"Libertarians believe that you should be as conservative or as liberal as you want to be as long as you don't want to force yourself on others," says Larry Sharpe, Libertarian candidate for governor of New York.
Sharpe is an unusual Libertarian candidate because he's doing well in some polls.
One found Sharpe getting 13 percent, and after people heard his campaign pitch, 25 percent. That would put him in second place, ahead of the Republican.
So of course the establishment shuts him out—he and other third-party candidates weren't allowed in the one gubernatorial debate.
Sharpe wins fans by arguing that it would be good if individuals make their own decisions without government spending constantly getting in the way.
"What we understand as libertarians is at the end of every single law is a guy or gal with a gun who's going to put you in a cage; if you don't want to go in that cage, they're going to shoot you. What that means is you should only use the law when there is loss of life, health, limb, property, or liberty… Not because I don't like what you're doing."
That's refreshing to hear from a politician.
No new government programs under a Sharpe administration, then?
"No, no, no, no, no, no," he assures me.
At least one candidate doesn't want to make government bigger.
New York faces a $4.4 billion deficit. Current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed raising taxes.
Sharpe has other ideas.
"Lease naming rights on our infrastructure," he says in my latest internet video. "The Triborough Bridge could be called the Staples Bridge, or the Apple Bridge."
My staff asked some New Yorkers what they thought about leasing naming rights to bridges and tunnels. "Bad idea!" said one woman. "It's commercializing!" Most people were opposed.
I said that to Sharpe.
"You know what she should do?" he responded. "Start a nonprofit, raise $30 million, she can name it whatever she wants."
One man said he didn't "want to rename something after some sort of corporation!"
"Shake your fist and say, 'This doesn't sound good,'" replied Sharpe. "You're going to wind up in a place where the tax burden is insanely high."
Under our current system, many bridges and other public structures advertise anyway—but they promote politicians. Gov. Cuomo just named a bridge after his father.
"An imperial bridge named after our royal family!" said Sharpe with a laugh. "I'm embarrassed."
We libertarians don't think politicians deserve monuments just because they got elected.
"Tell you what I'll do," said Sharpe. "(Governor Cuomo's) got $30 million a year? He can keep his name on that bridge and take care of the maintenance."
Sharpe applies similar thinking to New York's decrepit subway system.
"We have lines on the MTA right now not being used at night. Home Depot or Google or Amazon or whomever—they can use these lines…move their freight…. They'll pay. Win-win."
Sharpe's campaign is attracting new people. His rallies draw bigger crowds than minor party candidates normally get.
"If you're unhappy with the system, you've got to change it," he said on Joe Rogan's podcast.
For a libertarian, Sharpe surprised me by saying he wouldn't dream of proposing cuts to existing welfare programs. "Pull the rug out from somebody, somebody's going to be afraid," he explains. If voters fear you, they don't vote for you.
I assume he'd shrink those programs eventually, maybe after other parts of government were reduced and the economy improves as a result.
He also sounds friendlier to labor unions than most libertarians. "Collective bargaining is fine. My issue with the unions has always been: Are you forcing me?… I have a problem with (union shop laws). But you're voluntarily doing it? I don't have a problem at all."
Listening to Sharpe is very different from hearing most Republicans and Democrats.
"Because no one has any new ideas," he says. "No ideas how to fix anything or do anything right…. I'm a third party. I have to have ideas or no one will listen to me."
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