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Libertarians Meet in Worcester for First Presidential Debate

As the first snow of the season graced the city of Worcester, so did the rank and file of the Libertarian Party faithful, meeting in the back of MacDonald’s Tavern. With around 30 participants packed into the bar, almost double the amount of 2014 attendants, the Massachusetts Libertarian Party conducted its annual state convention. Turnout was impressive considering they were competing for audience attendance with the Students For Liberty, a popular and like-minded pro-liberty youth movement holding a conference of its own in Boston.

Participants ranged from those who believed in the idealistic party to the people hoping to earn their vote come next May. Mixed in there was even a candidate for U.S. Senate out of California, who flew over to film the event and start what he called a Libertarian Party business network to compete with the likes of CNN and Fox News.

Massachusetts Libertarians listen to speakers
Massachusetts Libertarians listen to speakers

As dozens of party members made themselves comfortable, Massachusetts State Committee members recapped the hard work the party leadership has been doing to stay afloat, and what goals the party will have going into the future. They pledged money, support, and vision to turn the devout force into something capable of being a contender in the world of Bay State politics. From marijuana to membership, each member laid out their goals for the future if given the chance to retain their leadership roles.

Forgoing the classic ranked choice voting system that has long separated the Libertarian Party from its first-past-the-post major party peers, Massachusetts libertarians opted to go for a slate election to save on time. While this was a decision that left some uneasy for its appearance of steamrolling over discussion and its lack of the libertarian staple candidate “None Of The Above” option, including Darryl W. Perry, the motion was easily passed, forgoing what would have been a mere formality, and committee members, as well as Orlando national delegates, were voted in with one big swoop.

The Libertarian Party is famous for its ideologues and that sentiment was alive and well in the candidates who came forward seeking support. From the pragmatic to the downright anarchic, the third largest political party in the United States did not fail to provide a candidate for all strains of libertarianism.

George Phillies, chairman of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party, moderated the debate and gave the four presidential hopefuls an assortment of questions covering a broad scope of topics, ranging from domestic policy to the size of the military to the candidate’s own ability to run a functional campaign.

From left to right. George Phillies, Steve Kerbel, Darryl Perry, Dr. Marc Feldman, and Derrick Michael Reid
From left to right. George Phillies, Steve Kerbel, Darryl Perry, Dr. Marc Feldman, and Derrick Michael Reid

While the four presidential hopefuls overlapped on a number of issues, differing only in execution, there were still a few key differences that they hoped would separate them from the rest of the pack. Whereas Derrick Michael Reid, Darryl Perry, and Steve Kerbel generally agreed upon phasing out the role of social security in a libertarian society and the need for private accounts, Feldman bucked from the herd and preached about the benefits of using social security funds to refinance student loans, seeing it as intelligent business policy.

The same could be said for Darryl Perry and how he viewed the size of the United States military. Where candidates like Steve Kerbel called for a “descending crescendo” on the size of American armed force, Derrick Michael Reid wanted to just curb irresponsible American foreign policy, and Marc Feldman wanted to give the individual the chance to voluntarily fund the military through fees. Perry, on the other hand, openly called for a complete abolishment. “There should be no standing army”, Perry told listeners. “The question is how quickly can we get there?”

Taking time after the debate to ask the candidates further questions, I sat down with Derrick Michael Reid, who could be described as outside of the usual minimal government ideology to which his Libertarian contemporaries prescribe. Citing the significance of moral, societal, and economic codes, Reid discussed his concerns with the raw anarchy that might arise from having absolutely no government standards. “I’m not a total libertarian” he told me. “You need certain controls to prevent anarchy.” Among those he listed criminal justice, civil corps, legal bodies, taboos, and a moral code as such examples.

Unlike his fellow candidates, Reid spoke of implementing a smorgasbord of political thought in his administration. “I’d have a mix of Republicans, Democrats, Greens, and Libertarians. […] It would be representative of all political parties.” While he acknowledged that such a position may not necessarily be the most popular one to take, he reassured me that he knew what it would take to win and made no qualms in telling me. “I’m the only candidate who can appeal to the intellect and logic of all Americans. I plan to win the Whitehouse.” He said. “And big.”

Darryl Perry speaks before the audience
Darryl Perry speaks before the audience

Starkly contrasting him is Darryl W. Perry, who strongly embodies his home state of New Hampshire “Live Free or Die” spirit. Perry, clearly no stranger to speaking his mind, separated himself from the pack early on in the debate by going on record and saying that he supports “gun control”, and by that he jokingly meant controlling one’s firearm, and advocating for the legalization of everything, even going as far as listing crystal meth. In fact, he said he’d be most comfortable if all things were “regulated like tomatoes”, something he had told the audience earlier is surprisingly regulation free.

