2014 is an election year in Louisiana, and Examiner.com is sitting down with some of the candidates for key races so that the voters will be able to make informed decisions. The next in this series is a phone interview with senatorial candidate Brannon McMorris, the Libertarian Party nominee.
McMorris is an engineer, and has led teams with companies such as Hewlett Packard and Intel, as well as with some smaller companies. He is a problem solver by trade and revels in turning problems and challenges into efficient working systems. He is married with two sons.
We spoke with McMorris in a phone interview regarding his run for United States Senate.
Why are you running for office?
I’m running because the two party system is completely insane. It all started for me during the government shutdown, just watching the whole fiasco. There is no sense in politics anymore. It’s become a sensation made for the 24 hour news cycle, politicians just trying to get those sound bites out there. It’s amazing because the democrats and republicans believe in the same things, which just tells how polarized out political system really is.
What are your qualifications?
Besides being 30 and a resident of the state, I'm a regular person. I know what people go through everyday. I’m a father of two, my biggest qualification is that I really want my kids to inherit a country where opportunities are as good as mine were, or better. I think that’s what every parent wants. I’ve been an engineer for almost 20 years, leading project teams. The government bureaucracy is like an engine, look at the system’s inputs and outputs, how much energy you’re wasting if it’s poorly designed. Government bureaucracies consume far more than what they into output. It’s consuming the wealth of the country, stealing from the taxpayers, to do things that the taxpayers have absolutely no interest in.
Third party candidates have a reputation for being spoilers for the two major parties. Do you agree with this assessment?
I don’t agree with that assessment. If you have a great democrat why worry about a libertarian spoiler? Same thing with the republicans. If you have a candidate that really speaks to the people and is going to do their public service why worry about it? Libertarians often get labeled as spoiler for the republicans, but I have almost as many democrat supporters. Most democrats are tied to the emotional and social issue, they are very open to things like marriage equality. They agree with me on most points with where we are as a country fiscally, but they’re not so attached to fiscal issues as they are to those emotional social issues. When you start talking about being 17 trillion dollars in debt, another 170 trillion in unfunded liabilities that we’re going to have to deal with in our lifetimes, once you start breaking it down it’s scary, whether you’re a democrat or a republican. Those things don’t get talked about by the two major parties. They don’t want to attack the complex issues, maybe in a soundbite, but they don’t want to talk about the reality of what we’re facing.
Why do you think that you have a better chance than past third party candidates?
I don’t know that I have a better chance. I'm running to win, I'm doing everything I possibly can to win. I’ve never aspired to hold office or be in politics, never been a part of campaigning. I’ve learned a lot through this experience, its been one of the best experiences of my life. The more I learn about issue the more I wanna fight, I’m gonna take all the things I’ve learned and help candidates in the future. I know that I’m out there fighting, that’s persuasive. We need public servants in office, we don’t have that the way the system is right now.
Same-sex marriage appears to be heading toward legalization in most states. What is your stance on this issue?
I’m pro marriage equality. It’s inevitable that this will be legal in every state. Our family law system was created for children in cases where the marriages were dissolved, and a big legal issue around marriage equality. Let’s say that I was in a previous marriage, had a child, and the other spouse walked away. There’s no ability for inter-family adoption, and it’s even stricter for same sex couples. You can’t tell me a child is better off in a foster home than in a two parent household. I support marriage equality. The whole idea of government making laws, defining laws, saying marriage is this or that. It’s stupid. It’s strictly on biblical principles. I’m a christian, and both my wife and I have been divorced. According to the strict interpretation of the Bible our marriage is not legitimate. Do we really want to start down the road of government saying what a marriage is?
If elected, how will you ensure that the LGBTQ community will gain equal rights?
There is the Respect for Marriage Act, other than that I don’t know that there’s much I could do. I don’t think it’s the duty of the federal government to act. It’s ultimately up to the states. This really could happen in the courts. It’s unconstitutional for states to pass legislation about same sex marriage. Marriage is pretty much a religious institution. If a pastor is willing to marry same sex couples than make it a religious freedom. I think as far as equality under the law, that’s where cases of adoption are going to show clearly that not allowing same sex marriage is not equal protection under the law.
What is your opinion on oil fracking?
I think fracking is good. I actually work in the industry and have family who has. I don’t see where it’s dangerous. With contaminating the groundwater, the problem comes with the casings of the well. The contractors are rushing to get the wells in and the casings aren’t put in right, that’s where you get the pollution of the groundwater. I think there should be a stricter oversight there, but I think this is more of a state and local issue rather than a federal one. I’m not completely against the EPA, I believe we need clean air and water, but I believe the EPA oversteps. This is where they can have some oversight, in these cases where the groundwater has been contaminated. It’s not the fracking itself that’s the issue, it’s the rush to get these wells online. We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, we have an abundance of natural gas in this country.
