Tag Archives: U.S. Senate

Libertarian Candidate for US Senate Seeking to Arm the Homeless

Ann Arbor, MI – A Michigan candidate for US Senate, Brian Ellison, who is expected to be the Libertarian party’s candidate in the November midterm election, set his sights on raising at least $10,000 to buy 20 pump-action shotguns and provide training for homeless people. Ellison is calling his fundraising campaign “Arm the Homeless,” and the drive has already made international news.

Saying that homeless people are “constantly victims of violent crime,” Ellison believes that providing the homeless with firearms to defend themselves would serve to act as a deterrent.

A 2014 study, entitled Violence and Victims, highlights the disparity in violent victimization of homeless individuals versus the general population:

Individuals who are homeless have an increased risk of experiencing myriad social problems including victimization and violence. The prevalence of violent victimization in the homeless population has been estimated to range from 14% to 21% and approximately one-third report having witnessed a physical attack on another person who was homeless. This rate of violence is highly disparate when compared to the general population in which only 2% report experiencing a violent crime.

When Ellison was asked by Michigan Radio if he trusted the homeless people with guns, he questioned why there was judgement and bias against homeless people.

“I don’t know why the homeless are viewed as such a different type of people as the rest of us. I carry a gun with me all the time, and I don’t victimize anyone. I wouldn’t expect that the homeless would use their weapons to fight off the police who are asking them to leave. I think the homeless would use their weapons to protect themselves from being victims of violent crimes,” he said.

“Not only are the homeless constantly under threat from would-be criminals,” said Ellison, “but they are also under threat from governments at various levels that criminalize activities that homeless people rely on for survival.”

Ellison, a veteran who served in Iraq, told The Guardian that he decided to run for office “just to try and make a difference.” While he admitted that his “Arm the Homeless” campaign has shock value— meant to bring attention to his campaign— Ellison said he believes that as a third-party candidate going up against well-funded Democratic and Republican opponents, shock value is necessary to break the media marginalization of third-party candidates. And while the shock value gets publicity, he said the true intent of the campaign is to bring more attention to the high rates of violence experienced by homeless individuals and their dehumanization.

When asked by The Guardian, as to whether he thought his plan was dangerous, Ellison responded with a question of his own.

“Well, are you worried about the police being armed with military weapons?” he asked. “I am. The world we live in is a scary world, where the police who used to dress in short-sleeved shirts and carry a revolver now have long rifles with scopes and bulletproof vests and armoured vehicles.”

“And quite frankly that scares me much more than a homeless person trying to defend themselves with a shotgun,” he said.

Ellison noted that he would aim to “pre-qualify” homeless individuals wanting to receive one of the shotguns, and that no one would be forced to carry pump-action a firearm.

“The first thing that we’re gonna do is ask them if they think this is something that would benefit them. We’re certainly not trying to force anything on anybody,” Ellison said.

In addition, Ellison told Vice that “the idea is to go around and pre-qualify people who we think will meet the criteria by simply having a conversation with them and trying to get a feeling of who they are, whether or not they seem like they’re stable, seeing if they have an ID and if they’d pass a background check.”

On his fundraising page, Ellison pointed out that case law provides that police have no duty to protect individuals and highlighted the recent school shooting in Parkland as an example.

How long can we as a society sit back and allow peaceful citizens of this great country to be targeted for those that view them as weak targets? According to case law in the decision of Warren v. District of Columbia, the police do not owe a specific duty to provide police services to citizens. What this means is that as individuals we can not count on the police to protect us, as they are under no obligation to do so. We saw this recently in the Parkland shooting when Broward County Sheriff Deputies stood outside while a gunman killed 17 students and teachers. I believe it is time we take a stand against the injustice and victimization of the homeless.

Although Ellison originally felt giving away handguns would be ideal, he settled on pump-shotguns.

“Frankly I think the ideal weapon would be a pistol,” he told the Guardian, “but due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is.”

