Our Interview with Allen Hacker

Allen Hacker was the California coordinator of the Michael Badnarik for President campaign in 2004. Currently he’s managing Mr. Badnarik’s run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas’ 10th District.

Mr. Hacker was kind enough to talk with Third Party Watch about the current status of the Badnarik campaign, the Libertarian Party as a whole, and where he sees things going from here.

TPW: How much money has the Badnarik campaign raised to date and how much are you hoping to have raised by the time of the LP national convention in early July?

Hacker: Over $282,000.00 as of June 6th.

As of the end of the first quarter reporting period this year, the democrat had raised less than $20K of which about $9K was a loan from himself, the republican incumbent had $206K on hand but $413K in debt, while we had $52K on hand and only $30.00 in debt (an unpaid bill!). That made us the financial front-runner in the race, and got us some local press admiration.

We’re hoping for $500K by Convention, but that target gets steeper every day: almost $218K in about 25 days, or close to $10K per day from now until then. Not impossible, but to now we’ve only had a few days over $10K, so…it’s a challenge at best.

Let’s see… I need 218 of your readers to go immediately to our contributions page and tender $1,000 each—or 109 of them to deliver $2000 each. Piece of cake, if you look at it that way. :-)

In fact, a million dollars is only 500 people giving $2000 each. 1700 people doing that gets us our entire campaign target and wins the election. I know those people are out there, and we’re finding them. How much is freedom worth, anyway?


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TPW: Aside from his impressive fundraising ability, what do you feel are some of Michael Badnarik’s strongest characteristics as a candidate?

Hacker: He’s a master of off-the-cuff metaphor and simile, which he uses to create simple illustrations that people quickly understand. Like the fireplace metaphor that got him the 2004 nomination by demonstrating that he could effectively articulate the concepts in terms anyone could understand.

He’s totally sincere and dedicated. He says what he believes and believes what he says because he won’t say anything he doesn’t believe. {{whew!}}

He cares about Liberty more than anything, even so much that he would move to the Free State (or even D.C.) if that were his best option to preserve freedom, despite his extreme aversion to cold weather.

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TPW: What other races did Badnarik consider entering this year and why did he select this particular one?

Hacker: Texas Governor, of course, if only because that one was discussed back in ‘04 as a possible next run. Kinky Friedman’s entry was just one reason for passing on that one.

US Senate; Kay Bailey Hutchinson is up for re-election, but like the Governor’s chair, that seat could cost a hundred million, and we didn’t see that happening. Besides, her constituency is not disgusted with her.

Can’t tell you yet why we chose TX Congressional District 10. The reasons and our strategy are the same coin.

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TPW: Can you tell us a little bit about the Concert for Liberty? What inspired the idea?

Hacker: Originally, I wanted to do a battle of the band series with the winners getting a spot onstage with a couple of mega-rockers in front of several labels’ agents. I liked the idea of a Libertarian context to songs like “Won’t Back Down,” “Silent Running,” “Brothers in Arms,” “For America,” that kid of stuff. But one of my resources, a music fan from before birth in the Austin scene, advised me that battles of the bands aren’t much of a rage here, and that a simple concert series might be just as good. So I decided to give that a try.

Of course, my original idea was that the megaconcert at the end would raise big bucks for the campaign where a series of local concerts won’t. The first concert was a success at getting us before a new group of faces, and at getting people who too often don’t vote to reconsider (or discover) their options. I haven’t finished the cost-benefit analysis: it’s not as simple as a billboard.

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TPW: You’ve said that the Badnarik for Congress website will be undergoing a redesign shortly. Obviously without sharing any sensitive information, can you give us any ideas on some of what the new site will include?

Hacker: It will be mostly a new look and feel with some additional interactive tools. I have to be careful with that, however, because a lot of our donors are happy with the look as it is and only want to see the additional functionality without losing the familiarity.

A large part of the redesign will be server-side scripting and templates to make management and maintenance easier and simple to delegate. That won’t be visible per se, except that updates will probably occur more quickly.

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TPW: Considering your district’s proximity to the Mexican border, what is the campaign’s position on the current immigration debate? Has this issue been a major concern of voters that you’ve encountered?

Hacker: It is the number one issue, followed by eminent domain and the Second Amendment.

What’s surprising is that polling shows that Texas isn’t much different than 40 other states, who all agree that the borders should be secured, checkpoints should focus on criminals, illegals should either go home or face the criminal consequences of their actions, welfare incentives should be waived, etc.

