By James Ferencsik
In one of the most important Senate races of 2014, Libertarian Candidate Sean Haugh has worked to define himself as a folksy and refreshing alternative to what he describes as the Hagan-Tillis “orgy of negativity.” Haugh recently retired from working in a libertarian non-profit to deliver pizza but decided to re-enter the political fray in order to “stop all war and spending more money than we have.” He has sought to play on his outsider image by promoting himself through the medium of YouTube videos set in his campaign manager’s basement, drinking a craft beer and discussing issues of concern for American voters. The videos have proved a success, earning him more YouTube followers than Hagan and Tillis combined and primetime interviews on MSNBC and the Fox Business Network.
Haugh is, in many respects, the typical libertarian. He is a fervent opponent of war in all forms. When describing his views on United States involvement in Syria, he said, “there is no bit of bombing that will fix the mess we’ve made over there already.” However, he does not want to stop U.S. engagement in just Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Haugh advocates an end to “military aid for everybody in the world” and the demilitarization of the U.S. border and police forces Like nearly all libertarians, he wants to limit U.S. domestic spending and get the federal government out of education. Haugh’s solution to a broken campaign finance system is to “defederalize” the federal government, so “lobbyists can longer come in and buy control over their particular issue.” When I asked Haugh about his stances on social issues, he defined himself as pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and pro-marijuana legalization.
Haugh, however, does differ from notable libertarians, such as Ron and Rand Paul, on a few issues. Both Pauls have notably argued that 14th Amendment does not give the federal government the right to regulate privately-owned business that serve the public; therefore, the Civil Rights Act was a federal government overreach. When I pressed Haugh on the same issue, he said, “I don’t get into the business of arguing things that were decided forty years ago.” Haugh also said it was a “mistake” for the N.C. General Assembly to not the accept additional Medicaid funding from Obamacare, noting “Republicans don’t have any problem leaving grandma on the street.”
On a personal level, Sean Haugh says “I don’t align myself with any particular religion, but I am an Oklahoma Sooners fan, which is pretty much the same thing.” Although the fact Haugh does not have a TV might suggest otherwise, he is active on social media, especially on Twitter with the distinctly un-libertarian handle @Emperor Sean. If you go to Satisfaction in Brightleaf Square any Tuesdaynight, odds are you will run into Sean enjoying a pizza and craft beer.
Although the odds do not look as good for Haugh this Tuesday, he is glad that he is in the race “I’m moving public policy now in the race as a Libertarian.” He hopes his campaign will convince North Carolina Republicans, in particular, to rethink their stance on U.S. foreign invention and border militarization.