Crowd Chants ‘Let Her Speak’ As Green Party Candidate Forcibly Ejected from Debate

Dr. Margaret Flowers, a Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, was physically ejected from a Monday Goucher College senatorial debate featuring Republican and Democratic candidates after she took the stage in defiance of a last-minute rule change that reportedly caused her to be disinvited from the event.

Dramatic footage seen above captured the moment when audience members chanted “Let her speak” as she was being forced out of the building. Some audience members rushed the stage to argue in favor of allowing her to speak and were also subsequently ejected.

Dr. Flowers was invited by the Baltimore Jewish Council to participate in early January. The forum had been scheduled for February 24th and Flowers accepted the invitation. Two weeks later the forum was delayed to March 28th and Flowers was once again invited to the rescheduled event. At the time, no conditions were placed on the invitation. In mid-March, Flowers was informed that she was no longer invited to participate in the event,” claimed a press release by the Flowers campaign.

[RELATED: Green Party’s Stein Seeks Collaboration with Sanders, Calls Clinton ‘Warmonger’]

Saying that too many candidates had accepted debate invitations, the Baltimore Jewish Council reportedly adjusted its debate criteria, requiring candidates to be participants in a contested primary on the ballot who are polling at or above 5 percent.

However, the Green Party is not allowed to place its candidates on Maryland’s primary ballot, and no polls have been conducted which include Dr. Flowers.

I attempted to participate in tonight’s forum because there can be no democracy when voters aren’t allowed to hear from the candidates seeking public office. As a non-profit entity, the Baltimore Jewish Council has a responsibility to let all candidates speak. If it chooses to support a candidate or party over another, it should relinquish its non-profit status, act under the rules assigned to political advocacy groups and not solicit tax-deductible contributions,” said Dr. Flowers.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

Sarah Mersky of the Baltimore Jewish Council told The Real News in footage seen below, “Lots of people did respond, and, again, they were given the information and criteria just as Dr. Flowers was. So, obviously, you’re not going to have a forum with 30 people. No one has a forum with, I think, more than 5 or 6 candidates. And almost every one has just been [featuring Democratic candidates] Van Hollen and Edwards, so…

People are not aware of how corrupt the political system is, and it was made that way by the Republicans and the Democrats to exclude third party voices and that’s why we’re stuck in the box that we’re stuck in — because third parties can’t get through these obstacles,” said Dr. Flowers.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

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Exclusive Interview | Caleb Coulter Joins Libertarian Senate Campaign To Follow His Principles

Below is a transcription of an interview of Caleb Coulter, campaign manager for Robert Sarvis, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Virginia, conducted by Joshua Cook:

Joshua: This is Joshua Cook from Benswann.com, and I’m talking to Caleb Coulter. Caleb, the reason why I wanted to talk to you is because of an article by Augusta Free Press. You’re a political activist and you recently resigned your position with the Republican Party in order to work as a full-time campaign manager for Robert Sarvis, who is running as a Libertarian for the U.S. Senate. He is running against Republican Ed Gillespie and also Mark Warner, who is running in the Democratic Party. I thought it was interesting because you worked hard, you worked in 2012, you were elected to represent the Republican Party in Virginia and went to the National Convention, and it seems like you were a Ron Paul delegate. Is that right?

Caleb: Yes.