Most gratifying to me is that the conversation is beginning to move toward the artificial incentives the US government provides employers to bring illegals in, from the obvious welfare benefits to the not-so-visible cost-of-employment subsidies to employers who can pay illegals less because they have no avenue for wage/hour complaints and because their medical is covered by welfare.

It’s not true that there are jobs Americans won’t do; it’s only true that Americans won’t take jobs at artificially-depressed wages that will turn them into beggars and crash-house drifters.

We plan to make an issue of these factors rather than bash the illegals, but at the same time, we are not sympathetic to the anarchist wing of the party who want all government gone next Wednesday despite the fact that even themselves aren’t well-enough behaved to survive in the lawless world that would result from the sudden freeing-up of an irresponsible and ill-educated populace.

We plan to champion the rights of freely-associated individuals to defend their property as a group, even if that group is a state or country.

We’ll also be taking Mexico to task for violating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ( February 2, 1848), which requires both nations and all their subdivisions and citizens to respect the borders “religiously”, and for financing and supplying an economic invasion at the border. And, we’ll be taking the La Raza insurgents and their liberal apologists to task for lying to their own people and our young people when they accuse the US of taking land away from “them”: the fact is that, per Article IV of that treaty, no Mexican citizen had any land taken forcibly by the United States, not even in taxes if they sold out and moved south.

Finally, we’ll be asking who is really being served by the confounding of this issue.

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TPW: What’s the biggest problem the LP faces today?

Hacker: The biggest problem the Libertarian Party has is the internal friction between the slim minarchist/ minimal government majority and the inordinately vocal anarcho-capitalist libertopian faction. I think this comes down to a misunderstanding by the libertopians of the opening declaration in our Statement of Principles:

“We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.”

This declaration clearly states that the object of our wrath should be the cultism that unthinkingly supports and expands the state beyond all reason. But the libertopians want to make challenging the state itself the object of our efforts. The functional difference is that challenging the state is treating an amorphous symptom while challenging the mindset behind the state is going after the root cause. You can’t take the state away from people who worship it, you can’t even reduce the state without those people feeling that you are diminishing their god and putting them at risk from the environment.

Therefore, the only way the Libertarian Party is ever going to be successful at rolling back government is by increasing individual responsibility. The one thing the omnipotent-state cultists fear most is other people. Yet they never see that they are doing en masse to millions of individuals exactly what they fear individuals will do to them if not corralled by their Big-Mama government.

Anarchist libertopians think that if you strip away the state, people will quickly become responsible. What they’re ignoring are the simple facts that over time people have become incompetent at self-reliance, and there are a lot more aggressive nut-jobs out there than anyone realizes. The public rightly fears a blood-bath of pistol-dominated streets when they think of the government being suddenly gone with nothing else changed.

In fact, the libertopians are themselves aggressive without realizing it. (Most aggressors don’t, not even bell-tower snipers and police.) They use noise, derision and social coersion, and particularly misrepresentation, as their weapons to silence or overwhelm the minarchist majority. Over the years, this vocal and self-righteous minority has wagged that dog to the tune of driving out some million members and alienating the public generally all across the country.

All this is changing, however, and while the anarchist libertopians haven’t yet abandoned their oxymoronic quest to achieve libertopia through a political party they proactively ensure is unsuccessful, the public is beginning to listen to the more reasonable among us. The public understands that liberty wasn’t compromised in a day and won’t be restored in a single election, so they think anyone who says it can be is nuts. The upside is that a candidate or party officer who steps out into the light and tells the truth of incremental recovery is well-received by both the voter and the press these days.

Absolutes are unobtainable. There will always be a need for people to band together for their common defense and good. This is their right under freedom of association. And in banding together, they are also free to decide the nature of their ownership over and defense of their property, even if that is communal in some cases. The idea that each man could successfully defend AND work his own property alone was disproven thousands of years ago.

It’s time for the libertopians to either wake up to reality or move on. Either way, we’re not leaving the fate of the Libertarian Party to them any longer. We’ve seen their result, and it is the very Leviathan they hate, which has grown unfettered while they paralyzed the only group that ever seriously opposed it.

Failure is not an option, and if the Libertarian Party must one more time experience a sudden (20%?) drop in membership as they leave, so be it: the party growth that will follow will be unprecedented and the effect on government through our finally addressing the cult-based root cause will be rapid and astounding. And yet, gradual and comfortable, and accelerating as people finally feel safe enough to try responsibility and mutual respect as the basis of social interaction.

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TPW: How is Badnarik for Congress addressing this?

Hacker: We are ignoring the catcalls from within and speaking directly to the people about their rights and duties under responsible self-ownership, and about keeping the government in its constitutional place. And they are loving it. What our internal detractors do not realize is that for every one of them we alienate, we are winning scores and even hundreds of votes for increased liberty through the reduction of government. A hundred votes here, a thousand votes there, pretty soon it starts adding up.

