The Man Who Could Really Fire Pelosi

Meet John Dennis, Nancy Pelosi's anti-war, pro-civil liberties, pro-gay rights Republican opponent

While none of her Republican opponents for her congressional seat in California’s 8th district have ever garnered more than 22 percent of the vote (and many less than half that), win or lose, Nancy Pelosi’s current GOP challenger John Dennis is a fascinating political story: He won the GOP primary running a distinctly Ron Paul-style campaign with a special San Francisco bent.

He’s for legalizing pot, backing the dollar with gold, and eliminating capital gains taxes and eventually the income tax, and bringing all the troops back home. He’s also able to run to Pelosi’s left on things like bailouts of the rich and powerful and support for civil liberties, even, as his campaign wrote about a Dennis appearance at San Francisco’s Gay Pride parade, slamming Pelosi for “refusing to make repealing DOMA and Don't Ask Don't Tell a priority." Senior Editor Brian Doherty interviewed Dennis by phone earlier this week.

Reason: What’s your history with politics? How did you end up the GOP candidate up against Nancy Pelosi?

John Dennis: In other words, where did it all go so wrong? How was I thrown into this mess? I guess it goes back to college in 1984, of all years, when I read Ayn Rand. I went to a Jesuit university [Fordham] where I met a libertarian Jesuit, a guy who was an associate of Murray Rothbard [Fr. James Sadowsky]. I was student body president and had a little taste of politics and I helped Ron Paul’s campaign in 1988 [when he ran for president with the Libertarian Party]. I was motivated to get involved in politics more after the birth of my daughter. Ron inspired me to get involved in his campaign three years ago, and as a Republican I’ve worked on a couple of campaigns locally. And I saw this race as an opportunity to do a couple of different things.

First, I was intrigued by the idea of an anti-war Republican, of a libertarian Republican running against Pelosi, challenging her on issues Republicans traditionally couldn’t. I also thought the platform I would have running against someone like her was an enormous and huge asset to talk about things I believe, and in some ways extend Ron Paul’s campaign from 2008.

Reason: What was your level of involvement with that first Paul presidential campaign in '88?

Dennis: I was living in Chicago, and was a Reason magazine subscriber, I might add. I just stuffed envelopes.

Reason: Did he directly ask you to run now, or suggest you should?

Dennis: No, I did not talk to him about it before running. We met for the first time briefly on a campaign stop of his in Mountain View in summer 2007 and I met him a couple of times briefly after that, and didn’t consult with him. My first extended conversation with him was the day after I won the primary.

Reason: What was the primary fight like?

Dennis: I had one opponent, Dana Walsh, the woman who ran in 2008 against Pelosi and didn’t do very well [earning fewer votes than independent Cindy Sheehan, who has appeared at anti-war rallies with Dennis]. I’d say that we won for a combination of reasons—really enthusiastic volunteers who worked, the same way they worked for the Ron Paul campaign, and covered the district. Only about 12-13,000 were expected to vote in the primary, and we knew we could cover the precincts really well. That, and most people agreed with me on social issues—those who agreed on war were really fervently in my camp in that regard and in spite of practically no name recognition, against the 2008 nominee who raised $2 million in the primary and in spite of the fact she had her attack website which is still up online—johndennisexposed.com—we still won.

Reason: Two million in the primary against you? That seems excessive. How much did you raise in the primary?

Dennis: Around $600,000. My charming personality had nothing to do with it. In this district, here’s how it works—very little of that money for her or for me came from within the district, most comes nationally from people wanting to support the candidate running against Pelosi. [Walsh] used huge commercial fundraising outfits doing telephone soliciting.

Reason: Did you get any local press attention during the primary?

Dennis: A little bit but very little. We mostly fought it out over airwaves and mail and on the streets. Walsh had no ground game, and we had substantial ground game by any measure.

Another guy who worked on Ron’s campaign actually asked me to run, Dan Pickell. I knew I had him and another guy, also an amazing workhorse, knew I’d have their support. I also knew the county coordinator for Campaign for Liberty, so I was running in those circles, I knew who would do things. When we talked about running they got excited and I used them as the initial hardcore group and then as the campaign got more active, attracted more.

Pickell had a little joke. When he asked me to run I was honored and said, why me, do you love my positions, the way I deliver them, I’m such an amazing person? He said, “We like candidates with two first names.”

Reason: How involved have you been in GOP politics before now? The California GOP hasn’t exactly been a bastion of sensible fiscal policy combined with sensible social policy.

Dennis: The campaigns I worked on, one was a local guy running for San Francisco city supervisor, then I worked a little bit on a state assembly race. I have had very limited contact with the state party. I mean, I go to state Republican conventions, I got to know everyone and they apparently know who I am and get where I’m coming from. I’ve gotten no hassle, not a ton of support, though I don’t know what kind of resources they have anyway. I will say this: in some ways [state Republicans] have been warm to me, saying, “I may not agree on these positions, but good luck.”

Reason: Do you think the people giving you money nationally know what you stand for particularly, or are you just the anti-Pelosi to them?