Joshua: Ok, I thought it was interesting because in South Carolina, I’m involved with the Republican Party as well, as a Liberty Caucus, and I know a lot of people that are really trying to advocate for a limited government. Libertarians within the party that are really trying to change the party from within, and  a lot of folks have just been frustrated. They’ve been frustrated for a while just because you have a platform that tries to advocate for limited government, getting the government out of your life and trying to advance free-market enterprise, but it seems like there’s no difference between the two parties. They’re both for big government, they’re both for TARP bailouts, expanding the social welfare like Medicare Part D, the Bush years, of course, they are all about the endless wars in the Middle East. They’re all interventionists, even Obama, and, if I can quote from the letter you sent out when you resigned, it says, “It’s time for me to employ myself where  I can freely promote values I cherish rather than submitting them to the tarnish of a party awash in a history of corruption and perversions of those values, and, of course, the Democratic Party is no better. I like an arguable majority of voters am tired of settling for a choice between the lesser of two evils in elections and hoping in vain to see any significant change for the better arise from within the Republican or Democrat party. I look forward to championing the values I believe in through the vehicle of a worthy candidate from a party with principles. I believe that candidate is Robert Sarvis.” Now that really struck me, because it’s something that I believe, and I wanted you to tell the listeners what brought you to this decision?

Caleb: I’ve been working as an activist in politics for a number of years, and the Ron Paul campaign of 2008 and 2012 was actually what tipped me over ever getting involved in actual party politics with the Republican Party, and, yes, I was part of the contingent of liberty-minded activist who saw the Republican Party as potentially a worthy vehicle for advancing libertarian values. People like to cite Ronald Reagan saying that libertarianism is the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and I guess there are many involved in the effort to revive that heart and soul of the Republican Party. It’s true that it has lost its way and being anything that truly espouses and actually works hard to represent those values and instead continues to nominate candidates that don’t really resemble those values very well at all. I think that is what ultimately led me to make this change. That yes, that process is trying to have a stronger voice for those ideals within the Republican Party has been frustrated at every turn. We have been faced with the challenges of overcoming many long-time, well-connected people who have their hands on the leaders of power within the party, both at the state level and the national level. I witnessed firsthand many of the dirty tricks and such that were employed in order to make sure that the grassroots who were taking part in processes like that were squashed out and not given a microphone, quite literally, at the Republican National Convention. Then the continuation of that process that ultimately in this year’s Virginia Republican Convention that nominated a candidate for senate. They nominated another big money Washington insider who  represents the monied, Oligarch class, the Washington lobbyist machine, and somebody who had too closely associated with the Bush administration years, which has been so much part of our efforts is to move the party away from the direction of the big spending, debt-bloating policies of the Bush administration, which Ed Gillespie is emblematic of. So when the Republican Party of Virginia State Convention nominated Ed Gillespie as the candidate for senate, that coupled with the opportunity that came directly to me to have a chance to work for a candidate who really represents a lot more concisely the ideals that I have been trying to champion for years, I took the opportunity. I think that Ed Gillespie just represents a perpetuation of the status quo, and Robert Sarvis much more represents the things that I’ve been working for, so in my view, despite the party change, I have been consistent in my effort over the years, and this is simply a continuation of the same effort to promote those principles.

Joshua: Yeah, and you said that the Democrats are no different. And you have Mark Warner, he has a terrible record on civil liberties, corporate welfare and failure to address the debt, and it seems like people in Virginia, they really don’t have a choice.  It seems like Robert Sarvis has refreshing ideas, so tell us why do you believe so much in Sarvis and what he stands for?

