REASON Profile: Sanford Cohen


At a time when other libertarian political candidates are just getting their 1974 campaigns started, Free Libertarian Party candidate Sanford Cohen's bid to unseat New York liberal Congressman Hamilton Fish is well underway, with an enthusiastic and experienced group of "Citizens for Cohen" (Box 1776, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601) carrying the libertarian message to the far corners of the 25th District. They've been at it for a while—believing that it takes time to build an efficient campaign organization and to get the news media and citizenry to take libertarian ideas seriously, 31-year-old Sandy Cohen began actively campaigning over 18 months ago!

In addition to his political activities, Cohen continues to pursue his primary vocations: teaching special education and general math at Beacon High School and being the owner and director of The Reading Lab—a private facility specializing in reading instruction. He has had a variety of other work experiences, including merchandising and management, and has been active in many civic and professional organizations.

Sandy lives in Poughkeepsie with his wife, Carole, their two children, Jennifer and Brock, and his "libertarian" dog ("It's a big Weimaraner and it does whatever it wants—but noncoercively"). When time permits he enjoys playing tennis and reading nonfiction works, mainly in economics (his undergraduate major in college).

Cohen credits Jay Bloom, a professor of economics at SUNY–New Paltz, with introducing him about 10 years ago to such libertarian writers as Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard and thereby effecting his transformation from liberal to libertarian. Although Cohen finds the idea of spreading libertarianism through strictly educational means appealing, he is impatient with libertarians who think that that's the only way to go—"It seems to me there are many people who are libertarians because it's so easy—you don't have to do anything. They have plans for writing The Great Libertarian Novel or Treatise and think that's sufficient. In fact, we already have the philosophers and the philosophical base for building a Free Society—for the rest of us actions speak louder than words. That's why I'm in politics—it enables one to reach the most people in the shortest period of time. The press releases I write dealing with various issues get picked up by the media—our campaign reaches 300,000 to half a million million people a week. That's an impressive educational effort right there, plus getting elected will give me a chance to change the system from within."