“Outsider” Chair Candidate Speaks About New Tech for the LP, Candidates, and the Importance of Local Politics
In my speech to the Libertarian Party of Minnesota in mid-April, I asserted that I had come back to the Libertarian Party after spending a few years avoiding the Party in favor of other liberty activism. As 2016’s presidential race heats up, with three interesting viable top tier candidates from the LP itself, the Party has a chance to determine its direction in a few different ways: the national convention over Memorial Day Weekend will present an opportunity for delegates like myself to vote not just for our Presidential nominee, but also our Chair and other Libertarian National Committee positions.
Though there is plenty of media about our presidential hopefuls, I opted to learn a bit more about each of the four men running to be Chair of the Libertarian Party. I am conducting interviews with each candidate, and may, at the end of the fourth, have an endorsement (or not, let’s see how they do). This is the first of four interviews.
I spoke to Charles Peralo and learned a bit more about his candidacy.
Peralo is the youngest person (at least, this time around) running for the Chair position of the LNC. He was born in New York City and lives there now, but grew up in the Catskills. His father was a doctor of orthopedic surgery. Peralo says his parents were fairly non-political, but at 14 years old he began developing an interest in public policy and particular causes he started exploring online. He took to social media to organize meetups in his city related to Bitcoin, Seasteading, and other passions, eventually becoming one of the co-founders of the website BeingLibertarian.com.
Peralo’s professional drive was to be an inventor and entrepreneur. His first LLC was setup at the tender age of 17, and he filed his first patent the same year. His first startup was a project called Streable, developing software for better interactive blogging, and during the financing raise he became very involved in Bitcoin. Peralo purchased his first Bitcoin at $1, and watched the price rise. Bitcoin has been one of his major focuses the last two years, as well as nurturing his latest startup, called Pivot Foods.
Peralo’s engagement with libertarian-ish politics itself began in 2011 and 2012, supporting Gary Johnson and Ron Paul, both as Republicans. He’s supported Ron Paul and Rand Paul’s bids for the presidency. Originally hopeful for the liberty caucus in the Republican Party, Peralo saw that rise of Trump as the fall of Republican viability, and formally joined the LP of New York in the autumn of 2015.
I asked him a number of questions about his plans for the Party, and his perspective on the LP. Below is the text of our Q & A.
AO: So, what made you decide to run for Chair? What’s the reasoning behind it? Was there something specific you saw that made you realize you wanted to change things?
CP: Well there were a lot of things I felt that built up to this. One obvious thing was co-founding beinglibertarian.com this past year and getting to work with a lot of great libertarians and seeing how strong this movement really is.
The second was moderating the Philadelphia LP debate and getting far more engaged with members of the Party on that level. The third was just seeing what a mess this election became and the realization that I can either sit on the Internet or go out and do something about the hell America is being put through now dealing with the corrupt.
Yet the fourth and probably the most important thing, was sitting down and doing my homework on the Libertarian Party and who was running for this Chair position. While I don’t really want to bash anyone, I just noticed a trend of people who’ve been in this party an overly long time, never really made much effort in working with other people or parties, they didn’t really have any backgrounds outside of law and just felt like they preferred the LP to be this small unnoticed thing. I realized I’ve worked in tech, fundraising, I’ve balanced a budget, organized events and so on that I had many more skills and experiences to set me apart here. So I just realized the Libertarian Party needs a new type of leader who will act as an innovator and not just keep an establishment LP of arguing and old websites.
AO: You’ve mentioned you’ve got some big changes planned, can you tell us a bit about what you’re planning? On your website, I’ve seen you mention technology platforms, and easy-to-set-up websites for local parties and candidates? Tell us a bit about those.
CP: Well of course I can tell you, it’d be pretty stupid of me to run a campaign and not talk about my actual ideas! Or well, it’d make me Hillary Clinton…
So for ideas, I’d say there are four big things I’d like to do if made Chair, which would be cheap to do, grow the Party, and also I don’t feel would be met with much controversy.