Caleb: Let me speak first to the issue of Mark Warner, absolutely. I’m not going to just jump away to the side of the Democratic Party, and like you said, that wouldn’t be much of a jump actually, and that they really seem to be cut for the same cloth. Mike Warner is definitely somebody who is part of again that inner class, big money and politics and policies that really has not represented the ideals that also Democrats cherish, that they defer to in the same way that people are inclined to stick with the Republican Party and would decry a move that I’ve made to leave the party and go work for the Libertarian candidate. I don’t think Democrats are satisfied either with the kind of politicians that their party is raising up and offering as a choice against the Republican candidate, and there is no way that I could dare to support Mark Warner. He represents most of the same policy views, and that’s been represented in even just the first debate, which may end up being the only debate between the Senate candidates. There was an awful lot of agreement between Ed Gillespie and Mark Warner with regards to their ideas on foreign policy, and a lot more can be said about what wasn’t spoken to during that debate as well. Neither one of them seemed interested in highlighting some of the issues that are really present on the mind of the voters about their privacy and mass surveillance, progression of a continued escalation of a militarized police state and the like. I’ll back to your question again which is why I support Robert Sarvis is because I think he is genuinely representative  of the libertarian ideals that like I said I’ve been consistent and championing for myself, for my own part. There may be an occasional issue or two where I don’t feel like I’m completely inline personally with Robert’s views but by and large, I think he is a Libertarian candidate, and he represents ideals such as protecting civil liberties and promoting a foreign policy of peace and diplomacy and free trade, free market ideals and dismantling the corporate cronyist state of the economy that is enabled by government policies especially at the federal level and being willing and courageous enough to address issues that have been long being growing in the minds of voters about things that we need to change that really get to the heart of how we treat people in a fair constitutional republic with due process and such,  such as a protection of Fourth Amendment rights and due process of law, with regard to things like the war on drugs, and one issue in particular it’s about time we got around to re-examining our views on how the war on drugs has had any positive effect, which I don’t think it has and legalizing marijuana, which at this point the majority of Americans believe this is a move we should make, and I think rightfully so.

Joshua: In South Carolina, Lindsey Graham is basically the epitome of corporate welfare, endless wars, a huge warhawk, him and John McCain, they’re like twin brothers, so right now, we have a choice  really between the two major parties of soft socialism and then Marxism. The Democrat opponent, he’s totally believes in a big government, controlling every aspect of our lives. But there  again there is a lot of people, a lot of tea party folks, a lot of libertarian people, independent especially young voters, millennials, they would look at the Libertarian Party’s platform they would totally agree with it. Like yes, I’m totally believing  what they believe, getting the government out of your life, being able to have freedom, getting the government out of the board room and also the bedroom, but they also want to be a party that can win elections. and I like what you said when you said you don’t want to choose between lesser of two evils, and I think a lot of people are getting to that point, but what would you say for those people that are kind of like I really like to build a strong Libertarian Party, but I want to win elections, so let me ask you this, what do you say to them? and also how does the libertarian party start really winning elections and start making this movement more real to them?

Caleb: Sure. Well I’ll start with people need to first and foremost be willing to be a little bit courageous in supporting what they actually believe in rather than deferring to that fear of losing to the other guy who is slightly lesser than two evils. That dynamic is the first thing that has to be dismantled in the minds of voters before we can get on towards a system that actually offers a possibility of victory for a third-party candidate. That is for individuals to decide and to recognize when it’s time to stand on principle rather than deferring to their worst fears, so it takes some courageous action and steadfastness of principle and beliefs to get involved and be willing to put your money in and your action where your mouth is and not just come election day go for the logic of a wasted vote. A wasted vote is one that perpetuates the status quo that everybody knows is broken, and that’s what we’re going to continue to get so long as people support two major parties. Beyond that, I think we are moving in the direction of libertarian movement from the Libertarian Party inching closer and closer to the day where we see outright victories in elections, which is partly because of people I think, I said getting over that fear of hesitation to support the guy who might not be the winningest candidate at the time being, but we’re building a movement here and victory comes as long as people are  ready to just put themselves into it and be willing to work hard for what they believe in rather than just for condition of immediate gratification. Another part of victory is actually having candidates to run, and the more that people get involved in the Libertarian Party and are willing to put themselves out there as a Libertarian candidate, the more candidates that we have the stronger local base of support that we continue to build, the closer we get to the day where the tide is turned. and the momentum is there and the votes are there that actually put some of these candidates in office, and I hope to be a part of pushing the tide to that direction.

Joshua: That’s great advice. Let me ask you this one more question. How is the message of Robert Sarvis resonating with young people especially the millennials?