Perry had also made rounds earlier in his campaign when he went on record and said he would not file with the FEC or take American currency, something he continues to stand by to this day. “In his 1996 run, Ralph Nader also didn’t file with the FEC” he explained. As for funding, Perry told me he would only take “precious metals and bitcoin.” When pressed about Super PAC funding, Perry told me he would only take services. “If a Super PAC wanted to donate airline miles or tickets, I would use that but I will not take money or checks and I have turned down cash before.”

Steve Kerbel was a candidate who could be described as from the pragmatic wing of the party. “We need every voter to know that they are libertarian”, he opined to the crowd. “We need to speak in bumper stickers”. In true Libertarian fashion, Kerbel railed against government interference in the 2nd amendment, the 4th amendment, the job market, and abortion, staying true to his message of efficiently shrinking the size and scope of the government.

Kerbel stayed true to his sentiments even when pressed about racial tensions and the rise of the #blacklivesmatter movement in the United States. “I’m off the grid when it comes to Black Lives Matter.” he told me. “But we need to level the playing field [and] Individual liberty is my statement. Period.” Kerbel did attack private prisons however, and called them out for their failure to save money and their tendency to imprison even more people.

The last candidate who participated, Dr. Marc Feldman, harped on the significance of his campaign being a corruption free campaign, reminding the audience that his campaign is called “Votes Not for Sale” and not “Marc Feldman for President”. Feldman also made known his lack of executive experience, but discussed it as a strength, especially in a political climate where the likes of Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Carly Fiorina are making huge waves.

Feldman also went on record and took positions slightly outside of traditional libertarian dogma, but tried to tie them into classic libertarian ideology. “I’m a supporter of Israel and the Israeli Defense Force” he said to a surprised audience. “But I would cut all foreign aid and would help them privately. In fact, Feldman styled himself a “libertarian populist” and explained that he supports an individual’s right to choose, even if that right is to support a government funded program that he may not necessarily agree with himself.

Absent from the debate was 2012 presidential candidate Gary John (photo courtesy of wikipedia)
Absent from the debate but constantly talked about was Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s 2012 standard bearer who netted over one million votes (photo courtesy of wikipedia)

No candidate drew more ire than one who wasn’t even in attendance. The 2012 presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, was a popular punching bag, getting called out by Perry for his outstanding 1.3 million dollar campaign debt and by Feldman for his inability to make the effort to participate in the campaign process. There’s some discussion as to whether Johnson is in fact a formal candidate or not, but as of an April interview with the Daily Caller, he had said he was gearing up for a run.

One topic not so wildly discussed during the debate was the fate of Rand Paul’s stalwart supporters in the Republican Party. While the Kentucky Senator continues to place in the GOP’s top ten, his waning support has drawn the ire of his Republican contemporaries to call for his dropping out. When asked about whether or not Paul supporters would be a low hanging fruit, the general consensus is no. “I’m looking for new voters. Those in the Republican Party are too hard to get out.” Marc Feldman told me. “I would be surprised if “Rand Paul the Republican” voters would even vote for Rand Paul the Libertarian”.

“There’s a reason they’re supporting Republicans” Perry agreed, before pointing to number of votes the Constitution Party’s 2008 nominee Chuck Baldwin and Gary Johnson, the two candidates who were most expected to profit from the elder Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 runs, ultimately achieved.

Nicholas Sarwark address the crowd
Nicholas Sarwark address the crowd

Nicholas Sarwark, the chairman of the National Libertarian Party, also attended the party convention as the keynote speaker. Sarwark gave an impassioned speech about standing with the party and how the national party seeks to run over 1,000 candidates in 2016. More importantly, he harped on the significance of working together and how the path to success for the Libertarian Party is to learn how to agree to not agree on every little thing and accept new members as they come. A shout of “statist!” was heard when he discussed a potential voter with a fondness of public schooling, as if to underscore his message. “It’s a wonderful word that means nothing to anyone outside of this group, and it’s mean!” he said, over applause.

The overall mood of the convention debate was that every candidate held their own, but some definitely won their New England peers over better than others. “Feldman did well- all of them did well” said Michael Coombes, a faithful member of the Libertarian Party told me. “But right now I would vote for Kerbel.”

Guests overall had a pleasant experience
Guests overall had a pleasant experience

Echoing him was Don Graham, a state committee member and delegate to the national convention. “The winner was Kerbel”, Don said, “but the party consists of reformers, minarchists, anarchists, and sometimes we walk over each other […] If we want to put a Libertarian Party president in office, we all need to work together.”

