Austin Petersen
Founder of The Lib­er­tarian Republic and Stonegate LLC Austin Petersen is running for the Lib­er­tarian Party pres­i­dential nom­i­nation.
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Austin Petersen is a Lib­er­tarian pres­i­dential can­didate from Mis­souri. He is the founder of The Lib­er­tarian Republic and Stonegate LLC, a photo and video ser­vices company that spe­cializes in con­sulting for brands and cam­paigns. In the past, Petersen was the director of pro­duction at Free­dom­Works and asso­ciate pro­ducer for Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show “Freedom Watch” on the Fox Business Network. He also has expe­rience as a model and actor. The Col­legian spoke with Petersen Thursday, April 7 in a phone interview.

What can Lib­er­tarians accom­plish this election?

Lib­er­tarians have the oppor­tunity to play on the dis­sat­is­faction of voters of the two major parties’ can­di­dates. Whoever is going to win the nom­i­nation of the Lib­er­tarian Party is going to have the chance to build coali­tions among con­ser­v­a­tives that are upset over the non-con­ser­v­ative Donald Trump and Democrats who are upset about the non-prin­cipled Hillary Clinton. If the Lib­er­tarian Party were to get just 5 percent of the national vote, that in and of itself would be an incredible victory because it would open up ballot access and matching funds, making the Lib­er­tarian Party a true, strong national party.

I’m hopeful, but I never like to make false promises. I do think it would take a real, sincere rev­o­lution on the part of the people to come together behind a third party can­didate. The only way we have a good chance of doing that is if I’m nom­i­nated.

At 35, what makes you expe­ri­enced enough to hold the position of pres­ident?

Most people com­plain because they say they’re tired of career politi­cians, and then when someone who isn’t a career politician runs for office, they say, “You don’t have any expe­rience.” Most of our pres­i­dents have dif­ferent backgrounds…All of them have one thing in common: the ambition to run for the office and some sort of business or gov­ern­mental expe­rience. I have business expe­rience, non­profit expe­rience, been a CEO and done payroll, and have done public service. I believe my back­ground as a business owner and in public policy makes me suited for the job.

On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jef­ferson was 33 years old. James Madison was 25 years old. Alexander Hamilton was 21. Marquis de Lafayette was 18 years old. People always com­plain the younger gen­er­ation isn’t stepping up, and they’re not taking respon­si­bility. Our Founding Fathers stepped up and won a rev­o­lution against the most pow­erful army in the world. It’s young people that founded this country, and it’s young people that will restore it.

How would you deal with the Islamic State?

I think it’s pos­sible to protect our liberty and our security at the same time. The first thing that I want to do is not use fear mon­gering and use fear as an excuse to take away our lib­erties. I believe it’s pos­sible to protect our Con­sti­tution and not take away any of Amer­icans’ Fourth Amendment rights. The first thing I would do is remind the American people that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And yes, they are a sincere threat, but they are not an exis­tential threat.

If we’re going to fight ter­rorism, I would follow the Con­sti­tution. I would only go to war if there was a con­gres­sional dec­la­ration of war, but if we’re going to fight ter­rorists like ISIS, we might con­sider the advice of our Founding Fathers, who put in the Con­sti­tution letters of marque and reprisal…We could put a price on the head of the enemies of the United States, and that way, we could avoid col­lateral damage, which tends to cause more ter­rorism than it’s worth…We could issue a letter of marque, which is how Thomas Jef­ferson fought ter­rorism in his days, and I think that would be a cost effi­cient way to fight ter­rorism.

You said you would cut one penny from every dollar the federal gov­ernment spends, which equals 1 percent in cuts across the board. What does that mean for the Department of Defense and national security?

I think we have a lot of waste, fraud, and abuse in the DOD, and I think most people would admit that. If you’re cutting waste, fraud, and abuse, I don’t think that would mean we’d be less secure. I think that’d mean we’d be more secure because then we’d have our resources being directed toward good usage. I don’t think we’d have any worry about our security with a 1 percent budget cut, espe­cially if we audit the Pen­tagon. If we audit the Pen­tagon, we will know where the waste, fraud, and abuse is occurring, and we can fight it.

What would your pro-life stance look like in a Petersen admin­is­tration?

Ending the federal war on drugs would allow women to cut back on abor­tions. Ending the federal war on drugs would allow people to have the right to pur­chase birth control, and that is a very lib­er­tarian way to solve abortion because it is a very non-coercive way to solve the problem.

