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Meet Steve Kerbel, Libertarian Presidential Candidate

Last month I wrote about why I would support Gary Johnson if he received the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. I explained how I could support a Libertarian candidate such as Johnson without being branded a “purist”, however, I overlooked the fact that there are other principled, non-dogmatic Libertarian candidates in the race for 2016 who deserve a spotlight. This month, I would like to shine a spotlight on one of those candidates: Mr. Steve Kerbel. I had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Kerbel this week. We discussed Kerbel’s strategy for 2016 and touched on a variety of issues, including those that are very important to Outright Libertarians.

Steve Kerbel views his non-existent political track record as an asset as he seeks the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President. While other career candidates spend half their time defending themselves against attacks, he looks forward to spending most of his time attacking Democrats and Republicans for their combined failures. He recalls his past excitement about watching the returns on election night. “That all changed by about 2000”, Kerbel says about when he began to notice just how similar both parties were in their abandonment of Constitutional principles. It was around this time that Kerbel discovered the Libertarian Party, which he describes as a “natural fit” for a believer in individual freedom and fiscal responsibility such as himself. Kerbel also describes himself as an opportunity seeker, but not an opportunist. Having been diagnosed with a life-threatening disorder at a very young age, to developing a  “never say die” attitude that has lead to his great success in the business community, he has learned to take opportunities as they come and achieve them. He questions fellow running opponent Gary Johnson’s commitment to the nomination and his ability to spend 5-6 months traveling the country and promoting his campaign. Kerbel, on the other hand, says he is ready now more than ever to take up the task.

Prior to our conversation, I noticed something unique about the “Road To Reform” page on his website. Unlike most Libertarian candidates, Kerbel provides an outline that states each issue, his first step towards reform, followed by the ultimate Libertarian goal. This is profound considering the libertarian tendency to support sweeping reforms without a step-by-step plan of action. For example, Kerbel explains that while most Libertarians would like to see a day when the Federal Reserve Bank is no more, we need to step back and consider the volatility our global economy. “Ending the Federal Reserve overnight would create a global financial catastrophe”, Kerbel says as he acknowledges the complexity of the Fed as well as the time-consuming process of reining it in. What is his first step? “Begin building a replacement framework backed by the free market that serves to provide stability in our financial market, and the international financial markets that follow ours”. This attitude shows that Kerbel’s campaign is not simply a reflection of his disenfranchisement with the current political system, but rather a serious candidate with ideas that command attention.

Kerbel applies a similar pragmatic approach to LGBT issues such as marriage equality, sex worker’s rights, and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. When asked about his thoughts on LGBT issues in general, he is quick to criticize those who obfuscate the line between church and state in their attempt to deny rights to LGBT people. Kerbel begins our conversation on this subject by referencing Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, in which Jefferson clearly describes the tenants of the free exercise clause as a “wall of separation between church and state”. Kerbel says that our country’s long division on social morality issues is largely due to a failure to understand the original intent of the First Amendment. He has no idea why same-sex marriage and sex-work are criminalized, and believes that consenting adults should be allowed to do with their bodies as they please. On the issue of marriage equality, Kerbel understands that government has no authority to license, define, or regulate personal relationships, but rather than simply “getting the government out marriage”, Kerbel wants to deregulate marriage licensing to the point that government would only serve as a record keeper for purposes such as taxes and inheritance.  He says that legal same-sex marriage is a great step towards deregulating marriage, and he supports the fight for equality unambiguously. Kerbel’s reasoning becomes a little more complicated on the issue of state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that have become a national conversation recently following the Indiana state legislature. Kerbel says that he hates discrimination, but also hates the thought of the government telling people what they can and can’t do regarding themselves and their property. He described the RFRA as “band aid” legislation, meant to soften the ills of previous bad legislation as opposed to fixing the issue at its core. On this issue, Kerbel says he would like to return to the Bill of Rights standard, which allowed for freedom for all, as opposed to passing legislation clearly designed to placate certain citizens over others.

Last month, I expressed my frustration with conservatarian charges of “purism”, by explaining how Gary Johnson presented a viable, pragmatic Libertarian approach as opposed to the outwardly anti-liberty agendas of current Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates. Without seeking information on any other Libertarian candidates, I mistakenly assumed that Gary Johnson was a shoe-in for the nomination. As it turns out, Steve Kerbel has the chance to give Johnson a run for his money. Not only is Kerbel well versed in his articulation of Libertarian solutions for our country, he is also charismatic and relatable in his speech. In other words, he is Presidential. Kerbel cited Ross Perot’s 1992 Presidential run as an example when the American public was galvanized by a charismatic individual who sought to cast out division, challenge the status quo, and return to a government that kept its citizen’s best interests first. With the backing of an established political party, Kerbel believes he can do even better. Without a doubt, I would proudly support Steve Kerbel if he were to receive the Libertarian Party’s nomination.

