ATSNN is pleased to present an exclusive interview with 2004 U.S Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, of the Libertarian Party.ATSNN wishes to
thank Michael Badnarik for the oportunity to put these question to him and also the members of abovetopsecret.com for submitting their questions.
Born August 1, 1954 in Hammond, Indiana. Parents, John (retired from the
oil-refinery and steel-mill industries) and Elaine (a retired executive secretary), still live in Indiana in a house they built when Michael was two
years old. Two younger (but much taller) brothers, Chuck and Steve; both married and living in neighboring Midwest states (Southfield, MI, and Aurora,
He enrolled in 1972 at Indiana University in Bloomington as a Marine Biology major (with dreams of sailing the oceans with Jacques Cousteau); later
switched to Chemistry as a more practical career path.
While in college, he served as volunteer for American Red Cross and as an Advanced First Aid instructor, CPR instructor, Water Safety Instructor
trainer, and chairman of the Bloomington Volunteers and Disaster Action Teams.
His hobbies include photography (including darkroom developing), camping, sailing, canoeing, mountain-climbing, scuba-diving, skydiving, hang-gliding,
snow-skiing, shooting (pistol, rifle and bow-and-arrow) and motorcycling. He also enjoys exploring all types of museums and libraries.
He became interested in the U.S. Constitution in 1983 and began a life-long journey in self-study of this founding document of the country he is so
proud to call his home.
He was put-off by the "politics of politics" until his greater understanding of the Constitution led him to the Libertarian Party, and a renewed
Libertarian candidate for Texas House of Representatives (Austin-area) in 2000 and 2002.
He made official announcement as a candidate for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination on February 17, 2003 (Presidents' Day) and traveled
over 25,000 miles across the U.S. in the 15 months leading up to the Libertarian Party National Convention in Atlanta and his nomination victory on
May 30, 2004.
For more information about Michael Badnarik and his campaign to become the first Libertarian President of the U.S.A please visit his website here:
Nerdling asks, You admit yourself that your only experience in
leadership is the vice presidency of a dorm. Just what makes you
qualified to be President and leader of the free world?
I'm not running for the position of "leader of the free world."
I'm running for the presidency of the United States.
Here's the oath of office:
"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability,
preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
I've read the Constitution. I understand what powers are delegated to
the federal government in it, and I am willing and able to discharge
the duties of the office. That may seem like a low bar, but who was
the last president who was able to get over it?
What makes me qualified for the presidency is that I'm willing to do
the job the way the Constitution says it is supposed to be done
instead of the way it's been done for far too many years now.
and also, What do you say to those who consider your foreign,
domestic and economic policy to be unrealistically idealistic with no
On the contrary, I believe that my policy recommendations are the
most practical being offered by any candidate.
George Bush and John Kerry assume that it is possible to push buttons
and pull levers and somehow make the machinery of government address
every individual's every need. That's idealistic. It's unrealistic.
I assume that most individuals are better at making decisions for
themselves than I would be making decisions for them. That's
realistic. I'm not chasing utopia here. I don't expect every problem
in the world to disappear because we elect a Libertarian to office. I
expect the world to keep turning, and to turn a little more smoothly.
and again, How would you have handled the Iraq war?
I wouldn't have "handled" it, because I would not have launched
FredT asks, What would you look for in a Surpreme court nominee ?
Someone who can read, and honestly promises to adhere to, the
and also, How will he work with a House and Senate that are
controlled by the other 2 major parties ?
It's a fair bet that if I'm elected to the White House, a number
of Libertarians will be going to Congress as well. But even if I
face a Republican or Democratic majority, I'll have something of a
mandate. It's not every day that a majority of Americans vote
Libertarian, in case you haven't noticed.
