Image courtesy of Sean Haugh.
I recently spoke with Sean Haugh, a Durham resident and book seller who is seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination to run for office. Haugh is now officially a candidate for the Libertarian Party’s nomination in the race for United States Senate. He has lived in North Carolina since 1988, and been active with the local libertarian party since 1994.
This will be Haugh’s sixth run for office. He ran for the same Senate seat in 2002, when he received 1.5% of the vote. He also ran unsuccessfully for 30th District seat in the NC state house in 2008, while he was serving as political director of the state Libertarian Party. I asked him about his opponents in the current race, but he explained that “I think we'd all prefer to talk about our own campaigns than other people's.”
As an estimate of the strength of the Libertarian Party in this state, the party has chapters in 28 counties, including Durham and Orange as well as Wake. At a party meeting in June of 2013 it was noted that the number of registered Libertarians in the state had grown by 50% in the previous year. Libertarian groups at 12 colleges and universities in the state are also listed on the party website.
The Libertarian Party continues to distinguish itself as the only one of the three parties officially recognized by the state which calls for a serious reform of drug laws in its platform. Haugh is in full agreement with this attitude. I first met him in February at a social event for local libertarians in Durham. Given the recent explosion of both public debate and substantive policy change on marijuana in the US, I asked him if he would like to give an estimate of when the drug might be legalized in North Carolina, or even at the federal level. He declined to speculate, but responded that he is old enough to still be “bewildered” by the fact that it was not already legal in 1975, during the first wave of marijuana reforms in the US. I followed up more recently with a few more questions.
What do you think are the most compelling reasons to legalize marijuana and other drugs?
That peaceful people want to use them is sufficient reason.
If elected, could you name a few of your top policy priorities?
I have one: stop all war. Drone warfare must end now. We need to stop our military involvement in the affairs of other nations, everywhere. We need to stop exporting arms military aid to governments and quasi-governmental organizations. In short, wherever government promotes violence, that policy must be corrected.
Do you think libertarianism is particularly strong in North Carolina?
Everybody has some libertarian in them, and the libertarian traditions of North Carolina are particularly strong. In the current political climate I am seeing the pushback developing against recent theocratic trends. Libertarianism has a lot to offer in that fight. It's no mistake that the word 'libertarian' is becoming more common in the media as people turn to those ideas for help. Judging by voter registration, the party itself is larger than ever in NC and growing rapidly.
1. The Green Party of North Carolina, which is not officially recognized by the state, also makes similar but more modest statements in its platform (see section VII/L on page 21). The Greens call for “legalizing the personal possession of controlled substances.”