Anti-Collectivism in a Collectivist Political Race

kwiatkowskismallVC Note: A guest piece from Karen Kwiatkowski

I like where Rand Paul is taking the national imagination.  Clapper sharing a cell with Ed Snowden, discussing liberty!   Ending the war on drugs and even more astounding – proposing that justice be blind, and applied equally to rich and poor, white and black, politically connected and political outcast?  Allowing an Act to sunset as the Congress “intended”?  This guy is a freaking radical!

As libertarians, AnCaps, Rothbardians, Menckenites, Lysander-lovers and whatever else we are, we should be exceptionally pleased with what is coming in the next 18 months or so.   Towards that end, it might be helpful to lay down a few ground rules in our endless discussion and critiques, of all things political, and specifically of all things Rand.

We could see as many 15 Republicans running in the primaries!  Given the two party national setup created by the Holy Constitution, it could really be a wild west shootout leading to the GOP convention – and what a convention it will be!

The hairy will line up against the hoary, Old Testament thumpers and zombie apocalypse predictors will align and realign against Constitution worshippers and the ragged liberty wing of the GOP.  Candidates include racist autarchs, non-racist autarchs, Neo-Progressives, Neo-Conservatives, bureaucrats, crooks, liars, and pseudo populists.  Then there is Rand Paul.  Stuck in the GOP because he opposes collectivism, hated by the GOP because he opposes collectivism, fascinating to the rest of us because he opposes collectivism, and an extremely dangerous man in Washington because he opposes collectivism.  Predictably, because he opposes collectivism, he stands mostly alone in DC, and voterland sees him simultaneously as a liberal conservative, a conservative liberal, an out-of-touch populist, a patriotic un-American, and idiotic genius.

Leading up to the GOP convention, the odd statements, retractions, clarifications, and pile-ons by the candidates in their political slugfest will become delightful truffles for the rooting hogs we become as we seek to become involved in “the direction of our country.”   The Republicans alone will be delicious, but with Bernie Sanders chiding Hillary, and potentially pulling every old Naderite still in the party plus the whole of the social justice antiwar element, well, it’s going to be just wonderful!

I have yet to become aware of what the third parties will offer candidate-wise, but it is increasingly apparent that what we think of as “the two major parties” are nothing of the kind.  A party must have structural discipline, a creed of sorts, and a semblance of consistency of its candidates to that creed.  Neither major party stands for anything, and Katie Perry once roared about what that leads to.

Without a party creed, code, or spine, the Republican baker’s dozen will be disciplined by the campaign itself.  This discipline will be cat-o-nine-tails style – by pundits, other candidates, cynics, wisecrackers, meme-makers, and the odd viral video or federal crime.   It will be non-stop entertainment!

Photo from Rand Paul's Facebook page

Photo from Rand Paul’s Facebook page

But back to Rand Paul.   Because it really does come back to Rand Paul, early, often and always.  He is driving the train, pushing the train and riding on the train, all at once.  The RNC, the old guard and the crony collectivists in both parties are asking, “Who gave him permission to do that?”  The media is asking “How does he do that?” But the question we should be asking is, “For how long can he do that, and how can I help?”

Towards that end, I’ll propose some guidelines, that if followed exactly as I have described, to the letter, 100% of the time, will absolutely and instantly calm the Internets, and bring a glowing perpetual peace to the blogosphere. I personally guarantee it.

First, if Rand Paul says something about putting someone in jail (like Ed Snowden)  for a few years, he is just being moderate.  Obama, his party, and the Republicans have been demanding Ed’s head on a platter, his body on a pike, his nuts in a vise, and his scalp on a mantel for a few years now.  That said, I do think being forced to spend any time in a cell with retired General Clapper is cruel and unusual punishment, as such would violate the Constitution, and I would be against it.

Second, when Rand Paul likens the ACA (aka Obamacare) and the presumed right to health care as leading to doctors in irons, he does frighten people with the concept of 21st century slavery.  But we libertarians are well-qualified to calm the waters, and take the heat off Rand by reminding people that at least forcing doctors to give us health care is a waaaaaaaay more socially useful kind of slavery than say, having the government force somebody to bake a wedding cake against their will, pay their unskilled employees more then they produce, create millions of college graduates who have to live with their parents and work nights at Pizza Hut to try and pay down their stifling student loan debt, and print fiat money to support the warfare welfare state at the expense of human liberty and prosperity everywhere.  Right?

