Looking for a new political party? Don’t expect a pushy sales pitch from Libertarian Party of Colorado state Chair Wayne Harlos. He’ll welcome your interest, of course, but he might also casually suggest you go to Meetup.com, search for a local Libertarian gathering, drop in and decide for yourself if it’s for you. Not your typical political spiel: No pressure; no proselytizing. But then, the Libertarians aren’t your typical party. They’ll evangelize for freedom, but they’re not about to fight you for your soul. By a Libertarian’s lights, that’s your call.
Harlos goes on the record in today’s Q&A. First, here’s a little more background on him, courtesy of the state party’s website: He is a Colorado native and former Republican who says he finally realized no party other than the Libertarian Party stands for the freedoms that our country was founded on. His day job? He has been a real estate broker for 30 years, the last 25 in Castle Rock. His passion? As he puts it, “… to reduce the size and effect of government in all of our lives.”
Colorado Politics: You were once a Republican. Why did you become a Libertarian?
Wayne Harlos: I was a registered Republican but previously a conservative. I became a Libertarian when I did some research on the Libertarian Party and realized that they aligned with my core fiscal beliefs 100 percent, and the majority of my social beliefs. The other parties aligned with me about 60 percent (Republicans) and 20 percent (Democrats).
CP: 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, got 5.2 percent of the vote in Colorado last November — 2 points better than he did nationally. It was by far the best performance of any third-party candidate. And Libertarians are literally Colorado’s, and the nation’s, “third party” — i.e., the third-largest in Colorado as well as the U.S. Yet, with fully a third of its electorate registered unaffiliated, why isn’t Colorado casting far more ballots for Libertarians? What are the biggest challenges you face in trying to make greater inroads among unaffiliated Coloradans?
WH: The last election was a peculiar one, as the Democrats and Republicans, as well as many independents and a small amount of Libertarians, were voting against rather than for a candidate. I’ve never seen so much fear on both sides. If people would have been able to vote their conscience as they would have with approval, or ranked choice voting, I believe that the Libertarian candidate would have easily doubled his percentage or more.
CP: Are Colorado’s Libertarians closer ideologically to Republicans or Democrats?
WH: That is an interesting question. The Libertarian Party of Colorado is more fiscally conservative than the Republicans and more socially inclusive than the Democrats. The Libertarians differ mostly from both parties in that we believe in personal rights and freedoms and of course the responsibility that goes with each.
CP: Strictly by the numbers, if all the votes cast for Gary Johnson in Colorado last fall had been cast for Donald Trump, the president would have carried the state. That’s a theoretical point, of course, because in reality some Johnson voters may have gone for Hillary Clinton if a Libertarian hadn’t been on the ballot. Do you believe Johnson drew away more Trump voters or Clinton voters in Colorado last fall?
WH: Lets’ assume that your premise is true. Then it would also be true that if the trump or Clinton voters would have voted for Johnson, he would have won. All kidding aside, I believe Trump and Clinton pulled away more of our voters because of the fear that we talked about before.
CP: Are there any current, elected officeholders in Colorado — Republican or Democrat — whom you admire?
WH: I have very little respect for office holders in Colorado from either party. For the last 10 to 15 years, the Democrat candidates and officeholders have had to toe the Democrat line or they would get primarried in the next election. In the last couple of years that trend is also happening in the Republican Party. If a person will allow their vote to be controlled by the party that they align with, rather than their conscience. then they have no principles.
CP: What do you tell voters who say they like your message but wouldn’t want to “waste” their vote on you because your candidates don’t have a chance of winning?
WH: People say that all the time, even if they are strongly Libertarian. I spend a lot of time talking with people at outreach booths at events like Peoples Fair, Pridefest and gun shows, and I’ve found that the best way to help them see a clear path to vote for their conscience is to do a little math. Let’s say that Libertarians make up 10 percent of the population (without regard to how they are registered), and each of those people was to convince only two other people that it is more important to vote for something, rather then against something. We would have the same size base as the duopoly.
CP: What book, magazine, movie — you name it — would you recommend to someone who is checking out Libertarianism?
WH: It’s hard to beat “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat for a good understanding of Libertarian principles. I also think that “1984,” by George Orwell, has become prophetic. I would also invite anyone that wants to know more to go into Meetup and find a local group and go to their meetings. That’s a great way to get an education and determine whether you align with the Libertarian Party.