- Libertarian Assembly candidate calls for line item veto to rein in spending, elimination of property taxes and more to get rid of 'tyranny' and bloat... - July 31st, 2020
- OPINION EXCHANGE | The last days of the tech emperors? - Minneapolis Star Tribune - July 31st, 2020
- Buchanan and Anarchism | Mises Wire - The Shepherd of the Hills Gazette - July 31st, 2020
- Trump Wanted To 'Throw Massie Out of Republican Party!' but the Libertarian-Leaning Congressman Just Won His Primary Anyway - Reason - June 24th, 2020
- Google's warning against the Federalist is why libertarians will lose fight over Big Tech - Washington Examiner - June 24th, 2020
- Texas-based conservative group funding 'green' PAC in MT - KTVH - June 24th, 2020
- Non-mask wearing fools - The Real Nurse Jackie - McKnight's Long Term Care News - June 24th, 2020
- Morelle with big lead over Wilt but absentee votes still to be tallied - WXXI News - June 24th, 2020
- Lockdown easing analysis: Boris Johnson's libertarian instincts returned... and he went further than anyone really expected - Evening Standard - June 24th, 2020
- How a fringe sect from the 1980s influenced No 10's attitude to racism - The Guardian - June 24th, 2020
- Radley Balko on George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the Libertarian Case for Criminal Justice Reform - Reason - June 17th, 2020
- While pro-marijuana parties thrive, other minor parties struggle - Southernminn.com - June 17th, 2020
- Letters: 'It is suggested that Boris's Libertarian beliefs were the reasons for delayed Lockdown' - The Northern Echo - June 17th, 2020
- OPINION EXCHANGE | At the center of that Supreme Court ruling were people - Minneapolis Star Tribune - June 17th, 2020
- The other Jo, wants your 2020 vote, if youre fed up with the two-party system or if youre not - WIZM NEWS - June 17th, 2020
- 'Where Are Libertarians on Police Reform?' Right Where We've Always Been. - Reason - June 13th, 2020
- Protests: Meet the Romney-Gary Johnson-Bloomberg voter embracing Black Lives Matter - Vox.com - June 13th, 2020
- What the Pandemic Revealed - Niskanen Center - June 13th, 2020
- Santa Cruz Shooting Suspect Preached Libertarian Ideals, Was Pushed Over the Edge By Police Actions Against Protesters, Friends Say - SFist - June 13th, 2020
- Libertarian Think Tank Praises Pelosis Call to Remove Confederate Statues from Capitol: Slavery is The Least Libertarian Thing Imaginable - Mediaite - June 13th, 2020
- How Not To Build a Transpartisan Coalition for Police Reform - Reason - June 13th, 2020
- Primary Election ballots are in the mail | YourHub - The Know - June 13th, 2020
- Scared for their jobs, Iowa Republicans are gaming the democratic process - The Gazette - June 13th, 2020
- 61 Quick Facts and Observations on Socialism, Jesus, and Wealth | Jon Miltimore - Foundation for Economic Education - June 13th, 2020
- Nelson lead up to 23 votes over Tarkanian - The Record-Courier - June 13th, 2020
- Amash decides against Libertarian campaign for president | TheHill - The Hill - May 19th, 2020
- Libertarian Group Sues Ohio Again On Behalf Of Closed Gyms - WOSU - May 14th, 2020
- Third Parties Unlikely to Wreak Havoc in 2020 Election - New York Magazine - May 14th, 2020
- Modest meat reforms would help Americans stay fed during the pandemic - The Maine Wire - May 14th, 2020
- Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections | TheHill - The Hill - May 14th, 2020
- Drop off or in person, 8 p.m. is deadline to cast your vote in the primary election - North Platte Telegraph - May 14th, 2020
- Another ludicrous Thought of the Day from the BBC: The Bishop of Manchester assures us that we have libertarian free will - stopthefud - May 14th, 2020