Third, if you hear that Rand Paul likes somebody, or endorses someone, or was nice to someone in the political world, instead of going off the deep end like some kind of ISIS wannabe, couldn’t we instead just call him a lying hypocritical bastard and let it go?  I mean, he is a politician, isn’t he?  Poly and tick, many bloodsuckers, seriously, he’s probably just after food and everybody’s gotta eat.   What are we, monsters?  I think not!

I could go on, but you get the picture.  Rand Paul is our era’s political Janus – a face for every angle, looking back, looking forward, and more than that, every other candidate in every party wants to be him, even as they fear and loathe everything he stands for.   Hillary started talking about police reform for the first time this week, after Rand’s work on that subject over the six months.  As soon as the GOP pack figures out where Rand is on immigration (THE most important issue EVER) they will know what to they are supposed to say.  I imagine the Libertarian and the Green candidate will both echo something Rand has said or written, and then accuse him of trying to out-green and out-freedom them.

I don’t know if elections matter, and a democracy of the dimwitted and damned right is never pretty picture.  I don’t know if the deep state has nefarious plans for Rand, or whether the Janus act is real, faked or just a private illusion.  But I do believe politics should be both dangerous and fun.  Towards this end, I stand with Rand!

Karen Kwiatkowski is a fellow political activist and commentator in addition to being a farmer, a professor, and a retired Air Force Colonel.  In 2012, she challenged the Republican establishment by running for the House of Representatives in Virginia’s 6th district.  Presently, she serves at the leader of the Republican Women of Shenandoah County.

Vote Berg on June 9th!

Delegate Mark Berg

Delegate Mark Berg

Two years ago today, I sat down to coffee with Dr. Mark Berg, who was at that time a Republican hopeful for the House of Delegates in the 29th district.  Although Harrisonburg (where I live and vote) is outside of the district, I certainly appreciated the fact that he made the hour drive to speak with me.  In that 2013 primary, he was challenging a twenty-year incumbent, a delegate who voted for the Republican-led massive transportation tax hike.

Learning more about Dr. Berg, I came to the conclusion that he wasn’t your typical run-of-the-mill Republican who would advocate a message of limited government conservatism and liberty to the voters before being elected and then switch to support the expansion of state power once in office.  Although he was running against the establishment machine, which is always an uphill fight, Mark Berg won both the 2013 primary and the general election that followed.

I’m pleased to say that Delegate Berg has not disappointed me during his two sessions in office.  As one great example, despite an overwhelming Republican majority in the House of Delegates, Delegate Berg was only one of only two members in that entire body to call for a repeal of the onerous transportation tax hike passed by his predecessor.

Now, the Republican establishment is fighting back against Delegate Berg and he faces a primary opponent.  As you likely know, unfortunately there are many leaders, politicians, and activists within the Republican Party who embrace crony capitalism and the expansion of government power so long as their guys are in power.

Friends, Delegate Mark Berg needs our help.  If you live in the 29th district, I sincerely hope that you will cast your vote for Delegate Berg on June 9th.  However, even if you don’t live in the district, you can still promote the cause of liberty by making a donation to his campaign or volunteering to help him get re-elected.  Regardless of your party affiliation, we need to make sure that people that boldly represent our values continue to have a voice in Richmond.

We need leaders like Delegate Mark Berg in the General Assembly and I can think of no one more deserving of re-election; I was happy to offer him my endorsement in 2013 and gladly do so again this year.

The Substitute Pastor

On this most recent Sunday, I attended a United Methodist Church west of Staunton, Virginia.  Let me take a moment to mention that it this isn’t my typical Sunday routine.  Normally, one can find me in the exact same seat every week in the congregation of RISE in downtown Harrisonburg.

However, many months ago I inquired I how could help give back to my church and, as such, I was asked if I would go to other Methodist churches in the area from time to time.  I guess you could say that I would serve as an ambassador for RISE, telling other congregations about our church and asking them for financial support.  As RISE has a large college age population, they certainly can use help from outside the church.  I suppose that I must have been fairly successful at my mission (or perhaps no one else cared to do it) for I have been called into service many times.  I’ve visited churches in Page, Rockingham, Augusta, and Highland Counties.

Although I have to confess I was very nervous the first time I spoke to a congregation where I knew no one, I soon came to enjoy this duty and looked forward to my assignments.  Not surprisingly, no two churches have been alike and, as such, I’ve tried to offer a slightly different message at each so that if someone happened to hear my speech more than once, they might be able to learn something new about both RISE and my spiritual journey.  However, despite the fact that I’ve visited about dozen or so churches thus far, I have to admit that this Sunday was a totally new experience.