Do you support an increase in alternative forms of energy, including green energy such as solar and wind?
I do. I think the more sources of renewable energy the better. What I don’t agree with is the government subsidizing and picking winners and losers in the energy sector. Solar, wind, if it works in the market, if it provides a need to consumers at a price they want to pay then I’m all for cleaner sources. The oil we’re finding is messy and dangerous, it’s good for the nation overall if this technology evolves to the point where it’s economically feasible.
Do you support the legalization of marijuana?
I support decriminalising all drugs, and I’ll tell you why. If you look at Portugal as a model for all of this, they decriminalized all drugs at the federal level, their states can control it if they want, and the drugs imports to Portugal went down. It’s for economic reasons, the profits margins in strict prohibition areas are higher than where laws are more liberal. As you can see in Washington and Colorado, the states that stick with prohibition are going to suffer as more states legalize. This is another of those issues that is going to prove inevitable across the country. The evidence is going to be very clear soon that if you're in a state with strict prohibition laws your state is going to suffer.
Do you have any any lasting concerns about the regulation or safety of marijuana?
I think it has to be regulated just like all drugs are regulated. I don’t have a specific concern about marijuana. I think my bigger concern is the marijuana industry becoming too big and their influence on politicians would be stronger. The playing field for growers or sellers to get in and start small business around this would be uneven. That’s my biggest concern.
What is your opinion on gun rights?
I don’t think the rights of an individual to bear arms should be infringed. I’m for no gun control at all. People aren’t prone to violence. People with mental issues are prone to violence, just like with anything. Let’s say you outlaw all guns in this country. That surplus out there will not be in law-abiding citizens hands. Those millions of surplus guns out there would be in the hands of a black market. I strongly believe our country is becoming more of a police state, with military surplus being provided to local police departments. They get a new toy and they want to use it. That’s becoming more and more apparent. Privacy issues are part of these cases that are out there right now too.
What action, if any, will you take with regard to the Affordable Care Act?
I would repeal it. The first thing it does is require individuals to buy a service they may not want to buy. At the most fundamental level that is not a role our federal government should be imposing on individuals. It doesn’t allow individuals to buy catastrophic coverage insurance policies. It’s just bad for the American people. I didn’t understand until I started running how complicated insurance is. Health care is extremely expensive because there are really not free market forces. I could see sponsoring legislation that allows states to have more standardized regulations to insurance could be bought across state lines. Also, give individuals some incentive to purchase their own insurance, to choose the service that would be provided to them. The way medical care and insurance interact now drives the costs up. I don’t think the federal takeover of insurance is the way to handle this.
Do you support school choice in the form of vouchers or charter schools?
Yes I do. I think it gives individuals more choice. I support vouchers, I’m less enthusiastic about charter schools. I do think education is one of those things that needs to be analyzed with short term, mid term, and long term goals to get taxpayers off the hook and give individuals more of an opportunity to not only choose where to send their children, but also how to afford it.
Do you support an increase in the minimum wage?
No, I do not support an increase in the minimum wage. What I do support is breaking the ties that big business and government have. They pay lip service to the small businesses out there, we shouldn’t even be having this conversation right now. Small business creates more specialized jobs, and the more specialized the job the higher the wages for that person. I have nothing against Wal-Mart, they have somebody working as a cashier there and they don’t have much incentive to pay that employee more. The employee doesn’t have much incentive to gain other skills besides the cash register. In a small business they could be doing the cash register, sales, books, they’re going to pay a living wage if they have more specialized skills. The way we look at wealth distribution, and it’s definitely a problem that the aggregation of wealth is at the one percent, and government supports that. Big businesses write the regulations, they can afford the overhead that small businesses can’t. If we really want to look at the wealth inequality issue we need to look at the role government play in keeping that aggregate at that one percent level. That’s not a sustainable wealth distribution.
How would you handle the current immigration crisis?
We need to get the country in the order of where we stand on liberty. Having people come here for temporary gain, that doesn’t work for the country or for the immigrants. We have to have an immigration and economic system that work. We can’t have a welfare state as it exists where individuals come here for that temporary gain and are supported by the taxpayers. The system is clearly broken. To really get a fix on immigration we need to solve these other issues first. Immigrants who come here for a permanent life and have property, who come here because this is a country that stands for liberty. I don’t have the answer, I don’t think anybody does. I don’t agree with building a fence at the border. I don’t support amnesty. I’m going to work to try to get some of the problems that keep our immigration system unfixable.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
I’ve been talking about the Cyber Security Information Act being discussed in the senate right now. This is a very scary piece of legislation. It would allow big businesses to share information about their customers and the consumers will have no recourse. Section 6 of this act says that the businesses can not be sued, they are immune for anything they do with this information. Privacy is one of my major concerns, and this is a really scary bill.