I want us to focus on those types of solu­tions for us to have fewer abor­tions, but we should absolutely take a stand that it is a human being. We should protect life at any oppor­tunity we can using the sim­plest and most cost-effective and least coercive means in our toolbox.

As an agnostic, would you take the oath of office on a Bible?

Sure I would because it’s tra­dition, and it means a lot to people. Thomas Jef­ferson said, “When it comes to religion, I don’t have a problem with it if it neither picks my pocket or break my leg.” I would have no problem taking my oath on the Bible. There’s a lot of good phi­losophy in the Bible, and a lot of Judeo phi­losophy and law had an influence on the cre­ation of American law.

How do you plan on getting gov­ernment out of mar­riage when so many laws mention it?

You have to have Con­gress write the laws, of course, but I can still speak my mind and say what I think the best way to do it is. It won’t happen over night simply because I won’t be a dic­tator, but I will ask Con­gress to send me leg­is­lation that will reduce the role of gov­ernment in mar­riage and how I plan to do that is work with Sens. Mike Lee, R-Ut.; Rand Paul, R-Ky.; and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as well as con­gressmen like Justin Amash, R-Mich., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., to send me good leg­is­lation that I can sign.

During the Lib­er­tarian Pres­i­dential Forum on Fox Business Network, you called those who refused to bake wedding cakes for gay couples “bigots.” Why do you think that and how do you plan to gain support from Chris­tians?

The foun­dation of Chris­tianity is accepting and spreading Christ’s message of love to all, even those who reject tra­di­tional roles in society. Indeed, Jesus spent his days amongst pros­ti­tutes, the down­trodden, and other sorts of deviants spreading the word that it is not an individual’s place to judge God’s children but our place to spread his love through kindness of spirit. The fact of the matter is that people who dis­crim­inate against other people are bigots, and because of their judgement and self-right­eousness, they are rejecting Christ’s message of love. Real devotion means rejecting bigotry and loving one’s fellow man, even if one believes that fellow man to be on a wayward path, and I hope that good Chris­tians under­stand that.

  • SMH2much

    Spot on!

  • Tully

    Some really fan­tastic, insightful answers here. Well done. #AP4LP!

  • Brian Forbes

    You def­i­nitely got one thing wrong on this. Jesus is com­monly believed to have been a friend of sinners, and it is true in many ways. He also said not to judge (until you’ve judged yourself). But, having studied the whole Bible, and not just lis­tening to preachers, I can tell you that you have this wrong. Con­sider the fol­lowing:
    1. Sodom wasn’t a Christian, Jewish, or in any way a believing nation when it was destroyed. Nineveh wasn’t a believing nation, even if Jonah was a true prophet pro­claiming judgment. Read Joel 3, espe­cially verse 12. God will judge the nations.
    2. Do you suggest that a doctor who doesn’t want to perform an abortion or assisted suicide is a bigot? How about an actor who doesn’t want to do a sex scene? Is he a bigot? Or a Christian engineer who doesn’t want to use his skills to prop up a mosque? They are all bigots in your eyes. What about Daniel who wouldn’t bow to an idol? What about the Mac­cabees who refused to eat pork? Are they all bigots? What about the people who are con­demning these Chris­tians for not making cakes? Are they bigots? Are they hyp­ocrites? Jesus treated sinners with kindness, but he didn’t com­promise his morals by taking part in their orgies.

    3. The people who were sinners before they met Jesus fol­lowed his command to “sin no more.” (John 8:11) If they didn’t do that, and they con­tinued in sin, Heb. 10:26 – 27 applies. “If we delib­er­ately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sac­rifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expec­tation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

    Mt. 18:17 tells us that we are to have a dif­ferent standard for those who are believers vs. those who are not. So I don’t expect you to accept any of this. You live by whatever standard suits you. Just be aware that I don’t have to take part in your lifestyle, and I won’t. I’m not a bigot because of this. I am true to my con­vic­tions.

    So Chris­tians know Christian doc­trine better than atheists do. If atheists knew Christian doc­trine, they wouldn’t be atheists anymore. You will probably never read this, but if you do, know that I can love a gay couple for what they could be and hate them for what they have chosen to be. Deut. 22:5 tells us that God finds some people detestable. But Ez. 33 tells us that nobody is too far from repen­tance. And repen­tance is the key to Chris­tianity. We will let people live however they want to live, and we will let God judge. But we will not take part in their sinful lifestyle.