We are not going to waste ourselves fighting with the libertopians, we’re spending our time carving the omnipotent-state cult-think out of the public mindset: Lighting the Fires of Liberty, One (Tens, Hundreds, soon Thousands, of) Heart(s) at a Time.

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TPW: As you’ve traveled extesively and have a lot of interaction with Libertarians nationally, are there any other races are you excited about this year?

Hacker: Generally, I’m excited to see that so many Libertarian candidacies are reaching beyond the old-school limitation of running merely to educate the public. In parallel with that, I am particularly happy to see that we’re fielding fewer and fewer kooks each year. Now, if we could just get the anarcho-capitalists to understand that this is a political party and not the Hammer of Thor, we could achieve a consensus in support of incrementalism so that we could establish trust and track records with the public and thus gain the inroads needed to effect change.

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TPW: Finally, looking ahead at 2008… do you feel that it’s more important to run candidates for local office or should the Presidential race be the priority for the LP? Assuming Badnarik wins his Congressional race, are there any early Presidential hopefuls that you could see yourself supporting?

Hacker: I believe it’s essential to run sensible, sincere candidates for offices at all levels and not to worry about having a candidate in any particular race. We need to vet candidates rather than enroll them without inspection in vast cattle calls, because it only takes one kook to poison the press and voters against the mere concept of voting Libertarian. Anybody who’s been around the past 33 years should be able to see the truth of that in our own history. On average, I’d say that it takes at least three excellent candidates maybe five years to overcome the legacy of one bad presentation.

Having said that, Yes, there are a couple of people next to whom I’d be happy to stand an elected Libertarian Congressman, and for whom I’d even consult. And then, there are a few, at least one of whom has already declared, that I would foster a primary against. But I’m not prepared to name any names just yet, because I don’t want to preclude the entry of someone I don’t know about yet, who might be the best choice of all.

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Find out more about the Badnarik for Congress campaign at their website:
http://www.badnarik.org

15 Responses to “Our Interview with Allen Hacker”

  1. NewFederalist Says:

    Once again, kudos to Austin. I am somewhat surprised by the lack of comments.

  2. Da Rizza Says:

    Hacker is just that a hack. Badnarik won’t get 5% of the vote.

  3. Allen Hacker Says:

    I love you, too, Da Rizza!

    Who are you, again?

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  4. ABAsite Says:

    Badnarik will get 5% at minimum, and that’s if everything goes wrong. I think he has an outside shot at winning, and this may be the most credible run LP congressional campaign ever. Good interview.

  5. George Whitfield Says:

    Thanks Austin and Allen for a good interview and insight.

  6. Gavin Says:

    Everytime the Badnarik campaign is covered on this site it seems to be picking up more momentum. I’m interested to see how he’s polling at the moment. 151 days until the election, let’s hope Badnarik can pull it off.

  7. Jackcjackson Says:

    I would be pleasantly surprised by anything over 3%

  8. Joey Dauben Says:

    Aside from Ed Clark in 1980 and the Mass. Tax Revolt by Carla and Cloud, the Badnarik for Congress campaign, to me, in my opinion, is the most effective, organized, and structured campaign I have ever seen in my 25 years of life.

    Then again, I wasn’t around in the earlier years of the LP or other third parties. I’d go far as to say this is the most positive campaign of an LP candidate outside of its presidential race - ever.

    I’m a Republican now, but you know, I don’t regret my 2004 vote for president. I do believe, Austin, that this one interview solidified the credibility of ThirdPartyWatch and the third parties as a whole. I’ve been waiting a long time for such an in-depth interview like this…

    CD-10 is a petri-dish of what a third party can do.

    I’d love to see Badnarik TV commercials this year, and I really hope they roll those out.

    You could even go as far as saying the Badnarik campaign this year is like the Howard Dean effect for third parties. I’m talking about fundraising, specifically. Not, it’s not millions, but who has heard of $282,000 for a third party candidate? For Congress?

    For ANY race besides president?

    BTW, one question I would like to have asked the campaign is: are you guys working at all with Strayhorn or Friedman’s campaign? They could in effect draw tons of new voters who would skip voting for the LP nominee for guv, but help the LP in down-ballot races.

    I would think there would be more than just the governor’s race at stake for Carole and Kinky’s campaigns. They could ignite an entire branch of indy voters (a la Perot.)