To be honest, I'll make use of the veto pen until I get my message
across -- and I'll count on the opposition between the Democrats and
Republicans to make my vetoes stick. The usual tool in the
Congressional process versus the president is to shut the government
down if he vetoes their spending bills. Don't throw me in the briar
patch, B'rer Bear!
and again, What is your take on NAFTA Good for the US or should we
NAFTA is a stack of regulations, restrictions and subsidies for
trade. I favor _actual_ free trade. NAFTA, GATT and the WTO protocols
need to be abrogated in favor of a real free trade policy -- low,
uniform excises and tariffs equally assessed on all goods for revenue
purposes instead of for purposes of affecting trade balances, and
unrestricted import and export of all goods.
and finally, Should the US put strict limits on imigration,and What
is his position on the H1b visa program?
The US should open up immigration entirely -- no visas required. Just
come in at a Customs and Immigration checkpoint, submit to a
background check to ensure that you aren't a terrorist or criminal,
and you're free to visit, work in or study in the US without
restriction. Immigration is a separate problem from border security,
however. You come in through the front door, or not at all. Our
extensive borders need to be treated as national security features
and guarded against invasion -- which, these days, could amount to
one man with a suitcase nuke.
TrickmastertricK asks, What are your plans for keeping Big
Business from shipping jobs overseas?
I plan to pursue drastic cuts in taxation and regulation which
will help erase the competitive disadvantage businesses face in
trying to employ Americans.
RANT asks, Mr. Badnarik, as of now (subject to change by
interview) your website indicates you've made the ballot in every
state but Oklahoma and New Hampshire. Congratulations on the 48
victories first of all, but can you describe the obstruction along
the way and remaining problems in the last two?
In New Hampshire, things are still a little up in the air, but it
came down to the fact that some petitions were circulated before my
nomination and therefore didn't have my name on them.
In Oklahoma, we went to court versus a pretty draconian ballot access
law, and lost. But the Libertarian Party will continue to fight for
As for the rest of the states, some were easy and some were hard.
There are varying requirements.
Gazrok asks, I agree with many of your positions, but a basic
obstacle would seem to be the lack of name recognition. I follow
politics, so I am aware of who you are, but the average Joe on the
street would not recognize your name as a candidate. With the
election fast approaching, have you taken any concrete steps towards
instant national recognition? Such as appearances on popular late
night shows, news shows, newspaper, magazine ads, etc.?
I've been doing the best I can. I usually do anywhere from 10 to
15 interviews every day. I've been covered in at least 42 of the
nation's top 50 newspapers by circulation (and by "covered," I mean
more than just "Michael Badnarik is also on the ballot"), and by
most of the top 100. I've done talk radio at all levels of
syndication, and as much TV as I can get. I've run television
advertising in several "battleground" states. I've commissioned
legitimate polls, and that helps get my name into newspaper
On all of those things, I want to give credit to my campaign staff. I
certainly didn't do all of it myself. But you get the picture.
Is it enough? I don't know. But we're trying.
Off_The_Street asks, Mr. Badnarik, I joined the LP in 1979 and
held statewide LP Office (AZ vice-chair in the '80s). I have voted
LP for president since Ed Clark, and will continue to do so, because
I will not waste my vote on the lesser of two evils.
However, I see no change in the number of people attracted to the
idea of individual freedom and responsibility which is, to me the
benchmark of the LP.
Is it possible that more than 90 percent of the American people are
afraid of such freedom and responsibility? If not, how do we win it?
should we concentrate our efforts on:
A Free Homeland such as New Hampshire;
Change our approach to concentrate on local levels only;
Lobby/coalition within the Old Parties for freedom issues; or
Continuing on the way we are now?
Okay, I guess you were looking for more than that. We should be doing
all of those things. I refuse to believe that most Americans, deep
down, fear freedom and individual responsibility. We just have to
prove that we're the party which will really deliver those things,
and proving it is an uphill climb.
EnronOutrunHomerun asks, Have you ever regretted not completing
college? You seemed to have gotten so close. Obviously, chemistry was
not your chosen professional field. What led you to that choice when
you were younger and what do wish you had done in hindsight?
