TPW Interview with Glenn Jacobs (aka “Kane”)

You never know who you are going to meet at political conventions. That’s part of what I enjoy about them.

You’re likely to meet authors, lawyers, activists, past elected officials, present office holders, reigning world heavyweight wrestling champions, candidates for office at all levels and…

…wait…professional wrestlers?

OK, you may not be likely to meet those at a political convention unless, of course, you’re at the Libertarian National Convention.

One of the convention attendees certainly stands out this year. You can’t miss him because he’s six foot, eight inches tall and weighs 300 pounds. He’s the current ECW World Heavyweight Champion…and he also happens to be a Libertarian.

I’ve gotten to know him as Glenn Jacobs from Tennessee. Professional wrestling fans know him as “Kane”, one of that industry’s biggest stars.

Jacobs was available to the media for a special meet and greet on Friday evening here in Denver. Once the meet and greet was over, he sat down for a special extended interview for Third Party Watch.

The Champ said he’s always been “libertarian-leaning” but what convinced him to become a Libertarian Party member was the Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court decision surrounding the use of eminent domain.

Jacobs said the ruling solidified “…de facto government ownership of all property in the United States, which is the definition of communism.” Property rights are among the political and economic issues that call for freedom-based solutions and are what attracts him to the LP.

More importantly, he says, is the consistent application of principles he sees the LP promote on all issues that impresses him.

Jacobs is an avid reader with a specific interest in economics, particularly the Austrian school of thought on the subject. “One of the things that drives me” he explained matter-of-factly, “is monetary studies. You can’t have a free economy as long as the medium of exchange can be manipulated.”

While having a celebrity in our midst has been fun for many in attendance, Jacobs seems to me focused not on his notoriety, but on the people he likes to learn from. One of his favorite parts about being at his first political convention is that “…it’s neat to meet some of the people whose books I’ve read.”

He had nothing but praise for Dr. Walter Block and his “Introduction to Economics for Libertarians’ breakout session (I attended that as well - it was very good).

What about the stereotype of athletes in general - not to mention professional wrestlers in particular - as being somewhere below the genius level of people (I’m writing this as delicately as I can…he is 6’8” and the current world champion, after all…)?

“Oh, man, people would be shocked at the conversations we have in the locker room.”

Jacobs explained that he’s not the only person on the WWE roster who pays close attention to politics. Property rights, the presidential election, business regulations. These all apparently get discussed as the members of the WWE roster lace up their boots in between stints in the squared circle.

The size and diversity of wrestling’s audience, he says, is significant. Recently, Sens. McCain, Obama and Clinton all recorded video messages for the WWE’s fans in hopes of winning over votes in a venue that would not have even been considered as a campaign vehicle just five or six years ago.

“Our audience is a microcosm of the American public. It’s all races, ages and incomes.”

When asked about his opinions of where the Libertarian Party should go from this point, Jacobs said the party should take its cue from Ron Paul and offer sound solutions to not only the headline issues but also the others issues that highlight the LP’s principles.

He wants to see voters be presented with “…an uncompromising vision of freedom and liberty” and singled out increasing government watchfulness of Americans. The “surveillance state”, as he called it, is not only an example of something he says people should know about but also something that he believes sets the Libertarian Party apart from the two larger parties.

When it comes to winning over voters and new members, Jacobs noted that semantics and definitions might be getting in the way to some degree. Noting the budgetary irresponsibility by Republicans, he says fiscal conservatives have been “left behind” by the GOP.

He’s not convinced these people were a good fit for the Republican Party, anyway. “Some of these people are misidentified [by the label of ‘conservative’]” and should be a prime target for the LP, in his view, because many people who have been labeled as “conservative” apply a small-government outlook to issues that extend beyond money matters.

One message he wants to get across to everyone, regardless of party, is to pay attention and get involved: “…you don’t think that government touches you, but it does.”

When asked about a possible future in politics after his wrestling days are over, Jacobs said he’s not ruling it out.

Running for some office is a possibility, but not something he’s planning or even considering at this point. The more likely route for him, he says, would be something involving political analysis and commentary.

For right now, though, Glenn Jacobs is happy to be one of the newer LP Life Members even though his schedule does not allow much time for political activism.

23 Responses to “TPW Interview with Glenn Jacobs (aka “Kane”)”

  1. disinter Says:

    The “surveillance state”, as he called it, is not only an example of something he says people should know about but also something that he believes sets the Libertarian Party apart from the two larger parties.

    Until the retard caucus finishes turning the LP into another Republicrat party.

  2. Mike Gillis Says:

    I’m forgetting the slang. Which wing is the “retard caucus” again? Both factions have names that start with “R”.