  9. Otto Kerner Says:

    Am I the only one who finds, “We plan to champion the rights of freely-associated individuals to defend their property as a group, even if that group is a state or country” to be a strange thing to say? After all, the whole point of the state or national government is that it is neither an individual nor a free association. A bit of reflection might reveal that immigration restrictions are, in fact, an assault on Americans’ property rights.

    Furthermore, “We’ll also be taking Mexico to task for violating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo”. Considering that that treaty was imposed at the point of a gun following the Mexican-American War, I would think that a decent person would consider it null and void on the face of it.

    Honestly, I have no problem with minarchists. I am quite sympathetic to the argument that radical measures like decontrolling the border are simply not practicable. What has always frustrated me about the Badnarik milieu, though, is the above sort of eccentric legalism, which is not exactly anti-libertarian, but is certainly tangential.

    I don’t agree with the analysis that the grand conflict within the libertarian party is between anarchist/purists and pragmatic minarchist/Constitutionalists. In fact, what has gradually dawned on me is that there is not (and hasn’t been since at least 1983) a grand internal conflict (apart from the occasional personality conflict) within the LP at all. I think the real problem is simply a generally pervavise incompetence.

    “the anarchist libertopians haven’t yet abandoned their oxymoronic quest to achieve libertopia through a political party”. As a matter of fact, most of us certainly have abandoned the party. Perhaps what Mr. Hacker means to say is that the outflow of anarchists from the party is less than the outflow of minarchists and Constitutionalists. That could be true, I don’t know.

    In any event, if the Badnarik for Congress campaign is somewhat successful, I will be pleasantly surprised. If he is actually elected, I will be enormously, but still pleasantly, shocked.

  10. Allen Hacker Says:

    Otto,

    Thanks for your astute analysis. I love a good discussion.

    As to your point that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed at the point of a gun, I both concede and demur: it doesn’t matter.

    Mexicans are not Incas or Aztecs, they are the descendants of Spanish interlopers, just the same as we are descendants of Northern European interlopers. In fact, there is no part of the world that is proveably occupied by its original inhabitants.

    The sensible and civilized thing to do is to declare a stop point, say “This is what is,” and restart all discussions from there. The alternative is to continue the unfounded limited-history vengeance cycles that have always hampered mankind.

    America is a beacon, both without and within. Within, in that we call to people to come here to be free. But there’s no way everyone on the planet forever can fit here. Besides, who in their right mind would agree to waste 95% of this gorgeous little dirtball? So, we are a beacon without, as well, where we call to other peoples to free themselves and adopt a social organization more conducive to their liberty and happiness. We suggest our own structure, of course, since it worked so well for us while we were using it.

    So the US can’t just be a destination. And, arguing only for the limitations of other people can never accomplish more than cementing those limitations. We must do better than that. Babysitting and rescuing everyone is not the best way, however, particularly when those are attempted by naturally-incompetent government.

    Instead, we must be an inspiration and an unentangled friend to all peoples. Of course, our own people and NGO groups must be free to try to help others throw off the yoke of oppression whenever the call for such help comes in—freely, without government requirement or sanction, as each individual sees fit. Or not, each being free to leave any particular task to others.

    You’re right that the trouble in the LP is not organized but is personality-based. After all, anarchists organizing would be entertaining. But you must consider that the general trend has been that it only takes a few loudmouthed critics to undermine the efforts of a hundred good recruiters. Every time we lose a new crop of recruits to an impromptu purity test, we all lose.

    As for whether our legalism is effectric, I’d say that argument goes to the final arbiter of wh is to be the defining center. The party and its quarreling dog-waggers has generally failed to provide real-world guidance (current efforts might change that, however), so we’re going it alone in Texas, talking to Texans. Since what we’re saying is not anti-libertarian, and is certainly 100% more libertarian than what our opposition are saying, that’s not just going to have to be good enought for our own secretly hard-core selves, but it is the only way to successful politics.

    What should be noted most is that we are making no promises that we would have to break to remain libertarian. That’s got to be the real test, No?

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  11. Allen Hacker Says:

    Joey,

    To give credit where credit is due, I believe Carla Howell raised some $800K in her US Senate race.

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  12. Joey Dauben Says:

    Ah, dang, I didn’t know it was that much.

    Well, the Badnarik campaign ranks real high, just put it that way, at least in my opinion.

    So who will McCaul’s campaign be after mainly, the Democrat or Badnarik do you think?

  13. Allen Hacker Says:

    Joey,

    Won’t comment on strategy, not even what I expect of McCaul. Except to say that I expect he will lose.

    The campaign is not working with Strayhorn or Friedman, but we do have a mutual friend in the Indie Texans.

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