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Politics-LiveI am Nicholas Sarwark, Chairman of the the Libertarian Party, the only growing political party in the United States. AMA!

Aug 31st 2016 by nsarwark • 34 Questions • 2819 Points

I am the Chairman of one of only three truly national political parties in the United States, the Libertarian Party.

We also have the distinction of having the only national convention this year that didn't have shenanigans like cutting off a sitting Senator's microphone or the disgraced resignation of the party Chair.

Our candidate for President, Gary Johnson, will be on all 50 state ballots and the District of Columbia, so every American can vote for a qualified, healthy, and sane candidate for President instead of the two bullies the old parties put up.

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Ask me anything.

Proof: https://www.facebook.com/sarwark4chair/photos/a.662700317196659.1073741829.475061202627239/857661171033905/?type=3&theater

EDIT: Thank you guys so much for all of the questions! Time for me to go back to work.

EDIT: A few good questions bubbled up after the fact, so I'll take a little while to answer some more.

EDIT: I think ten hours of answering questions is long enough for an AmA. Thanks everyone and good night!

Q:

Thanks for doing this AMA. I studied economics in college and have identified with some form or another of libertarianism ever since. I have 2 questions:

1) How do you feel about the negative income tax proposed by Milton Friedman for lower income people? I feel like it could be a pretty uniting issue and is a more responsible type of basic income.

2) One of the issues that has made me step back a bit from Gary Johnson after being a strong supporter initially is his proposal for a national sales tax. The main issues I have are: a) consumption taxes can be regressive, meaning they abnormally affect lower income individuals b) they can have an adverse affect on consumption, which slows the velocity of money circulating through the economy (i.e. the money multiplier affect) What are your thoughts on how to counteract these negatives?

Is there really value in making such a fringe view on taxation such a large part of the party platform?

A:

1) How do you feel about the negative income tax proposed by Milton Friedman for lower income people? I feel like it could be a pretty uniting issue and is a more responsible type of basic income.

It's not part of the platform, but I've always liked the simplicity of a negative income tax as part of a social safety net proposed by Hayek. It's less susceptible to gamesmanship and corruption and has much lower administrative overhead. If taxation is theft (and it is) but people want a safety net (and they do), shouldn't we try to take as little as possible and get as much of it as possible to those who actually benefit?

2) One of the issues that has made me step back a bit from Gary Johnson after being a strong supporter initially is his proposal for a national sales tax. The main issues I have are: a) consumption taxes can be regressive, meaning they abnormally affect lower income individuals b) they can have an adverse affect on consumption, which slows the velocity of money circulating through the economy (i.e. the money multiplier affect) What are your thoughts on how to counteract these negatives?

The regression is counteracted through a prebate, though that gets us back to the overhead issues I mentioned above. The monetary velocity issue is real, though there is some evidence that the currently high velocity is leading to malinvestment as so much capital chases so few opportunities.

Gary's not perfect on every issue, but if you strip off party label and just look at qualifications and character, he's the only person running for President who I would trust with the job.


Q:

What do you think is the route to get rid of first past the post voting?

A:

I don't know the path, but I like the destination.


Q:

I appreciate how the Libertarian party has positioned itself as the only good choice when the alternatives are so bad, but the reason we have such bad alternatives is the plurality FPTP voting system we use.

Why hasn't the Libertarian ticket addressed this and do have a position on comprehensive voting reform?

A:

Why hasn't the Libertarian ticket addressed this and do have a position on comprehensive voting reform?

The party platform supports voting reform. The ticket is running within the system we currently have.


Q:

If Gary Johnson gets to 10 million. Secret Service protection is available to him. Would you recommend he turn it down on principle or take it?

A:

Take it.

He's the best hope for our country, no need to put himself in danger of someone doing something violent.


Q:

Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized Keynes or 1 Keynes-sized duck?

A:

1 Keynes-sized duck.

Single target is easier to dodge and counterattack.


Q:

What is being done, even behind-the-scenes, to get Johnson-Weld's poll numbers up and to ensure they will be in the national debates?

A:

Advertising, including TV, radio, Internet, and billboards. Word of mouth, rallies, earned media coverage. Signs, t-shirts, bumper stickers.

The Libertarian Party has some great door hangers you can pass out in your neighborhood to tell your neighbors about who Gary Johnson is.


Q:

Thank you for your answer. Given all the work going on, what is your thinking on the odds of making the debates? I, like a lot of others, am staying positive, but we'd love to see the buzz growing!

A:

I think the odds are better than I've ever seen.


Q:

Better than two weeks ago?