First — Setting up an LP national app. Get programmers to build a free app you receive when joining or becoming affiliated with the Party which allows you to connect to active Libertarian Party members in your area, see if a local chapter exists, see how to get involved and even see how to run for office in your area. This is something no Party is really offering and the LP should probably set center stage on it. Something simple, easy to use and also for more than just the LP. The fact is a lot of our greatest thinkers are people in SFL, CATO, Mises and more, who’ve not made the jump yet to joining the LP, but we still need to be in touch with them. I believe I can get this done at low cost and developed in under four months if I have the right team set up.
Second — The next is WordPress for Libertarians. The fact is this, we have people running for statewide office using @hotmail emails and maintaining these terrible looking sites. These are very often the first introductions a lot of people have to the LP. Which sadly, when someone goes online, sees a candidate running for any office and the website is a joke, that’s it, we’ve lost at least one voter. I’d want to make a site connected to the National LP site making it as simple and cheap as possible for everyone to get a good website and be connected to design services instantly. The goal is making it so everyone can have a website which looks ready to win an election for under $100. Also doing this, I’d say the National LP should set some sort of standards in web work for candidates and not promote them until candidates meet these.
Third — Going hard on social media, but not exactly via the LP National page. Set-up 6-12 single issue platform pages owned and controlled by the LP, but focusing on things such as ending corporate welfare, ending the wars, ending the minimum wage and other issues a wide spectrum of people outside the party agree on. Grow those to 500,000+ likes each and use the 3-6 month election cycle in order to promote candidates as local and statewide office in the LP. This can grow our base with non-libertarian voters and build us on some common ground.
Fourth — I’d set up an LP affiliate with the GOP & DNC. The fact is this, the Libertarian Party really hasn’t earned the membership of many people yet. People want to vote for winners and make their voices heard in the major parties. Also, in terms of fundraising, events and more, we just aren’t yet ready to hold that quality. What I’d want to do is set up a program where people can mark themselves as a Libertarian-Republican or Libertarian-Democrat, get access to information, be welcomed into events and even be able to even get a say on state and local platforms. Also to donate… doing this, it could get those people warmer to the LP and grow us on that front.
AO: What about working with the rest of the executive committee? Do you have preferences for the Vice Chair and other positions? Are there people currently on the committee that you’d like to work with, or do you have a plan for endorsements for the other seats?
CP: Well Avens, my team and I actually thought of asking you to run for Vice Chair, but really, I think I think I’ll leave that position alone for this race and focus on my own. The Vice Chair spot I’d really enjoy seeing someone come in who I can respect and treat as a partner, but I just don’t feel it’d be wise to get involved with influencing the board spots.
My vibe is that I’m the outsider CEO, and I’m the guy not looking to change what this party is about, but just how we manage things. I feel if I start backing particular people it becomes a deal-making game. I want this run to really be done with honesty and how I feel politics should be.
So all I can really say is I don’t care who the board is, what they do, where they come from or even where they stand, I’ll manage and get the job done. I’ve had a lot of headaches on startups where I turned people I’d never imagined I’d get along with into friends for life and this won’t be different.
AO: The LP has a committee that focuses on technology issues in particular for the Party, though as you say, they don’t appear to be tremendously effective. Your plan on updating the technology of the LP is very exciting, and I feel like there could easily be a team leading exclusively that charge, maybe separately from the LNC Chair. Have you reached out to them before to try to assist and help?
CP: With every single goal I have regarding the Party itself or with technology, I’ve really held it with the goal that it won’t cause much, if any, arguments with any boards. Every single goal I have, I have the intention of going out and doing cheaply and quickly.
This is basically me calling up my friends in the Hackathon community and saying, “Contact some libertarian-minded programmers we know. I have this idea for the LP app that I want them to build for me. I can’t pay them much, but if they do build it, it’s assured to get hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of downloads easily and they can leverage it for their resumes.” People will agree to that and I’ll get everything in the tech department done by startupbros in colleges looking for a resume boost.
Regarding offering to help the Party, I actually have not, but I have helped out a lot of libertarian groups over the years. These ideas I’ve had were really just from doing my homework, spending the last couple months studying the Party and making a clear plan similar to how I would if making a business proposal.
AO: If you happen to not end up as Chair, will you help whoever is Chair implement some of these new ideas you have?
