I don’t really believe ‘libertarian’ is the most clear-cut thing in the world to label yourself as. I’ve met anarcho-capitalists using the logo; I’ve seen a lot of people such as myself who represent a very pragmatic approach to libertarianism found with senator Rand Paul or Governor Gary Johnson; and I’ve also seen some green libertarians who advocate some form of communism, who also claim the logo. However, all of these people still seem to want more freedom at the end of the day, and in elements of themselves stand for free markets, social liberties, and foreign peace.
On the other hand, we have Jesse Ventura.
Ventura is sort of the ultimate parody of a libertarian – but not actually a libertarian. He’s an enraged conspiracy theorist that runs around every four years saying he’s considering running for president, and uses his terrible record as Governor of Minnesota to get people to take him seriously. With that lunatic haircut and normal attire representing a homeless person with money, he just manages to find himself getting more national news over anyone else in the liberty movement, but just ensuring more libertarians can’t get national attention. Also claiming nonsense about how he wants Ron Paul to make him VP in 2012, but likely has not had a single conversation with Paul in years, he sticks out as an embarrassment. For 2016 though, it for a while seemed that his days of flirting with the liberty movement were over, on the basis of him endorsing Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump for their parties’ respective nominations. Yet, with Sanders losing to Hillary, Ventura now has shown his usual unserious signs of pursuing another run and this time for the Libertarian Party ticket.
- Irrelevant factors
I want to state some points on Jesse Ventura to clarify the reasons I’m not factoring into him not being a libertarian. These are items I do not particularly care for about him, but had no factor in me just asking him to end his effort to claim he’s for freedom.
I am an advocate for more GMO technology, I think vaccines are the greatest miracle to mankind, and as a New Yorker, I believe the truther movement is a disgusting Alex Jones effort to line his own pockets. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and think the people in the liberty movement labeling themselves as such should probably go hang out with the Bernie Sanders crowd, to just embarrass that movement.
That said… Jesse Ventura could still be a libertarian and a conspiracy theorist. If he went out to say he wants Davis Bacon abolished, gun bans eliminated and less war, I’d happily call him a libertarian who I just find embarrassing. So, no, I’m not being mean to the tinfoil hat crew.
The Chris Kyle Thing
This is an issue where I actually take Ventura’s side. Chris Kyle, before his tragic death, did indeed write a book slandering Ventura and making up a completely false story about him. The book has sold over 50 million USD worth of copies and was turned into an Academy Award winning winter blockbuster film starring Bradley Cooper. Ventura said if Kyle’s widow would just admit the story was false and remove it from future copies of the book, he’d happily drop the lawsuit. She didn’t comply, and Ventura rightfully won. An insurance company on the book paid the settlement and the Kyle family has still made millions in residuals on the book, film and speaking opportunities.
I can’t hold anything against him in the ways Glenn Beck and others have panned him.
Oh, hell yes; he looks like a whack-job. Him being on TV with that strange haircut and hobo-like look embarrasses our movement every single time he talks and cites himself as one of us. That said, I can’t call someone not a libertarian for how they look or act.
- Factors why he is not a libertarian
Going past these points, it’s time to explain why he’s absolutely not a libertarian. I’ll break it up into the three aspects of any political ideology: foreign, social, and economic policy. With this, I believe all will see he in no way, shape, or form represents libertarianism.
I’ll admit Ventura is very rightfully anti-war. He did oppose the Iraq War and was quoted saying that Afghanistan would turn into a mistake very early on. He has been principled on this throughout his entire career, and while I question him having the actual facts or knowledge behind him on this, he’s still pretty much on point when it comes to war and the military.
However, where he’s not a libertarian on foreign policy is his views on trade. Ventura was elected governor on the anti-trade Reform Party ticket, formed by the original king of tariff advocacy, Ross Perot. Ventura has cited bizarre New World Order conspiracies as his reason for opposing trade, and believes in mass tariffs, if not bans, with China, Mexico, India and other nations for trade.