A:

Yes.

Like in physics and calculus, it's not always speed that's important, sometimes it's acceleration.


Q:

Do you expect the Libertarian party and other non-Republican/non-Democratic parties to ever participate in regular televised debates on policy?
How about debates sponsored by the League of Women voters, since the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) forced them out of sponsoring any more Democrat/Republican Presidential debates?

A:

Do you expect the Libertarian party and other non-Republican/non-Democratic parties to ever participate in regular televised debates on policy?

Yes, I think the time is coming. We have ideas that are increasingly popular and TV stations want to sell ad time. The CNN town hall was #1 in the 18-34 demographic, which is advertising gold.

How about debates sponsored by the League of Women voters, since the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) forced them out of sponsoring any more Democrat/Republican Presidential debates?

Libertarians often do participate in LWV debates at all of the levels below President (which is controlled by the corrupt cheaty cheaters at the CPD).


Q:

If Gov. Johnson is elected, who will comprise his cabinet? Libertarians only? Or will members of other parties be included as well?

A:

He's stated that he would get the best people from the Libertarian Party and the other two old parties, for a tripartisan administration.


Q:

Nick how does the Libertarian Party rally together the purists and the pragmatists? There never seems to be a candidate that pleases everyone.

A:

We focus on the mission and don't waste time fighting with each other.

Remember, "Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands."

If you focus on setting the world free, you don't have time for petty infighting.

Or at least I don't.


Q:

Hello Mr. Sarwark!

I have two questions.

With the increased attention the presidential ticket of the LP has been receiving throughout this election, how is it currently impacting the Party, are you receiving more membership applications or any of the sort?

And, in case the LP makes it to 5% and becomes eligible to receive federal funds... What is your position in regards to what the LP should do with them? Should the party turn them away in principle or should they keep it to help the party grow?

A:

Our membership and fundraising are growing at an incredible rate. Dues paying membership has nearly doubled since the beginning of the year and donations are through the roof.

If we become eligible for Federal matching funds, I think it will be a decision for the delegates at the national convention to make. That's the body most representative of all of the Libertarian Party members, so it's better for them to make the decision than for me to do it (or even to tell them what I think they should do).


Q:

Plurality voting (first-past-the-post) basically guarantees a two-party system. It has worked since 1856 for the D's and R's, and the previous system collapsed not because of a third party but because one issue - slavery - was tearing the nation apart and brought down one of the big two (the Whigs).

So, as things stand now, it is impossible for the LP to win elections, and this has been confirmed every election since the party was founded.

My question is: (when) will the party make voting reform its top priority?

A:

When we're sure that we don't have a better chance of breaking the Whigs.


Q:

How will you address the current situation of the DEA and their lobbying to push kratom, a plant related to coffee, as a Schedule 1 drug? Source

A:

We may file a comment on the administrative rulemaking and will use it as a springboard to talk about why it's evil to lock people in cages for what they put in their bodies.


Q:

Why is it that the Libertarian Party seems obligated to take the full-on no-holds-barred libertarian position on so many issues? What's wrong with a more nuanced, centrist approach that is libertarian-leaning? It feels like Maslow's hammer in many ways.

A:

As Shaw said, reasonable men adapt to the world, unreasonable men adapt the world to themselves, so all progress is made by unreasonable men.

We demand all of your freedoms, all of the time. If we fail to get everything we want, we still get more freedom. See, e.g. cannabis legalization and marriage equality, things the Libertarian Party has been fighting for since 1971.


Q:

What percentage or how many votes would you like to get to consider this years campaign a success?

If there was a change to the voting system away from first-past-the-post, which system would you like to see implemented?

A:

This year's campaign will be a success if the Libertarian Party comes out as a stronger voice for all Americans who want the right to pursue happiness any way they choose, as long as they don't hurt people or take their stuff.

My goal is still to have to go to a Gary Johnson inauguration party.

Proportional representation would help, but it would also change the structure of our government. Approval voting (vote for as many candidates as you approve of) would be a great change to the voting system and help us get past the politics of fear.

The old parties like the current system. Without being more afraid of the other bully, nobody would vote for the bullies they put up.


Q:

Follow-up. If Maine passes ranked-choice voting (will be an ballot initiative in November to do so) would the LP focus in some Maine races?

A:

It would definitely be something we'd consider.

Will that initiative be in time for the special election to replace the Governor? ;)


Q:

Right-leaning libertarian here. I hold Ron Paul as near a perfect candidate as has been found, but was excited to vote for Gary Johnson in 2012 and even attended a fundraiser. I expected to hold my nose on some of the social issues and happily do the same this year.

