I’m finally back home and have enough time to actually sit down and write. The drive back from Orlando last night, immediately after the debate was insane! Drivers on Interstate 4 are beyond awful and they have no regard for the written and unwritten rules of the road. I nearly died a few times and by the time I got home, I just needed to chill out with some rum and watch ‘Firefly’ on Netflix. I intended to write this immediately after the debate but it just wasn’t possible. Between the lack of sleep the night before, the traveling and the two days of heavy discussions and debate, I was a vegetable. Thank God for my own bed and a bottle of Cruzan Black Strap rum as I feel much more alive this morning.
To start the day, I rolled out of bed at 7:30, which was pretty hard considering I was up late writing and drinking the night before and I just couldn’t get to sleep in a strange bed. I’ve always had trouble sleeping on the road. In fact, the only hotel that I’m comfortable in is the Hampton Inn across the street from the New Orleans Convention Center. Hell, I even have a hard time sleeping in Vegas without a ton of alcohol as a sedative, which is still partially ineffective, as that oxygen they pump through the vents has me wide awake pretty quickly.
So I woke up, got ready and suited up for my day, packed my suitcase and took a few minutes to watch part of the first half of the Liverpool v. Manchester United game before I had to check out. I went downstairs about twenty minutes into the game and ate breakfast with my friends from the Libertarian Party of Collier County. Shortly after this, we headed into the banquet room for the Libertarian Party of Florida’s business meeting. I’m not going to discuss the details but the meeting was informative and entertaining. Like one would expect, peering behind the scenes of politics at any level, the meeting had it’s fair share of heated debates between different factions all vying for control of the Party. Don’t take this the wrong way, this isn’t a bad thing, it is a very healthy way of addressing issues and concerns. All in all, it was a cool experience to see how the Libertarian Party operates in Florida.
At around 11:30, we split for lunch and I took that time to go upstairs and meet with Gary Johnson one last time before the debate. It was your typical meet and greet but there were more people present at this one than the two that I went to on the previous day. I listened in for awhile but I didn’t really interject myself this round. I asked a lot of questions the day before and I felt it was only fair for those who missed out on the earlier meet and greets to have their chance at asking Governor Johnson whatever it was they wanted to know.
I left after about a half hour, as the subjects being covered were already addressed at the previous meetings. Plus, my claustrophobia was kicking in as ten to fifteen people in a small hotel room is too many. I went downstairs, had some killer buffalo wings and spoke to congressional candidate Calen Fretts. If you live in the Florida panhandle, you should vote for Mr. Fretts. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and is a true representative of liberty. I think that may have been an endorsement. Anyway, we all headed back into the banquet hall at 1:00 for the second part of the business meeting. At 3:00 the debate officially started.
Contrary to what I wrote before, Roger Gary was not a part of the debate. Also, Leroy Saunders, a candidate from the State of New York joined the debate. I don’t know much about Mr. Saunders but his involvement added some energy to the event. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a Facebook page or anything else on the social networking level and that can only hurt his campaign, in my opinion. He does have a decent website however. The other candidates were mentioned in an earlier article, they are Gary Johnson, R.J. Harris, R. Lee Wrights, Bill Still and Carl Persons.
Before the debate, those of us who are members of the Libertarian Party of Florida were asked to write down any questions they had for the candidates. Two of my three questions were used in the debate and in fact, they were the first two questions used after the moderators were done asking theirs. The first question, which I asked in an effort to give a boost to Bill Still, went directly to Mr. Still first – how’s that for luck? The question was “What’s your plan to bring about economic recovery? Is it as simple as abolishing the Federal Reserve, returning to a gold standard and significantly cutting spending?” The reason I wanted this question to go to Still is that he takes the stance that a gold standard isn’t the answer. I wanted to give him the opportunity to explain his position, which he did by stating that the majority of the gold is held by the elite, so it isn’t a good way to give control of money back to the people and that throughout history, the gold standard hasn’t been as great as many economists claim.
The second question I asked that was used was “Is there ever a time when U.S. military intervention is necessary?” Most of the candidates said “no”. Gary Johnson however pointed to the Afghan War and said that he was for us going over there and wiping out Al-Qaeda but that we should have come back six months after going to war, as we sent the “evildoers” running for the hills. Leroy Saunders pretty much agreed with Johnson and added that if we are attacked, we have the right to go after the attacker and seek justice but other than that, we need to stay out of the business of all these other countries, except for trade – which should be free.
My third question “How would you curb the Supreme Court from making unconstitutional decisions?”, wasn’t asked. In fact, there was nothing asked about how they would work with the judicial branch, which was unfortunate. This is a subject I don’t hear libertarians discuss very often.
While watching the debate, I noticed that there weren’t a lot of philosophical differences between the candidates. They had different ways to achieve certain goals but for the most part, everything they said, I found to be correct and pretty on point. It’s hard to do a proper critique of the content, as these men know their stuff and were all pretty damn effective at expressing it and hammering their points. It’s really different when you have a debate where the candidates aren’t idiots and they don’t have to constantly explain their stance to an idiot crowd. Libertarians are cut from a different cloth and they typically educate themselves on a variety of topics. They are a group that is constantly in the know and on top of things. I’m not trying to toot my own libertarian horn here but those who truly represent our beliefs, don’t need to have everything explained to them. They are the self-educated minority and have reached a higher plane in their political philosophy that one can’t get to by blindly following mainstream ideas and not questioning what they’ve always been taught.
In the end, I felt that Gary Johnson did a solid job and articulated himself well. Bill Still did really good when the questions were economic based but needed to say more on some of the other subjects. R. Lee Wrights was great and really won me over. Even though I hope Johnson gets the nomination, I’d love Mr. Wrights as VP. R.J. Harris did alright but I was expecting a little more thunder, especially after hearing all the positive things my friends and colleagues have said about him. I wasn’t disappointed by my expectations of him but I wasn’t really impressed either. Leroy Saunders did a pretty good job but often times went on some tangents. He needs to get his talking points down and sharpen his skills. He’s a young guy though and he has a lot of time to get it right, just not in this race. Carl Persons had some sharp insight but he just didn’t bring the fire. I honestly can’t see him as a leader, which is unfortunate, as I did like the things he had to say. Truth be told though, I would take anyone of these guys over Barack Obama or the GOP contenders minus Ron Paul.
After the debate, I immediately left and drove home. I wish I could’ve mingled some more and gone to the Libertarian Party dinner but I really needed to get back. All in all it was a great weekend, I got to spend a lot of time picking Gary Johnson’s brain and I met a lot of like minded people from all over the country. It’s not everyday that an average joe can sit down with a presidential candidate and ask them questions face-to-face. I got to do it twice in one day.