I recently wrote an article on why trade is an economic miracle and how in all cases we should support TPP, NAFTA and other efforts to expand tariff and regulation-free trade with other countries. There’s also just the importance of it to foreign policy. A world not connected with travel, trade, immigration and communication is simply not a safe world. What makes America have virtually no foreign conflicts with non-Middle Eastern nations is economic dependence. China and the United States ever entering a foreign conflict and canceling out trade would destroy the entire global economy. It’d just be a pure disaster.
In this, Jesse Ventura isn’t exactly bad on foreign policy, but his rogue protectionist views do strike him away from being labeled a libertarian.
This is where many people reading would probably think he’s perfect. Which well, he’s pro-choice, for legalizing marijuana, pro-gay marriage, for legalizing prostitution, anti-NSA and against police brutality. On every single issue there, he took a completely libertarian stance, and stood up for social freedoms. He checks out completely here and deserves a… Oh, wait, he’s extremely anti-Second Amendment.
To those who weren’t aware: Ventura as governor was one of the most rogue opponents of the Second Amendment in elected office. Not only was he a supporter of the assault weapons ban, but as governor, he supported an initiative to have gun permits treated similar to drivers licenses. He called for long wait times to get a permit, background checks which would allow the government to call any of your friends or family to interview them about you buying a gun, and the worst of the worst, a mandated training course by the government in order to hold a permit. Meaning, the people who are seeking gun ownership for basic protection which could follow as regular people just noticing their neighborhood feels less safe are now going to have massive disincentives from the government to ever buy a gun. Plus, for Ventura who talks about government oppression constantly, he brings a real opportunity for government to take something such as a one hour training course and turn it into a hundred hour course no one will ever actually participate in, unless they have the desire to really kill someone.
I’m happy Ventura stands up for a woman’s right to choose. I’m also happy he stands up for the legalization of marijuana. Yet Second Amendment rights and the rights to protection are as vital in the Constitution and principles of liberty as the First Amendment. This is why gun ownership and freedom of speech sit next to each other in the Constitution. He’s not terrible on social issues by any means, but pretty much the same as Bernie Sanders or really 90% of Democrats.
This is where he just universally shines as anti-liberty. Instead of wasting time with paragraphs and so on, I’ll just bullet point it all. The long list of ways and reasons Ventura is on economic policy as bad, or worse, than Bernie Sanders.
– Extremely anti-free trade
– Has called for single payer medicine
– Supported a valued-added tax (VAT)
– Raised taxes numerous times as governor
– Left his state with a massive deficit
– Called for a national bank
– Wants massive financial regulations
– Supports a $15 minimum wage
– Supports universal (free) college
– Labeled himself as a form of communist…
He shares the disaster views of Bernie Sanders, but someone doesn’t get the 23 year old kid at Starbucks backing him. On economics, he is visibly, and even by his own admission, a socialist/communist. With that, he has no belonging at all with the Libertarian Party.
Jesse Ventura is a fun guy. When I was 15, I was waiting outside of Ron Paul’s office to meet him and ended up spending an hour talking to Ventura in the lobby. He is a fun guy, but his record and current policy stances just don’t represent the idea that he’s at all a match for the LP. He’s just a regular anti-establishment guy who probably believes Reptile People control the Earth.
Yet, I still want him to run for president. Just not on the Libertarian Party ticket. This being for three reasons:
- He’d remove the conspiracy theorist base from the Libertarian Party for the 2016 election, giving Gary Johnson or another candidate a clearer cut movement to operate with.
- He’d very likely be able to break 2% of the vote nationally and aid in breaking down the two larger parties, helping the Libertarian Party make it to the national stage.
- He could really help in bashing the establishment where he does agree with the liberty movement.
I’d probably vote for Hillary Clinton or even Donald Trump before Jesse Ventura. Yet I’d find his run somewhat beneficial to the liberty movement as a whole in that it can help whoever the LP nominee is.
With that? Run Jesse Run! Just not in the LP!
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Charles Peralo, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC
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