When I arrived at the small wooden structure, two members of the church stood outside greeting folks as they entered.  As typical, I wore my RISE t-shirt so that I could be easily identified as a guest from the RISE community.  When I stepped inside, I said hello to the parishioners gathered within.  After doing so, one took me aside and asked what scripture reading I would be including with my sermon.  “What?”  I asked.  Even though I had spoken to many churches before, my talk was only a small part of the service, never intended to be the bulk of the service itself.  In addition, I was told that I was expected to lead every aspect of worship, from the opening prayer, to the offering, to the closing benediction.  I looked around to find any member of the clergy, wondering if I was part of some late April Fools joke, but the woman was perfectly serious.  Therefore, I spent the final five minutes before the service began hastily scouring the Bible I brought with me searching for a suitable passage.  Once I picked one out, it was time to begin.

I wish I could say that every aspect of the service went well, but considering I have had no experience or training in either leading a worship service or giving a sermon, I tried to do my best.  I felt my message wasn’t particularly well-suited for the main sermon, but as it was the only message I had prepared, I didn’t have any other option.  As a side note, during the time when the congregation offered personal prayer concerns, I asked them to pray for my pastor as she has been temporarily suspended from the church as a result of following her conscience.

Once the service was over, following the example of other pastors I’ve observed, I did my best to speak to many of the members of the congregation.  The last fellow who approached me mentioned that he thought he had seen me on TV at some point and I said it was likely as a result of my run for Harrisonburg City Council in 2014.  I added, however, that the election didn’t work out so well.  He responded by observing that it was possible that the result was a better outcome for me.  And, as I thought about it for moment, I realized that it was quite likely that he was right.

On the drive home to Harrisonburg, I thought about this adventure, wondering how the idea of my visiting this church somehow morphed into me temporarily leading it.  I suppose that some people would have been upset by this miscommunication and being asked to serve as an impromptu substitute pastor.  Yes, I have to admit that I was troubled at first; but I’ve taken some time to consider it over the last thirty hours and I have to admit that I appreciated the opportunity…though I wish I had been informed what was going to happen so that I could have prepared and given a far better sermon.  And, as I continued down the road, I thought of a half a dozen different sermons I’d like to give…assuming God ever gives me the chance to preach again.

What an unusual Sunday it was!

Homeless in Harrisonburg

IMG_2912While going to work on Friday morning, I found a woman sitting on the concrete steps outside of the downtown library.  Nearby were several plastic bags, one containing various packaged foods, the other looked to be a blanket.  As we waited to be let into the building, the two of us struck up a conversation.  She was hoping to be able to use the publicly available computers inside.  Somewhat surprisingly, she identified herself as homeless almost immediately, mentioning that she often slept outside in a location several blocks north of where we were sitting.

This woman told me a story of her recent adventures, of a man who was kind enough to volunteer to let her stay with him for several days.  During that time, he drove her to the grocery store to pick a few things.  However, when she returned to where he had parked his car, it was gone and several of her bags sat nearby.

She went on to tell me that she had left a few of her possessions at this fellow’s house, including a computer, but he wouldn’t answer the phone when she called.  When she tried from another number, he did pick up, but immediately hung up when he discovered that she was on the other end.

The woman explained that she had been without work for quite a while and lacked both the skills and education necessary to compete in the workforce.  When I asked about her education, she told me that she was quite smart but she never graduated high school.  In response, I asked if she could get a GED, but she said she didn’t have enough money to do so.

She spoke of her appreciation for the local soup-kitchens and I added that during high school and after college I very much enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer at two of them, but haven’t done so for several years.

As our conversation continued, she mentioned that she had a child, but I thought I shouldn’t pry too terribly much, so I didn’t discover the age of the child and whether s/he lives with her, the father, or some other arrangement.  What I did find rather strange though, especially given her rather dire circumstances, was that she mentioned she looked forward to getting another tattoo…assuming she could ever afford it.

It was at this time I got a call from my contact and so I bid her farewell and walked into the library.  Nevertheless, as I began my work, I couldn’t help wondering more about this woman’s situation. I hoped that she would be able to get back her missing computer, for it was likely the most valuable item she owned and it could serve as a valuable tool to improve her present condition. When I left the library several hours later, she was no where to be found.