Dennis: The bulk of money from commercial fundraising came from anti-Pelosi people who knew very little about my position. Those [fundraising] firms become list builders, they keep most of the money but the candidate gets a big list and can go back to that list. One of the differences in the primary was the libertarian team, the Ron Paul scene, the liberty movement, gave the most spendable money that I didn’t have to pay big commissions on. They were not just against Pelosi, they were pro-John Dennis. [Note: The most current numbers as of September 30 show Dennis having raised $1.8 million.]

Reason: Are Democratic voters receptive to your message in your district?

Dennis: I was lucky enough to meet Matt Gonzalez, a respected progressive [Ralph Nader’s 2008 Green Party running mate] and he endorsed me. That was a pretty good indication, though Matt is a little more open-minded than other progressives. But I’ve found at least respect about where I’m coming from even if they don’t agree.

We could win if we get three out of 10 Democrats, so we don’t need seven out of 10, if we perform the same way Scott Brown did [in his unexpected GOP victory for Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat] with independents, getting 65 percent of those. That’s the formula we’ve been pursuing, and I think we’re doing well in those areas. It’s just a shame local media has only gotten involved and looking with some interest in the last couple of weeks.

Reason: That article by Matt Smith in the S.F. Weekly seemed designed to try to scare away Democrats from you, with the “privatize everything” vibe.

Dennis: I haven’t received any backlash from that. But I never said what he said I did. We talked about a couple of things in terms of different libertarian positions that came up. I had a pragmatic position toward [Proposition L], and for him to give the impression I said “privatize sidewalks”... [Proposition L is a San Francisco city proposition that would “ban sitting or lying on public sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.”]

I said, if there were no law on the books that allowed police to move someone obstructing private property and they get complaints and they need a law to do that, if this serves that function then I’m for it. He said, “That’s not a very libertarian position.” I said, “What do you mean, people should be able to use the space, if you are obstructing private property.” I said, “Some libertarians want private roads including private sidewalks, then it becomes a clear cut private property issue, not alien to the libertarian position.” That was the context. I never advocated privatizing sidewalks, it’s ludicrous.

When I take a position on something I usually stick with it, but I’m having second thoughts about Proposition L after a long discussion with [libertarian activist and founder of Antiwar.com] Eric Garris, who told me there was no need for a new law. That’s how [Prop L] was always sold to me, that they needed a law to do this [move along people obstructing private property on the sidewalk]. He said laws on the books already allow that and gave his personal experience with being a downtown San Francisco business owner, so I’m up in the air.

Reason: How does the national GOP feel about you, with your foreign policy heresies?

Dennis: There’s been no blowback on the national level; in fact Michael Steele invited me, albeit at the last moment, to join them on the “fire Pelosi” bus tour, which was only appropriate but the schedule didn’t work out. One California party official said, “Look with this race you are running, there’s really no downside to taking positions you are taking in this election, so go ahead and do it,” and I suspect the national party feels that way about it as well.

Reason: Why is the Ron Paul/John Dennis position so rare in the GOP?

Dennis: There are a lot more folks running under Ron’s banner, or at least sympathetic to Ron, from Rand to Peter Schiff to Debora Medina...and I think Rand will win, I think if we do well it shows others this new way to go, particularly in urban races. A well-known progressive John Nichols wrote in Capital Times, about how a Republican running in [Wisconsin against a Democrat incumbent] was doing it the wrong way, and offering me as a model of the way a Republican should run in a liberal district and quotes me extensively from my website. So just like Ron we are getting a lot of that kind of respect from left, Democrats, independents, for running on positions of principle.

In terms of polling, we’ve noticed that the war is number four on the list and the economy like everywhere else number one. But I tend to lead with the war and follow up with civil liberties because it has been my experience if I lead with the economy I get stuck in a no-win left-right fight. “George Bush screwed the economy, we are doing what we have to do,” blah blah. So I say, save money, end wars, bring troops home, end military bases around the world, unwind our footprint out there, cut corporate welfare, and while we are at it, get government out of our telephones and out of our email.

And people go, “You’re a Republican?” It’s a sad state, why Republicans are so anxious to give up these issues, so anxious to drop their fiscal conservative hats when it comes to the military-industrial complex.

Then I get into the economy, cut the income tax. I had a talk with the executive editor of San Francisco Bay Guardian, Tim Redmond, he talked about his fascinating discussion with John Dennis but he couldn’t endorse me over Pelosi because of my position on income taxes, which was regressive in his mind.

Reason: How come even most of these other supposedly Ron Paul-esque candidates aren’t as good as you on live-and-let-live social and cultural issues?

Dennis: I’d be running on my positions no matter where I was, though obviously they are an easier sell in San Francisco. But on the other hand I might not be the party nominee if I were running in Mississippi, or even in Orange County. But I think a lot of “Ron Paul candidates” are running in conservative districts so they are more socially conservative, they fit in with that crowd. Maybe the slight criticism I might have for some of those other candidates, I’d just say, there are 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights, respect them all, and if you follow the non-aggression principle you gotta stand up for what you believe in across the board.

