Libertarian tries to reach ‘politically homeless’

Peter Johnson

U.S. Senate hopeful Erik Pakieser spoke to a small crowd of University students Wednesday afternoon, describing himself as “someone who won’t tell you how to live your life.”
Pakieser, who is endorsed by the Minnesota Libertarian Party, wanted to attract students whom he described as “politically homeless” — those who have little party loyalty and remain undecided.
The Libertarian candidate is one of the many third-party challengers who hope to capitalize on Gov. Jesse Ventura’s momentum.
Pakieser outlined his campaign platform in his speech, talking about eliminating income taxes and social security, legalizing and decriminalizing drugs and an isolationist foreign policy.
“In the United States of America, people are supposed to keep what they earn,” said Pakieser, who also promised to “free us from Social Security taxes.”
In addition, Pakieser is in favor of eliminating federal student loans and grants, theorizing that tax savings and private organizations would be more than adequate to pay tuition.
“I believe in students providing for their own education,” he said. There was little reaction among the students.
The war on drugs was a major issue in his speech as Pakieser spoke of “federal drug warriors.” He blamed the government for the drug-related death of a friend after complications from an anti-nausea medication.
“If one person wants to buy marijuana and someone wants to sell (it), there is no victim,” said Pakieser, who is in favor of legalizing marijuana.
He is also in favor of gay rights, stating the federal government should have no role in a person’s choice for a marriage partner.
Pakieser stressed the increasing consumer power of the gay and lesbian community.
“The key to ending discrimination is economic power,” he said.
However, his statements on foreign policy created the most disagreements among the audience.
Pakieser, who is a Panama and Gulf War veteran, advocates U.S. military withdrawal from countries like Yugoslavia, describing the military presence in the Persian Gulf as “police actions.”
Peter Loetscher, a College of Biological Science sophomore, described the Libertarians as “kind of a crazy group.”
“(Pakieser’s) ideals are far-fetched. What he expects to happen is unreasonable,” Loetscher said, referring to Pakieser’s opinions on foreign policy and the privatization of public land.
These opinions are not uncommon, a fact that hasn’t been lost on the candidate.
“My biggest problem is being recognized as a legitimate candidate,” said Pakieser, who as a candidate has only eight-percent name recognition according to a recent Star Tribune poll.
Yet he remains optimistic, describing his chances for victory as good and hoping he will be elected in a five-way split.
With a background in both military and police services, Pakieser first became involved in politics as Gov. Jesse Ventura’s bodyguard during his 1998 campaign.

Peter Johnson welcomes comments at (612) 627-4070 x3238.