North Brookfield man sets sights on U.S. Senate

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.

Thomas Knapp, Founder of the Boston Tea Party and Media Coordinator for The Center for a Stateless Society

The views and opinions expressed in this interview are soley those of the interviewee, and do not necessarily represent mine.

Interview originally conducted over a four day span between the 15th of October and the 19th of October, 2011, and published on August 15th, 2012.

Thomas Knapp is a media coordinator and analyist for the Center for a Stateless Society. Knapp is also actively involved in the anti-war movement and is the letters editor for Antiwar.com. He is currently based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Knapp’s personal blog can be located here.

Knapp also founded the former Boston Tea Party in 2006, and later served as it’s Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008 alongside Charles Jay. The ticket appeared on the ballot in three states and was recognized as a write-in candidacy in a dozen more.

The Boston Tea Party 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.
The Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) is an anarchist think-tank and media center. Its mission is to explain and defend the idea of vibrant social cooperation without aggression, oppression, or centralized authority

Evans:
Thank you for taking the time to do this with me.
Before I start jumping in and asking you all these specifics, there is one question that I feel should get its own personal e-mail.
Can you sum up for readers exactly who is Thomas Knapp and give an idea of what he stands for or has been involved with?

Knapp:
Who is anyone? Is it what they’ve done? Where they’ve been? I really don’t know that I’m special. I’ll try to keep it short:
Born in Memphis, mostly raised in south-central Missouri, currently live in St. Louis, average high school student, after which I became a Marine reservist (infantry NCO in the 1991 Gulf war), quick college dropout and blue collar worker (mostly factory jobs, with some construction, food service and retail mixed in there between the two major factory gigs). Married more times than I care to divulge, [and] three children.
As I got more involved in politics, I transitioned to political work, starting part-time in 1996 and going full-time (and self-employed) in 2000. I self-identified as a libertarian starting in the early 1990s, and somewhat later as an ideological anarchist … who happens to be a federal government appointee, starting during the George W. Bush administration (local Selective Service board member).

Organizations I’ve worked with (incomplete and offhand): Free-Market.Net/Henry Hazlitt Foundation, International Society for Individual Liberty, numerous Libertarian Party political campaigns, Rational Review News Digest (the newsletter I publish now, descended from — and currently co-branded as — Freedom News Daily and Libernet before that, which makes it by pedigree the oldest daily libertarian newsletter on the Internet), and at present I’m also media coordinator and senior news analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society and letters editor at Antiwar.com.
Sorry I couldn’t make it any shorter than that — probably not terribly interesting, but like military mess hall food “it’s hot and there’s plenty of it.”

Evans:
Oh no, that’s excellent. There’s plenty there to start off with as well as describe you in great detail, thank you.

What goals do you or the organizations you work alongside with have for society?

Knapp:
For most of the groups I work with, the primary criterion is “freedom.” On any issue, they’ll ask what approach makes people more free, and support that approach, while opposing approaches that make people less free. The only exception I can really think of to that is Antiwar.com. Their primary criterion is “peace” — but most of them believe that peace and freedom are closely linked, so there’s no real conflict.

Evans:
How do you introduce them into mainstream thought?

Knapp:
For a long time, I was mostly an “inside baseball” guy — not necessarily preaching to the choir, but focused on the choir itself. That’s still the case with Rational Review News Digest/Freedom News Daily. We call ourselves “the freedom movement’s daily newspaper.” Our audience consists almost entirely of people who are already libertarians, and we try to provide them with information that they find useful or interesting.

Of course, I did “external” stuff, too. I stopped counting the published newspaper letters to the editor and op-ed pieces I had published after about 150. I ran for public office on the Libertarian Party ticket and tried to use that to talk to “the people.”

Since becoming involved with the Center for a Stateless Society, I’ve had to focus more and more on “mainstream outreach” because that’s really what C4SS does. We try to reach the mainstream through newspaper op-eds that examine current events and propose anarchist solutions (or anarchy AS the solution).

It’s too early to measure our true impact, I think, but since June of last year, we’ve managed to get about 380 “mainstream media” reprints or citations of our columns. When people in Winchester, Tennessee or Roxby Downs, Australia, or Seoul, South Korea or Dhaka, Bangladesh or Snohomish, Washington read about anarchy in their local newspapers, it’s our stuff they’re reading. Right now we’re averaging about one C4SS column reprinted each weekday, week in and week out, so I’m optimistic that we’re accomplishing SOMETHING!

