FLORIDA, January 30, 2013 — Libertarianism has found tremendous success across our country over the last several years. Right now, that seems unlikely to change.
At the crest of this political tidal wave has been the Campaign for Liberty. Founded by former U.S. Representative Ron Paul during the 2008 election cycle, it has grown into a formidable organization. With the guiding mission of informing Americans about Constitution-related issues, it has found a considerable degree of popularity among younger voters.
In this first part of our discussion, John F. Tate, the Campaign’s president, explains how libertarianism came to find support among American voters, his opinion of what the Ron Paul movement’s most important accomplishment is, whether or not he expects social libertarianism to gain prominence, if libertarianism appeals to those with left-of-center views, and more.
Joseph F. Cotto: Libertarianism is a philosophy with which most of us are familiar. Over the last several years, it has found serious support among American voters. How did this come to pass?
John F. Tate: The past twelve years have brought one of the most dramatic increases in the size and scope of the State in our nation’s history, with the disastrous consequences of out-of-control government leading more Americans to rediscover the ideas and message of liberty. Grassroots activists are especially outraged that government has broadened its reach - often through heavy-handed, secretive tactics – while ignoring the American people’s opinion. Whether it was the so-called “Patriot” Act, ObamaCare, or TARP and the bank bailouts, most of the significant pieces of legislation that vastly grew the federal government’s power were very controversial or unpopular at the time they were passed.
As politicians from both parties continue to take away our liberties, not to mention our hard-earned money, more and more Americans are realizing it is time to take our nation back. Far from throwing in the towel because of what has happened in our country, Campaign for Liberty believes that, through taking action, spreading the message, and placing unyielding pressure on our elected officials, we can reclaim the Republic and restore the Constitution.
Cotto: Many political forecasters are saying that the future of the American center-right belongs to libertarians; specifically those of the Ron Paul variety. What, in your view, has been the Ron Paul movement’s most important accomplishment?
Tate: When Ron Paul ran for president both in 2008 and 2012, one of his most impressive achievements was his ability to attract young people to his campaign, something the other Republican candidates couldn’t duplicate. In 10-20 years, this whole generation of young people will be the ones running for office or staying involved politically in other ways that bring hope to people who believe in the cause of liberty. Additionally, Ron Paul supporters have become very active in politics and are now a force to be reckoned with on the local, state, and national levels. Our movement is here to stay and here to win.
Cotto: It has been noted that younger fiscal conservatives are far more moderate than preceding generations on social policy. During the years ahead, do you expect social libertarianism to gain prominence?
Tate: While Campaign for Liberty doesn’t focus on social issues, it is clear that the younger generation is mostly concerned about how our wrecked economy is affecting their futures. While our movement is made up of libertarians, constitutionalists, social conservatives, and those who simply feel (rightly so) that their voices were not being heard, we all can come together, no matter one’s views on abortion, drugs, marriage and other social issues, because our economy is a disaster, and government at all levels is expanding its power, taking more of our money, and further eroding our freedoms.
Cotto: Have you found that libertarianism appeals to those with left-of-center views? Or, are most libertarian sympathies held by those who lean right?
Tate: Liberty is definitely non-partisan. Campaign for Liberty heavily organized grassroots support for Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed bill in 2012, which had 274 cosponsors and passed with 327 votes in the House – a clearly bipartisan outcome. C4L is always willing to work with politicians on both sides of the aisle who believe in greater freedom for the American people. While there tends to be more of a right-leaning movement on economic issues, on personal liberties we are joined by people from all views. As C4L Chairman Ron Paul says, “Freedom is popular,” and it draws support from people of all backgrounds and beliefs.
Cotto: National security is a subject on which libertarians are frequently criticized for various reasons. From your standpoint, how might a liberty-oriented foreign policy be described as?
Tate: The federal government will often use war or other crises to infringe on the rights of Americans in the name of so-called “safety” and “security,” ultimately providing neither while actually weakening our defenses by deploying our fighting men and women across the globe as world policemen. Campaign for Liberty has primarily focused on combating the government’s variety of invasions on our civil liberties these past several years. America’s defense policy should be based on the Constitution, including going to war with a proper declaration by Congress.
A constitutional foreign policy would keep America safe, while avoiding conflicts that pose no direct national security threat to the United States. Deter through strength and lead by example.
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