CP: Be it Nick, Brett or Mark, if they call me up, I’ll answer and be there to help however they want. If they like my ideas for tech, I’ll 100% be there and get the job done for them. I don’t care who makes these changes happen, but they just need to happen and I won’t have ego games get in the way of it.
AO: When it comes to Libertarian candidates for public office, there are a few schools of thought. One believes we should have fewer candidates that we (as a party) pour more resources into (instead of stretching our limited resources between a long list of candidates). Another idea is that we should have a “libertarian option” for every single office (so that those who are fed up with Democrats and Republicans will have an option with us). What’s your take on those ideas? Do you have a different idea about how we should run our nominees for offices?
CP: I’ve thought about this and I really don’t see a case where we can not have people on the ballot in every office. The reason being that it A helps us get ballot access and B it makes us an actual party. Ross Perot failed with making the Reform Party a thing, because 1996 rolled around and the only two members of it seeking office were him and Jesse Ventura. So, I feel if someone wants to run for dogcatcher or governor, the Libertarian Party should stand with them at becoming the best damn dogcatcher or governor America has ever had.
Regarding resources, from speaking to a ton of candidates for local and statewide office, nearly all have told me it was normally done entirely by their people, their money and their time with limited help from the National Libertarian Party. So, I don’t really see a problem with more people seeking office and I encourage it, if they believe it’s best for them, best for the party and best for their town, city or state.
AO: Do you think the Libertarian Party should measure its success by performance within local elections, statewide, or federal? Do you have a different view of what success should look like to the LP?
CP: I’d say local and state races are really how we measure success. The fact is, most people who will go out to vote in 2016 are voting for the Presidential race. Senate/Congressional races are second thought for them, where a solid 30-60% will not even know who’s running.
So, if the Libertarian Party manages to get over 5% of the vote in a Senate or Congressional race, and that holds consistent nationally, it says quite a bit about the nature of the country and nature of the Party. This is why I want to put more emphasis on helping the Libertarian Party on the local level.
With regards to the Presidential race, it is extremely important, but I really see it as a method to introduce regular people to libertarianism via good personalities. With presidential races, regular people actually research the candidates running and I’m 100% confident they’d be voting for John McAfee, Marc Feldman, Gary Johnson or Austin Petersen over just voting for the LP. Compared to Congressional or Senate races, where they’d likely vote for the LP rather than a personality.
Yet, what I’d really call a metric of our success: when they actually attack us instead of ignoring us.
I remember in 2008 when it was Martha Coakley v Scott Brown, I had many friends online say not to vote for Joe Kennedy due to him splitting the vote. Many friends of mine in Virginia were saying to not vote for Robert Sarvis over Ken Cucinelli in that gubernatorial race.
Looking at that, I feel this saying is best: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Right now they ignore our existence. Yet Sarvis and Kennedy showed how they wanted to mock us and that’s the step in the right direction for me. It shows we became relevant to the big parties and they acknowledged we have some power.
AO: What’s your take on the presidential race and the LP’s opportunities as it relates to our own candidates and the national stage? Do you think we could actually get an LP candidate in the debates this year? What do you think of our chances, and the candidates in the field?
CP: Well, I’ve decided to remain neutral on the LP primary process this time due to my own race. I’m a mega fan to Gary Johnson, I think John McAfee is extremely intelligent, I like Marc Feldman a lot, and while I’ve previously expressed issues with Austin Petersen, I really respect how he has grown such a following, starting out with this simple run.
Yet for the LP and getting on the stage this year, I’ll just say this. Hillary Clinton is the female version of Richard Nixon, only without his charm and intelligence. Donald Trump is the absolute worst Republican nominee possibly in history, and is an embarrassment to America. Gary Johnson is a two-term governor who is praised across the aisles politically. John McAfee is a household name known as the man to change cyber security. Austin Petersen is the young guy with a very clean libertarian brand. If the LP can’t get over 5% while in the Trump v Clinton race, it’s not the candidates’ fault, but it’s 100% the fault of the Party for not laying out a good infrastructure to work with.
Yet with the odds of getting into the national debates? I look at the Monmouth poll showing Gary at 11% and that makes me pretty confident. I would say the odds this time of it happening are 20%. Which, in every other election in history, the LP nominee making the debates was probably 0-5%. So, I’m crossing my fingers.