I am going to put this out front immediately on this article that I have not liked, nor do I support, Austin Petersen. That being said, I am going to be leaving the bias behind and evaluate him on his campaign. The debate between those who support the NAP and those who don’t is left at the door. I will abide by the Dallas Accord with this posting and let it rest for another day.
Austin Petersen hails from the State of Missouri. As he states, he’s a simple farm boy who began his journey in life in the town of Peculiar.
He certainly brings one thing that other candidates need in any campaign: enthusiasm. Whether or not you support him, he does bring a high level of energy. That is a good quality for any campaign, from city council to President of the United States. It’s hard to get behind someone who lacks any passion.
While I disagree with his earlier approach of changing the Republican Party from within, all the way through the summer of 2015, for the most part he seems to have advocated for smaller government and decentralization. This lends to some credibility since many of us were once in the same boat, myself included. Even Gary Johnson jumped ship from Republican to Libertarian.
He is appealing in appearance, which is also something that some other candidates [at all levels] could take a page from. A tailored suit, a good haircut, and clean cut look go a long way with the American electorate. Respecting your appearance usually implies respect for the job. If you look like a slob, people will usually think you are lazy.
His command of social media is his largest competitive factor, in my opinion, and he executes in a way most people have yet to comprehend. In today’s world, it is absolutely necessary to use this tool in politics, especially in a third party. He also has a more intimate knowledge of the inner workings of traditional media sources than most, having been an associate producer on Judge Napolitano’s former show on the Fox Business Network.
The last positive point I will give Petersen is that he isn’t afraid to go after a front-runner. You have to be willing to fight, and it looks like he’s prepared to do so, as evidenced in some of the debates held leading up to the convention in May, where he’s landed some hits on Governor Johnson. Going after a Libertarian candidate like this appears to just be a warm up to what he would bring if ever to face a Trump or Clinton. The gloves definitely come off with Petersen.
For his strengths, he has also shown some weakness. First of which is personal attacks against individuals in the Libertarian Party. He lets himself get drawn into online grudge matches, and in the process, comes off looking arrogant, rude, spiteful, and unprofessional. Many other authors have taken the time to go over his insult slinging, and I don’t want this article to be redundant, so I will just leave it at this: he needs to stay off his social media outlets to get into muckraking. All it does is split the party. The party he needs to nominate him first.
This brings me to my next point about Mr. Petersen: for someone who has claimed to be a uniter and coalition builder, he can’t even bring our party together. Like it or not, anarchism is the foundational root of libertarian philosophy. While there will always be differences between the minarchists and anarchists in the Libertarian Party, we tend to come together for the greater good. Austin has seemed to be intent on burning bridges with the more radical elements, in one post even threatening to “throw them on the streets” after convention.
For years, the Dallas Accord has kept us unified in the goal of moving toward liberty. Without the more radical elements, I believe we cease being a party of principles and become irrelevant in needing to exist at all, since two parties already exist without any solid principles. We are central to keeping the party grounded in strong foundational principles.
Another downside to his campaign is that nearly everything he says is recycled from someone else. He isn’t bringing anything new to the table we haven’t already heard from thousands of politicians citing founding fathers, and using the Constitution as a fall back answer. I believe the term currently being used is pulling a Rubio.
His bumper sticker responses are great for a sound byte, but he offers no real substance to what he’s saying. It reminds me of when Lois Griffin from Family Guy runs for Mayor and keeps repeating “9/11!” or “terrorists!” It doesn’t sound genuine. He needs to try speaking from the heart, instead of getting a pre-practiced answer to try and fit its circular shape into a square shaped question.
I personally don’t care about his past experience, as only two candidates running right now either have major company CEO level or governing experience. What I do care about is the way our party goes. My analysis is that Austin is not ready for this level of office. A certain level of respect and humility is needed to serve others in public, especially this office. Could he be ready some day? Perhaps in a few years after being seasoned a bit more, and only if he ends up working to rebuild what he has burnt.