Although it may be easy to not give this woman a second thought, marginalizing her by thinking that her problems must be her own fault, a symptom of some mental condition, or simply write her off as lazy, doing so doesn’t really do her story much justice.  Of course, none of us would ever relish finding ourselves in this homeless woman’s position…at the same time, I wonder how many unfortunate events would be necessary to place each of us in her shoes?

But for the grace of God…

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XXIII)

IMG_0210This morning, Andy Schmookler and I (Joshua Huffman) took to the radio waves of 550 AM, WSVA to discuss a variety of issues.  Today, the topics consisted of: recent developments with the TPP, Deflategate and the punishment of the New England Patriots, and last week’s elections in the UK.

As always, you can listen to the podcast of the show on the following link.

Sanders in Charlottesville

IMG_2901Yesterday evening, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) came to Charlottesville, Virginia to speak about the U.S. budget.  Although the venue, a local church, had seating for about a hundred in their sanctuary, over eight hundred people RSVPed yes on the Facebook event page.  Given that Senator Sanders recently announced his plan to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, the idea of such a large crowd wasn’t particularly surprising.  When I arrived, about forty minutes before the event began, a sizable line had already formed.

While the first hundred in line were able to sit in the sanctuary where the talk was being given, the next twenty were allowed to sit in folding chairs in the hallway just outside, and about fifty more were ushered into the basement where they could listen through a PA system.  However, there were about fifty or so more people who milled about outside the church, unable to find a seat inside.

IMG_2898When Senator Sanders arrived, he spoke to those who weren’t able to get into the church for about ten minutes.

Once inside, the program began with a handful of individuals speaking about their various problems related to the need for better healthcare, unemployment concerns, or the high cost of college education.  For about the next forty-five minutes, Senator Sanders delved into a variety of topics such as: big money in politics and elections, climate change, and corporatism.  As he put it, “our job is to uplift the poor people of the world, not sink the working people in this country”.  For each problem, he seemed to advocate the same solution, expanding government power.  To aid the poor, he believes that the proper solution is to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr.  To solve the influence of big money in politics, he thinks that elections ought to be publicly funded.  And to expand educational opportunities, the government ought to fully fund the costs of college as is done in several European nations.

Being a self-identified socialist, none of the ideas he presented yesterday were particularly surprising.  Although the event was billed as a discussion on the budget, he spent only the last several minutes of his speech explaining his worries with the Republican crafted budget.  However, given the variety of topics, I wished that he would have discussed a few of the areas where he and I have some measure of agreement, such as protecting civil liberties and ending America’s role as the policeman of the world.

Nevertheless, I believe it critically important to the health of the political dialogue in our country to listen to a variety of points of view, especially to those with whom you believe you have little common ground.  Therefore, I’m glad that Senator Bernie Sanders stopped in to Charlottesville yesterday; I just wish they would have selected a building at least triple the size so that no one would have had to have been turned away.

The Joy of Competition

Most people view competition as a good thing.  In the world of the free market, businesses competing for land, labour, capital, and profit helps ensures many things: services are offered fairly, employees are given just compensation, and customers get a high quality product for a reasonable price.  However, when it comes to the issue of political competition, I regret to say that our nation is in a woeful state.

Later this week, voters will head to the polls in Great Britain to select members of the House of Commons.  Presently, twelve parties have seats in that chamber.  Moving across the channel, we find varying numbers of parties in other legislatures.  For example, France’s National Assembly has seven political parties and Germany’s Bundestag boasts five.  Shifting over to Asia, we find that India, often billed as the world’s largest democracy, holds an astounding twenty-five parties in its Lok Sabha, and Japan’s National Diet has ten different political parties.  Looking at the neighbors of the United States, Canada has six parties in their Parliament and Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies holds seven.  Quite a lot of choices, wouldn’t you say?

However, as you undoubtedly know, only two parties hold seats in either the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  The situation is the same in Virginia as there is no member of the General Assembly outside of the Republican and Democratic parties in both the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate.

