I had the opportunity to chat with Kim Ruff, one of the 2020 presidential candidates for the Libertarian party. This was very exciting for me because I have been following the candidates fairly close, and I think that the Ruff/Phillips campaign has been doing very well.
Ruff first got involved in 2009, and in the intervening years, she worked on both state and federal campaigns in various capacities, founded a county chapter, sat in various positions on county, state, and national affiliates and caucuses, and had been incorporated in various voter outreach endeavors, including petitioning, registration, and signature-gathering for referendums, initiatives, and recalls.
Ruff is very prolific and wrote several pages in response to my questions. I would love to publish it all, but I am going to highlight some of the strongest points here.
- First of all, let’s start with a softball. Why did you decide to run for the office of president?
“I, for one, am tired of waiting for the Perfect Candidate™ to represent us on the national stage, so I did what so many others have done at various other levels – I stepped outside of my comfort zone and stepped up. It is my sincere hope that in building this campaign and running for office, I can encourage others to get involved and step in front of the camera lens instead of standing behind it. Our team is building an infrastructure that rightly recognizes the biggest asset to our Movement are our down-ballot candidates and local and state volunteers. It is designed to transcend the lifespan of the campaign and serve as a resource that continues to help build on our momentum, rather than dissipate once the dust settles.”
2. There are a handful of other Libertarian candidates running for president. Being that this is a tight-knit group, as in we are all very familiar with one another, I am not looking for any badmouthing. However, what sets you apart from the other candidates running for the Libertarian nomination?
“I am so glad you weren’t looking for me to say something negative about my competitors because I don’t see any value in casting aspersion on them since the overwhelming majority of them are absolutely doing this for the right reasons.
The biggest differences between the Ruff/Phillips 2020 Campaign and theirs, outside of the fact that we chose to run as a pre-determined ticket knowing full well that we might not be after the National Convention in 2020, [is that] we focus primarily on issues that are relevant to that position, such as foreign policy / international relations, intelligence, military and war, criminal justice reform at the federal level, and all other issues that pertain directly to the Executive Branch. We have a strategy that focuses on states lacking ballot access by partnering with their SECs. We have State Directors throughout the country who are responsible for not only ensuring our presence at the local and state level.
3. Assuming that a Libertarian could make it into the debates, how would you handle being on the debate stage with Trump?
“In the debates and all other political stages, we have a moral obligation to never let the tail wag the dog, which is to say, we need to be in control of the narrative. That means questioning the very premises upon which the questions we get asked are founded, and never letting mainstream media dictate who we are or what we believe. Our job is to do the political equivalent of Muhammad Ali and “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,’ because the kindest thing you can do is tell people the truth so that they can make educated decisions.”
4. Many people in the Libertarian party believe that voting is aggression and will not vote. How much do you think this hurts the liberty movement?
“I would be the last person to say voting isn’t aggression because the very system is built on a faulty premise: that a simple majority of those that cast votes have the right to dictate who should rule everyone else with zero regards for the will or natural rights of everyone else. No one should have that right, nor should society have a duty to ensure this happens. This is antithetical to the very things we, as libertarians, believe.
That being said, we live in this society with this political system, and because we rightly recognize the natural rights of individuals to life, liberty, and justly-acquired property, we must fight back against all infringements on them. We absolutely have the moral authority to wage a revolution, but most of us recognize that the monopoly on force that the state possesses, combined with the fact that most people are of the mentality they are because they have been indoctrinated into this mindset, would be costly and ineffectual. Overthrowing our existing government wouldn’t ensure a truly free society; more than likely, people would turn right around and recreate the very system we managed to cast off. Thus, we try to work within the existing system and use it as a platform to effect positive change and correct the false narrative that government is good and the cure for all that ails you (including government.)”
5. There is the idea that a Libertarian candidate should be more concentrated on spreading the message and ideas of Libertarianism as there is “no chance” that they’d ever be elected. Though considered successful, it is evident with how popular Larry Sharpe’s campaign was, and yet the small numbers he pulled. Do you believe that Libertarian candidates should be more focused on spreading the message of Libertarianism or do you think that they should be more focused on winning? Or are these two ideas NOT mutually exclusive?
I have so much respect and admiration for Larry Sharpe and his entire team for what they willingly and without reservation did to fight possibly one of the most entrenched, tyrannical states in the entire union by running for Governor in 2018. He outworked, outspent, and outran his opposition, and even with the seemingly “paltry” gains, he made a huge dent and impact in New York that will reverberate for years to come. He ensured ballot access and recognized party status, something they’ve never had, and, just as we hope to do, creating an infrastructure and team that have transcended the lifespan of their campaign to ensure greater successes in future campaigns in New York. Sharpe is absolutely doing it right.
“Education” and “winning” are not mutually exclusive, and should not be viewed that way, any more than being “radical” and “pragmatic” aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive concepts. Every candidate should use their platform and podium as an opportunity to educate the electorate on these ideas while campaigning hard to win.