Reason: What are your main strategies to reach voters?

Dennis: We did a lot of mail, big mailers, targeted mailers to Chinese-American voters, get out the vote ones with Republicans, some radio, a lot of online stuff, and we got a P.R. teams, we get our own media, and are hoping to do a little TV in coming weeks, hoping to have money to do that.

Reason: What specifically do you have to say to Democrats about why they shouldn’t support Pelosi?

Dennis: She doesn’t fight for the things they believe in. Democrats in San Francisco don’t want to be in Afghanistan. They want to leave Iraq as soon as possible. Democrats in San Francisco don’t want to be warrantless wiretapped, don’t want FBI agents writing their own search warrants, and Pelosi hasn’t stopped any of that, and in fact has been complicit with the wars and with the invasions of privacy. And then lastly, the economy is a disaster and the federal government extended this bust and Pelosi has been right in front of that because she doesn’t know what she’s doing, and we will continue in this downturn if we keep letting Pelosi lead. I’m a better fit for the city, the country, if they want someone to get out of wars, reduce foreign empire and wants people to respect privacy and fight for gay rights.

Reason: And what do you have to offer Republicans, especially on the foreign policy stuff where, alas, most of your party members disagree with you?

Dennis: First and foremost we can’t afford it any more. I’m the one being consistent. If you want to talk about fiscal conservatism, nothing gets left off the table. For me, it’s why turn a blind eye to the foreign military bases? I’m consistent, why aren’t they? A point Ron is trying to get across is every policy has risks and rewards, and if you think we can put bases out there and have these wars go on and that only rewards and no risks are involved, frankly you are living in fantasy land. I’m actually more realistic on foreign policy than those who disagree in the Republican Party: I recognize there are risks to having such a forward projection of power in the world. Like, for cultures we don’t understand, we obligate them morally to avenge the deaths of loved ones.

Reason: An article I read about a September anti-war rally you did with Ron Paul quotes him advising you to have fun with the race. Have you?

Dennis: Sure, I’m having fun in a couple of different ways. That “wicked witch of the west” video [portraying Pelosi as a wicked witch melted by the water of freedom, removed from YouTube on dubious copyright infringement claims by holders of the rights to Wizard of Oz’s music], and I’ll do more [videos] soon, I have fun with those. Also for me it is fun to stand up and use a national platform and talk about things I believe in, fight for things I believe in. I hope someday our daughter appreciates what we did here, and that to me is lots of fun. I don’t mind taking flak for positions I’m comfortable with.

Reason: Some people thought the witch video was too silly. Are you happy with it in retrospect?

Dennis: Sure, why not? You know, the Imperium hates being made fun of, and there’s no better representative of the Imperium than Pelosi. I have no problems with poking fun at her, and the other thing I think is if people go to my site and listen to me talk in other venues they’ll know I’m serious; that video is just another side of my personality.

Reason: Any further political plans after this race?

Dennis: I have no plans of doing anything other than running this race. It has been 14 months. A long haul.

Senior Editor Brian Doherty is author of This is Burning Man (BenBella), Radicals for Capitalism (PublicAffairs) and Gun Control on Trial (Cato Institute).

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    The MSNBC post...it was here for a second...then it disappeared again...

  • ||

    Suuuure it was. [Backs slowly away from the monitor.]

  • ||

    The liberal Democrats are going to get fucking killed at the ballot box next week. Retards like Balko will call this the "stupid season" while so many people have suffered under Obama's hate-America-first agenda. Shit sandwich is coming assholes.

  • ||

    Goddam but I like this Dennis guy. What a shame he's stranded in San Fran, where he will never get elected to anything, ever.

  • Derp||

    Seems like he has a chance.
    A lot of people dislike Pelosi, after all.

  • fish||

    Re-electing Nancy Pelosi is a testament to the stupidity of the denizens of San Francisco! If you had her over to your home you would count the silverware after she left!

  • Daze||

    Is there anywhere he could get elected? Republicans only run candidates like this in districts where they have no chance. If he lived anywhere else, he'd be denounced as a RINO.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I don't think so. RINOs tend to be big-government Republicans that go along with Democrats on taxes and regulation, not libertarian-minded R's who would legalize dope.

  • jacob||

    Wrong. NUMEROUS Republicans regularly list Ron Paul as a RINO, and I think they'd say the same about Dennis.

    http://marklevinfan.com/2007/05/16/ron-paul-kooks/

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2576137/posts

    http://www.texasgopvote.com/bl.....rino-01082

  • Jeffersonian||

    I'm not sure those sites/threads are authoritaative, but if so, that sucks. Ron Paul's federal government is about 1/3 the size of most Rs', so even if he's not on board for some, he more than makes up for it elsewhere.

  • jacob||

    Mark Levin's site is not "authoratitive" on the GOP/Conservatives? The TEXAS GOP site is not "authoritative?"

    Wow.

  • ||

    In NeoCon land maybe...

  • JT||

    Is there a bigger collection of complete fucking morons on the internet than freerepublic? Anyone?