  3. Peter Orvetti Says:

    NPR story on LP convention…

    Libertarians Gather, Nominate Top Dog
    23 May 2008
    NPR’s Bryant Park Project

    ROBERT SMITH, host: Denver, Colorado, is the Mile High City and home to delicious omelets if you’ve ever tried one.
    MIKE PESCA, host: Are there peppers involved?
    SMITH: And ham.
    PESCA: Ah, ham, yes.
    SMITH: It’s also the host city for two - count ‘em - two political conventions this year, and the two conventions cannot be more different. The Democrats are going there and they’ve chosen the slow and painful wagon route into Denver.
    (Soundbite of laughter)
    SMITH: Six months of bruising primaries, a slow winnowing of candidates left beside the dusty trail, hundreds of millions of dollar spent, and guess what? Still no official nominee.
    PESCA: And some could argue, like the Donner Party, they eat their own.
    SMITH: We’re still waiting for that. The Libertarian Party? They don’t bother with all this drama. They have no primaries, no caucuses, the members the care enough have taken a plane or hitched a ride with friends to Denver this weekend to hash it all out in person. The Libertarians pick their presidential candidate from the, you know, dozen or so candidates that show up. Of course, getting Libertarians to agree on anything can be messy work. That’s why we’ve brought in David Weigel of Reason Magazine. He’s been blogging about the convention and he is with us now from Denver. Hey, David.
    Mr. DAVID WEIGEL (Associate Editor, Reason Magazine): Hey. Thanks for having me.
    SMITH: It’s great to have you here. We, of course - if there is - you could nominate a most famous Libertarian, it would probably be Ron Paul, although officially a Republican, he ran twice for president on the Libertarian Party ticket, but he’s not in Denver. How come?
    Mr. WEIGEL: Well, he doesn’t want to leave the Republican Party, and I mean, he, at his advanced age, does not want to take a risk and lose this great gadfly job he has in Congress. He was literally begged by the Libertarian Party to run this year. They issued two statements saying that if he wanted it he could have it.
    SMITH: All he has to do is just show up…
    Mr. WEIGEL: Really, yeah.
    SMITH: And they will fall down and they will give him the nomination.
    Mr. WEIGEL: If he parachuted in now and shook some hands, I think he may even win it. And there is one candidate who is running now, who has got less of a chance than some others, but who offered to be his vice presidential candidate if only he would come. So his stature in the party is titanic.
    (Soundbite of laughter)
    SMITH: So, the ghost of Ron Paul still hovers over this convention, right?
    Mr. WEIGEL: It definitely does. There’s, I mean, there are more buttons for Bob Barr than for anyone else, but I - you see a good number of Ron Paul buttons. You see - you can overhear people talking about it, and you can hear every candidate talking about how they will pick up the Ron Paul baton and, you know, run to the next hurdle, because they just had no empirical evidence that people wanted to vote for any kind of Libertarian for a very long time.
    And just this year just in the primaries, Paul blew away the record for the most votes captured by a Libertarian. I mean, it was 900,000 in the 1980 presidential elections, and millions and counting for Paul. So everyone says they’re going to continue the legacy, and there’s, as with most legacies, some disagreement about what that means.
    SMITH: Well, let’s talk about the people who did show up. When I was following Ron Paul in his quest for the Republican nomination, I noticed that his fans could be anything from stockbrokers in three-piece suits to young people to radicals. Who showed up in Denver for the Libertarian Convention?
    Mr. WEIGEL: Ah, that’s - they’re still trickling in and unless something radical changes, a large number of white men, a smaller number of white women, men who, you know, will look at home shopping for used books or possibly throwing anime in the cart when they’re buying those books. I mean, just a certain type of outsider-y but brainy person is a Libertarian delegate.
    SMITH: And you said some of them aren’t even staying in hotels?
    Mr. WEIGEL: Well, it’s impossible to game this out, because there’s two rumors going around the convention. One is that the - among the left-wingers, or I guess we’ll call them the anarchists - radical is what they call themselves - the rumor is that the right-wing forces are trying to take over the party and there’re all these people coming on a bus from Ohio who want credentials at the last minute to vote for Bob Barr. And the other rumor is that all the radicals are coming, just kind of hitchhiking, they’re going to appear at the last minute without reservations to vote.
    SMITH: So, Bob Barr, former congressman and former Republican - I don’t know if he’s officially renounced the Republican part of his name at this point - but he’s mentioned as sort of the favorite there, but how are they going to choose a nominee? How does this work?
    Mr. WEIGEL: Oh. It’s pure open convention. I mean, it’s - every single delegate is a superdelegate, basically, and they are not pledged in any way. A number have said who they support, but not - I mean, they - there will be more than 800, and you need more than half of that to clinch the nomination, and 14 candidates are going to enter this first ballot. Nobody expects the winner to come on that. After the first ballot, they knock off everyone who got less than five percent, and then they keep knocking off the loser until they get somebody.
    And Barr is the favorite. Nobody would bet on him losing, but there is a lot of paranoia about what he’s trying to do the party, and a lot of ill will about what he was like as a congressman. I mean, I was listening yesterday - I talked to the fellow afterward, you know, a city council official from Massachusetts elected, who is married and married to his male partner, and was confronting Barr on that and he felt Barr just gave him a very slippery answer and he would do everything it took to make sure this guy didn’t get the nomination.
