Libertarians have gotten used to being a very small minority in a political system dominated by liberals and conservatives.
But over the last couple of years, libertarian ideas have gone mainstream. Marijuana has been legalized in two states, Washington and Colorado. Gay marriage is legal in several states. Congress even has libertarian lawmakers. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a nominal Republican but a libertarian at heart, has led opposition to NSA spying and to Obama's efforts to intervene in Syria's civil war.
None of these successes have translated into support for Libertarian Party candidates, at least so far; former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the party's most-credible presidential nominee ever, drew 1 percent of the popular vote in 2012.
Undaunted, a former Republican state lawmaker, Charles Earl, a broadcaster, farmer and writer, has announced he is running for Ohio governor next year as the Libertarian nominee. He'll be holding a kickoff rally at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at Camden Falls, 2460 South Ohio 231, Tiffin. He'll be taking on the Republican incumbent, John Kasich, and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald.
I asked Charlie to field a few questions on why he's running and what his positions are:
What made you decide to run for governor?
It may sound trite, but I believe that I had no choice but to run for governor of Ohio. Thirty years ago when I was in the General Assembly, I served with John Kasich (then a state senator), Mike DeWine (also a state senator), Sherrod Brown (served in the House with me) and Bill Batchelder (current Speaker of the House). Although I chose to leave elective politics in 1984, they remained in and around government for three more decades. In my view, our lives are not better, and our personal freedoms are more strictly circumscribed today. Because I am not intimidated by the electoral process, I believe I am best equipped to carry the message of personal liberty and responsible constitutional government for the people of Ohio. I care too much for my native state to stand by and watch its great potential squandered by a collection of career politicians.
What are your top issues?
Clearly....the overriding themes and issues of our campaign are personal freedom and constitutional governance. We address all issues, large and small, through that prism. If one can characterize our position on nearly every issue, the appropriate term would be: self-determination. We believe that Ohio is best suited to chart its own course without excessive federal interference. We are committed to maximizing Ohio's significant resources: natural, human and creative. We want Ohio's vast energy deposits to be used for the benefit of all our citizens rather than satisfying the political agenda of some bureaucrat sitting in a cubicle in Washington, D.C. We wish to expand opportunities for our farmers and the agricultural community by promoting the addition of industrial hemp to crop rotations. We wish to aggressively expand ag markets intrastate, interstate and globally. We are working to develop a method for recapturing our rusted industrial sites so they can be re-purposed for entrepreneurial endeavors. Our plan will be a private-sector initiative with state government unraveling the red tape to expedite the process.
Do you have to seek the Libertarian nomination for governor, or have you secured it?
While there are no guarantees until the February filing date, it appears that Sherry Clark, our lieutenant governor candidate, and I as the gubernatorial nominee will be the only Libertarian candidates for our respective offices on the 2014 primary ballot.
Let me ask you about a couple of specific issues. How do you feel about legalization of marijuana? About gay marriage?