  • JT||

    I mean, WND usually spouts the same neo-theo bullshit, but at least they spell words correctly and form coherent sentences.

  • ||

    Talk about right-wing facists. You get banned for even talking about being socially tolerant. Not even close to tolerating libertarian ideals in that eCesspool.

  • ||

    He might win now, with grudging acceptance from the GOP that he's all they've got. Then, next election, they'll throw every dollar they have at any other Republican challenger, provided they're more socially conservative.

  • ||

    Maybe some freak accident will get him in office. Like Pelosi being revealed to be one of those aliens from They Live.

  • ||

    Like half the voters in San Fran don't already think that or it would hurt her image there anyway.

  • J||

    How does she poll in her own district?

  • Ron L||

    Just guessing, but if she were personally responsible for a nuclear explosion at one of the recent Giant's playoff games, there's a chance she might not get elected by the SF electorate.

  • Matrix||

    Maybe... but it would still be a very small chance.

  • ||

    If only liberals gave a shit about civil liberties and such. People always talk about how the Republican Party can't be the same in places like San Fransisco as it is in rural Texas. Okay, that is true.But why do the candidates in places like San Fransisco or Vermont have to be government loving douschbags? Can't they be liberal on civil liberties?

  • Mike Laursen||

    Don't have the whole answer, but part of it is that a lot of people who move to San Francisco do so to get away from the conservative family they grew up in. They are liberal because they want to be on the opposite team from daddy.

  • Name Nomad||

    This is where we could make some gains. "REALLY make Daddy mad! Don't go opposite; go orthogonal! Vote Libertarian."

  • Cyto||

    I like that... "Orthagonal-wing nutjob." That has a nice ring to it.

  • ||

    "I hate you! When I grow up, I'm going to be a libertarian.. and dance naked for men."

  • Cray Gibson||

    Or they're liberal from an ideological standpoint and gravitate towards SF due to it's history of liberal activism. The recent history of the Democratic party may not be one that has championed civil liberties but what have the Republicans done in the name of individual freedom in the past 50 years?

    Washington is currently filled with politicians who go by names like "progressive Republicans" and "blue dog Democrats", all centrist factions IMO. Most real socialists do support civil liberties. But socialists like Kucinich are as much on the fringe of of their party as capitalists like Paul are on theirs.

  • ||

    Actually? They passed the Civil Rights Act. Not surprisingly they ran into more conflict with the Dems then they did the Repubs.

  • Cray Gibson||

    The Civil Rights Act? the same one that was introduced into congress by a democrat and signed into law by Johnson?

  • Thomas O.||

    Yep. The same one that was filibustered by a lot of other Democrats. The party was pretty much a mixed bag by then. Fortunately getting this passed WAS a true bipartisan effort.

  • ABC||

    Violation of property rights and the freedom of association.

  • ABC||

    Violation of property rights and the freedom of association.

  • What the...||

    Real socialists? Who is "real socialist?"

  • Sudden||

    He has Papaya's vote. And I have a few friends who reside in the city, I'll pass on a recommendation to them.

  • ||

    Yeah, I'll go for Dennis. I met last time's Libertarian challenger to Pelosi, and he seemed like a nice guy, but only Dennis has a ghost of a chance of getting elected. Too bad an R next to a name on a ballot makes the average voter here react like a vampire to a crucifix.

  • nj||

    Damn, he sounds awesome

  • Xeones||

    A veritable solid dude.

  • dennis||

    Great last name.

  • Mike in ATL||

    "I guess it goes back to college in 1984, of all years, when I read Ayn Rand."

    Really? If you're going to pander, must you do it so shamelessly?

  • ||

    Weirder things have happened in recent elections, and small sample sizes make that even more possible. I wouldn't completely give up on this guy...

  • Daze||

    Shame there are no Republicans like this to vote for in Texas.

    And a shame that most people still respond to this political philosophy with, "Wait, you're left-wing on this issue but right-wing on that issue? That makes no sense!"

  • Zeb||

    I have often wondered how the mishmash of different political and philosophical views that are generally considered left or right got put into those categories. I mean, why do being pro-free market and being tough on crime go together? Why do pro-legal abortion and welfare state go together?
    One of the many things that attracts me to libertarianism is that the things libertarians believe in make sense and all come from the same basic principals. Conventional left/right issues seem sort of randomly selected to me.

  • Erich Fromm||

    Individuals rarely go insane; societies often do.

  • MJ||

    "...why do being pro-free market and being tough on crime go together?"

    Being tough on crime generally derives from an impulse to protect propery rights. Respect for property rights is an essential component of free markets.

    "Why do pro-legal abortion and welfare state go together?"

    Because they are both a means of avoiding responsibility for your choices in life.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    Ha! Nice troll.

  • JT||

    Well that would make sense if tough on crime didn't involve such massive violations of said property rights.

  • ||

    Ding ding ding!

    Or that the very term is bullshit, evil scare mongering that screws over innocent, harmless people.

