Christine Austin’s play-by-play of the 2020 Georgia Libertarian presidential debate held Jan 18 in Douglasville. While we await the expertly rendered video, point your Facebook friends here. Straw poll results at the bottom of the page – no spoilers.
Nine Presidential candidates participated the Libertarian Presidential Debate in Douglasville, Georgia on January 18, 2020. The debate was moderated by Jessica Szilagyi, Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com, Fox5-ATL – “Like it or Not”, and GeorgiaPol.com.
During opening statements we learned that Sam Robb wants to make America great again, Kenneth Blevins feels that we no longer have a separation of powers, Adam Kokesh says that America is too good for this government, Jo Jorgensen believes that our task is to demonstrate a practical vision for voters, Vermin Supreme said that he plans to run a serious campaign, Dan Behrman says that taxation is theft and that the message has to reach outside the Libertarian Party, Lincoln Chafe wants to leave a lasting peace to his children, Mark Whitney says that we are not the freakshow – they (Democrats and Republicans) are and that we should trust him because he is trusted by lawyers, and Erik Gerhardt says that he can’t take it anymore because the system is broken.
For the first question, the candidates were asked to list their top two issues. The responses were: Robb – size of government and taxes, Blevins – Congressional term limits and limiting the scope of government, Kokesh – freedom and love, Jorgensen – ending foreign wars and healthcare, Supreme – ending mass incarceration and victimless crimes, Behrman – taxation, Chafee – wars and deficit, Whitney – systems problem because we are down to one branch of government, Gerhardt – wars overseas and taxes.
The next question was about how to address naysayers who think Libertarian ideas are impossible. Robb said that we should look back at our history to the time before income taxes. Blevins said that we need small government at the local level. Kokesh said that we should localize government and create 50 independent states. Jorgensen said that the government is too big and we need to cut and head in the right direction. Supreme said that the bureaucratic industrial complex is the biggest threat and that we need to scale back the bureaucracy. Behrman said that we should end taxation without consent because the government has many other revenue streams. Chafee said that we just need to make progress, get out of foreign entanglements, defer to the 10th Amendment, and reduce unsustainable deficit spending. Whitney said that he has no concept of the word “can’t” and told about how he appealed his case and was eventually released from jail. Gerhardt said that we need technology like solar and we need to bring integrity back to government because corrupt politicians stay in office.
The next question asked for the candidate’s thoughts on trade. Robb equated tariffs to economic violence. He said that when you have something good and you get government involved it never improves. He wants to get government out of trade. Blevins wants to eliminate government regulation and is for free trade with better ability to compete. Kokesh offered one free meal in exchange for your vote in Austin. He said that free trade is a voluntary exchange that creates a win/win situation. Coercion creates a win/lose situation. Jorgensen said that trade should be free between two people and between two countries. Supreme said that trade, like ponies, should be free. Behrman simply said “Free trade.” Chafee said that he particularly likes the Libertarian platform on free trade. He only became a Libertarian one year ago. Whitney is all about free trade. He said that this is the party of free enterprise and free markets. Gerhardt said that his ability to be a craftsman is something the government is trying to keep you from.
Next, Ms. Szilagyi asked the candidates, if they were elected President, how they would balance Executive authority with their values. Robb said he would use executive authority to manage the executive branch. He would stop prosecuting victimless crimes and direct the IRS to stop collecting payments. Blevins said he would look at the people who voted for him and go by the Constitution. Kokesh said that his platform is not Constitutional and that is the point. He would pardon all victimless crimes then resign and declare the Constitution null and void. Jorgensen said that it is about returning freedom. She would pardon all victimless crimes, eliminate the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve, and bring our troops home. Supreme would present ideas to the American people so that they would lean on their representatives or he would just issue executive orders. Behrman says that he can refuse to enforce unconstitutional programs and pardon victimless crimes. Chafee would sell his priorities which are wars, deficit, and liberty. Whitney will not be held hostage by Congress. He says it would be the other way around. Gerhardt would do what the people need for their benefit. He pointed out that immunity from the law requires integrity.
