He is not Hillary, he is not Bernie and he certainly is not Donald or Ted. But he is running for President. He is the “no fear” candidate Austin Petersen, and John Holland presents this exclusive interview.
Libertarian Presidential candidate Austin Petersen wants you to know something—he wants to leave you alone. In fact, that is the theme of his surprisingly successful campaign to become the nominee for the Libertarian Party.
I recently sat down for a phone interview with Mr. Petersen, the thirty-five-year-old owner of Stonegait LLC, a for-profit consulting company. Petersen’s resume also includes: former Director of Production for FreedomWorks, former associate producer for “Freedom Watch” on Fox Business Channel that was hosted by Judge Andrew Napolitano, and he is also currently the head the Libertarian Republic, one of the top Libertarian focused news sites on the internet.
I asked Petersen his reasons for running, “I am trying to advance the constitutional viewpoint. I am trying to advance the limited government viewpoint—the true fiscally conservative, socially tolerant viewpoint that Libertarians represent.” He said, noting that his reasons for running were held by very few that are currently in the race for President. He contrasts himself from a standard Republican candidate by saying, “Republicans tend to want limited government in terms of economics or fiscal matters, but tend to have issues with personal privacy.” He pointed to recent hot-button issues involving the NSA and Republicans willingness to, in his opinion, “violate the fourth amendment”. He went on to say that Libertarians “Fight for all of the Bill of Rights” and while their stance on many fiscal issues was similar to the Republicans “we tend to deviate on issues of privacy and national security.”
Petersen is fully aware of the uphill battle that a third party candidate faces in winning the presidency. “To win the presidency outright I need about 35 million dollars” and that for a Libertarian candidate is no small task. He continued: “That would require a revolutionary movement across the entire United States, it would require some institutional support.” Petersen went on to express his goals if, financially, his campaign couldn’t garner that kind of monetary support: “With 1.5 million dollars I will be trying to achieve a minimum of 5% of the national vote.” Petersen says that with his digital strategy expertise and far less money he can garner the 5% that would garner the Libertarian Party full ballot access and major party status. That accomplishment would make it far easier for future Libertarian candidates to compete on a national level with the other major parties.
I spoke with Petersen about 36 hours after the Belgium terrorist attacks, and I asked him what a Petersen administration’s response to such attacks would be. “The first thing I do is, I don’t jump to conclusions and I don’t start talking about taking away people’s civil liberties like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.” Addressing the knee-jerk reactions of the two Republican front runners: “I don’t think we need to fan the flames of fear and hatred and anger until we get a full appraisal of the facts.” He continued “Secondly, I would consult with my military advisors and professionals to come up with an idea of what is the best response for this, I would contact the government of the region and ask what kind of response they plan to issue.” Petersen said. “Take a look at what current treaties and obligations we have to our allies and make a reasonable decision based on that.” He continued on to say that he would only take action underneath his constitutional prerogative and said he would not take any unauthorized actions, and would only act under strict Constitutional authority.
With the immediate criticism of President Obama for not leaving his diplomatic mission in Cuba after the attacks, I asked Petersen if he thought the President handled the situation correctly. “It is not wise for the President to always jump at every single tragedy that goes on around the world because, again, fanning the flames of fear is not in our national interest in my opinion.” He said he could neither agree or disagree with the decision that Obama made without knowing all of the information that may have been presented to the President. He did agree that the mission to Cuba was important and worthwhile, “I am always in favor of improving relationships with countries, and historically we’ve had a belligerent relationship with Cuba, and I would be absolutely in favor of normalizing relations with that country.”
I asked him about the issues facing men in today’s society, the evolution of what it means to be a man and how an Austin Petersen presidency would impact that evolution. “Well, I would set a good example for men because I would encourage them to seek out their own individuality.” He continued, “I think what it really means to be a man is to be yourself and to choose your own path in life and not be pressured by the community to conform. It’s individualism.” He said that it indeed takes courage for today’s man to stand up and say “this is who I am and this is what I feel and believe” and that it was rebellion today to “tell the community that you self-identify as you please.”
He defined masculinity as being “brave enough to do what you want and to hell with what other people think.”
The most disappointing thing he sees in America today is “The collapse of people into fear” and that “people want a tyrant, nowadays the American people love a strong man because they don’t want to solve their own problems, they want someone to solve their problems for them.” He pointed to the history of the American pioneer spirit, adventurism, and individualism, as the stark contrast to what he considers today’s collectivism and fear. “We’ve given over the authority and self-governance to governance by a few, and the we have abdicated our self-responsibility.”
“I am not afraid of people trying to destroy me or my character or tear me down,” he said, “I am going to exemplify that by not allowing myself to be bullied which is why I am very excited about the opportunity hopefully to take on Donald Trump.” He prefers to face Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, because in his words, “Trump’s a bully, and bullies like to bully people like Jeb Bush who are weak that they can pick on or kick around, and I know how to beat a bully.” He added, “I feel like I could out Trump the Trump!”
So, does Austin Petersen stand a chance to become the next President of the United States? It would seem history is against him, and there is a tremendous mountain to climb. However we are in a season of complete political upheaval and it is not beyond the realm of possibilities to say anything can happen. If he can defeat the very popular Gary Johnson for the Libertarian nomination—then look out, this Missouri farm boy has a lot to prove and may just have enough guts to pull it off.
He isn’t the kind of person I would be against.