Exclusive Interview With Iowa Gubernatorial Candidate Marco Battaglia

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– The Libertarian party of Iowa obtained ballot access after the 2016 election, has this changed the number of candidates willing to run for office on the Libertarian Party line?

“The interest was certainly increased but the number of people that filed the required petitions and paperwork with the Secretary of State was fewer. This was because we had a number of people step up to fill roles that were not available or not relevant prior to achieving political party status in Iowa. The state really needs to modernize the way that they do things. The processes are largely still the same as Democrats and Republicans have been using for ages. A lot of these processes are new to Libertarians and recently were previously unknown to formerly apolitical folks, independents, Greens, Constitution Partiers, and even to former Democrats and former Republicans that were not very active.

We have greatly increased the number of counties that we have an active organization in and we are working to expand to a majority of Iowa counties by 2020. This will help us to have candidates in more and more races. We have also attempted to run more candidates in local races. If we can do this and retain major party status this will change the game yet again. It will be huge for Iowa and for the Libertarian Party in general. Iowa has a history of starting off caucus season and setting the tone for the rest of the country. It would appear that if we accomplish this that the National Party would have to hold their nominating convention much sooner so our candidates start the race at the same time as the larger parties nominations. One exciting development is that the two larger parties are steadily losing members in Iowa while the Libertarian Party of Iowa is growing. I wonder if they will say that the other parties are siphoning off votes from us sometime soon?”

– What motivated you to run for governor?

I was born and raised and educated in Iowa. I have family, friends, and political allies from different parties all over the state. I did not see anyone announcing that had platforms that I felt a clear majority of Iowans could fully get behind so I thought that I would put my experience as a media major, and my experience from local, state, and federal political campaigns to use. I saw a lot of money rolling in from special interests and from out of state in general. I wanted to do something different than the others. My campaign is funded by relatively small donations from Iowans.

– What are some of the most significant issues facing the citizens of Iowa?

“Iowa consistently ranks in the bottom 5 states in terms of Mental Health Services. Water and Soil quality are big issues. The tax burden is high in Iowa without top-notch services to show for it. In fact, education has been in decline in a number of areas for some time. Opioid deaths are on the rise and the meth problem is not only lingering but re-surging. At the same time, we have solutions that have been staring us in the face for years.

Reining in the war on drugs and allowing for sports betting and online gambling, including poker, will bring in trillions of dollars in much more voluntary revenue. This would allow us to phase out the income tax entirely. These actions would dramatically improve our economy, our citizens overall health, and allow for new jobs. I have not met an Iowan from any party or lack thereof that does not want the state to improve the mental health situation. We would have the freedom to focus on improving mental health and be able to treat both mental health and addiction in a plethora of new ways.

Allowing for hemp farming and moving away from corporate welfare and subsidies, that encourage mono-culture and fuel over nutritious foods, to greater assistance for beginning farmers and farmers that agree to meet soil and water conservation goals will drastically alter Iowa’s landscape for the better and help us continue to address the pollinator, soil, and water issues. This will also help position Iowans and our water and soil for the next century of Iowa farming.

Iowans should be able to set their own high bar in terms of education standards. State and local governments should be able to lead the way on raising standards, measuring and supporting teacher and leader effectiveness, re-evaluating the skills that children are taught, and closing achievement gaps. Iowans are now competing with the rest of the world for jobs and we need to make these changes to strive to have some of the best students and teachers in the world once again. Phasing out the income tax entirely will help businesses, large and small, and individuals alike. Individuals will have more money to save or to invest in education whether it be at home, private education, or public education.”

– There will be a libertarian party primary on June 5th between yourself and Jake porter what do you think are your chances of a victory?