Sarwark himself was even very satisfied with the debate of the day, and content with the choices his party will have going into election season. “I think our candidates well represent everyone. I appreciate everyone who comes out to do this.” he told me. “The Libertarian nomination process is still one where the candidates have to work for delegates. It’s still very much a retail process.”

The Libertarian Party was founded in Colorado in 1971, and is dedicated to “Minimum Government and Maximum Freedom.” The 2016 Libertarian Party National Presidential Nominating Convention will be held at the Rosen Centre Hotel & Resort in Orlando Florida from May 27th to May 30th.

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North Brookfield man sets sights on U.S. Senate

Interview was originally conducted in the Fall of 2012, and the article posted that September 13th.
North Brookfield man looks to win U.S. Senate seat
By: Joshua Evan

Bill Cimbrelo, a North Brookfield resident, believes he has what it takes to defeat Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, fluent in Spanish; as well as English, and originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cimbrelo doesn’t have a background like your average candidate for Senate. However, that hasn’t stopped him from mounting a surprise campaign out of the small town of North Brookfield.

Photo courtesy of Occupy Boston

Sitting down with Mr. Cimbrelo in his North Brookfield home, he wasted no time and made no allusions about running for Massachusetts’ Junior Senate seat. “I’m not a professional politician. I have no [long-term] political aspirations to run for office.” said Cimbrelo. Identifying as socially liberal, but fiscally conservative, Cimbrelo believes that partisan politics have caused more harm than good; “Our country is being pulled apart at the seams by party politics [and] Obama and Romney, Brown and Warren, they aren’t tackling any of the real issues.”

But just what issues are those? To Cimbrelo, the outsourcing of jobs is one, and one that hits close to home. Cimbrelo, who had a career in the metal finishing industries and later in system design for water purification, found both of his careers eventually outsourced to cheaper foreign labor. “None of the companies I worked for exist anymore; they’ve all been swallowed up.” He laments. Cimbrelo, also a father, finds one in the future of college students; “We have 100,000 kids we’re trying to make up for plus todays and tomorrows. The College student crisis [is] going to be much bigger than the mortgage crisis. “

As a business owner and entrepreneur, Cimbrelo hopes to integrate personal experience into the Senate to turn that around. “I ran a home remodeling business for seven years until I had to file for bankruptcy in 2007, then I ended up starting a small handy-man business and it was gone in six months.” Seeing a re-established tax base and a mutual relationship between employer and employee as vital to the road to recovery, Cimbrelo proposes new businesses be given a three year start-up period where they would be exempt from certain taxes. Also acknowledging trained hands as very important, Cimbrelo supports that, if they so choose, a person’s unemployment be handed to their employer, who would then pay the employee for their labor so they can receive that money while generating new skills.

Elsewhere, Cimbrelo falls across the board. Identifying most with the Occupy movement, he sees college students as our “most valuable resource” and he shares similar sentiments with some of them such as utilizing marijuana as an export and source of tax revenue, funding education and the arts, and cutting the defense budget. However he also shares certain beliefs with the Tea Party as well, believing “Too many fees benefit just the state [and] there are too many rules and regulations that drive away business.”

When asked about the difficulties he faces as an independent, Cimbrelo recognizes that he’s at a very large disadvantage; “I have negligible funds and no campaign manager.” When asked about accepting corporate donations as a possibility he made clearly he will take no form of PAC monies. He also finds I whimself receiving little help from other Independents across the country. “I’ve reached out to Senator Bernie Sanders and haven’t gotten much help.” Cimbrelo however doesn’t let that discourage his efforts and feels a personal responsibility in his actions. “I have to do something for my children and I have to set an example.”

Cimbrelo also makes no allusions that, as a write-in candidate, his chances are slim. Initially not by choice, Cimbrelo was forced to mount a recognized write-in bid after he failed to meet the requirement of 10,000 valid signatures to make the ballot. Write-in candidacies, while accepted as largely disadvantageous, are not entirely uncommon. Millbury native Jim McKenna won the Republican nomination for Attorney General through a write-in campaign in 2010 and Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski successfully won re-election to her seat as a write-in candidate that same year.

With so much concentration on the National impact in Washington, candidates rarely answer what they can do for the average person living off of Main St. When asked what he could do for Central Massachusetts natives to earn their trust and respect, Cimbrelo acknowledged he doesn’t have the vast sums of money to pour into personal campaign ads or even a truck to drive around the state and greet people from, but he can give them something much simpler. “I don’t have a truck, but I can give them jobs. I can bring back jobs.”

Tiffany Briscoe, 2012 Presidential Nominee of the Boston Tea Party

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.

Image
Photo courtesy of the Maryland Gazette

 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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.

Evans:
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?

Briscoe:
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.