Caleb: I think it’s resonating with those people more than maybe any other part of the electorate, and the generations above the millennial are going to need to play catch up soon enough, because the day is coming for that millennial generation and the issues that deserve attention are the ones that those people care about, and they drive a lot of the debate at this point. They may not feel like they’re empowered to the extent that they don’t see an awful lot of money or established two major party candidates are giving voice to the things that are most present on their minds, but I think they should be encouraged that the momentum is building where they are. They’re coming of age where they are enabled with technology and touch that can really swing things around and start to shift the balance of power in elections and media and new media. Robert Sarvis’ message definitely resonates with that generation. These are people that are very well aware of the harms that come from a surveillance state where the government is constantly spying on everything you do and say and that the technology now that is so interwoven into our lives has become a tool for surveillance and just knowing anything and everything about people’s individual private lives is something those people balk at, and I think they should. Robert Sarvis is the only candidate in this race in particular who has given any voice to notions that we are doing a much better job of protecting privacy and civil liberties as codified in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Also on the war front again, we have candidates on both major parties who by and  large agree with the foreign policy that we’ve been adhering to for the past several decades, and which I myself was a part of and I think a lot of millennial that are little bit younger than me are a part of which is to protest the interventionism and the adventurism all over the world, the notion that United States is thought to be the policemen of the world. We need to ensure that every conflict on every corner of the globe goes in our favor and even the idea of what that means of some conflicts going in our favor is absurd, also when you look at us funding and supplying weapons to those tribes that have conflict and one day fighting al Qaeda and the next day supplying al Qaeda with weapons because they’re part of an insurgency against a government of some other country  somewhere that we don’t support or doesn’t support us. So millennials are getting sick of war zones at  every corner of the earth that we have had our hands in, and often we have provoked through our policy over a number of years that have drawn blowback to our direction and had unintended consequences. I think they’re more receptive to the notion that we need to be careful in how we choose to deploy our show of force around the world, and issues of civil liberties where people should be free to make choice about how they live their own live and lifestyle and pursue happiness as they see fit. That gets down to things like the ability to get married to whomever you please and to indulge in recreational substances that have no logical reason why they should be banned as compared to some other more harmful substances that are codified in our pharmaceutical industry, and the culture of alcohol and tobacco that are both legal substances. We ought to get around to a point where people can make choices about difficult lifestyle things like that for themselves, and I think the millennial generation is very much into those kind of issues, and their day is coming.

Joshua: Well, yeah. I think the things you’re bringing up are just common sense especially for younger people. These are not radical ideas. It’s just common sense, and I know you and me will just shake our heads like on every topic you touch on like ‘why don’t we wake up and change some of these policies that don’t just make sense?’ and I think the libertarians whether you’re small L libertarian or a big L Libertarian, this is where the momentum is. This is where the energy is in politics right now, and I think more and more it’s leaking to the mainstream, the libertarian ideas. Let’s just talk about Ferguson, for example. The libertarians have been sounding the alarm for years about the rise of the warrior cop, and now you turn on your TV and you see it, you see these armored vehicles, this overkill, these scenes that look like the Gaza Strip, police turning on journalists, gassing them with tear gas, and this is American street. Something  needs to change. I’m excited about your campaign.  I’m excited that you guys are on the ground, and you’re educating people, and you’re giving them the opportunity not to choose between two evils, but you’re really giving them the opportunity for freedom, individual liberty, and I’m really excited about it, and if there’s anything else benswann.com can do, please reach out to us. I give you the last word if you have anything else on your mind.