I don't really regret it. I got an "offer I couldn't refuse" to go
to work in a fascinating field and a fascinating industry -- and I
had to take it then or forego it entirely. I've been in charge of
important systems at nuclear facilities. I've done defense contract
work. It's all been interesting and I can't say I regret missing my
last semester at the University of Indiana. I have plenty of other
things besides a sheepskin to hang on my wall.
...and also,Many of your changes suggest a radical shift in our
current environment. They run the gamut from immediately pulling
soldiers out of Iraq to making marijuana a legal substance. Do you
agree that such changes require a gradual shift or do you feel that a
good culture shock is what America needs?
I think the "gradual shift" has been occurring for some time
already. Voters routinely come out in favor of lightening up on, if
not actually lighting up, marijuana. A majority of Americans now say
the war in Iraq was a mistake. The question is whether their
attitudes on these issues are sufficiently developed for them to take
the risk of voting for the guy who'll actually do what they say they
Jamuhn asks, Could you expand more on why you disagree with
anti-trust laws? Besides the idea of government de-regulation, what
are the practical benefits of eleminating anti-trust legislation?
Anti-trust legislation has always been portrayed as a matter of
consumer protection. In fact, it was originally crafted, and has
always been used, to give favored companies advantages by dragging
down their competitors. The market isn't perfect, but it tends to
reward innovation and competition. Government involvement like
anti-trust just distorts that and tends to harm, not help, consumers.
and also, Do you believe in the elements of the Bill of Rights
verbatim, or do you believe that some amendments are too restrictive,
and if so, which one(s)? Along the same line, what is your view of
the 14th amendment?
Sometimes I'm not sure if the Bill of Rights is restrictive
enough. Government seems to have slipped out of its chains. But I
think the best thing to do is actually enforce the Bill of Rights as
written. That would be a dramatic improvement. If we need to put
further restrictions on government, we can.
I think the 14th Amendment has been expanded in meaning by the courts
to the extent that it's lost a lot of its real meaning. And I don't
much care for the prohibition against questioning the national debt.
But all in all, "equal protection of the law" is a good thing, don't
and again, If you and Campagna were elected into office, who
would you consider choosing for your administration?
I have a list of prospective appointees, but I'd rather not name
them at the moment. We've been working on a "dream cabinet" that you
might see unveiled before the election.
BeingWatchedByThem asks, What is your view on the proposed de
facto national ID?
I oppose it. The federal government has specific responsibilities,
none of which require it to know everything about everyone.
and also ,What is your view on the failed 12th Article of the Bill
[The doubling of the U.S. House of Representatives]
I honestly haven't given that one a lot of thought. I would like
to see better representation in the house, perhaps using approval
voting, proportional representation or some other formula, but
that's really a question for the states. I don't have a problem in
principle with a larger Congress that could be more discretely
and again, What is your view on the electoral college? Should it
be abolished, maintained, or modified? Who should do it?
I don't favor just abolishing the electoral college and going to a
straight, nationwide, popular vote. That would allow a few urban
areas to control the outcome of presidential elections, and therefore
all candidates would tailor their agendas to those areas.
The only specific reform I'd like to see -- and it has to be done at
the state level -- is the abolition of "winner take all" on a state's
electoral votes. Maine and Nebraska apportion their electoral votes
by the House districts those electoral votes represent, with the
overall winner getting the two added votes. Colorado is considering
such a system. That would make the electoral college more
representative of the popular vote without skewing it entirely.
and, What is your view on term limits?
I favor them. The founders never envisioned professional, career
politicians. They wanted public service to be a short-term thing,
followed by retirement back to the private sector.
Amuk asks, How do you propose to end the Big Twos lock down on the
How can you recieve a fair chance if the networks are not even
allowed to mention your name and how do you plan to fix it?
I don't propose to end any "lockdown" on the media, except by
lifting restrictions on competition.
PistolPete asks, If you were to be elected President what be your
first official act?