That being said, we also have to be realistic about the obstacles we face and come up with a strategy that has the highest probability of effecting positive changes should we not win so that those who come next can build on that foundation, rather than have to fix our “mistakes.” When we view candidacy as a matter of winning versus educating, we create a false dichotomy that makes it permissible to sugarcoat or misrepresent what we believe for wider public appeal, and that’s a fatal mistake not only for any campaign but those that follow suit.”
6. There has been outward support for other candidates, such as Tulsi Gabbard, with Libertarians looking at such candidates like this, how do you anticipate winning them back?
“We will continue to stay the course, garner attention, and build momentum. Many folks are looking at Tulsi as being another ‘close enough’ candidate because they genuinely worry we can’t do it. We absolutely can and will.”
7. You’re the only Libertarian candidate to have a running mate, thus far. Was this a tactic in an attempt to have a bigger initial boost or was it more organic with Phillips?
“The rationale for running with someone else is that you can make more of a difference, raise more money, and take more media and speaking opportunities when you have two candidates working side by side. As Libertarians, we have historically waited until the National Convention to permit the delegates to decide who should run and why, and while we wholeheartedly accept and respect whatever decision they will make come 2020, we also recognize that if one wants to make a significant difference, they can’t do it alone and they have to start early. So John and I, who are good friends and of the same mind on darn near everything, decided to run a campaign as we’d already been chosen and lay the groundwork now.”
8. We would all like to see some of the prominent Libertarian figures in the cabinet, like Scott Horton as the Secretary of State, is this the direction that you would take your cabinet, or do you believe that there is a necessary amount of established people who would need to stay?
“Some of the biggest “lifers” in government are not the elected officials themselves, but the people who have worked through multiple administration changes. We have people who have been in the White House since Carter and Ford, shaping policy and maintaining the status quo. The status quo is continual consolidation of control in the federal government, particularly the Executive Branch, and perpetual war. I don’t care if you are really, really good at what you do, what you do isn’t ethical.
Insofar as cabinet positions, I want individuals who are unequivocally committed to ensuring liberty in their lifetimes and that I can trust implicitly to do the right thing with minimal supervision. As an Operations Director, I believe that you surround yourself with highly-talented, eminently-qualified, mission-oriented individuals and let them work their magic.”
9. We would all like to see the state torn down, but reality wouldn’t allow that. There are many issues that the president has control of, and I have heard you talk about reigning in the powers of the presidency before, but what departments/programs/executive orders, if any, would you put a stop too and how soon?
“The very first thing I would do – and this echoes the sentiments of my fellow competitors – is immediately granted a full pardon all victimless criminals serving time in federal penitentiaries. Caging people only guilty of having run afoul of unethical laws and letting them sit for another single, solitary moment is totally unacceptable.
The next thing I would do is immediately cease all foreign wars of aggression and bring our troops home. The only surefire way to make our world a better, safer place is to stop being the aggressor on the international stage. An international atmosphere built on diplomacy without capitulation and free trade builds healthy, respectful relationships.
Additionally, I would withdraw us from supra-national organizations, such as the United Nations, and trade agreements that give greater consideration or deference to the products and services of one nation over another. Free trade means permitting consumers the opportunity to decide what they want and how much they value it, and trade agreements limit our options and stifle innovation and progress.
I would conduct a full-scale audit of all federal prosecutors by reviewing their previous cases and conviction rates. Any prosecutor found responsible for valuing convictions over the truth will be immediately fired and disbarred. I will not tolerate men and women making their career on the subjugation of otherwise innocent people.
I will remove the teeth from the DEA and ATF so that they no longer have the ability to enforce unconstitutional, unethical federal legislation that limits the individual’s right to decide what they can or cannot put in their body, or by what means they are permitted to defend themselves from encroachments of their rights to life, liberty, or justly-acquired property. I will reduce the intelligence community by well over 75%; there is no justifiable reason for there to be 17-different agencies, housed under three different departments within the Executive Branch.
I will overturn any previous Executive Orders that vested greater control of the authority in the Executive Branch than what is expressly permitted in the Constitution. In that same vein, I will dissolve any department within the Executive Branch that is unconstitutional, including – but not limited to – the Department of Education. Furthermore, I will visit Congress within the first week of assuming office and put them on notice. Any legislation they pass for a signature that proposes to do anything other than reduce government, our federal debt, or end the Federal Reserve will be immediately vetoed. I have zero issues spending the entirety of my Presidency not passing any legislation if the legislation that is proposed is bad.
10. Kim, thank you for your time. Please tell people where they can find out more about you, how they can get involved, and how they can donate to the campaign.
“Thank you so much for your time! You can learn more about me at www.ruffphillips2020.com, or by visiting our Facebook Campaign Page at Kim Ruff/John Phillips for POTUS and VPOTUS in 2020. Additionally, we can be found on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and a dozen other social media sites. If you wish to get involved or donate to our campaign, you can do so through our website.”
Read more from Rocky at Being Libertarian here.