    SMITH: Now, the people you’re also talking about as the perspective nominees are among the more mainstream people, because reading some of your blog posts, I mean, there have been parties hosted at this convention by the marijuana-legalization people. You wrote last night about a 9/11 - I want to put this in air quotes - “truth event” at the convention. What happened there?
    Mr. WEIGEL: Well, this group called Libertarians for Justice, which is not affiliated with the Libertarian Party - they would want everyone to know that, I’m sure - just held this multi-hour event with a documentary, an interview with the maker of the documentary, and this candidate Q&A for any candidate who wanted to sign their pledge asking for a new investigation of 9/11.
    So the candidates who signed the pledge, and I - it was former Senator Mike Gravel, marijuana activist Steve Covey, this anarchist author Mary Ruwart, and a couple other people showed up and just kind of got peppered with questions. And there was only about 60 people in the room, but it was a very weird atmosphere.
    And it was happening at the same time as another debate between another group of Libertarians who, you know, consider these people utterly abhorrent. But it was, I think, a waste of time for the candidates, because a lot of these 9/11 truth guys just show up everywhere. I mean, they’ll, you know, they’ll show up to the Hello Kitty convention and put up a booth.
    SMITH: But is there anything that holds this vast array of people you’re talking about together? I mean, can you in one sentence say one principle they could all agree on?
    Mr. WEIGEL: They all agree on the smallest - that taxation is forced and theft and we should have the smallest government possible. Mike Gravel, the former senator who made a splash in the Democratic race of some size, is the one who makes the most concessions to liberalism and to big government. You know, he thinks that you can’t have a Libertarian society without big public education and healthcare, making everyone smart and healthy enough to be Libertarian. The other - but then everyone else wants their - you know, thinks that, in the state of nature, basically…
    SMITH: Yeah. Well, how to get to that is the question, and we will talk with you in just a couple minutes after the break.
    Mr. WEIGEL: Sure.
    SMITH: We’re with David Weigel. He’s covering the 2008 presidential election for Reason Magazine. We’ll be back with you in just a few minutes. David Weigel, stay tuned. This is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News.
    (Soundbite of music)
    SMITH: You’re listening to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. Forget those Democrats for this weekend. Move aside, Republicans. This weekend belongs to the Libertarians who are having their convention in Denver this weekend, and there is our correspondent on all things Libertarian, David Weigel of Reason Magazine.
    We were talking earlier about what the Libertarians believe in and whether they had sort of a core philosophy, but this is actually a big part of their convention, isn’t it? They have to decide on a list of principles, platforms, on what they believe. Is this going to be one of the toughest things that happen this weekend?
    Mr. WEIGEL: Oh, absolutely. There’s a lot of bad blood about what is the Libertarian platform. You know, there is a group that calls itself Restore ‘04 that wants to forget the 2006 Libertarian Convention ever happened. What happened at that convention was that a smaller-than-normal number of people showed up and were able to shrink the platform from 61 planks to 15 planks, and they shrank it from, I think, 15,000 to 5,000 words, and in their view, got rid of a lot of dross about, you know, what the party’s position was on, you know, mining in the sea and on Mars and things like that.
    SMITH: So, to make it more mainstream, I guess, right?
    Mr. WEIGEL: Yeah. Their goal is to make it more mainstream. So the ones who restore all the specific stuff in the platform, they were OK with a shorter platform that has all that stuff in it. And there’s also going to be a fight over whether Libertarians have to sign a pledge saying they are against aggression in all forms at all times, the non-aggression principle, which is a huge philosophical part of what the party believes.
    But the more pragmatic types think that if they got rid of that, they’d be more saleable and they could - there’s the people who want this to be a perfect 100 percent party that agrees with them and the people who think you can become like a permanent, you know, Ross Perot-sized movement if they just get a little bit more mainstream.
    PESCA: David, that leads me to my question which is the Libertarians, or the party itself, are they happy to be sort of a spanner in the works? Do they really think, realistically, they can envision a day where Libertarians as Libertarians will be elected to important offices?
    Mr. WEIGEL: Oh, well, if you phrase it like that, to important offices, then they definitely do. I mean, there’s a little bit of pie-in-the-sky-ism from some of the people here who think they can win the presidency this year. The presidential candidates are mostly saying that and they have to, to keep the spirits up, but they definitely think the parties are so rotten in a couple of these states that they can swoop in and fill the gap. I mean, there are people elected to minor offices. There’s a few mayors. They really think they could get a few congressmen down the line.
    And that’s the discussion, whether they can get this because their ideas are so right that they just hold fast to them and everyone will come along, or if they can get them by reforming, finessing a little bit, and just finding that sweet spot where all these, you know, people who hate the two parties and ex-conservatives and liberals will all swarm over to them and discover how they were wrong all along. Libertarians were right.
    SMITH: David Weigel is covering the 2008 presidential election for Reason Magazine and is in Denver with the Libertarians this weekend. Thanks for coming on the show, David.
    Mr. WEIGEL: Oh, thank you very much.

