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Whether we like it or not, presidential election season is upon us. Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and Marianne Williamson have all recently pitched their tent at the two-party circus. Meanwhile, California businessman Lars Mapstead, has been seeking the 2024 Libertarian nomination for months.
It is true that if a Libertarian is going to ever have a crack at electoral success, they are going to have to start running early. Even if the goal is more symbolic, seeking to be the dissenting voice of reason, one must get their name out there to cut above the clamor.
To this point, Mapstead has chosen a direct and simple message. I interviewed him about his presidential aspirations on Sunday, March 5th, 2023. “I just want to end government coercion in our lives,” Mapstead says of his campaign. He accurately describes the lack of actual choice in today’s political system.
While the LP is fraught with division, Mapstead seeks a platform that could potentially unite Libertarians: Rank Choice Voting, The Fair Tax, and term limits. These may not embody the ideals of all small government advocates, but they are policies “we could all get behind.” All three of these platform planks speak to the theme of his campaign: make government simpler.
It is widely believed that RCV, or some other form of electoral reform, will be the only way to guarantee a real future for third parties in American politics. In the status quo, “the duopoly foists the illusion of choice” on the electorate, while maintaining its grip over the While Mapstead admits that the Fair Tax isn’t perfect, it eliminates the need for the IRS and creates a more accessible and transparent tax program.
Term limits, according to Mapstead, are a key component of his larger goal. “It all came home to me when I visited Independence Hall, “ Mapstead says. He recalls a trip to the historic site in Philadelphia. A docent explained the original spirit of the first legislators. Men would leave their jobs for a few months a year and gather to conduct the nation’s business. “It was about service to country,” he claims. He envisions a simpler government built on duty and service, rather than the pursuit of corrupt power. Looking at the culture of politics, Mapstead points out the obvious, self-fulfilling defeatism: “Running for office gives you a certain set of skills that aren’t really applicable anywhere else. Once you’ve done it for a while, you just keep running because it’s what you know how to do.”
I did challenge his support of term limits, offering common arguments about institutional knowledge and the threat of lobbyist influence over an under-informed legislature. Mapstead claims that a twelve-year term limit is long enough to keep the government functioning.
“Different states rotate their senators at different times,” he says. “There will always be an adult in the room.” He goes on to mention the increased need for cooperation in a term-limited legislative branch. Due to the lower number of veterans, they will need to consult one another on procedure. He is confident the proposal provides more than ample time in office, arguing that “if you can’t figure out how to do your job in twelve years, you shouldn’t have the job in the first place.”
As the year goes on and other candidates start emerging from the promotional woodwork, we will see how Mapstead’s message broadens or shifts focus. It is far too early to start pinning official endorsements or predictions. Regardless, I am excited to see Libertarians take the process more seriously. Chase Oliver, who made quite the name for himself during Georgia’s senate race, has declared his intentions. Oliver has quite the following both inside and outside of the party. Floridian Mike ter Maat is running on his promise of a “Gold New Deal.” Just last week, Jacob Hornberger, the famed Libertarian intellectual powerhouse, announced his presidential bid as well. Of course, there is a relatively long list of liberty darlings whom Libertarians may want to see on the ticket, but they have yet to make it official.
In the meantime, if anyone wants to learn more about Lars Mapstead and his campaign, they can visit www.lars24.com.