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'The Libertarian Party Is the Right Answer, as Broken as It Is:' Larry Sharpe

The LP candidate for the governor of New York wants to cut spending, legalize everything, and give people hope.

The New York governor's race this fall has garnered outsized national attention partly because a well-known actress is mounting a left-wing challenge to the two-term Democratic incumbent, who just happens to be the son of a past governor, a one-time Kennedy family in-law, and a cabinet secretary during the Bill Clinton administration.

Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda on the long-running show Sex and the City, is an unrepentant progressive who has been attacking Andrew Cuomo hard from the left. She's pushing for a higher minimum wage, state-wide rent subsidies, and massive tax funding for New York City's failing subway system. Her stances have won her the endorsement of The Nation, which credits her with pushing Cuomo to the left.

But there's another candidate running for governor who's worth a longer look than either Nixon or Cuomo. Libertarian Party candidate Larry Sharpe is a New York City native, former Marine, and an entrepreneur who came within 32 votes of being Gary Johnson's vice-presidential candidate for the 2016 election. When Reason asked his rival Bill Weld how the LP could become more successful, Weld replied, "You want to get out more candidates like Larry Sharpe."

Sharpe's vision for governing is both starkly realistic and relentlessly libertarian. Where most office-seekers tap dance around questions of cutting spending and regulations, Sharpe doesn't miss a beat in laying out his platform, which is built around returning money and control to individual counties. As a black man who grew up under difficult circumstances in the Bronx and Queens, he insists that the Libertarian message of ending the drug war, curbing overpolicing, cutting occupational licensing, and expanding school choice can find a natural audience among minorities.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Nick Gillespie, Sharpe lays his admittedly long-shot road to victory in November. He also talks about how his military experience and reading the 1970s' classic self-help book Looking Out for #1 helped make him a better, more socially conscious individual.

Introductory segment produced by Austin Bragg. Edited by Ian Keyser. Cameras by Jim Epstein.

'Covert Affair' by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Photo Credits:

Ezio Peterson UPI Photo Service / Newscom

Paul Martinka / Splash News/Newscom

Erik McGregor/Sipa USA/Newscom

Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Paul Gordon/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Bubba Jones||

    I don't think I'd have the balls to divorce a Kennedy.

  • Eidde||

    Just don't let one of them be your chauffeur.

  • Cy||

    I'd only be nervous if I were a pregnant woman.

  • Just Say'n||

    I have no faith in BUC's leadership of the party. Sharpe is one of the better candidates that the LP has put up in a while, but for the most part most of their candidates exist to make people feel better about voting Republican.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    First, it would be BUCS's.

    Second, once I'm Mayor of Phoenix you will eat your words. Mayor of one the biggest cities in America. I will finally have the power to kill Woods.

  • Dillinger||

    BUCS'

    no s

  • gormadoc||

    Depends on how you read it. It's not a universal standard.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Who is Woods?

  • Cy||

    There are "libtertarians" on here who are blatant fascist and socalists. If we could nail down a few actual items to run on and get behind and leave the batshit crazy stuff with the batshit crazy candidates out of it, we might win a few elections.

    Will that happen? Not without some national tragedy.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    If we could nail down a few actual items to run on and get behind and leave the batshit crazy stuff with the batshit crazy candidates out of it, we might win a few elections.

    Libertarians can become more popular if we tell American voters that, above all else, we support open borders.

    Try it sometime with your friends and family members who don't know much about our philosophy. Explain to them that the libertarian position on immigration is shared by many left-wing billionaires as well as right-wing billionaires. E-mail them some Shikha Dalmia articles. With this approach, I've had some level of success convincing my friends that libertarianism isn't as crazy as they thought it was.

  • Cy||

    My god! That's brilliant! Why aren't we doing this?!!?!?

  • Libertymike||

    OBL, now, this is a better troll than the perfunctory post you made this morning in another thread.

  • Cy||

    I'd give it a solid A.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I love that people are more supporting and helpful towards a known troll account then they are towards each other.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I guess trolling brings us together.

  • Cy||

    Wait... I thought we were all trolling. My life is a LIE!

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    This is a much better effort than some of your recent work. New girl or guy in the Chinese Room? Hope you pay her or him a living wage this time!

  • I can't even||

    Throw in a couple of Chapman's if they aren't fully convinced. That should close the deal.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Whoa. Don't overdo it. They'll get suspicious.

  • Thor||

    Disreagrdiang the obvious troll, Libertarians really need to loose the open borders perception.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    I genuinely think that a platform of individualism would resonate very well.

    Say up front that regardless of whatever else it does, government should strive to treat each individual according to his/her own merits, and not lump them into some nameless collective treated only according to some broad-brush generalization.

    That goes for race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. - no special treatment for any individuals on account of these categories.

    That goes for taxes - people should not be charged for government services that they don't consume, even in an intangible way. Taxes should be closer to a user fee model. This is to respect the time and labor of individuals who would otherwise be forced to work to pay for things that they don't use.

    That goes for labor - people should be free to form unions if they wish, or not. No mandatory union dues, no special legal privileges for labor unions. People should be free to enter into any labor contract that they want - no minimum wage, no prohibitions on sex work, etc.