“I feel strongly about my chances of victory. I have been active in politics for some time now and I see my support steadily growing. I am announcing a running mate in the near future that I could not be more thrilled about. In Iowa, the state party chooses the Lt. Governor via convention but I am confident that they will be very pleased with my teammate. A lot of independents and even Democrats and Republicans are watching, especially now that there is only one Republican left to be on the ballot. My experiences will allow me to bring many new people into the party, at a minimum, to support my campaign. I certainly hope that they will find the same home that I have found with the Libertarian Party. There are a lot of stereotypes out there about third parties in general, especially this one, since ours is the third largest party, and I aim to show Iowa what the Libertarian Party, The Non-Aggression Principle, and volunteerism are truly all about.”

– Would you be willing to run for lieutenant governor if you lose the primary?

“I would entertain ways to remain a candidate in this cycle including as an option for Lt. Governor. If my running mate is interested in continuing in that scenario I would encourage them to do the same.”

– Your primary opponent Jake Porter has advocated getting rid of the state sales tax while you have advocated doing away with the state income tax, why would repealing the states income tax be superior to repealing the states sales tax?

“I would love to move towards more voluntary taxation across the board. I am not here to defend sales or property taxes or understate how they hurt the poorer among us. I feel the income tax was a bad idea from the start. From my travels around the state, a strong majority of Iowans have agreed with my plan to phase out the income tax and simplify the tax code. Not only is this necessary to bring Iowa into the modern economy but it is also necessary to avoid Iowa paying higher taxes for less and worse services. Sales taxes can continue to be monitored and modified so that they are not placed on necessities for the poorest Iowans. Phasing out the income tax, allowing competition for modern currency, and focusing on fiscal responsibility will drastically increase the amount that all Iowans are able to save and/or spend how they see fit. A majority of Libertarians and Republicans are already on board, as well as a significant number of Democrats and independents. Other states have proven that this can be done while having world-renowned public services. Going from one of the highest income taxes to no income tax will be a profound change for Iowans across the board. As much as I can appreciate Jake’s plans for the sales tax I believe that the support is there as we speak for my suggested action on the income tax.”

– Iowa farmers have received 18.5 billion dollars in subsidies between 1995 and 2016, what are your thoughts on this?

“Competition is good and it will be good for farmers as well as for the soil and water. Even in terms of having some market manipulation, not all subsidies are created equal. As it stands right now we are largely subsidizing a failed experiment in corn-based biofuel, high fructose corn syrup, obesity, and excess nitrates. A reduction in subsidies, a much freer market and the freedom to grow previously forbidden crops will help us face our dilemmas and allow us to prepare for the future. If we don’t take action now we will be in trouble especially if we have excesses in corn and hogs and the government continues to experiment with tariffs and sanctions. Trade wars with some of our largest partners would be catastrophic if we don’t move to a freer agricultural market now.

I am very much concerned about crony capitalist legislation in the livestock markets as well. I don’t like what I am seeing in terms of egg mandates. I don’t like the secrecy and inaccuracy of data surrounding large animal operations. I am a big supporter of our pollinators, more diverse fruits and vegetables, raw dairy freedom, and backyard birds.”

– How could your policies help the farmers of Iowa?

“As it stands farmers take their own lives at a high rate. Even higher than with our disturbing military and doctor suicide rates. Many more farmers used to own their own land. Many more farmers used to own their own seeds and crops. More families used to be able to support themselves via farming. My dad grew up on his family farm and lived through some of the major declines. Big factory farms owned by people from out of state take advantage of undocumented people for cheap labor and provide incentives for undocumented immigration. These are all problems that my agricultural freedom platform would help reverse. With the ability to better compete and without the prohibitions and regulatory burdens small farmers could make livings and actually work their way up the economic ladder while being good stewards of the land. Much better than a large operation would be likely to be.