  4. disinter Says:

    I’m forgetting the slang. Which wing is the “retard caucus” again? Both factions have names that start with “R”.

    Which one wants to turn the LP into another Republicrat party?

  5. Mike Gillis Says:

    The Reform caucus?

    Hell, I’m just guessing. I’m not even a libertarian.

  6. Catholic Trotskyist Says:

    Mike, why didn’t you ask this wrestler about the Fringe Alliance Strategy?

    Here it is again.

    I have developed a strategy based on an alliance between the Green, libertarian
    and constitution parties, the various socialist movements and centrist independents, Kucinich Democrats, Ron Paul Republicans, and other smaller groups such as fascists, feudalists, monarchists and syndicalists, to initiate the following goals.

    1. The electoral college is abolished.
    2. The presidential election uses a national Majority Runoff system. This will change us from a republic to a democracy.
    3. Congress is elected through proportional representation.

    Third parties should spend most of their energies pushing for these constitutional amendments, using graphic protests in public locations. Otherwise, the
    efforts of all of them are doomed to do nothing more than push the major parties slightly in one direction, and ruin the chances of the parties that their
    candidates are most closely aligned with, while gaining such small failing numbers for themselves. The people who visit this site are by definitions on
    the fringes of society. It is important for the fringe to get together. This strategy is gaining the support of many political scientists across the nation,
    and I will continue to post it several times a week here until it is adopted. Fortunately, we have the Obama Revolution to save our country for now.
    The revolution will be televised.
    Please pray for the pope and please pray for Barack Obama. Amen.

  7. Stefan Says:

    Hmm any feudalists or monarchists in the US? Only in Europe and Asia, nowhere in the news world CT.
    Do you ever think such an alliance will get consensus? Well, if all the individuals in the LP can find common ground, then there would not be the need for any party anymore as the full spectrum of views would be represented!

  8. red Says:

    Barr has built a legislative record as being anti-police state since at least 1995. Wasn’t he the one who originally made a big stink about ECHELON?

  9. Catholic Trotskyist Says:

    Stefan, there is an American Monarchist Party, look it up on Wikipedia. There was also a Feudalist posting about a decade ago on the Internet, though he has disappeared now.

    I don’t expect my alliance strategy to actually come into being, but I had hoped that by posting it enough times, it would generate enough interest to have someone bring it up at the libertarian convention. However, I guess that’s as likely to happen as the convention stopping its business to pray for Ted Kennedy, as they should. That is, not very likely.

  10. Shawn Levasseur Says:

    Did Glenn bring his pyro effects with him. Maybe that would be what set of the fire alarm during the business session on Friday. ;)

    Y’know, it’s pretty sad when this is the first comment that actually has something to do with the article. Please keep the trolling to relevant posts only.

  11. Stefan Says:

    CT why did you not go to Denver to propagate your idea, after all you can then be prepared for the DNC, that will also be in Denver in August. Would you not propagate an Obama-Paul ticket? I guess we can have a McCain-Clinton one then
    also: now that would be an interesting race and alliances, I guarantee you!

  12. Bill Woolsey Says:

    Weigel needs to study up a bit more on the LP.

    The NPR story isn’t much better than the CSPAN interview
    last night.

    “State of Nature?” That’s real clear.

    I think we have a significant Constitutionalist faction now.
    They don’t believe all taxes are theft.