Evans:
Do you think some of these goals could be achieved realistically in your lifetime or is this something where you’re “sewing the seeds” for the next generation to continue?

Knapp:
I’m sort of middle of the road.

Some libertarians or anarchists think that right around the corner we’ll discover some way to have a free society. Of course, most of those libertarians have been thinking that for 50 years 😉

Other libertarians are incredibly pessimistic — they think that it’s a hopeless task, and that all we can really accomplish is to maintain a “remnant” movement to keep the idea of freedom alive.

For me, I’m reconciled to the fact that I may not — PROBABLY won’t — see a free society in my lifetime. But that doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish some good things, stop some bad things, try some new ideas … and who knows? Maybe some amazing events, good or bad, that we could never predict or cause, will come along to change circumstances. How many people would have believed you if you told them the Berlin Wall was about to come down, the week before it did?

Evans:
If someone wanted to start reading your newsletter, where could they find it at?

Knapp:
http://rationalreview.news-digests.com

That’s the web version. There’s also an email edition (subscription form is at the web edition), and a Facebook version at:

http://facebook.com/RRNewsDigest

It’s a “free” publication. We run some ads and ask our readers to pay us whatever they think it’s worth.

Evans:
More personally, as someone who’s so involved with organizations that either call for Government intervention to be at a specific minimum or for the State to be outright absent, what made you want to stay on board with your involvement in an agency such as the Selective Service?

Knapp:
I’ve wrestled with that one over the years, and I don’t have a pat answer to it. The draft boards exist whether I’m on one or not. Unless the draft is actually re-instituted, it requires minimal effort on my part (a couple hours’ worth of annual training, done online), and I’m not required to harm anyone. Even if the draft IS re-instituted, I won’t be drafting anyone. They come to the board AFTER they’ve been drafted, to ask for a deferment or re-classification. Would I rather it was me evaluating their requests, or someone else? My tentative answer is “me.” If that answer changes, I’ll resign.

Evans:
As someone currently active with Antiwar.com, would you say your past history with the Marines allows you to contribute a different insight then the others?

Knapp:
I don’t set Antiwar.com’s editorial line. I edit their letters column and do some administrative work (moderating comments on articles, for example). So, I don’t think my military experience is very relevant there.

Also, I discount the notion that having served in the military automatically gives one a more informed opinion on issues of war and peace, except in a very narrow technical sense (I may know what a fire team rush is, or what displacement by echelon means, and the non-veteran may not). I know veterans who remain gung-ho pro war, and I know veterans who are dedicated peace activists. So all you can really presume to know about a veteran is that he or she served in the armed forces.

Finally, if you look at the veterans who’ve become peace activists, I’m small potatoes. George McGovern was a B-24 pilot in World War II. Daniel Ellsberg commanded a Marine rifle company in Korea. Of all the peace activists who are veterans, I’d definitely

Evans:
The ground some of your columns have covered is definitely an achievement. You must have some very hardworking members. Are their, and your, efforts for organizations such as C4SS purely voluntary?

Knapp:
I’m not sure what you mean. None of us were conscripted. If you’re asking whether or not we get paid, the answer is yes — when there’s money to pay us with. I don’t remember the last year I averaged as much as the alleged federal “minimum wage” 😉

Evans:
Haha, you’ll have to excuse me. I forgot voluntary means more than just the way I was using it.
But yes, if you were paid or not was exactly what I was implying.

Would you say you see more optimistic members in what you involve yourself with or more pessimistic ones?

I [also] appreciate your statements on the relation between those who served and their involvement in the peace movement. That’s a very interesting subject that I feel people might automatically assume they know the answer too without ever actually asking someone who’s served.

Knapp:
Optimistic, I think. Over time, pessimists tend to just move on to other interests.

Evans:
You mentioned before you ran a few campaigns on the Libertarian Party’s ballot line. What kind of opportunities were you given to discuss your platform? Were there any challenges, misunderstandings, or other memorable moments from the local media or even just from people on the street?

Knapp:
When I was a candidate — for various offices up to and including US Representative –the opportunities I had to discuss my platform ranged from press releases to newspaper, radio and television interviews to appearances at public forums/debates. I’m sorry to say that I’m not that memorable a guy, and was fairly easily ignored! Most campaigns I “ran” were from the back end, as campaign manager or key staff. I tried to help professionalize things in that area, and think I made some real contributions to things like timely/interesting press releases and so forth.

Evans:
Switching gears to another party, you also have a history with the Boston Tea Party, having also served as it’s Vice-Presidential nominee. What role do you play with that party? As the Vice-Presidential nominee, how much was asked of you?