Taking my oath of office. Oh, did you mean after that? I'll have
ordered the outgoing Secretary of Defense to commence our withdrawal
from Iraq before my hand comes off the Bible.
and also, Describe what it was like to come out of left field to
defeat Aaron Russo and Gary Nolan for the Libertarian nomination?
What can I say? The first words of my acceptance speech were
"never in my wildest dreams." Both Gary and Aaron have been very
supportive of me since the nomination. It was a pleasure travelling
around the country and discussing the issues with them, and they
both have my eternal respect.
Esoterica asks, I have but one question, in several parts.
Mike, you support withdrawing troops from Iraq. First, how quickly do
you propose to do this; will it be 'when the job is done' so to speak
and Iraq is secure, or will you simply remove troops as quickly as
I propose to begin the withdrawal immediately. It will take some
time -- my proposal envisions 90 days -- but I don't think there _is_
any "when the job is done." We could keep troops there for a century
and we'd still be fighting, and the place would still go the way it
goes when we leave.
Should you answer in the latter, it could have a weakening effect on
stability in the middle east (less than their is now). What are your
feelings on the effect this could have on America, and do you believe
the short-run benefits outweigh the long-run risks?
If we were worried about stability in the Middle East, we wouldn't
have knocked over the region's most stable regime.
I believe that the short-term and the long-term outlook on
withdrawing are both optimal. By getting out of the region's
arguments, we can eventually cultivate trust, friendship and
commerce while allowing them to work out their own problems. We
can't solve their arguments for them. Their arguments are older than
Your website states that you will "Protect our country, not police
the world." Does this include UN or NATO sanctioned actions, such as
those in Kosovo or the ominous problems in Sudan?
soothsayer asks, Concerning Iraq... the government that the
Iraqi's freely put in place with American pre-approval and
guidelines, would you consider it a puppet government, and if so,
how is that any different then how we used Saddam to attain his
power to begin with? Is the Iraqi government ever going to be free
of US influence and allowed to run their country their way?
I haven't seen any evidence that the "interim government" has the
support of the Iraqi people. It's essentially a puppet government.
The Bush administration has repeatedly vetoed its announced decisions
-- Bush's speechwriter even wrote Prime Minister Allawi's speech
The transition to a new, truly Iraqi government is not going to be
pretty and we may not be happy with how it comes out. But sooner or
later it's going to be up to them. Better sooner than later.
MaskedAvatar asks, What is the best path to reform for the United
States electoral system to ensure the interests of the electorate are
I believe I've already talked about that in my reply to a question
and also, When will be the first President of the 21st century who
is not a representative of the G.O.P. or the Democrats?
I don't know. January 20th of next year would be nice, though.
and again, What is the means of ensuring that Presidential powers
are not repeatedly abused with the excessive signing of inappropriate
Well, obviously we need to elect a president who won't try to
exercise power. Then we need to elect a Congress that won't let him
do so if he tries.
RANT asks, Watching the first Badnarik/Cobb debate with much
interest, I couldn't help but notice and appreciate the great degree
to which both candidates agreed on a number of issues, while
disagreeing on others...but equally disagreeing with frontrunners
Bush and Kerry on practically every issue.
One such point of agreement among seemingly all third party
candidates is support for Instant Runoffs, the process of ranking
all candidates to encourage third party votes, while allowing the
candidate preferred by most voters to ultimately win.
Given your druthers then in an Instant Runoff reform of voting, could
you as the Libertarian Candidate for the 2004 Presidential election
please rank your opponents Instant Runoff style?
I prefer approval voting, in which the voter selects all candidates
who are acceptable to him, rather than ranking the candidates. And I
choose to cast a single vote in that manner, for myself. By the way,
you left Charles Jay, the candidate of the Personal Choice Party, off
your list. I'd be tempted to cast an additional vote for him. Thanks
for sparing me the decision.
[edit on 12-10-2004 by John bull 1]