Originally published on January 24th, 2012.
In continuing coverage of the many different candidates in the 2012 presidential election, I was fortunate enough to conduct a question and answer session with Ms. Tiffany Briscoe of the Boston Tea Party. Tiffany Briscoe is a small business owner and philanthropist from the state of Maryland.
The Boston Tea Party, formed in 2006, supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose. Following their December 21st nominating Convention, Tiffany Briscoe of Maryland and Kimberly Barrick (née Johnson) of Arizona now represent the party going into 2012. In 2008, their presidential nominee, Charles Jay, appeared on the ballot in three states and was a recognized write-in candidate in a dozen more.
Ms. Briscoe’s site can be located here.
Thank you for taking the time to do this with me, it’s very appreciated.
Before we get into this, I just want you to know that there’s no rush and answers can be as long or as short as you’d like.
I’m also okay if you want to add links in with your answers. If it helps your message or if you answer something but there’s still somewhere where you have it in more detail for anyone curious, I encourage it.
Starting off with formalities, tell us about yourself.
Who are you and why are you seeking the Presidency of the United States?
I am a small businesswoman. What else can I say? I respect my community, work for my local church and nursery and I am the proud owner of two small businesses that have been acknowledged in the past. These are the three facts that I like people to remember. But I am also a concerned citizen, shocked by the level of the federal government’s involvement in our private lives and voluntary associations. Never has the government been so large in the United States, an union that was based on decentralization. This is why I am running for the highest office in the United States: to bring back the White House to the reality of the 21st century and the need for Washington to get away the road to success that our economy desperately needs to take.
What kinds of businesses do you manage and what challenges have you faced with this economy? Do you see a background in business as a vital plank in a Briscoe Presidency?
I manage a small retail store. However, punitive taxation is hurting me, especially in times such as this one. Meanwhile, safety regulations – which are costly and pointless in my case – are trying to put me on a downside. But we are surviving and with the profits I make, I invested to make a private dancing class as well as a charity organizations to take care of local cancer patients. And surely enough, I have a front seat as a witness of how excessive regulation and taxation are destroying not only our economy, but also the global market on a long-term perspective. This is why I believe it is important to have had a past in the private community to truly understand the situation in the competitive market. Life-long politicians do not even seem to understand the core problems of corporate welfare and public-private partnerships, as very often the so-called “champions of liberty” in Congress are the biggest earmark distributors in the legislature.
First, thank you for your charity and generosity within the community.
When you say that Congress fails to understand “corporate welfare” and “public-private partnerships”, I envision images of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements.
Do you believe the Tea Party and Occupy movements are a positive step towards addressing some of those problems? Furthermore, why do you believe the politicians’ fail to understand those same problems and, in your personal opinion, do you see that failure as deliberate or ignorant?
Of course they are. Any sort of movement challenging the Establishment and asking for radical changes in society is a sign that people are awakening in the face of an ever-increasing government. Now, both the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement have certain groups within that do not prescribe the correct solutions to our problems, but their diagnosis is right most of the time: our lives are over-regulated, government is too coercive, and corruption has become an inherent part of central authorities.
But does this mean all politicians are bad? I’d like to believe not so. While there might be a few people that get into power just because of special interests or for the love of power, most politicians are caring members of society that want to change the system their own way. The problem, though, is that they do not understand that individuals are too different and too genuine for uniform policies to be applied to every one of them. And this is the root of most problems in our world.
How much longer do you see these movements lasting? Will they eventually be absorbed into a mainstream party or will they simply expire?
Switching over to the topic of political parties, why run on the Boston Tea Party ticket? It’s clear that the rights of the individual are extremely important to you, so why that one over all of the other different parties that claim to represent them?
Well, there is a clear threat represented by mainstream politicians trying to use populist movements at their advantage. And I do believe the Establishment will be able to shut these specific voices down on the short-term. However, their ideas won’t fade away, for the ideas of freedom have never failed humanity. The Boston Tea Party is one of those parties that envision a liberalized America, with freedom as core principle. Of course, other similar groups include the Constitution Party or the Libertarian Party, but both of these have recently been moving to the Right of the political spectrum, with one supporting conservative ideals and the other adopting tax reform policies such as the FairTax in their ideology. The [Boston Tea Party] is the last true individualist political party in the United States, and I am more than proud to have received its nomination, which I believe confirms that it will not compromise on libertarian principles.
Other than its ideological purity, the Boston Tea Party is also known for it’s on-line nomination process. From conducting debates to nominating a national ticket for the Presidency, the [Boston Tea Party] is definitely innovative. Could you describe your experience with running in such an unconventional process? Are you prepared to jump from digital to physical?
The Internet is the new branch of society that is free of government interference. So it is interesting to find most of the Boston Tea Party’s base online. This is not only unconventional, it also revolutionary. For the first time in history, a political party is open to anybody with Internet access. Now, my campaign had a lot to do with the nominating process. We came up with the idea of the debate, and pulled up first political ads during the convention. At the end, I was chosen with some 65% of the votes as the party’s nominee for the 2012 election cycle.