When asked to choose a candidate to support other than themselves, no one was able to answer. Robb said that they all have strengths and weaknesses and he would support whoever was nominated. Blevins said that there are too many good choices and he doesn’t know them well enough to choose. Kokesh said he would rather vote for a baked potato with and L. Jorgensen said that she has voted Libertarian since 1980 and would vote for anyone running as a Libertarian. Supreme refused to play into what he called a “gotcha question.” Behrman said that he would join the campaign and work together. Chafee said that he is too new to the party and doesn’t know. Whitney wants to go for the juggler. He says that he is Mufasa. Gerhardt deferred to anyone with the same moral background as himself. He does believe that the system can be fixed.
The candidates were then given an opportunity to ask question of each other. Robb asked Kokesh about what he would do if he can’t dissolve the government. Kokesh disagreed with the premise that his platform is not possible. He said that the solution needs to be as big as the problem. Behrman asked Supreme what size his boot is and about his lifestyle choice. Supreme said the boot is very big and that he is not at liberty to go into detail about his rustic lifestyle. Kokesh did not ask a question of an individual and chose to ask for a show of hands instead. Jorgensen asked Chafee to define Libertarianism. Chafee defined it as less government, more freedom, and respect for the Constitution. Supreme asked Whitney about his #KeepBanging slogan. Whitney explained that it comes from his days as a door to door vacuum cleaner salesman. It refers to the need to keep knocking on doors. Behrman asked Chafee for his thoughts on our right to consume drugs and junk food. Chafee said that we have a right to put things in our bodies. Chafee asked Jorgensen about her plan for remaining neutral like Switzerland. Jorgensen said that first we need to bring the troops home and protect our own country. Unlike Switzerland, she would not require mandatory gun ownership. Whitney asked Supreme why he wears the boot. Supreme explained that the boot is magical and a very elegant and effective way to get attention in order to spread free speech. Gerhardt asked Chafee why he changed parties. Chafee said that he left the Republican party because of the deficit and war. He was looking for an anti-war party and found a home with the Libertarian Party.
In closing statements, Robb said that we are addicted to big government; Blevins apologized for not being a good public speaker, reminded us of his love for this country and his blue-collar roots, and promised to bust his ass for the working class; Kokesh said that he would give the VA back to the veterans, end veteran suicides, war is murder, tax is theft, politicians are criminals, government is a racket, Americans are too good for this country, and he will dissolve the government; Jorgensen said that she would show courage even when the issue is not popular because government is never the answer. She told us that she ran with Harry Brown and doubled the size of the party and her goal is to double it again; Supreme said that he is a political satirist and you have to own the joke, his goal is ballot access and we should check out his endorsements; Behrman said that the Libertarian platform is ridiculous and that we need to get our message out there, he points out that Donald Trump was ridiculous and won anyway and that perhaps we need a loud, ridiculous voice; Chafee talked about Martin Luther King weekend and pointed to evidence that the government is not trustworthy; Whitney said that it is very likely that it will be a Nazi, a Socialist, and him. Keep bangin’; Gerhardt said that he is a blue-collar guy who doesn’t mind hard work and getting dirty.
An informal straw poll was conducted following the debate. No attempt was made to check Georgia residence or Party membership – all attendees were given equal weight: 3 votes each, to be awarded to the favorite or distributed among candidates.
Adam Kokesh was a clear winner of the informal polling with 48 votes. Strong showings by Jo Jorgensen (29 votes), Vermin Supreme (26 votes), Dan Behrman (21 votes), and Sam Robb (20 votes) were also recorded.
Below are the websites for each candidate who participated in the debate.
Sam Robb – samrobb2020.com
Kenneth Blevins – Facebook, Blevins for President 2020
Adam Kokesh – kokeshforpresident.com
Vermin Supreme – verminsupreme2020.com
Jo Jorgensen – joj2020.com
Dan Behrman – behrman2020.com
Mark Whitney – markwhitney.com
Lincoln Chafee – lincolnchafee.com
Erik Gerhardt – erikgerhardt2020.com