  13. Steve Perkins Says:

    Sean Morley, known to wrestling fans by his stage name “Val Venis”, made a speaking appearance this weekend also. He’s known for having published a libertarian newsletter at some point, and filming ads for Barry Hess’ run in Arizona a few years back.

  14. Jason Says:

    Sean Morley also has a great blog

    http://www.freetarian.com

  15. disinter Says:

    Weigel needs to study up a bit more on the LP.

    Weigel works for a neocon rag, his orders are to marginalize the LP.

  16. disinter Says:

    The Reform caucus?

    Yes. aka: deform caucus, retard caucus, GOP caucus, Republican caucus, Democrat caucus, Barr caucus, Gravel caucus etc, etc…

  17. DrGonzo Says:

    Yes. aka: deform caucus, retard caucus, GOP caucus, Republican caucus, Democrat caucus, Barr caucus, Gravel caucus etc, etc…

    I’m sure the other side is glad to have an intelligent person like yourself representing their interests. Engaging in 9 year old namecalling and the inability to hold an honest discussion. You represent your side well.

  18. disinter Says:

    DrBozo - I am sorry to burst your naive bubble, but labels are just that: labels. Everybody labels literally everything something. Those that get offended are truly the “9 year olds”; very insecure with themselves.

    If you call me a fag, for example, I won’t be offended (I’m gay). If I call you a fag (assuming you are straight), you would have to be pretty insecure with your sexuality to take offense.

    Want a tissue?

  19. Catholic Trotskyist Says:

    Stefan, I did plan to go to Denver, but like Robert Milnes, financial difficulties prevented me. Although I must say that my personal life and situation is a lot better off than Milnes’s, as I am one of the top students at my school and am on track to get a real job with the Obama campaign this summer. I would love to see an Obama-Paul ticket and a McCain-Clinton ticket, and have in fact brought that idea up here before.

  20. TROOFERS/NAMBLA for MARY '08 Says:

    JUST ONE MORE DAY UNTIL THE MOTHERSHIP LANDS! YIPPPPEEEE! WE WANT MARY! WE WANT MARY!

  21. Codename Sailor Earth Says:

    I agree with Kane. Although the “main” contenders for the white house seem to have solid footing campaign wise, none of them, since the Primaries got underway, have actually touched on the items of discussion that I really need to see change.

    Eminent domain, the rising cost of wheat~despite the fact that the US is one of the biggest suppliers of wheat, the degraded school system, the sham that is foster care, the rise of medical costs with the drop in patient care and coverage, the 9 trillion dollar deficet, war vets losing their privilages such as housing and medical aid, the mortgage crisis, the big brother rule credit agencies have, these are only a handful of topics that I need to see covered by candidates prior to my visit to the polls, and it’s refreshing to see that a wrestler I have grown up with shares such sound views with me.

    If there ever came a day in which Kane would run for office, I would most likely vote for him, as we need more readers in the system.

  22. Wesley J. Pinchot Says:

    The luck of convention seating put me next to him during most of the floor sessions, and I don’t follow professional wrestling.

    When I first saw him, I thought he looked like a wrestler, but I didn’t know him from Adam, and I figured if he’s not a wrestler, he would be tired of hearing that he looks like one, so I didn’t mention it. A few people approached him and brought it up, but the conversation didn’t stay on that topic for long.

    We mostly talked politics, as well as some economics and related subjects. I discovered that he’s pretty knowledgeable, quite pleasant to talk to, and to the extent that I’m qualified to judge, well above average in intelligence. He’d probably make a great candidate.

    I’m pleased to say that he’s a strong counter-example to any dumb-jock stereotype, and I believe him when he hints at esoteric talk in the locker room. Remember that professional wrestlers are primarily entertainers, i.e. actors who are also big and strong. They may need to be smarter than average athletes.

  23. Michael Seebeck Says:

    I had the pleasure of several conversations with Mr. Jacobs over the convention, and I can truly say he is a genuinely nice guy, the complete opposite of his stage persona. During one point when we were getting our picture taken together, the man with my camera said he couldn’t get a focus. I told him he has his finger over the lens. Mr. Jacobs cracked up over that.

    He (and Morely) had a distinct advantage for this one: WWE RAW was just down the street at the Pepsi Center Monday, and the ECW tapings were just down the road in Colorado Springs on Tuesday, so missing a couple of house shows was no big deal.

    To say he stuck out would be an understatement, but he didn’t try to be imposing on anyone or deliberately conspicuous, even with people staring at him as he walked by, this big bald mass of a person wearing a 3X pink dress shirt and hauling enough luggage to overload some airlines. On the floor he was along the wall with the Tennessee delegation, attentively listening and actively voting.

    Glad to have a guy like this aboard!

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