MyGauntlet is primarily authored and run by Diane Merriam.
I've been interested in the linked fields of Political Science, Economics and Philosophy with a smattering of History, Sociology and Psychology for most of my adult life, researching and reading widely since the 70's although my formal degrees are in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (there were no degrees available in Energy Engineering at the time so I made my own).
I've been active in actual politics on and off since 1980, when I first discovered the Libertarian Party at the State Fair in Louisville, KY. I was 3rd District Rep and then Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Kentucky.
Life intervened and I went dormant until the late 1990's when I ran for Congress twice in the 9th District, Indiana as the Libertarian candidate.
I became active again in 2013 when I moved to Bowling Green, KY.
I wrote the following political introduction for my first campaign in 1996 and it's just as valid today, if not more so, as it was then.
The introduction to my campaign I wrote when I first ran for office in 1996
I am 39 and married, with three children. I have a bachelors degree in applied science (engineering) from Speed School at the University of Louisville. I have been self-employed as a computer programmer for the last nine years. My primary interests outside of work have been in the broad areas of philosophy, economics, politics, psychology, and how they all tie together.
For many years I didn't know where to place myself on the political spectrum. I liked much of what the Republicans said about economic issues, but I preferred much of what the Democrats said on social issues. I was tired of voting for the lesser of two evils and trying to figure out which would hurt me the least. I wanted to vote FOR, not against. In 1979 I found the Libertarians, the only party I have seen that is consistently for individual freedom and responsibility on both economic AND social issues and which consistently fields candidates whom I can vote FOR. Even when we don't win we are telling those who do that there is an ever increasing group of people who do care where our country is going, but cannot support the candidates and principles that the "major" parties promote.
I want the government out of my billfold, out of my bedroom and off of my back. As long as I'm not hurting anyone else or putting them in imminent danger, leave me alone. The only way I can get the government off of my back is to work to get it off of yours as well. This is why I am running for Congress.
Over the years I have seen the "major" parties become more and more alike, differing only in the areas of life that they want to control, but not in the overall level of control. That seems to only go up. In addition, the number of companies, organizations, and foreign interests who, one way or another, fill the campaign coffers of the candidates and the lobbyists' positions in Washington seem to keep going up and are becoming more brazen about it every day. We truly seem to have "the best Congress money can buy." It is very difficult to get elected without the big money to pay for the direct mail campaigns and the mass media exposure, and no one who knows what it took to get elected and wants to get re-elected is going to bite the hand that feeds them.
What I hope to accomplish is to be a loud and independent voice in Congress for the interests of the smallest minority of all ... the individual. I will not vote for any legislation that I have not read and understood for myself. I will not vote for any legislation that increases federal interference in the life on any law abiding citizen. I WILL work for any legislation that reduces or does away with laws and agencies that try to dictate how a person who has done no harm to anyone else will live, act, spend his time or money, what he can own, what he can read, or what he can say. I will push for legislation that regularizes punishment for those who DO harm others and which also includes provisions for the offenders to make reparations to the victims of their crimes.
We need a defense that is strong enough to deter any would be aggressor from attacking us, but we do not need to be the policeman for the world, nor should we place our own men and women in uniform at the disposal of others. We need free trade, not freely regulated trade.
We need to recognize that the needs and circumstances of another cannot be known by anyone better than that person themselves and especially not by some bureaucrat that knows nothing of them as an individual. We need to recognize that most problems do not have solutions, only trade-offs. We need to recognize that every action has consequences and that those consequences are often not foreseen. At least when the choices are made by individuals and those individuals take responsibility for the consequences any possible damage is necessarily limited. When the government makes the choices, everyone is FORCED to go along and the consequences are paid by those who had no choice (or only the alternative of prison). Authority and responsibility are not equal.
Another very disturbing trend is that of judges making law from the bench and executive agencies running amok. The Constitution grants EXCLUSIVE legislative authority to Congress. Judges are supposed to judge against the law as written and intended, not as they want it to be. If the people do not like a law or how it was intended we should elect people who will change the law, not allow appointed judges to change the law on their own whim. The executive branch is supposed to enforce the law as written and execute the decisions of the courts. Congress has set up and allowed executive agencies to act as legislator, judge, jury, and executioner without significant, if any, oversight from Congress and often even without appeal to the courts. The checks and balances which were set up to prevent too much power from accumulating in any one place and to ensure accountability have been systematically bypassed.
I urge everyone who is planning to vote for a candidate for federal office to re-read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Read them in the context of political power, which is the agency which you authorize to use force, deadly force if necessary, on your behalf. Think about those instances in which you would be justified in forcing someone else to do something at the point of a gun. You are justified in delegating those powers to the government while reserving the right to act in rightful defense of yourself or others as long as you are in immediate danger. If you would not be justified in using force to accomplish something, then how can you delegate a power you do not justly have to another agency to do it for you?
Every member of the National Libertarian party is required to sign the following statement: "I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals." I believe in this. I hope you do too.
Added in 2017: I'm planning on getting a little more confrontational so before you go off on me, here's some information you might consider first ...
These days I'm in a wheelchair if I need to do or go places that would put me on my feet for more than 5 or 10 minutes plus dealing with some pretty severe chronic pain. My wheelchair is electric since I can't use one arm much, which means I can't go out if there's even a threat of rain or snow. The closest bus stop is abut a mile away and the bus system here is, to put it charitably, inadequate. I'm not far above the poverty line. I don't have a lot of what most people have ... no car, no TV (which also goes with no cable), and almost no furniture. I've been homeless. I'm also a high school dropout. I was abused as a child with two alcoholic parents, which is what led me to leave home for good when I was only 16. I've worked fast food and door to door sales. I've cleaned out kennel runs and been a diesel fuel attendant (while learning to drive an 18 wheeler), factory work and been an installer for Western Electric. I've been a bus girl and a waitress. I've even done casual labor work - the kind where you show up at the unemployment office at 6 in the morning hoping for a few hours of one off work. If nothing came in there, I'd start knocking on doors looking for odd jobs. If even that didn't come up with anything, I'd go through coin returns looking for the odd forgotten change. These days I'm trying to move into WordPress work and computer graphics/video, but when you can't get out to talk to people directly, it's a lot harder to get work.
I've lived in a dozen different cities from the midwest (Cleveland and Minneapolis) to California (San Diego, Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe), Little Rock, Arkansas and Las Vegas and, for the last 35 years or so and a few more earlier, several cities in Kentucky (Lexington, Frankfort, the greater Louisville area and now Bowling Green).
That doesn't mean my life has been all bad. I have a great son and grandson. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from college. I'm a bookworm and my personal physical library peaked at almost 4,000 books. It's down to under 2000 now since I started giving away many of them to charity so as not to have to pack and move them and since I got a Kindle a few years back and many of the classics are available for free, plus hundreds of other ebooks in my collection, I don't need the physical books that much.
Since the accident, I've been a programmer, a jeweler, a tutor and an eBay merchant. I ran a street stock car racing team for a couple of seasons and did the welding, carburation, and suspension. I've already mentioned my political experience.
So there's not many general walks of life I haven't been in personally (aside from being really rich - never quite got there)