Why is it that we typically have only two choices in this country, and, even worse, often are faced with candidates running unopposed?  Well, part of the problem deals with gerrymandering.  Given that in Virginia we allow legislators to draw their own districts, effectively choosing which voters they wish to represent, they usually do their best to gather citizens who are of their same political persuasion.  Perhaps you’ve never seen them before, but here are maps of the House of Delegates and Senate districts.  I should note that I did not create these images and unfortunately, the person or organization who crafted them did not mark them so they could be given proper credit.  Scan   Scan 2

As you can clearly see, some of the districts are extremely peculiarly shaped, avoiding certain areas, lumping others together, and dividing cities and counties for maximum political advantage.  As one example, the 24th Senate district, pictured in mustard yellow slightly north of the center of the state, will be holding a Republican primary in about a month.  As you can see, this district stretches from the West Virginia border, jumps over the Blue Ridge Mountains, and encompasses some of the people of Culpeper, combining voters from unrelated communities separated by over a hundred miles.  It should be noted that prior to redistricting the 24th was more compact, remaining almost entirely on one side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  However, as the incumbent, Senator Emmett Hanger (R-24), faced a relatively close race from a challenger in the southern part of the district in 2007, the lines were redrawn in such a way to exclude this territory to make certain that his previous opponent, Scott Sayre, had been gerrymandered out of the 24th.

Another issue which squelches competition is the fact that Virginia only recognizes two political parties.  As such, if a candidate from outside these parties wishes to run, he or she must collect signatures to appear on the general election ballot while the Republican and Democratic candidates do not have to face this hurdle.  In addition, the law states that if other candidates jump through the hoops to become eligible, their names must appear on the ballot after both the Republican and Democrat.  In case you are wondering, research has shown, all other factors being equal, that being listed first on the ballot does provide a small electoral advantage.  Also, while the Republican and Democratic Parties are allowed to hold nomination primaries, paid for by the Virginia taxpayers, no other political party or group can do so.  Not the Libertarians, not the Greens, not the Constitution Party, nor anyone else.

As a way to help promote political competition in Virginia, prior to the 2015 legislative session I approached both my delegate, Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) and senator, Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) with an idea to help level the political playing field.  My proposal was that each candidate, regardless of party or lack thereof, would be required to collect the same number of signatures to appear on the ballot.  In this way, the Republican and Democratic candidates would have to follow the same requirements as everyone else.  Unfortunately, both my representatives declined.

In the 2015 session, two legislators proposed bills that would expand political competition.  Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), sponsored HB 1463 which would decrease the threshold for official party recognition in Virginia from 10% of the statewide vote to 4%.  That bill was defeated in committee and, although there was no recorded vote, when I investigated further I was told that Delegate Steve Landes (R-Augusta) was the person who killed it.  Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) offered SB 766 which would decrease the signature threshold for independent and third party statewide candidates to make the ballot from 10,000 to 5,000.  This bill met a similar fate, dying in committee at the hands of Republican legislators.

At the same time, two legislators offered bills that would restrict political participation even further.  Senator Mark Obenshain’s  SB 1060 and Delegate Steve Landes’ HB 1518, are pieces of legislation that would mandate party registration.  Although one can legitimately make the claim that only Republicans and Democrats should be able to select their own party nominees, when you combine that idea with the fact that districts have been heavily gerrymandered to prevent competition, other parties are more or less forbidden to be recognized, and that taxpayers would be forced to pay for party contests that they wouldn’t be allowed to participate in, it is easy to realize this kind of legislation would only diminish political choices further.  Fortunately, both bills were defeated.  Although the Libertarian Party has increased activity in Virginia, as witnessed in the 2013 and 2014 elections, and would likely draw more from the Republican voter base than the Democratic, the simple fact that some legislators would work to stifle competition for their own political advantage is truly horrifying.

As an additional barrier to allowing for greater political choices, there is the issue of the debates.  Whether at the presidential level, or, as was the case with the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial and the 2014 Virginia senatorial, some candidates have not been allowed to participate in the debates.  In 2013, both Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli worked together to prevent Libertarian Robert Sarvis from taking part in “their debates”.  And, in 2014, Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Ed Gillespie agreed to continue the political charade by refusing to appear on the stage with Sarvis.  This type of exclusion is utterly disastrous for competition, will ensure that most voters will falsely believe that they only have two choices, and thus will make certain that they will never have more than two options.

Several months ago, Our America Initiative created a video outlining this troubling situation:

As illustrated by these various examples in Virginia and nationwide, this country has a serious problem with a lack of political competition not found in other representative democracies.  Due to a series of institutionalized rules, laws, and agreements, politicians have gravely limited competition to two parties or less in order to maintain their own power base.  As such, unlike the case with the free market, legislators and political parties have gamed the system and thus have little incentive to improve by following their supposed principles or listening to voters.  After all, when you only allow people a choice between Coke and Pepsi, the public will never know the flavour of RC Cola…or Dr. Pepper…and certainly nothing as radical as Peach Snapple.

Society, philosophy, and life in general has demonstrated that competition is exceedingly positive for the individual in other facets of life like business, religion, and education.  Shouldn’t we apply that principle to politics as well?