Caleb: Sure, I appreciate it. One other thing that comes to mind with respect to the millennial generation, like you said, a lot of the things I pointed to earlier seem like common sense to you and me maybe and to other people of that generation. Another thing that hasn’t received all that attention up till now is that new people are part of a new economy that has so much potential that computer technology, new market ideas have made potentially very viable to create a world where giving and being compassionate and helping to create a better world and to heal the world that we live in is potentially on the cusp of being empowered in a really big way and changing the culture of our country and the world in such a way that people are cared for and people are provided for and that the government doesn’t have to be the big hand but serves every bit of its purposes. I think young people are plugged into that notion of possibilities that the internet and new technology is making more and more viable everyday and are aware of the issues. This is an area where young people can understand what it means to have government regulation in the way of a free-market economy that every time we have senators and congressmen are behind the times in terms of what they see happening and they try to start regulating new industries and internet and such and people protest those kinds of things, and they don’t see any reason why something that started as free and has flourished and has provided for so many other possibilities for growth and wealth and healing and compassion and sharing and giving should be restrained and held back by the big hand of government. It’s just one more area where I think young people are tuned to the difficulty there and can start to relate to the notion that we ought to have limited government that doesn’t get in the way of advancements like that. Besides that, I guess just yeah I’m excited to be a part of this campaign, and I don’t regret my move. I know that there are people out there who are upset with me for having done this, and no doubt I’ll have to deal with some of that and things as I move forward and continue to participate under the democratic process, but I’m excited about it, and I think I’m finally come to a point where I feel liberated to be able to get out there and more fully promote this whole measure of what it is I have always  believed in and a champion of, so I look forward to more days ahead where I continue to be able to promote those ideals.

Joshua: Caleb, it was a pleasure talking to you, I think a lot of people are going to be inspired by what you said today and keep up the good work, and I definitely think you guys are growing a great movement in Virginia.

Caleb: Thank you. I appreciate your time, and I do look forward to being able to talk with you some more between now and the election.

Joshua: Sounds great. Sure, keep us updated. Thank you.

Libertarian Candidate for Senate Excluded from Major Debates

Running as a Libertarian candidate, and attempting to defy the two-party system is not an easy task in the United States, and Robert Sarvis is one candidate who knows the many obstacles that come when running for a third party.

In addition to being a current candidate for the U.S. Senate, and a resident of Virginia, Sarvis has had experience as a lawyer, teacher, software developer, businessman, and politician.

In his time running as a third-party candidate, Sarvis has found that he has been excluded from the major debates that are known for putting candidates in the spotlight.

Although he only needed 10,000 signatures to have his name included on the ballot, Sarvis gathered 19,000 signatures from registered voters.

Despite the voter support, Sarvis told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that his exclusion from the debates was influenced by the demands of his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie, and his Democratic opponent, Senator Mark Warner.

It’s incredibly frustrating,” said Sarvis. “It’s one thing to run in a fair process and lose. It’s another thing to see the candidates of the two major parties use the process and try to rig it in their favor.”

Sarvis’ proof that both Warner and Gillespie campaigns pressured debate organizers not to invite him came in the form of an email. In it, a representative of James Madison University’s Student Government Association responded to an inquiry about Sarvis’ participation in the debate, saying, “Both campaigns had stated that if Mr. Sarvis were to be invited to participate in the debate their chances of agreeing to accept the invitation was unlikely and actually committing was even less likely.”

In response, Sarvis called his opponents’ actions “intellectual cowardice,” and he said he thinks it is “pathetic that a sitting senator would do this.

Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, acknowledged the fact that “there is political space for libertarian ideas in this country,” but also said that while Libertarian candidates do have difficulty getting into debates, it is an extremely important factor on Election Day.

It’s hard to draw much attention to yourself if you’re not part of the debates,” said Farnsworth. “The two major parties tend to agree that Democrats and Republicans should control the discourse. The biggest challenge for the Sarvis campaign is something that is totally out of his hands.”

The increase in popularity in the Libertarian movement has even caught the eye of The New York Times’ Robert Draper, who wrote, “Libertarians, who long have relished their role as acerbic sideline critics of American political theater, now find themselves and their movement thrust into the middle of it.

“For decades their ideas have had serious backing financially, intellectually and in the media,” wrote Draper. Today, for perhaps the first time, the libertarian movement appears to have genuine political momentum on its side.