    The point is that these can be justified not merely on the basis of liberty and natural rights, but based on respect for the dignity of the individual to make his/her choices free of undue restraint.

  • JFree||

    I genuinely think that a platform of individualism would resonate very well.

    I think a personal connection to the individual in front of you resonates better than any 'idea'.

    Yes - the abstract idea about how individuals should be treated and should be free will inform that.

    But what actually gets the resonation is the little stuff of personal respect. Not libertarian at all really. The stuff of Dale Carnegie (and a lot of pols when they do retail politics). Looking people in the eye. We not you. Listening not talking. Asking questions so people themselves can make the self-identification (that's where the Nolan test - or a less dated version re specifics - works quite well). And yeah kissing babies and shaking hands and posing for group selfies.

    Some people have that personality. Some don't. Those who do are the right candidates. Those who don't are the advisors or organizers or policy wonks or speechwriters or somesuch. 'Politics' has a natural division of labor too.

  • Jerryskids||

    The Libertarian Party is the answer to the question nobody in the history of government has ever asked: "Since we've made things so much worse by fucking with it, do you think we should try not fucking with it to see if it gets better all by itself?"

  • Cy||

    Being anti-government when 85% of the population receives or has received some form of government money goes over about as well as you'd expect.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    The problem is that people see the government money they get, not the money that the pay especially outside of income taxes.

    For example, nobody talks about the horrible returns on social security. Heritage estimates on average 1.23%. Nobody would accept a long-term investment at that rate of return. Just imagine if you could save those payroll taxes and put them into your IRA.

    Then there are the people who pay little or nothing in terms of income taxes directly and receive what they perceive as tax-free benefits. Except that they don't see the impact on wages, gasoline prices, tariffs, etc that they pay to the feds indirectly.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Unfortunately, many people will never save for retirement. I am no fan of social security, but that will be the only income some people will see, because they simply have no concept of preparing for the futurw.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Somehow, by the grace of God, people were able to survive prior to Social Security.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    That's the superstitious rube's position.

  • Exocetmd||

    Though, in fairness, the average life expectancy in 1950 was 66 yrs for a man. In 1940 it was 61.

  • gormadoc||

    The Great Depression sucked.

  • JFree||

    the average life expectancy in 1950 was 66 yrs for a man. In 1940 it was 61

    That huge difference in one decade is entirely because of penicillin/antibiotics. Not sure that really affected SS that much though.

    Life expectancy AT age 65 is more directly relevant. In 1900, it was 12 years. By 1950, it was 13 years. 1980 - 14 years. Now - 16 years. Virtually the entire differential is to the top-half of income at that age - bottom half is still 12-13 years.

    All those who die before 65 are a profit center for the SS system. Those who live longer (higher income) are the drain - esp re Medicare.

    Those two systems are middle-class and above entitlements. Paid for via a slightly regressive tax.

  • JFree||

    Anti-government is not the same as anti-coercion or NAP.

  • Eidde||

    "When Reason asked his rival Bill Weld how the LP could become more successful, Weld replied, "You want to get out more candidates like Larry Sharpe."

    Ouch, kiss of death.

    Also, did I miss the transcript of the interview?

  • Zeb||

    What's the question?

  • Eidde||

    "Where's Juan the gay pot-dealer?"

  • Cy||

    Running for office in CA.

  • Eidde||

    Well, it takes Juan to know Juan.

  • Cy||

    Why do they keep going the Juan way?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Juan flew over the cuckoo's nest.

  • Dillinger||

    pho better in gay pot.

  • Rhywun||

    New York City's failing subway system

    LOL - you weren't around in the 70's, were you? OK, I wasn't either... but by all accounts (and by every measure that I've seen) it's light years better today that it was then. Let's keep things in perspective.

  • NoVaNick||

    Well, the graffiti made things interesting at least back then, along with the constant possibility of getting mugged, stabbed, or sitting next to a masturbator

  • Cy||

    "Well, the graffiti made things interesting at least back then, along with the constant possibility of getting mugged, stabbed, or sitting next to a masturbator"

    Soros had to grow up eventually. I just wish he'd found a better mentor than Emperor Palpatine.

  • SIV||

    Giuliani truly ruined New York City.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    It's still very possible to sit next someone who is masturbating on the subway but they've developed more subtle techniques so you don't always notice until the damp patch appears.

  • damikesc||

    Today, my poop was soft.

    Yesterday, it looked like a cluster of sea monkeys.

    It's better, to be sure, but still...

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Mine was soft today too!

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""it's light years better today that it was then. Let's keep things in perspective."'

    It's crappier than it was in 1990 when I moved here.

    But I think that's largely because they are doing too much work at one time. They will tell you to take X because Y is under construction but X sucks because it's under construction too. So you have all the riders from Y going to X and X is running less due to construction so it's stupid crowded.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""and massive tax funding for New York City's failing subway system.""

    I guess she doesn't know this is already true. I guess she wants it more bigly.