...and then the comments on the TPP came out. The fact that Johnson would support such a comprehensive agreement on the basis of some guy telling him it may be good for free trade is embarrassing. I can disagree with someone on multiple issues and still support them, but this screams that he's just not taking the race seriously.

Can you convince me that I'm wrong? ...that he is taking this seriously and would recant such a disagreeable decision after taking proper time to research and reflect?

A:

Can you convince me that I'm wrong? ...that he is taking this seriously and would recant such a disagreeable decision after taking proper time to research and reflect?

He's taking the race seriously. The TPP is a massive agreement that has some good things in it and some bad things in it. It's more sensible for him to ask a Cato scholar who has actually read it and analyzed it for his/her take on the overall agreement than to take time away from campaigning to read the whole thing.

But let's say he's completely wrong on the issue. Is there another candidate in the race who you agree with on more issues than Gary Johnson. Go ahead and take the isidewith.com quiz, it'll let you compare all of your positions with all of the candidate's positions.

If you find a candidate you agree with more than Gary Johnson, you owe it to yourself to vote for him/her.


Q:

Is any progress being made with the IAVA situation?

Also, is taxation theft?

Edit: Thanks for answering my question! And anyone who'd like more info about Gary Johnson's campaign for presidency, please come on over to /r/GaryJohnson. We've got 18,000+ subscribers and are trying to hit 20,000 by mid-September. Thanks!

p

A:

For those who don't know, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has decided not to invite the Presidential candidate most popular with veterans to their Commander in Chief forum on September 7th. This has angered may OIF/OEF vets who feel their voice is being stifled by an organization that purportedly stands for them.

I wrote an open letter to IAVA and many people have visited the IAVA Facebook page to share their opinions and review their service. ;)

Our lawyers may be sending them some advice about the difference between nonpartisan and bipartisan and what it does to your tax exemption when you confuse the two...


Q:

What odds would you give Johnson of making the debate?

A:

3:2 in favor.


Q:

If Maine manages to implement ranked-choice voting this fall, will the LP make a big push for state and local positions in Maine?

A:

Probably, but it's going to be a decision for the Libertarian Party of Maine.


Q:

Mr. Sarwark,

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are flying under a banner that represents a wide variety of ideals from left-center or moderate libertarians such as myself to voluntaryists, ancaps, anarchists, and more. There's a lot of variety to pack in and generally agree on.

Both Gary and Bill are intelligent gentlemen, and I get the idea that Gary is the type that yearns for new knowledge. Sometimes that leads him to say things that aren't necessarily in perfect agreement with LP principles. I don't have any problem with that because Gary always seems to think things out or converse with other intelligent people (like yourself).

It's my understanding that Gary talked to you after he acquired more information about vaccines and herd immunity and you guys talked it through and came to an agreement on how vaccines best fit into the LP platform. Have you considered having a similar conversation with Bill Weld about how the 2nd amendment fits? I genuinely feel like he does support the 2nd amendment, and for all the right reasons, but whereas Gary might fumble and mince words over cakes and pork Bill can really turn an intelligent point about firearms into a negative NRA-ILA headline.

A:

I'm open to having that conversation with Bill the next time we talk. I am confident that neither Johnson nor Weld are going to support gun control proposals.

The NRA-ILA's coverage is dishonest and shady. Did Bill Weld support an assault weapons ban? Yeah, in the late 1990s in Massachusetts.

The Republican nominee (that the NRA endorsed) supported an assault weapons ban in 2000 and has a track record of being a liar. Believing what he says about guns or Supreme Court justices after watching the track record of how he treats small contractors is like marriage after divorce; it's the triumph of hope over experience.

But yeah, I'll talk to Bill.


Q:

How has your job herding cats been going?

A:

We had the most professional and exciting political convention of all three of the national political parties and I got re-elected with nearly 65% of the vote in a three-way race.

So I'd say it's been going pretty good.


Q:

the most professional convention

The shirtless guy sure was dancing professionally!

A:

He didn't win.

I did.


Q:

What are we doing to find and recruit down ticket state level candidates?

A:

We actively solicit people to step up and run for office. For most down ticket candidates, that recruiting is done by the state affiliate parties.

Stepping up to run for office is one of the best things that a Libertarian Party member can do. It gives our friends and neighbors an opportunity to vote for someone they can believe in instead of voting against someone they hate.


Q:

I'm no economics major, but returning to the gold standard seems like a horrible idea from what I have read. I will be voting for Gary Johnson, but can you speak to why Libertarians favor the gold standard?