  • Thomas O.||

    That's always perturbed me about the Republican Party. They want less government, to "get government off our backs", right? But they'd rather have the big nasty government being a pushover when it comes to "preserving traditional values", so forget about legalizing marijuana or gay marriage.

    Nothing's really gonna change unless one nationwide political party lures most believers in true minimal government and individual liberty away from all the control freaks.

  • Daze||

    Oh yeah, there's at least one Republican like this in Texas. But he's not on my ballot.

  • jacob||

    +1

  • zoltan||

    There are tons of libertarians on the ballot in Texas.

  • Daze||

    I plan to vote the straight LP ticket.

  • Thomas O.||

    I wish all of those who are sick of Rick Roosevelt... uh, Perry would vote for Kathie Glass, the Libertarian candidate for Governor in Texas. Lest we forget, Perry didn't have the majority of votes in 2006, but in Texas it only matters that you have the most votes.

  • zoltan||

    I'm voting for her. She's pretty fantastic. Perry refused to attend a debate she was at with Bill White and the Green party candidate (unworthy of being named--her number one policy position is to instate an income tax).

    Anyway, voting for Glass will show Republicans that THEY WILL LOSE if they run ridiculous pols.

  • ||

    You can be 'right' on 5 key issues in Texas, but if you even mention anything that sounds like you might not give a shit about 'gay marriage' right now, you're a progressive-commie-Obama-lover.

  • Xeones||

    Can we finally ditch the whole bullshit "left"-"right" dichotomy? Please?

  • Left-Right Dichotomy||

    Don't ditch me -- for the sake of the children, and puppy dogs!

  • ||

    Yes, the consequences would be disastrous. For example: spaceship.

  • ||

    This guy's interview further confirms my suspicion:

    I doubt very much that a big-L "I-Read-Ayn-Rand-While-I-Was-Still-Breast-Feeding" Libertarian agenda would result in much of a tangible increase in liberty. Back to the Gold Standard? Back to a pre-16th Amendment revenue structure? I'm pretty sure the result would be a few much-wealthier economic winners, A HELLUVA LOT more economic losers, and all the disorder and conflict that would naturally result, which would yield up a police state and a prison-industrial complex at least as big as the one we have now.

    Of course, the Liberts wouldn't really mind. They aren't really angry at Big Government as such. Most of them are just angry at Big Government that hands out subsidies to the poor. A government that is every bit as big and brutal as the current regime, but that spent it all on police and prisons, with nothing for food stamps or public housing, would probably suit them just fine in the end.

  • ||

    Reading comprehension fail. Dennis himself talks about rolling back the military/police state. Kind of the opposite of what you are saying.

    Your second paragraph is completely off the mark. Wow!

  • BakedPenguin||

    His second paragraph? In his first, he states that he thinks the Income tax created the middle class, and that a free-market economy would benefit big corporations and the ultra-rich, rather than small business owners and the people who work for them.

    I mean, I don't think there's any point in starting an argument, because you have to start from the absolute beginning.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    You have to realize that for people like Danny (as well as Tony, Max, Chad), the middle class never existed and all was chaos until the 16th Amendment was passed. Watch their defense of the tax structure and it always tends to revolve around this one event; they typically ignore the cornucopia of local taxes, fees, penalties, etc. that make up a large portion of government revenues at the state and local level as well.

    When you ask them how the US possibly managed to survive a Revolution, a foreign invasion, and a Civil War that killed 600K of their young men; completed infrastructure improvements, land settlement, and resource development on a scale that was world-leading by 1900; and established stable communities without the presence of an income tax, you're almost always met with silence.

    Progressives, in their mind, are still fighting the social and economic conflicts of the 1910s, not quite realizing that it's now the 2010s and their ideology is about 60 years past its due date.

  • ||

    Oooh, libertarians are actually just liberal caricatures of Republicans? You mean like people like the entire staff of this magazine, who write about being anti-war, anti-police, anti-prison, any numerous laws?

    Do you even know where you are right now? Or how to read?

  • Patriot Mike||

    Someone took their idiot pills today.

  • ABC||

    Fail.

    Go back to teaching economics at Berkeley.

  • Wiki||

    "Of course, the Liberts wouldn't really mind. They aren't really angry at Big Government as such. Most of them are just angry at Big Government that hands out subsidies to the poor. A government that is every bit as big and brutal as the current regime, but that spent it all on police and prisons, with nothing for food stamps or public housing, would probably suit them just fine in the end"

    Citation required. And the fevered mind of Danny the Troll does not suffice.

  • Xeones||

    Danny, your take on libertarianism reminds me of that of an autistic kid i used to tutor. Is your name actually James? Do you eat scabs?

  • martin||

    Californians have all the fun things to vote for this year.

  • ||

    a free-market economy would benefit big corporations and the ultra-rich

    I love this Democratic Party talking point.

    Just what is a free market?

    A market free of government distortions and regulations that take away rights and resources from some and give it to others.

    What is a corporation?

    A government-created entity endowed with special rights (like limited liability) and the ability to socialize losses while privatizing profits.