  • commentator||

    Shockingly, while she thinks the state should be funding the MTA more, Nixon also actually wants to go after the unions, unlike Cuomo. She outright said the current union contracts aren't "fiscally responsible."

  • JeremyR||

    Realistically the only way for the LP to succeed is for them to attract a celebrity with a lot of charisma (and money). And one that either doesn't say stupid stuff or is able to bluster his way through it (like Trump)

  • DenverJ||

    Penn And Teller?

  • DenverJ||

    *AND

  • Eidde||

    Find one of the sex-worker rights activists.

    Use the usual jokes about whores in government.

  • Echospinner||

    The major problem is we libertarians don't have the money to fund a major election. Wihout that we are not going to get a candidate who can win over enough voters to win anything.

    There are other issues. American voters have been duped for too long into believing that there are only two political parties, along with some kooks who get on the ballot from time to time. Then there are a large percentage who believe that voting your conscience for a minority candidate is "throwing your vote away". This is how the establishment politicians maintain power. Red, blue, has it made much difference? Same people, different hats.

    Personally I have never regretted voting for a libertarian or libertarian-ish candidate.

  • JFree||

    we are not going to get a candidate who can win over enough voters to win anything.

    Libertarians need to stop hoping for a candidate to deliver votes for libertarian ideas. Isn't that just reinforcing the passive gimme-something-for-nothing model that kills personal responsibility?

  • IceTrey||

    The problem the LP has is getting people who don't believe government should exist to vote you into office.

  • Rockabilly||

    But isn't governmeth there to tell me what to do? What will I know what to do if governmeth doesn't force me?

    How will I know to puts money aside for retirement or buy some Obamacare or not take the LSD?

  • Thor||

    One thing is certain, Libertarians are going to have to run better candidates if they are going to have a chance. This guy seems pretty sensible, but he doesn't stand a chance in that environment.

  • Eidde||

    "No, honey, I said marry a *rich* doctor!"

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Haha!

  • Flaco||

    Larry needs to talk a little slower. Nobody trusts a person who talks that fast.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    He's got the energy though, unlike GayJay who seemed to think that being a lackadaisical idiot would win over the voters.

  • NoVaNick||

    Things will have to get a lot worse before they get better for the LP. Maaybe in 2024 or so, after Americans have grown sick and tired of prog dem rule, and the GOP is still carrying the weight of Trump, there will be an opportunity.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Larry Sharpe is an OK candidate, but it's a shame he got off to a bad start by throwing a tantrum over internal politics. He should have just waited for the convention to push for replacing Vohra. As luck would have it, Real Clear Science linked to an article today that cited two articles related to the Vohra controversy.

    One is the UNICEF Report on child marriages. It mentions how the prevalence of child marriage varies from country to country but is declining everywhere.

    The other is a PBS article about child marriages in the USA. It says:


    So far, advocates have struck a few compromises in statehouses across the country. This year, New York raised its minimum marriage age from 14 to 17, Connecticut banned marriage before 16 and Texas passed a law that will only allow 16 and 17 year olds who are already emancipated — or given the legal rights of an adult — to marry.

    Did candidate Sharpe bother to make raising the minimum age of marriage in New York to 18 part of his platform?

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The PBS article also said:


    David Bates, a Republican legislator in New Hampshire, vocally opposed a bill in his home state that would have raised the marriage age to 18. Bates worried that soldiers, who may join the military at 17, might be prevented from marrying their partners before being deployed. A ban would also lead to more single-parent households, he argued.

    "If we pass this we will be ensuring forever that every child born to a minor is born out of wedlock," he said.

    In some states, like California, opposition has come from civil liberty groups and lawyers who work with foster youth.

    The American Civil Liberties Union of California argued that banning marriage before 18 "unnecessarily and unduly intrudes on the fundamental right of marriage."

    The Children's Law Center of California, a group that offers legal services to foster youth, worried that raising the marriage age would strip minors of one of their only pathways to exit foster care through emancipation.

    So, there are established politicians fighting to keep the age of marriage relatively low. It is the ACLU verse UNICEF when it comes to minors marrying. I'll just sit back and watch the cognitive dissidence on the left side of the room now.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The New York State budget is $100 Billion. The state spends $4 Billion on protection and criminal justice, $4 Billion on transportation, $5 Billion on mental hygiene, $22 Billion on Health, and $41 Billion on education, arts, and higher education. The state education funds are in addition to what local school districts spend. The state funds make it possible for New York schools to spend much more than the national average per pupil and inflate the cost of educational services. My plan for fixing Upstate New York is to eliminate state spending on mental hygiene, return $20 Billion of that back to the residences in the form of a tax cut, dedicate $20 Billion to debt reduction, and spend $6 billion per year on highways and plumbing in Upstate New York until we have the infrastructure to turn a few counties into cities the size of Philadelphia.

  • commentator||

    You just reduced revenue by 20 billion with tax cuts, added 20 billion more in costs for debt reduction(with money coming from where?), and only cut 5 billion in spending on mental hygiene. The budget is even less balanced than before.

    And what's stopping you from privatizing the highways? Why would you want to subsidize upstate NY?

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