Knapp:
I founded the Boston Tea Party in 2006 when there was a fairly serious schism in the Libertarian Party.
I saw people preparing to leave the LP, and decided that it was important to give them a place to go that they might come back from (as a matter of fact, at our first convention, I proposed that the BTP become a caucus within the LP rather than a separate party, but I got voted down).

There was also some self-interest there — I had some ideas I wanted to try out, and I needed a party to do that. For example, as the BTP’s founder and first “interim” chair, I got to put together what was, so far as I know, the first online national political convention, and to see what happens when you put a group together around a platform that can’t be modified (“The World’s Smallest Political Platform”).

Actually, by way of transition, here are a couple of articles I wrote about all that:

http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2008/06/06/a-brief-history-of-the-boston-tea-party-part-one/

http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/a-brief-history-of-the-boston-tea-party-part-2/

Those leave off at the place where I’m the vice-presidential nominee, but someone else is going on the ballot for VP in Colorado, because I couldn’t get my paperwork in in time.

At that point, an idea that I’d heard before in the LP (I think from Dr. George Phillies) went on like a light bulb in my head: Why not have a different VP candidate in EVERY state?

The idea behind that was that a small presidential campaign without a lot of money could benefit from having “someone on the ticket” in each state to campaign on the ground, since the presidential candidate wouldn’t be able to afford to be everywhere all the time. And on the off chance that we won, the electors would be asked to vote in the electoral college for the “national nominee” rather than for their state’s VP ballot placeholder.

We were on the ballot in four states — Colorado, Florida, Tennessee and Louisiana, if I recall correctly. I was only the VP candidate in Tennessee. We were also registered as a write-in ticket in a number of states, with a different VP candidate in each state (in Utah, the VP candidate was the late Marilyn Chambers of pornographic movie fame).

We got a few thousand votes. Our presidential nominee, Charles Jay, participated in a third party candidate presidential debate at Vanderbilt University, and also had an interview on Fox News. We did what media we could — and on a budget of single-thousand dollars, we ran almost as aggressive an Internet campaign (Google Ads and so forth) as Libertarian Party nominee Bob Bar did with his $1.1 million budget. If I recall correctly, his FEC reports showed about $800 in Google advertising, while we spent about $500 there.

Hey, we had some fun, got our message out as best we could, and gave libertarians who couldn’t stomach Barr/Root 2008 a ticket to vote for. I don’t regret any of that. It wasn’t until 2010 that I gave up on voting and electoral politics, and I still have friends who are involved.

Evans:
So far, we’ve discussed your involvement with organizations like Antiwar.com, The Center For a Stateless Society, the Libertarian Party, and The Boston Tea Party now. Readers will be able to understand the mission of groups like Antiwar.com very easily, and maybe even the Libertarian Party and The Boston Tea Party (even though your BTP is different), as “libertarian” and “tea party” have been media buzzwords.national nominee

We were on the ballot in four states — Colorado, Florida, Tennessee and Louisiana, if I recall correctly. I was only the VP candidate in Tennessee. We were also registered as a write-in ticket in a number of states, with a different VP candidate in each state (in Utah, the VP candidate was the late Marilyn Chambers of pornographic movie fame).

We got a few thousand votes. Our presidential nominee, Charles Jay, participated in a third party candidate presidential debate at Vanderbilt University, and also had an interview on Fox News. We did what media we could — and on a budget of single-thousand dollars, we ran almost as aggressive an Internet campaign (Google Ads and so forth) as Libertarian Party nominee Bob Bar did with his $1.1 million budget. If I recall correctly, his FEC reports showed about $800 in Google advertising, while we spent about $500 there.

Hey, we had some fun, got our message out as best we could, and gave libertarians who couldn’t stomach Barr/Root 2008 a ticket to vote for.

I don’t regret any of that. It wasn’t until 2010 that I gave up on voting an electoral politics, and I still have friends who are involved.

Evans:
So far, we’ve discussed your involvement with organizations like Antiwar.com, The Center for a Stateless Society, the Libertarian Party, and the Boston Tea Party now. Readers will be able to understand the mission of groups like antiwar.com very easily, and perhaps even the the respective parties, but a Stateless society?

There have been populist movements from both the left and the right between 2008 and today about what the role of our Government should be, but they still call for our Government to play a role. Even when people are angriest at their Government, they still work to change it and not abolish it.
So why do you believe we need a Stateless society?

