Photo by Aaron Ricca.
KINGMAN – Tucked inside Saturday’s downtown Andy Devine Days festivities was a little something called the Libertarian Party Rally.
Small, but growing more vocal, the Arizona Libertarian Party and its county affiliates are slowly gaining notice in national and state politics and is now trying to solidify a presence in Mohave County.
Saturday’s gathering at Locomotive Park began right after the Andy Devine Days parade. The small group of Libertarians, including current 1st Vice Chair of the Maricopa County Libertarian Party Merissa Hamilton, who was collecting signatures to get on 2018 ballot as a gubernatorial candidate, and Mohave County ex-officio chairman and AZLP 1st Vice Chair Jon Winder.
Winder, 27, has been involved with the AZLP for about two years trying to get the Mohave County affiliate going for about a year and a half. His disgust with the current Republican-Democrat domination of American politics is what stoked his activism.
“They’ve taken turns excluding everyone else,” he said. “I feel it’s wrong for voters to have fewer choices instead of more.”
The Mohave County Libertarians meet the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at Black Bridge Brewery. There are currently nearly 32,000 active voters registered as Libertarians in Arizona, with 726 in Mohave County. They collected about 250 signatures at Locomotive Park Saturday and talked to anyone curious about the party’s stances on hot-topic issues.
According to AZLP’s website, the party’s platform is to seek a world of liberty and a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives, and no one is forced to sacrifice their values or property for the benefit of others. Libertarians believe respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.
The group was also collecting signatures to put Doug Marks for U.S. Senate and Michael Kielsky for state attorney general on the 2018 ballot. They were also getting signatures for two potential ballot initiatives: one to legalize marijuana and the other to legalize all drugs.
Winder didn’t have a total number of signatures gathered for the candidates and ballot initiatives, but local Libertarians are looking for approximately 1,000 signatures just to get ballot access and to be recognized as a party in Mohave County. Libertarians already have recognition on the statewide ballot, but for county level offices they need those signatures.
After their stint at the park, Winder, Hamilton and the rest of the group made their way to Black Bridge Brewery, gave speeches, collected more signatures and chatted with the locals. Aside from an inebriated woman screaming obscenities, most of their reception was from people curious about the party and its positions.
“We get a lot of ‘Is that the same as an independent?’” Winder said. “A good portion of people aren’t even aware that they can register as a Libertarian. They’re used to only seeing Republicans, Democrats and Independents.”
Libertarian positions on personal freedom and liberty often confuse those unfamiliar with the party.
“From my experience, people think that since we don’t want government to regulate something, that means we have to approve of it,” Winder said, referencing drug legalization as an example. “Just because you don’t want government to regulate certain activities doesn’t mean you condone those activities.”
Winder’s biggest message is that voters deserve more choices, not less.
“That’s why I’m pursuing getting our party on the ballot,” Winder said.
For more information on the AZLP, check out www.azlp.org.