Some of the problems are different then many would expect. Des Moines has one lone for-profit farm, Dog Patch Urban Gardens, owned by Jenny and Eric Quiner. Despite providing their goods to a who’s who of the Des Moines restaurant scene, regulations are making it hard for them to stay in business. Look at how great the farmers market and restaurant scene is. Look at the food festivals, craft brewing scenes, and even the glass shops. Iowa is positioned for the future in spite of many outdated and overbearing regulations. Iowa has a chance to lead the way agriculturally in a number of ways but we have to stop the state from making it hard on innovative, small and local businesses, to even keep their doors open, let alone compete and succeed.”

– Do you think the legalization of marijuana and hemp could potentially help farmers in Iowa?

“A true end to prohibition would certainly help. Not just these plants, but a total reining in of the war on drugs. Iowa Democrats actually have this built into their platform. Despite this, I don’t see any of the Democrats remaining in the race talking much about it. We need to restore these freedoms now. Not just marijuana and hemp could help Iowa farmers, but the freedom to grow other currently scheduled items that can be proven to have medical value will help as well. There are limitations to crops that are annual but they could be used as cover crops, and in addition to other diverse cultures and rotations, while farmers experiment with mushrooms, more varied crops, and more perennials.”

– Criminal justice reform has been a major theme in your campaign, as governor how would you implement these reforms.

“For starters, we need to rein in the war on drugs asap. We can flip the script by ending the prohibition of hemp and cannabis and clearing the records of those convicted solely of nonviolent drug offenses. I would not be surprised to see this done via legislation from either side of the aisle at this point. If we can win, we can show the legislature that this is what the people want and that they need to get moving if they want to have a positive session and actually represent the citizens of Iowa.

Moving away from mandatory minimums, unscientific disparities between scheduled substances, and stiff penalties related to nonviolent crimes will allow the state to focus on making the system faster, less complex, more affordable, and better equipped to handle complex cases. We need to improve in terms of making sure that people’s rights are restored after they serve their punishments. The punishment for sexual misconduct or other violent crimes committed by employees of the state should be consistent with those of similar crimes committed by the general public.”

– Could you tell us a little bit about your journey to the Libertarian Party and Libertarianism?

“Growing up my family was split about half and half between the major parties with the rest being fairly independent or apolitical. This made for some interesting family gatherings. My uncle served in Vietnam via the military and my dad served in Botswana, teaching science in Africa via the Peace Corps. My parents were on the older end of the spectrum so they had stories about JFK, RFK, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Barry Goldwater. This made for some interesting family gatherings. I have been involved in all three of the largest political parties to a certain degree. I feel that my views were always compatible with the non-aggression principle even prior to me knowing what it was. I came to feel out of place in first the Democratic Party, and then the Republican Party, after their treatment of Ron Paul. I saw this firsthand via the ways that Governor Branstad and then Lt. Governor Reynolds actively worked to suppress the liberty movement in Iowa. In 2008 while reading the works of Dr. Ron Paul and looking into his past I first learned of the Libertarian Party. From there I went on to study the history of the party and to start collecting the works of other libertarian-minded writers, thinkers, and economists.”

– Who are some of the principal personalities in the liberty movement that have influenced you?

“Some of the most influential on me include: John Hospers, Friedrich August Hayek, and Rose Wilder Lane. I would include Lysander Spooner, Frederick Douglass, and even Dr. Benjamin Rush. Those still with us, I have been greatly moved and challenged by Dr. Thomas Sowell, Dr. Ron Paul, Walter E. Williams, John Stossell, and L. Neil Smith. The latter whom I actually had a Star Wars book from as a teenager long before I was ever introduced to his other works or what I knew to be active volunteerism or libertarianism. I have actively supported and learned invaluable knowledge firsthand from the late Dr. Marc Feldman, the late Dr. Doug Butzier, Dr. Lee Hieb, Art Olivier, Larry Sharpe and Adam Kokesh.”

Marco Battaglia debated his primary opponent Jake Porter at the Libertarian Party of Iowa state convention. Click here to watch the debate.

You can donate to Mr.Battaglia’s campaign at

https://www.marcoforgovernor.com/contribute

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