    In a "free market," a "corporation" wouldn't exist because government redistributionist/regulationist schemes like "corporate status and personhood" wouldn't exist.

    Watch a Democrat's eyes cross when you explain this to him. Then, ten seconds later, laugh heartily as he insists that "corporations are necessary to a modern economy." :)

  • ||

    This is pretty much the centerpiece of making my economic case to the far Left. I've met nobody yet who can make any worthwhile counter-argument.

    In the current market small and midsized businesses sell out to megacorporations largely because of the constrictive expense of regulatory compliance and accounting infrastructure that disproportionately burdens them. Thus, conglomeration and too big to fail. Without that pressure, small/midsized businesses would be more willing to compete independently if they are truly confident in their product.

    In a free market, irresponsible large scale proprietorships/partnerships/businesses resembling corporate ownership structure would be the ones disproportionately burdened by the expense of liability insurance to their owners (even in a free market, there would be complete liability for fraud, violation of property, violation of liberty, etc). Currently we give that protection to businesses for the minimal cost of incorporation. To cut their insurance burden, the business would have to act more responsibly. Most companies would naturally remain small (relatively) and responsible.

    Laissez faire works the same as car insurance, where the worst drivers causing the most danger and destruction pay the most for insurance, and the private market regulates itself with the help of a court/legal system dedicated solely to protecting individual rights.

  • Dakotian||

    Brian and Hobo,
    I have been reading Reason for a while now and I have to say that these are the two best posts I have seen. Very nicely done. Concise and informative.

  • RyanXXX||

    He should run an ad...

    "John Dennis would fight to bring ALL the troops home...John Dennis would vote to repeal DADT...John Dennis would fight the Defense of Marriage Act, and bring the struggle for gay marriage to Washington...bla bla bla"

    And just run it over and over and over. Alongside ads highlighting Pelosi's betrayal on those issues

  • Adamson||

    How about interviewing the actual LP candidate in the race instead of the Repubican masquerading as one?

  • ||

    Yes, let's interview the candidate with a 0.00000001% chance of winning (say, a case where both Pelosi and Dennis are exposed as pedophiles). I used to be involved with the LP, but there are just far too many people not as serious about politics as they are in intellectual wankery and purity, largely because they know they have .00000001% chance of winning. If Dennis is satisfactory on libertarian issues (and from the sound of it, far more so than even Ron Paul), who cares what his party label is? Hell, I'd vote for a Democrat if they were 80% libertarian over the LP candidate simply because we have to get more small-l libertarians elected, even if imperfect. Real liberty > perfectionist obscurity + antilibertarian political dominance.

  • Adamson||

    So don't even interview him because you don't think he has a chance of winning?

    I expect that sort of treatment from the MSM but not from supposed libertarian publications.

  • JD||

    There are dozens, if not hundreds, of Libertarian Party candidates running for Congress nationwide. As usual, none of them have any chance of winning. That's not newsworthy.

    What is newsworthy is a major party candidate who shares many libertarian views is running in a heavliy Democratic district and that, as a result of those views, he will likely do better than Republicans typically do in that district.

  • Chony to the Max||

    This article is non-sensical. All Democrats support gay marriage, pot-legalization and ending corporate welfare. All Republicans are against these things. Therefore, Dennis is a Republican and therefore is against all those things. The only sane choice is Pelosi. To say otherwise, makes you a crazy, Palin loving, evolution denying not job.

  • ||

    and a Racist!

  • Imperium of Man||

    Heretic! He must be Cleansed!

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  • JT||

    I was wondering about that...

  • JustinLancaster||

    MNG, Tony and Chad would you vote for this guy if you lived in his district over Pelosi?

  • Chony to the Max||

    Of course not. He is a Republican, and all Republicans are against gay marriage and pot legalization, and they all support corporate welfare. Simple. Besides, there is no such thing and Libertarians, they are all really conservatives, but just too embarrassed to admit it.

  • ||

    The good thing about Mr. Dennis is that he is against Nancy Pelosi and much of what she stands for.

    The thing bad about him is he is in "anti-war" is the Orwellian sense of the word, meaning that he believes that in the war between the West and Islamofascism the two sides are morally equivalent. (Or perhaps he believes that US is at fault for having hurt the tender feelngs of the Muslims.) He is therefore an enemy of human liberty and all the good that man has achieved.

    Nobody in his right mind likes war. But there worse things than war, such as living under the rule of Islamic totalitarianism.

  • Wiki||

    "But there worse things than war, such as living under the rule of Islamic totalitarianism."

    Or being falsely accused of aiding "terrorism" and being denied your rights to a trial, and being locked away in a gulag for the rest of your life.

    Oh, that's okay because only evil people are locked away. Rah rah Americah

  • ||

    "But there worse things than war, such as living under the rule of Islamic totalitarianism."

    At what point is the good ol' USA in danger of being subjected to the rule of Islamic totalitarianism?

    Or are you referring to people living in sandy countries? Like Iraq, which was actually a secular state until Christian fundamentalist president George II intervened.