Find out more about Steve Kerbel and his presidential candidacy at his website.

I Will Support Gary Johnson in 2016 and I Am Not A 'Purist' Libertarian

I am not a purist libertarian. I don’t say things like “End The State”, or “Abolish (insert massively entrenched political institution here)”. This is not because I believe society won't be better off without these overbearing agents of the state, but because this macho-flash style libertarianism does nothing to address the vast injustices inflicted upon Americans now. Issues like marriage inequality, police militarization, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration, all of which disproportionately affect minority and LGBT citizens, are in my mind the most commonly dismissed, and yet most easily fixable issues. Macho-flash libertarians like to dismiss practical solutions to these issues and will instead deliver all-or-nothing, end-the-state mantras that are beyond impractical. Their tactics have nearly driven me out of the movement, until I am reminded that practical libertarian solutions exist to make people freer.


When Gary Johnson ran for President under the Libertarian Party banner in 2012, he brought a much-needed sense of balance to a party gripped by fringe elements. Unlike his predecessor in 2008, Johnson remained consistent in his support for both social and economic freedom. When asked about his stance on the issue of marriage equality, Johnson does not do the conservative shuffle and leave the issue to the states, nor does he pull the libertarian macho-flash by insisting that the government should just get out of the marriage altogether. Rather, Johnson makes no mistake that he supports equal rights for LGBT individuals. He is also unambiguous and firm in his support for civil liberties issues such as ending the war on drugs, repealing the Patriot Act. While Johnson is far from the perfect Libertarian candidate, I would feel much better about compromising a couple percentage point increases on a tax rate, or leaving a few military bases open, but I cannot support someone who lacks the simple dignity of acknowledging equal rights for all people. This is why I cannot vote for even the most libertarian Republican within the current field of candidates running for President.

The status of liberty is determined less by the size of the state and more by society’s respect for individual rights. Of course, scaling back the state is usually the appropriate means to protect people’s rights, but the emphasis should always be on rights. While I can understand choosing a pragmatic approach over ideological purism in a high stakes election, my support for Gary Johnson is based on anything but purism. If now is any indication, I will have irreconcilable disagreements with every major-party Presidential candidate in 2016, disagreements that go against what I believe to be basic respect for the rights of the individual. Through my experience listening and speaking with Gary Johnson, I know he is the kind of libertarian who cares about individual rights, and determines his political strategy on that foundation.

Elections are an opportunity to show one’s disapproval of the status quo. It’s not always about winning. A vote for Gary Johnson sends a clear message to both major parties: Be more libertarian, or lose our vote. One might ask: Is a certain Republican Presidential candidate libertarian enough? The answer to that question depends on the values that led you to believe in liberty in the first place. If you are more concerned about the size of government than the disenfranchised individuals who have had their rights trampled by that government, then follow your instincts and vote Republican. If individual rights matter to you and you are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, vote for Gary Johnson.

Nicholas Sarwark, LNC Chair on CSPAN

Pizza Bigots Are People Too, But So What?

permitWe've taken some criticism from people who take the Indiana RFRA at face value, assuming that because it claims to stand for religious freedom, anybody who opposes it is in favor of the enslavement of bakers and florists. This could not be farther from the truth - it is possible to oppose both bigotry, and bad law, and still be libertarian. In fact, we feel it is a moral imperative to do so!!

Bigotry is not "speech". Its source is the heart and mind, not the voice. If we feel that liberty is worth our efforts to persuade and enlighten, why not issues of social stigma as well? It's irrational to leap from freedom of association to a pro-bigotry stance. They represent two very different organizing principles.

The market is proving its power to solve a problem the state created in Indiana. We should be pointing to that and saying "We told you so", not taking the wrong side and shilling for bigots. Unfortunately, many of our allies in the libertarian movement bring with them a vulnerability to deceptive right-wing rhetoric. This attempt to cloak an establishment of religion in "freedom" is one of those times.

Marriage Equality Or Marriage Privatization – Why Not Both?

