Austin Petersen, a longtime “small-l” libertarian, is in the running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri in 2018. What voters don’t realize is his devolution from an anti-Trump libertarian to a libertarian Republican selling out to the “Make America Great Again” slogan when there’s nothing wrong with America, except the government screwing things up.
While Petersen has worn many different hats in the past decade. He was a producer of Freedom Watch, a former Fox News Channel program hosted by the Hon. Judge Andrew Napolitano, the network’s legal analyst who actively promoted 9/11 conspiracy theories and Civil War revisionism. He founded an online news website, The Libertarian Republic, which rarely covers anything libertarian or Libertarian but actively panders to Republicans.
Petersen, without any prior experience in running for political office, campaigned for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination, only to be beaten at the Orlando convention by former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, who had earned the nomination four years prior. It didn’t help that Petersen lost in a non-binding presidential primary in his home state of Missouri to “Undeclared”, essentially considered as a “None of the Above” choice in states where the Libertarian Party is allowed a primary election.
Now Petersen has taken a step back from the presidential race to Congress, switched back to the Republican Party and declared his long-shot bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill.
What is considerably laughable is Petersen’s remarks regarding his policies to Business Insider. He claims that “his policies are the same”, but also contradicted himself by saying his policies are moldable, essentially against libertarian principles. He’s switched affiliations from an anti-authoritarian party to an authoritarian party that likes warrantless wiretapping, the silencing of governmental whistleblowers and the abolition of abortions. He has even sold out to President Donald Trump and his joke of a slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Sorry, America has ALWAYS been great. Democrats and Republicans have taken turns ruining it.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Petersen heavily criticized then-candidate Trump, calling him more of a socialist compared to Democratic opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton, tweeting that Trump’s supporters were “losers.” Now, he has flip-flopped, saying the “Never Trump” movement in the Republican Party needs to stop ignoring the victory and calls those in the movement “naive.”
The policies between Petersen and President Trump overlap on some issues, when it comes to tax reform and healthcare.
Petersen notes Trump has strayed from his campaign promises in regards to foreign policy with his warmongering attitude over the past six months, but some lawmakers like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) are attempting to resurrect those promises.
Petersen disagrees with Trump’s idea of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the wall won’t necessarily end the tide of undocumented immigrants and drugs entering the country. He also opposes the idea of a massive infrastructure project of a FDR-style as an attempt to increase spending, raise taxes and steal land from Texans, but agrees on the idea of legal immigration.
Petersen keeps up on his candidate-bashing attitude, even in the Republican Party, directed toward his GOP primary opponent, Attorney General Josh Hawley. He calls McCaskill a party-line Democrat, when her voting record does sometimes show her voting as a moderate Democrat. He criticizes Hawley for campaigning against what he’s doing, being a “ladder-climbing career politician.”
Petersen isn’t foreign to controversy. He attacked Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson for throwing away a gun, which was a cheap and unprofessional reproduction of a pre-1899 firearm, according to witnesses at the convention. Facebook also blocked his personal profile after attempting to give away a free AR-15 rifle as part of a campaign promotion.
Petersen wrote Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg an open letter saying, “It’s difficult to ignore that this action comes during a period of heightened tension regarding Facebook’s role in our elections, and its perceived bias against conservative voices. Moreover, the fact that your Chief Operating Officer — Sheryl Sandberg — has ‘leaned into’ my election by donating the maximum allowable amount to my opponent does not inspire confidence in Facebook’s neutrality.”
Petersen then expanded to a social media platform called Gab, which is highly popular with racists and white nationalists identifying with the alt-right, where he cited Facebook’s decision to block his AR-15 giveaway.
What’s even more annoying is he has the spelling of the party’s 2012 nominee – Todd Akin – confused with pop, rock and R&B artist and season two American Idol alum Clay Aiken, who won the Democratic Party nomination for North Carolina’s second Congressional District, losing to incumbent Renee Ellmers in 2014.
Petersen hasn’t changed since his move to the Republican Party: he still makes degrading remarks about women. Now his newfound alliance with white supremacists will just make him friends with individuals like Christopher Cantwell, where they had an exchange of trash talk on Cantwell’s radio program in 2015:
Petersen is not the kind of person that Missouri’s Republican Party needs to be pushing to run against McCaskill, because it’ll just be as if Todd Akin ran for the Republican nomination once again. Libertarians and libertarians alike should not be pushing or advocating for Petersen at all. Whether the Libertarian choice for U.S. Senate is 2016 vice presidential hopeful and attorney Alicia Dearn, entrepreneur Japheth Campbell or some last-minute candidate, the Libertarian Party will always be a better choice than someone who sincerely hates women enough to disparage them.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.