    How many "others" must die to satisfy Christian fundamentalist? Are you seeking the rapture? Couldn't you just join the JWs and go door-to-door, peaceful-like, where I can easily and cheaply ignore you?

  • Esteban||

    How do you know he was referring to Iraq and not Afghanistan? Was 'secularist' Iraq free and full of liberties under Saddam?

  • ||

    "How do you know he was referring to Iraq and not Afghanistan?"

    I wasn't aware that Afghanistan had the capacity to take over America.

    "Was 'secularist' Iraq free and full of liberties under Saddam?"

    Do the North Koreans have liberties under their dictatorship? How about the Chinese? Saudi Arabia? Pakistan? Is it our job to liberate every country in the world that has a totalitarian government?

  • ||

    You were a shitty General. Thanks for the Cold War, asshole.

  • ||

    As I recall the Soviets were our allies in WWII, and it was President Roosevelt that handed over Eastern Europe to Stalin. But, yes I'm sure that was all "IKE's fault" (rolls eyes).

  • Harry Truman||

    I beg to differ - I did all I could to give Eastern Europe to 'good old Joe'.

  • Daze||

    It's possible to not believe the "moral equivalency" thing and still not support a particular war.

  • ||

    Nope. Knee-jerk false dichotomies for everyone!

  • nekoxgirl||

    Since when has America been threatened with the rule Islamic totalitarianism? Over the past decade that only threat to American from "Islamic totalitarianism" has involved the safety of our commercial airlines.

    Unless I'm very mistaken, there is no clause in the Constitution that would make Osama bin Laden President if his followers hijack/blow up a certain number of airplanes.

  • ||

    "At what point is the US in danger of being subjected to the rule of Islamic totalitarianism?"

    At the point at which the majority of Americans become too foolish to recognize the danger or too cowardly to resist it. So far that point has been reached only among the Left and those who espouse a misguided, confused "libertarianism" that von Hayek, Goldwater, and Reagan would have found appalling.

    Far from being a Christian fundamentalist I am a classical liberal who believes that the USA, for all its faults, really is the last best hope of mankind.

  • European||

    A "libertarian" US President during WWII would have just retaliated against stupid Japan, while the Nazis would have conquered the rest of the world unimpeded, only to then use their newfound global resources to defeat the US a couple of decades later - and so vanquish freedom and liberalism.

    I am proud to be pro-war against those for whom trampling on other people's freedom is a virtue (fighting against unbelievers is a virtue in all Abrahamic myths/religions, especially in Islam given its warlord prophet)

  • ben||

    Too bad Germany declared war on us right after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. That same Libertarian would have to fight Germany too. But, he probably would have avoided war altogether by contiuing to sell oil to Japan.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    So basically, I suggest you continue to sell me your dollars for my nickels or I'll bash your face in.

    See how that works? Once there is a threat of violence involved, it's no longer free trade. It's theft. I suggest that a real libertarian would actually support the total annihilation of any people who think it's ok to use the threat of war to force trade.

    I'm guessing you're just another LINO corporatist.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    It was Japan's decision to turn ugly and attack us. They just used the not-getting-oil bit as an excuse to armor up and attack.

  • ||

    The fact people seem to forget is that we attacked Japan before they attacked us. We were running a blockade to fight their Chinese mainland occupation. What do you think all those ships in Pearl Harbor were there for?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Sorry, but I don't see "running a blockade" as an attack, unless we fired on the Japanese ships in the process. As I am not that versed in WWII history, I will have to plead ignorance on this aspect.

  • Ron L||

    Setting a blockade /= attacking

  • Ron L||

    Oh, and there was no blockade anyhow.

  • ||

    Yeah, fail. Preventing domesticly-produced exported oil from aiding a murderous empire is not morally equivalent to a bombing raid against a country that has made no aggressive movement against your armies and thus killing thousands of servicemembers and civilians.

  • zoltan||

    Not equivalent but certainly a provocative act.

  • Nash||

    It's a good thing Germany lost otherwise Stalin's Russia wouldn't have risen to power....

  • ||

    Blame that one on Ike Eisenhower. There's a reason he ran for President after that. He was a born politician.

  • ||

    And yet, in the center of the battlefield of the worst war in modern history, somehow, the armed but neutral Switzerland was the only country that emerged relatively unscathed. They mobilized their entire country to ward off a planned invasion from Germany, and they were able to do it without attacking any other country. Amazing how that defensive military isolationism works.

    Never mind the fact that a libertarian president would not have starved Germany to near death after WWI and thus by proxy caused the rise of Nazi Germany, and a libertarian president would not have claimed all the valuable territory in the Pacific (the Phillippines being the prominent example) for ourselves, thus painting a target on our backs for other imperialistic powers. And WWII is a war almost every libertarian will agree was justified response to aggression.