This has helped me get some media attention. But clearly not enough, which is to be expected as the elections are just beginning. I’ll be going to Florida very soon, where I will officially kick-start the campaign at my campaign headquarters. From there, we will work heavily with people from Vermont, Colorado, Tennessee, and these other states wherein we will be present on the ballot. I had previously worked on several local campaigns in Maryland, so I know it’s not going to be easy. But success is possible. And to tell the truth, I am much more comfortable campaigning on land than online. I’ll let my supporters take care of the Internet front.
That’s a very confident margin of victory. Meanwhile, your running-mate, Ms. Kimberly Barrick, required two rounds of voting before she was nominated. Are you content with the outcome and is your relationship with her a strong one, and for that matter, your relationships with all of your former fellow [Boston Tea Party] Presidential contenders?
This victory was a clear sign that the Boston Tea Party is set to remain the most active proponent of small government principles in today’s political field. And the same can be said about the nomination of Mrs. Barrick as my running mate. She is a very intelligent, principled, active, and charismatic woman that understands the importance of campaigning and what her major role is in this bid for the highest offices in the land. I had already endorsed her during the convention and now, our campaigns have merged for a closer collaboration. Now, I also believe that our ticket can unify the small government circles of the United States, as I am an East-Coast libertarian and she is a Southwestern constitutionalist.
When it comes to my fellow [Boston Tea Party] friends that did not receive the party’s nomination back in December, I am happy to say that there is no grave conflict between us. One individual, Bob Milnes, decided to run against my platform but this time as a candidate for the Libertarian Party’s nomination, and this is not going to be anyhow relevant as we move on in this election cycle. The others have been cordial with me as I have shown due respect. The Boston Tea Party is now mainly unified behind a strong presidential ticket.
I would say some of your opponents in November might wish their parties were as united as the [Boston Tea Party] is, furthermore, you can get right to focusing on November.
In keeping with looking forward though, what plans do you have? Are there any strategies you can share and what States do you plan on obtaining ballot access in?
Indeed, the advantage of an early nomination is that we can focus on the general election sooner. We already know it’s not going to be an easy run. There are many well-funded candidates from the Establishment that already have the mainstream media’s support. This is why we are focusing on getting our message across as effectively as possible. Alternative media, such as the Internet, will be more than useful. In fact, we do have a campaign strategy focused on the weaknesses of the other candidacies when it comes to libertarian messages. By November, we will be in as much as 14 to 15 states, including Colorado, Louisiana, Vermont, and others.
For the SOPA and PIPA affair, I am simply shocked. Under the name of protecting the artificial notion of intellectual property, the government wants to start regulating the Internet in a manner that would restrict free expression. This is the State at its worst. We cannot seem to find the sources of these proposals, as intellectual property is neither a conservative nor a liberal principle, while copyright-owners do not have a large lobby in Washington. SOPA and PIPA are the government’s means to destroy free speech. So I do understand why so many websites have been blacking out. It’s none of my business to tell them how they should react, but I do realize the gravity of the situation.
Switching gears again, I want to go over your platform.
Can you describe a summary of your platform? I know you’re a libertarian and for individual liberties, but what does that mean for someone who doesn’t know? Where do you stand on the usual issues that people tend to focus on first?
My platform is based on reason and the Constitution. I have heard from many that my plan was a radical platform based on libertarianism, so I’d like to say so. In short, it is about empowering the individual, lowering the scope of the federal government, and promoting prosperity abroad. We have been over-regulated, over-legislated, and over-controlled by politicians that are wasting our and our children’s money, which is simply unacceptable. Now, I believe all the issues are very important because they all represent government action -or inaction- but it is clear that to the American people, what matters the most is an economy that is heading to crisis. My principled view is that the economy is too complex and important to be led or influenced by the government: more liberty can only do good.
I’d like to run two scenarios by with you.
Worst case scenario. You lose in November. Who would you be the most comfortable with having in the White House? Who would be the least?
Best case scenario. You win in November. Is there any elected official, former or current and from any level of Government, who you would consider for any cabinet position?
If I lose in November, there aren’t many individuals that I will trust to carry on common sense and constitutionalism to the White House. But I guarantee you than anybody can do a better job that Barack Obama. The truth is that among the two major parties’ front-runners, I can’t find anyone with true classical liberal principles of limited government and individual liberty. Now, many of our supporters have come from the Gary Johnson or Ron Paul crowds, which is interesting. Now, if I am elected in November, there might be some government officials that will deserve recognition. Congressmen Connie Mack and Dennis Kucinich are very good examples of elected officials that have fought for individual freedom in the past. But at the end of the day, it is very hard to find principled members of the government in this Establishment.
Those are very interesting choices. I understand they may not reflect everything you believe in, but what qualities do they demonstrate that you appreciate?
I appreciate the time you’ve given me to ask you these questions and I’d like to give you the chance to get the last word. Is there anything you’d like to ask me, add, or say that I might not have given you the opportunity to?
Of course, the examples I have given are far from being genuine. Across the country, there are dozens of individuals working in government, whether federal, state or local, to promote the American principles of peace, prosperity, and freedom. They fight on a daily basis against the Establishment and make decisions above party politics. I remember when Connie Mack was one of the few Republicans that voted against the Patriot Act, for instance.
But to finish up, I’d like to say this. Whatever the outcome of these elections will be, nobody should give up hope. Freedom is a natural part of life that society will obtain sooner or later. In many aspects, we are more free now than fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, two centuries ago. Freedom is powerful and no standing army, nor any monetary influence will be able to destroy it any time soon.