REASON Profile: Ellen Davis


Recently, more and more women have been taking activist roles in libertarian politics. A good example is Ellen Davis, who is currently running as the Free Libertarian Party's candidate for Dutchess County (Poughkeepsie, NY) Executive. Last year, she was Campaign Manager for FLP Congressional candidate Sandy Cohen, who, while only getting a small percentage of the vote, put libertarianism and the FLP on the political map in Poughkeepsie. "I like being a candidate more than a campaign manager," says Davis. "Being a campaign manager has tremendous responsibility, while being a candidate has tremendous anxiety and excitement."

Before discovering libertarianism, Davis had been a McGovernite liberal. "I was somewhat familiar with the philosophy but thought it was a nice dream; I didn't know anybody out there that believed it or thought it could work. Then I met Sandy and got to be friends with him, and he explained the whole thing to me from roads to zoning to human rights, and by the time I had the usual liberal dumb questions satisfied in my mind I was ready to go out and slay dragons. But I wouldn't type. That's how I became an activist."

Davis, 31, has a B.S. in education from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, and an M.A. in literature from State University of New York at New Paltz. She has been teaching English for nine years at Beacon High School in Poughkeepsie.

Davis has five Manx cats and says that her hobbies include vegetable and landscape gardening, reading, and politics. "I used to read a lot of novels but they got dull after awhile because my life got more exciting than the novels." Now she reads books about libertarianism, economics, history, and philosophy. Right now she is reading F.A. Hayek's Road to Serfdom, and enjoys Rothbard and Hospers. "And I thought The Incredible Bread Machine was the best thing I've read in years."

Now Davis keeps busy campaigning and writing several press releases a week for her campaign and for FLP candidate Carole Cohen's campaign for Mayor of Poughkeepsie. In addition to her running as FLP, Davis is running in the Democratic Primary. She feels that the best way to spread libertarianism is through politics, which she sees as self-defense. "With the amount of free ink that you get from the media, I think you can change peoples' minds, I think you can win elections, and then you can really change the way things work.…And we're having an effect: the Republicans, Democrats, and Conservatives are scared to death of us. They are worried about our viability and would like nothing more than to engulf us."