There seems to be a lot of confusion among libertarians on how to handle the issue of marriage equality from a uniquely libertarian standpoint. Some suggest that the struggle to remove government from our personal lives requires more than equal marriage rights for same sex couples – I agree with them.  Others adopt the all-or-nothing approach of opposing marriage equality now in favor of abolishing state marriage altogether – I disagree with these people.

Fortunately, the Libertarian Party’s platform makes its position clear:

Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government's treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.

Let’s cut to the chase: The messages in italics are NOT in conflict with one another; it is true that government has no business in marriage to begin with, but the reality is that government IS involved currently, issuing benefits that are still denied for the sole reason of choosing to marry a person of the same sex. Rather than solely focusing on our long-term goal of removing government from marriage, Libertarians should applaud the striking of gay marriage bans as a step toward that goal. Sate-endorsed discrimination is government overreach at its worst. Ensuring marriage equality would deregulate that overreach.

Does the push for marriage equality make the idea of abolishing state marriage meaningless? Absolutely not. My hope is that The United States will return to a common law marriage system in which individuals would not be required to “ask permission” via license in order to establish a new legal next of kin. However, this must be done tactfully.

Recently, Rep. Todd Russ (R) of Oklahoma received much praise from libertarians after he introduced a bill with the intent of getting county court clerks out of the duty to officiate marriage ceremonies. He admits this was a response to a federal court striking down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage and the fear that the Supreme Court would uphold that ruling later this summer. The problem with his solution is that it would not allow same-sex marriage recognition given Oklahoma’s state constitutional amendment banning such unions.

Libertarians who want the “state out of marriage" come in a number of flavors, some genuinely want to liberate all types of families from the clutches of the state, but quite a few more are just masking their discomfort with equality in that rhetoric. We should not confuse the reactionary tactics of those who fear equality under the law with those that strive for progressive libertarian solutions.

So next time a self-proclaimed libertarian refuses to accept the incremental approach of supporting marriage equality before abolishing state marriage altogether, remember this…

A History Lesson for Conservatives: What These People Have in Common

c-b-pI want to point out the historical point addressed by this meme: an ideological critique to the notion of inherited power in what is supposed to be a merit-based individualist society. Having power pass from father to son was the legacy of aristocracy and monarchy … It’s impossible to be a Constitutional conservative and want to be ruled by an aristocracy.

The error in reasoning which leads people to believe that Rand must surely be like his father, is the same one which led humans to submit to hereditary transfers of power for thousands of years, and which leads people to believe that entire families of evil human beings named “Clinton” or “Bush” must be great ideas for President!! Confronting that core idea is totally fair game for libertarian activism within the context of a constitutional republic which our founders absolutely never meant to become anything like what they fought to overcome.

The fact that this escaped nearly everybody who saw the meme is just proof of how far we’ve strayed from one of the most important concepts that fueled the revolution that led to our founding. Go read the Federalist/Anti-Federalist documents if you aren’t aware of what a huge thing that was to both sides of the question – all were agreed that aristocracies were to be avoided no matter what; that power should no longer be passed as inheritance, but that it must be earned by merit.

I believe it is very clear, Rand has not earned by merit the loyalty he claims through his father, and a dialogue about that is useful not only against Rand, but against the Clintons and Bushes as well. The thing they have in common was really important to our founders … It should be important to us, too.

Libertarians Working for You

Our Chair appeared on the Libertarian Party's official podcast today. Listen in to the second half hour and hear about Outright's "cutting edge activism", our Spirit of '69 fundraising effort, and local efforts in Arizona to decriminalize homelessness and relegalize all drugs.

Get the State OUT of Marriage?

10325632 10152058626341596 2745686507946483753 nThe whole "get government out of marriage" thing is a bit overblown. The government in fact does have a role in enforcing private contract. So it will continue to be called into disputes which question whether a particular relationship meets the state definition.

For example, you contract with an insurance company whose partner benefits are linked to the existence of a marriage agreement. Let's say you and your same-sex male polyamorous lovers are bound by a three-way contractual union. And then let's say your insurance decides it does not want to split the payout between your two surviving spouses, because Leviticus says wives not husbands.

The court will be asked to determine and set precedent as to whether that contract meets the standard and must be upheld ... those precedents will become a new version of the same old reflection of social norms: some relationships will meet the standard, and some won't, and this is true whether we have a state monopoly on justice or whether we have a polycentric system of NGO providers.

That catchphrase slogan makes good red meat for the libertarian base, but it's kind of meaningless in practice. We can abolish marriage licenses, but the state - or its equivalent - will never be out of marriage.