A:

I'm no economics major, but returning to the gold standard seems like a horrible idea from what I have read. I will be voting for Gary Johnson, but can you speak to why Libertarians favor the gold standard?

Some Libertarians favor the gold standard, some like bitcoin, some favor a Friedman static rate of monetary inflation. The thing that ties all of those together is that they are not susceptible to manipulation by governments to inflate away savings or give out special favors to cronies in the way our current central banking system allows.


Q:

As a member of Outright Libertarians, I frequently see candidates from our party who are unaware of how to address issues of same-gender marriage and other LGBT+ issues from a liberty standpoint, do you have any advice for those candidates?

A:

My advice would be for those candidates to listen to people from the LGBT+ community before they speak on those issues and to constantly be trying to better communicate. The Outright webinar on how to be an ally is a great place to start. Thank you for doing it.


Q:

Particularly in regards of how to address those issues from a liberty standpoint and be effective allies for us.

Outright Libertarians is hosting a webinar on a similar issue, would you mind attending? https://www.facebook.com/events/1760236560926438/

A:

Unfortunately the scheduling conflicts with my work schedule, but I will try to catch an archive if there is one.


Q:

Supposedly 60 minutes was spotted at a Gary Johnson rally. Do you know if they are doing a piece on him and if so do you know when it will be released?

I would imagine that would be very good for poll numbers as it reaches an older demographic that currently is reluctant to vote for Governor Johnson.

Edit: Thanks for answering my question! And anyone who'd like more info about Gary Johnson's campaign for presidency, please come on over to /r/GaryJohnson... we've got 18,000+ subscribers and are trying to hit 20,000 by mid-September. Thanks!

A:

I can't confirm or deny 60 Minutes' coverage of Gary Johnson, but this campaign and election cycle has had unprecedented levels of media interest in the Libertarian Party.

At the national convention, we had a press conference with at least 8 cameras and almost 50 reporters from around the world.


Q:

Hello Mr. Sarwark!

Thanks a ton for taking the time to do this AMA, it means a lot to me. As a 20 year old college student, I was excited to vote in my first presidential election this year--until I saw the candidates haha. Until recent months, I had never heard of the libertarian party, but I'm now very interested. I know now more than ever how important it is to make an informed voting decision, especially in this election.

My question for you is the one I'm willing to bet you get the most often: what can you do for me? As an active college student who absolutely loves higher learning, I'm getting discouraged by the rising cost of higher level degrees and how, as a country, we're falling behind in the academic race. What are the LP's thoughts on this, or other things a college student might be interested in?

A:

My question for you is the one I'm willing to bet you get the most often: what can you do for me? As an active college student who absolutely loves higher learning, I'm getting discouraged by the rising cost of higher level degrees and how, as a country, we're falling behind in the academic race. What are the LP's thoughts on this, or other things a college student might be interested in?

We need to end government subsidized student loans. When you subsidize higher education, you create a price floor which inflates the cost of all higher education.

We also need to remove the government favor to the banks that makes student loan debt nondischargeable in bankruptcy. If lenders were aware that a student could have their loans discharged in bankruptcy proceedings, they would not lend for students to go to substandard colleges or to get degrees with low payoffs.


Q:

You say you didn't have shenanigans but didn't a chairman candidate get naked on stage and dance?

A:

He lost, I won.


Q:

Hello, thanks for doing this! I'm a first-time presidential election voter and I'm cautiously optimistic for the future of politics in America. How do you plan on integrating the new wave of millenial libertarians and disenfranchised moderates into the Libertarian Party? I think lots of people my age would be very receptive to the party's message.

A:

Like I said in the intro, our party is the only political party that's growing in this country. If you look at partisan voter registration, every other political party has declined over the last four years. Only the Libertarian Party has grown.

We're welcoming millennials and disenfranchised moderates with open arms. Some will not stay, but I think the majority will feel welcomed and help us keep up our rapid growth until we become the dominant party in the United States.

Time is on our side.


Q:

What is your stance on Right to Work and, if you support it, why don't you agree with Milton Friedman's stance on it?

A:

What is your stance on Right to Work and, if you support it, why don't you agree with Milton Friedman's stance on it?

I support complete freedom of association in the labor market. Right to work makes some thing (firing people) more easy, but makes other things (organizing) more difficult. I'd like labor and capital to both stop trying to use the law to tilt the playing field in their favor.


Q:

What should I (as a registered and active LP member) focus on AFTER this election; In 2017-2020?

A:

Build up your state and local party and help it grow.