Knapp:
Because government’s like cancer.
You can’t make friends with it, because the incentives that make it work require it to kill you. Yes, you can temporarily put it into remission now and then with chemo or radiation, but the only way to ensure that it doesn’t just come back worse than ever is to actually cut it entirely out.

Evans:
How would matters of personal protection be handled, disputes be settled, and laws be enforced, and what are examples of solutions you have for the problems we’re seeing as a country today?

Knapp:
That’s one I have to plead “no even reasonably short answer available” to.

At the Center alone, we’ve produced around 800 newspaper-length articles, 100 magazine features and 12 scholarly research studies, most of which deal with exactly those kinds of questions.
Anarchists have been making concrete proposals of the sort since the early 19th century (the Center’s parent organization, the Molinari Institute, is named for the guy who proposed that “national defense” could be handled by the market back in 1849). I view the problem primarily in negative terms.

In the 20th century, Westphalian nation-states murdered, conservatively estimating, somewhere in the neighborhood of 170 million human beings. By “murdered,” I mean shot, bombed, marched into gas chambers, etc. That’s not counting incidental deaths caused by e.g. bureaucratic [and] regulatory matters like getting medicines approved.

For example, the 80,000 stroke victims who died waiting for propanol to be approved, or the thousands who died of traumatic bleeds while FDA sat on human body glue for 35 years[,] or the 20 Americans or so a day who die waiting for transplant organs because the market is not allowed to provide them — basically two 9/11s every year from that alone.

At some point, you have to look at the state and realize that from a standpoint of human life and health, it’s been a complete disaster, and that whatever we can come up with to replace it probably can’t help but be better.

Evans:
When you talk about murder and “gas chambers”, you invoke some very heavy imagery. How do you explain to someone that we should be Stateless without provoking heated opposition and even a fight?

Knapp:
Well, obviously the topic is hotly debated by all. I don’t mind a good fight! But in the main, when I’m arguing states vs. stateless with people, I try to point out that if we look at the supposed reasons for the state — to rescue us from the state of nature, “red of tooth and claw,” or to “secure these rights (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — the state has been a miserable failure at those things.

Evans:
What about when someone points to Somalia as an example of why we need a State?

Knapp:
I love it when that happens, because Somalia is a great example.
Their previous state bankrupted the country and left it in a state of civil war. When both warring state factions collapsed, the standard of living began to rapidly ascend.  At the height of its statelessness, Somalia had the fastest-growing economy in its part of Africa. Then the US, using the UN and Ethiopia, started trying to impose a state on it. Every time a new gang of usurpers declares itself the state and starts legislating with US guns to back up its “authoritah,” the standard of living in Somalia plunges. Every time the latest such gang gets sent packing, the standard of living in Somalia starts going back up.

Evans:
Could there be such a thing as a “voluntary Government”?

Knapp:
Of course. Government is just the means by which people regulate their associations with one another in groups. If you’ve ever ordered a pizza with several friends, or shared an apartment, or whatever, you’ve formed a temporary government for the purpose. The state is an organizational [and] governmental type defined by the fact that it claims a monopoly on the use of force in a specific geographic area — whether the people in that geographic area happen to want to listen to its demands or not. The state is the equivalent of pulling a gun to decide the outcome of that pizza-buying association and force everyone to “consent” to anchovies.

Evans:
Between your last response and this one, a friend of mine from Washington told me that some anarchists have joined the ranks of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters as a form of outreach, however they were not met with arms wide open and had their signs blocked out and their microphones cut-off. Assuming that this was just an isolated incident, do you see the joining of OWS as a wise use of time and effort, or are there better ways?

Knapp:
I’m agnostic on the question. I assume that there have been anarchists at OWS from the start. I know when I visited Occupy St. Louis, there were already anarchists participating. The [director] of the Center for a Stateless Society just gave up his apartment and quit his “straight” job to spend all of his time at Occupy Kansas City.

Evans:
Lastly, on the topic of corporations, in an anarchist society, how would they be accepted? Wouldn’t they benefit from having absolutely no State regulations, and how would we punish them if they stepped out of line?

Knapp:
Corporations exist by state charter, and they are defined by specific privileges — limited liability and “corporate personhood” — which only a state can grant. There would be no way for a firm to claim those privileges in an anarchist society, because there would be no monopoly governing institution to grant them. That’s not to say there would be no more problems with misbehaving businesses (anarchy isn’t utopia), just that the problems would necessarily take on a different character, to which the society would presumably evolve solutions. Given that the corporation as we know it has only existed for a few hundred years, we can presumably survive without it.