By Jacob Engels
Early this week, I got to chat with one of politics most colorful characters, Roger Stone. Stone, who got his start as an advisor to Richard Nixon (whom he has tattooed on his back) has spent the past 30 years in politics as the operative whom you do not want to go up against. He played a key role in the election of Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Noted for his development of negative campaigning, he has been called “the dapper don of dirty deeds” and a “professional lord of mischief”. Stone has also chronicled men's fashion for the New York Times and the Daily Caller. His annual "Ten Best and Worst Dressed" list has been featured on the Huffington Post and the New York Daily News since 2009. After spending his whole life in the Republican Party, he recently left their ranks and joined the libertarians because of it's lurch to the far-right on social issues. Stone is currently considering running for Governor in 2014 on the Libertarian ticket.
Why consider running for Governor? And why now?
Like most Floridians, I am dissatisfied with our choices. As someone who believes in limited government and fiscal responsibly, I have become disappointed in Governor Scott as of late. He founded his political career opposing government-mandated healthcare and he is now embracing it.
He seems to be abandoning what got him elected. Throwing money at teachers won’t fix our broken education system yet that is what he seems to be proposing. Former Governor Charlie Crist is even more dangerous. He seems to change positions like the wind. I'm not sure what he stands for, other than the election of Charlie Crist.
Scott is a good man who seems to have lost his way. Crist is a dangerous chameleon that believes in nothing. We'll see.
Neither of them would support legalizing and taxing marijuana, ending the ban on gay marriage or serious campaign finance reform. I would offer the voters a real choice.
Running for Governor is a lot of hard work and I’ve never been on that side of the equation. I live in Miami Beach and am happily married with a great wife, five dogs, three cats, two children and five grand-children. I’ve got a lot of warts and bruises from the past 30 years I’ve spent in politics. If a better candidate doesn’t come forward, I’m sorely tempted to run. If I run it will be a gallus-snapping campaign!
Why did you leave the GOP?
I didn't leave the GOP-the GOP left me. The Republican Party had sadly become the party of big business, Wall Street and the Beltway. It no longer stands for a balanced budget, spending restraint, civil liberties and peace. Now it is the party of big government, pointless foreign wars, the patriot act and religious extremists. It's no longer the party of Barry Goldwater and Dwight Eisenhower or Ronald Reagan.
To real conservatives the freedom of the individual is paramount. No one should be able to tell you what you can eat, drink, smoke, or marry, or what kind of gun you can own. We don't want to be snooped on by an all-knowing big brother government. That is the essence of liberty. The Republican Party has become both a party of big government but also an authoritarian party that would tell us how to live.
Are you making inroads with Libertarian voters?
So far so good. Response in the social media world has been great. Over the next couple of months I will be speaking in Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco, Broward counties. It’s a great opportunity to road test the message. I want the political process to be entertaining and engaging. That is the only way we can get voters to pay attention. The current field is boring and both candidates seem to have no core beliefs.
Side note – Nick Egoroff, a long time local political activist in Central Florida and State Coordinator for Libertarian Presidential nominee Gov. Gary Johnsons 2012 campaign said he hopes Stone will bring much needed attention to the Libertarian Party if he runs.
Gambling & Casinos--
Gambling is already happening in Florida, let's be honest. These arguments over whether or not to allow gambling or casinos are kind of pointless. However, what does need to be discussed is where in the state it is most appropriate and how the taxpayers can most benefit.
The casino monopoly we grant the Seminole Indians in Florida is a huge problem we need to fix. Personally, I think the Seminole Indian tribe is a criminal enterprise. They pay the lowest percentage on their gambling profits to the state of any tribe in the entire country. The deal Charlie Crist made with the Seminoles is illegal and he should be prosecuted. Governor Crist took a $ 1 million contribution from the Seminoles in return for giving then the exclusive right to operate blackjack. It was a quid pro-quo deal.
The Constitution is very clear. We can’t have separate but equal. It’s against the constitution. Civil Unions are separate but equal. I believe that everyone has the right to marry the person of his or her choice. I want to repeal the Florida constitutional ban of gay marriage in Florida. If you don't want to officiate as member of the clergy, then you have the right to refuse. If you don't like gay marriage then don't marry someone who's gay. What people do in their own homes and bedrooms is none of the governments business. All people must be treated equally.
In the short term, marijuana needs to be available for medicinal purposes. I have seen firsthand the positive effects it has on people who are suffering and it’s unimaginable that we are forcing them to commit criminal acts to alleviate pain.
In the long term, marijuana should be legalized, regulated, and taxed. I would put half of revenue towards our schools and the other half towards debt reduction. It is far less damaging than alcohol and any doctor that says otherwise is full of shit. If marijuana has no medicinal value why does the federal government hold the patent for synthetic THC the active ingredient in marijuana?
We are spending millions on arresting, prosecuting a jailing people for a non-violent crime that hurts no one. We could save millions on the law enforcement side, and generate millions of new revenue on the tax side.
We might as well benefit from it. Many of my libertarian friends want to grow it for their own use, but if you grow it, for your own use your harvest shouldn't be taxed. I am a practical libertarian.
Front Yard Gardens --
A citizen should not be told what to do on his or her own property. You should be able to garden. Why wouldn’t we want people learning how to provide for themselves and become self-reliant?
Early Voting --
Expand early voting hours, expand regular voting hours, and make it easier to vote. Why did Rick Scott not extend early voting? That is a failure of leadership and that is disgraceful. If you waited 5 hours to vote, it’s Rick Scott's fault. He signed the law truncating voting and then said he had nothing to do with it! Politicians need to understand that you don't win elections by limiting the size of electorate. You win by persuading more people that you are right.
Outfits At The Oscars–
I was in transit for most of it, however I did go back and watch it. It’s amazing how many women don't understand what colors pair well with their physical characteristics. If you have red hair, then you cant wear a tan or flesh colored dress.
I must say elegance is back and I was happy to see men dressing more seriously this year. The Woody Allen look is out and the Frank Sinatra look is finally back. There is nothing worse than a man in a tux with basketball sneakers. Funny thing though, according to Frank Sinatra, you weren’t even supposed to wear tuxedos on Sundays.
Fashion is temporary and style is timeless, people forget that a lot these days.
We will keep and eye on Mr. Stone over the next few months and will update you if and when he makes a decision.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post. Along with the Post, he owns several other businesses and is currently enrolled at Valencia College. Jacob has lived in Avalon Park since it's founding and enjoys playing with his black Labradoodle Japser, listening to indie rock, and seeking out new business ventures. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.