Teaching Political Science

A year or two ago, I signed up to be a political science tutor for students at James Madison University.  For the next several weeks, I waited in the hopes that someone local would desire my assistance and decide contact me.  Yet, there was no word.  Days stretched into weeks and, before too long, more than a year had passed.  And with this passage of time, the memory of this project had almost completely  faded from my mind.

However, in February of this year, I finally received an email from a student looking for help.  We met and once I heard his specific subject, public administration, I quickly realized that I had little formal training in this area; therefore, I recommended that he contact a tutor more qualified than I.  Nevertheless, despite my suggestion he was undeterred and wanted my assistance with this subject, so I agreed.

From February to May, the two of us met regularly in what was once the cafeteria of my former high school, Memorial Hall.  Although, as mentioned, I certainly didn’t have a lot of prior knowledge of public administration, we spoke and studied together week after week.  As we progressed, we both learned quite a bit about the subject.  I must confess that I came to enjoy our sessions together and I was gratified to discover that his grades had improved considerably.

Then, before I knew it, the semester drew to a close and our time together had come to an end.  Tomorrow, this student will be taking his final in public administration; I certainly hope that he will perform admirably.

Although I would have preferred to offer my skills in an area in which I am quite well versed, such as American government or political philosophy, I believe that it was a good experience for both of us and an experience that I shall always treasure.

Hopefully, another student will decide to reach out to me before too long…or perhaps I’ll try once more to acquire a graduate degree in this field that has inexplicably drawn me to it so that I can teach it full-time.  After all, I suppose the best jobs in life are the ones that you would do even if they weren’t paying; for me, that includes learning about and discussing politics.

A Bittersweet Anniversary

Photo taken by Jason Lenhart.  Image from the from page of the Daily News Record, April 25th, 2014

Photo taken by Jason Lenhart. Image from the front page of the Daily News Record, April 25th, 2014

On this date last year, I announced to Facebook and the Harrisonburg community that I would be seeking a seat on the Harrisonburg City Council that November.  In that election, I ran as an independent.  Although I had associated with the Harrisonburg Republican Party since the age of fifteen, I had grown increasingly disenchanted with the party over the years as they and their elected officials often endorsed candidates and legislation which stood in stark contrast to their supposed principles.  As a result of our growing rift between what they said they believed compared to what they actually did, I was expelled from that organization in February of 2014.  Once you couple that issue with open hostility from the Harrisonburg Libertarian Party, running as an independent seemed to be the logical choice.

However, that’s not to say that I didn’t have friends in both the Republican and Libertarian camps.  As such, my first official campaign event, taking place on April 24th of 2014, was a signature collection drive on the campus of JMU alongside U.S. Senate candidate Robert Sarvis and 6th district House of Representatives candidate Will Hammer.  An article and photo featuring the three of us appeared the following day in my local paper, The Daily News Record.

In the weeks and months that followed, I learned much, met many new people, picked up new friends, and unfortunately discovered a few enemies.  Having been involved in politics for so long, I’ve certainly seen and faced a lot.

Prior to this campaign, one of my worst experiences centered around a death threat I received while working for Dr. Ron Paul in 2007.  However, soon after making my announcement for council, I received a phone call from some who used to call me the best of friends who promised a barrage of unyielding personal attacks against me if I continued in my effort to seek elected office.  Although I decided to press onward, as you might imagine, this blackmail cast a dark cloud of uncertainty over the campaign, making my effort all the more difficult, and did much to crush my enthusiasm for this project.  As I have been reminded consistently over the years, and last year’s race for city council was no exception, politics often attracts the worst elements of humanity.  However, I should add that while there are certainly those that sought to destroy me, there are others who came forth that evening to lift me up.

April 24th of 2014 was marked by unbridled hope while the following day brought crushing disappointment.  Therefore, even one year later these two days remain a bittersweet memory of the beginnings of my foray to seek public office.

Moore with the Libertarians

Last night, April Moore, a Democratic candidate for the 26th district in the Virginia Senate, spoke at the monthly meeting of the Rocktown Libertarians.  Although a slightly smaller than usual turnout, Ms. Moore introduced herself to the attendees with a brief speech.  Afterward, those gathered engaged in a lengthy question and answer session in order to learn more about the candidate as well as to share thoughts with her on ways to achieve greater liberty through reducing the power of government.

Although the background noise at O’Charlies was quite loud and obscured the recording a bit, hopefully this video will provide a little more insight into April Moore and her candidacy.