  • Ron L||

    Hobo Chang Ba|10.23.10 @ 7:10PM|#
    "And yet, in the center of the battlefield of the worst war in modern history, somehow, the armed but neutral Switzerland was the only country that emerged relatively unscathed. They mobilized their entire country to ward off a planned invasion from Germany, and they were able to do it without attacking any other country."
    Your rose-colored lens are making the view a tad pink.
    Germany had planned to invade Switzerland, but (as war is an economic endeavor), they couldn't afford to while attacking Russia.
    At that point there was no need to anyway; they had passage through Switzerland to Italy, the Swiss provided food, arms, optics, ammunition and when things got a bit worse, a place for the Nazi thieves to hide some of the swag.
    Nobody in Switzerland fooled themselves otherwise; if the4 Nazis had chosen to attack, the Swiss were toast.

  • JT||

    i think Switzerland could have beaten 4 Nazis.

  • Ron L||

    One of these days.....
    1) I'll either *really* preview and proof a post.
    Or
    2) Reason will include an edit function.

  • ||

    Germany still decided to invade and occupy France and bypass Switzerland. Why?

    There was a combination of factors, luck being one. However, the Swiss mobilized the entire country and brought many of their military resources to strategic, well-stocked areas of the Alps, so it would have been very costly for the Germans (or anyone else) to invade. Moreover, Switzerland built much of Nazi Germany's supplies and they stored a lot of German/Axis money in their banks (would have likely been seized and used against them if invaded), so economic interests largely deterred a German invasion (or at least put Switzerland at the bottom on the priority list). Switzerland had the added advantage that Germany could not blame them for either the loss or the fallout of WWI. There likely wasn't much political motivation within Germany to attack a country that was not a threat, never harmed them, was trading with them and was fully mobilized defensively to make any invasion very difficult anyway.

  • ||

    Not saying that Switzerland would have won if invaded, by the way. Just that it wasn't worth the high cost for Germany. Had Switzerland been aggressive and pre-emptively attacked Germany or declared sides with one side or the other, they most certainly would have been invaded. Why can't the US follow a similar foreign policy of armed neutrality instead of picking fights with every unhinged dictatorship, making us at the top of the target list when they do get around to developing nukes and chemical weapons?

  • ||

    Not saying that Switzerland would have won if invaded, by the way. Just that it wasn't worth the high cost for Germany. Had Switzerland been aggressive and pre-emptively attacked Germany or declared sides with one side or the other, they most certainly would have been invaded. Why can't the US follow a similar foreign policy of armed neutrality instead of picking fights with every unhinged dictatorship, making us at the top of the target list when they do get around to developing nukes and chemical weapons?

  • Jen||

    The Swiss also sent a letter to Hitler advising him that, should Germany invade, and should it look like Germany would win, the Swiss military would turn on the Swiss people, burn everything, kill every man, woman and child, and leave the Germans with absolutely no resources for their trouble, human or otherwise.

  • nekoxgirl||

    Yes, because the wars in the Middle East are totally like WWII. I mean, the entire Middle East has nothing like the military power of Germany and Japan, nor is the Middle East in the process of conquering Europe and Asia. Other than that though, it's totally the same.

  • Daze||

    Reagan didn't send US troops into Afghanistan in the 1980s. Does that mean he considered the US and Soviet systems morally equivalent?

    Invading and occupying countries is not the only way to win a long-term ideological struggle.

  • Juice||

    Backing the dollar with gold is a terrible idea. It was bad in the late 19th century and it would be worse now. Gold supplies are too easily manipulated.

  • ||

    You're right. We should stick with a dollar backed by unicorn promises and rainbow dreams. Much more firm ground there than a limited-supply precious metal.

  • ||

    I think instead of simply backing the dollar in gold, competing currencies is preferable. Were gold (or any other commodity - as gold itself need not be anything special) an easily transferable method of payment, it would limit out of control fiat currency naturally. Gold supply fluctuates; any commodity could be converted to it's own currency and work just as well.

  • COINTELPRO||

    A gold standard wouldn't be a bad idea...if you had your own gold mines. But most gold is mined in other countries. What if those countries started an OPEC for gold and artificially jacked up gold prices? What if an outside group cut off the trade route? I'm all for actually making our money worth something, but when you're backing your money with a commodity you don't actually have, you're asking for trouble.

  • ||

    That's why it could be any limited commodity. Hell, you could have various currencies backed with coal, gold, silver, diamond, or whatever. Each of those commodities fluctuate in value, but would all be more stable than fiat currency. I think we could buy in both new commodity backed currencies as well as regular old fiat dollars. It certainly should not be illegal to buy or sell using non-fiat currency.

  • Article 1, Section 10||

    Read me!!

  • ||

    Great interview. I wonder if the way into the Republican mindset on the military is to point out that crony capitalism has infested there as well, that righting that ship would leave more money for the troops, who deserve it.

    I like that... Orthagonal-wing nutjob. That has a nice ring to it."

    Gonna be hard not to steal that line.

  • nekoxgirl||

    I would hope so. Unfortunately, most Republicans still seem too concerned with box-cutter wielding Muslims living in caves on the other side of the world to think rationally about the proper role of the military...so I'm not too optimistic.

  • Gregory Goldmacher||

    Wish there were more GOP candidates like this.

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