Are You Serious?

by Harold Thomas

During the debate on the health-care bill, a reporter asked U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whether she thought the bill was Constitutional. Her incredulous reply was, “Are you serious?”

In the last year, Ohioans have used the Tea Party and other rallies to vent their anger. We have made it clear to the world that we are sick and tired of the federal government attacking the Bill of Rights, fighting endless wars, running up endless debts, and collecting endless taxes.

At the same time, we hear liberty activists declare that we need to move beyond rallies and group meetings. We must work to support good candidates and elect them to office. Many of us tried in the recent primary election to change the direction of the Ohio Republican Party. What happened? The GOP establishment handed our hat back to us and showed us the door. They did so by persuading the unwary that their mainstream candidates were “conservative” and had “Tea Party values.”

We are also sick and tired of slash-and-burn campaigns. In the Ohio’s gubernatorial race, Republican John Kasich is a former Congressman who had an outstanding record as a deficit hawk – he even crafted alternative budgets for the federal government at a time when the Democrats dominated Congress. But he made a career choice that has come back to haunt him – voters are wary of him because he worked for Lehmann Brothers. Now he blames his Democratic opponent, Gov. Ted Strickland, for the loss of 427,000 jobs during his tenure. Gov. Strickland was dealt a difficult hand with the budget; but when push came to shove, did he accelerate budget cuts? Did he renew his determination to root out inefficiencies in government? Did he even propose a temporary tax increase? No! He accepted one-time federal “stimulus” money and decided to leave an $8 billion hole in the budget for the next biennium. Now, as a candidate for re-election, Gov. Strickland is on the attack. Mr. Kasich, he says, has “Wall Street values” in contrast with his own “Main Street values.” Joe Hallett, veteran political writer for the Columbus Dispatch, summarized the problem when he wrote, “Strickland and Kasich are poised to turn another election into a choice between the lesser of two evils. Wallowing in the campaign’s abyss, neither will point the way up.”

This scenario looks pretty discouraging for the movement. After all, we know that no one but a Democrat or a Republican can win a statewide election in Ohio. Why? Because no one else has won since the Civil War. However, we live in revolutionary times. History is handing us an opportunity to make a change; but like all opportunities, it must be seized.

One liberty-minded candidate remains in the race for Governor. He is Ken Matesz (pronounced MAH-tez), a Libertarian and owner of the Masonry Heater Store near Toledo. “We used my skills, her brains, and our determination to make our business a reality,” he writes. When home construction dropped off, the business survived because he and his wife know how to adjust to changing revenues. In other words, Mr. Matesz is firmly grounded in reality. In contrast, he finds that “Governments function in dis-reality where politicians promise people things for which they have not paid, and perhaps cannot pay for, then the government proceeds to spend in ways not guided by profit or solvency or even common sense.”

In addition to running his store, Mr. Matesz teaches classes in the U.S. Constitution to various groups, homeschooled his children, and is active in many non-profit organizations in his area. He believes that by simply eliminating the state “monopoly” over education, the state could save enough to balance the budget and begin a round of income tax reductions. To encourage business expansion, he favors basing wages on the free market, not on a government-imposed minimum wage which, he argues, violates the sanctity of contracts and the right of individuals willing to work at whatever wage they can get. He argues that we don’t need health care nullification, because we are a free state that nullified mandatory health care 150 years ago in our state Constitution (Article I, Section 1). “We don’t need a petition, a new bill, or any additional action. We need people and elected officials who believe in freedom, private property, and this right of all Ohioans to seek their own happiness and safety in whatever way they see fit, as long as they are not harming others. We need citizens brave enough to act according to this stated freedom and a government and politicians brave enough to defend the people who claim their freedom and independence” (Emphasis his).

Good stuff, right? We have in front of us a citizen who wants to serve. He doesn’t want to be a U.S. Senator, let alone President. All he wants to do is to get us back on track and then he wants to go home again. Only one problem, and it’s a big one. If you didn’t vote in this year’s Libertarian primary, you probably never heard of Ken Matesz. So far, he has mostly financed his campaign out-of-pocket. The Ohio Libertarian Party can help a little, but “Ohio’s third largest party” has only 6,100 registered voters. As with any other political party, only a small percentage of Libertarians are activists and financial contributors. But if the Ohio liberty movement – the Tea Parties, 9-12 Projects, and Ohio Liberty Council members — got behind him, his volunteer base would multiply. If every reader of The Liberty Voice gave him just $5, he would raise enough money to travel around the state, print brochures (maybe even a targeted mailing), and provide some support to the volunteer army he will need. While he still might not win, a visible campaign would ease the way for liberty-minded candidates in next year’s local elections and in 2012.

So here is the issue: Will the liberty movement settle for “the lesser of two evils,” or will it get behind Ken Matesz? Settling for the lesser of the two evils will defeat the one candidate who isn’t.

If the liberty movement cannot actively support the one candidate who shares its values and has an established base, we will not have a Governor who can point the way up. Even worse, the liberty movement would be telling the world that it’s not serious about achieving liberty for the people of Ohio.My question to you, then, is: Are you serious?

Additional information on the Matesz campaign is available at: www.mateszforohio.com.

Harold D. Thomas is a Columbus-based writer on issues related to state sovereignty, nullification, and secession. He writes the blog The Ohio Republic: www.ohrepublic.info.

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