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    11 Things The Liberty Movement Should Focus On In 2014 (Updated!)

    2013 was a "banner year" for libertarians, opined Jack Hunter recently. We stopped war with Syria and have driven public opposition to the NSA's domestic spying. Our work is far from over, but 2014 is shaping up to be a great year for the "liberty movement." These are in no particular order, mostly.

    1. Stop Overreaching Domestic Spying Programs.

    This issue is likely the most important for the liberty movement in 2014 because it brings the most Americans together. Edward Snowden's revelations have united a majority of Americans against the national security state, particularly domestic spying.

    Michigan Congressman Justin Amash sponsored an amendment to defund the domestic metadata collection program, and it failed by only a handful of votes. Even Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who authored the PATRIOT Act in 2001 and shepherded its re-authoritzation through the House in 2006, supported Amash's amendment. Amash and Sensenbrenner are working together on the Freedom Act, which would seek to end the NSA's bulk data collection.

    Liberty-minded Americans can achieve a real victory in rolling back the national security state by helping advance this legislation, which (at the time of this publication) has 124 co-sponsors (64 Ds, 60 Rs).

    2. Decriminalization of Cannabis.

    A nod to readers who believe libertarians only care about weed, it turns out this is a uniting issue for many Americans, as well.

    Colorado became the first state to allow the sale of recreational cannabis. In the first week of legalization, sales exceeded $5 million. An October 2013 Gallup poll showed a clear majority of Americans support legalization for the first time since Gallup started asking in 1969.

    Dispensaries in Washington state will begin selling recreational marijuana later this year, and more states will likely take up the debate in 2014.

    If outright marijuana legalization is a bridge too far for potential allies, we can talk about eliminating mandatory minimums or legalizing industrial hemp production.

    3. Expansion of Marriage Equality. (Updated!)

    A majority of Americans now support marriage equality, according to a string of polls in 2013. 52% of adults, according to Gallup. 56%, according to Quinnipiac. 55%, according to USA Today.

    17 states have legalized gay marriage in some way, and more states are trending in that direction.


    Of all the points I've made here, this one has received the most criticism from libertarians. Some say the courts have decided in several states, and that's not fair. Some say the government should stay out of marriage.

    My initial point here was that there's a trend in support for marriage equality. To those who say judicial overreach is a cause for concern, I agree. To those who said the government shouldn't have their hand in the marriage pie, I agree in theory.

    Unfortunately, the government decides a lot of things in the realm of marriage: how you file your taxes, who gets custody of the children, how much your ex-wife gets in alimony payments, etc. So, while I agree in theory, it's rather impractical in practice to just bury our heads in the sand and ignore it.

    4. Electing More Pro-Liberty Politicians.

    This will no-doubt rustle the jimmies of some, but one way to advance liberty is by electing people who will work within the political system to limit the size and scope of government. Congressman and Senators like Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Rand Paul are working to roll back the unconstitutional excesses of government, and we should support them in their efforts.

    Of course...

    5. Holding Those Politicians Accountable.

    ...these elected officials will disappoint us from time to time. They're not going to vote 100% the way we want them to, just like we're not going to agree with our friends in the liberty movement all the time.

    Attending town halls, writing emails, calling your representatives, and making your voice heard at the ballot box are important ways to hold your elected officials accountable.

    Congressman Justin Amash says that calling a Congressman's office is one of the most effective ways to put pressure on them. During the public debate over possible war with Syria, Members of Congress received hundreds of calls in opposition to military action and responded by not voting to commit American troops to an internal civil war.

    6. Supporting Cryptocurrencies.

    I'll be the first to admit I don't know a thing about Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency, but this digital medium of exchange is becoming popular very quickly. Breitbart has a substantial write-up on Bitcoin, the most popular form, but there are several others out there, as well.

    There was even an entire conference about digital currency last year in Atlanta, and racked up $130,000 in sales in its first day accepting Bitcoin, according to CEO (and libertarian) Patrick M. Byrne. One of the benefits of using cryptocurrency is that -- unlike the US Dollar -- the federal government has no control over it. It's value isn't subject to the whims of our government's monetary policy.

    Additionally, a "Bitcoin Center" opened in New York City just 100 feet from the New York Stock Exchange, and conservative Congressman Steve Stockman became the first elected official to accept Bitcoin for his Republican primary campaign against incumbent Senator John Cornyn.

    7. Actually Ending the War in Iraq.

    President Obama declared the War in Iraq over on December 18, 2011, but American troops are still on the ground and the Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) is still on the books.

    Senator Rand Paul filed legislation to repeal the AUMF on the heels of the Obama Administration's announcement that they would support such a measure. In a letter to colleagues, Senator Paul wrote, “This bill will ensure that our chapter of action in Iraq is officially closed, and that any future President seeking to engage in the region will be required to come to Congress to gain authorization and support, as is Constitutionally required."

    8. Educating More People/Growing Our Movement

    Though the "liberty movement" is about much more than former Congressman Ron Paul, you can't deny that his 2008 and 2012 campaigns laid the foundation for much of our recent progress.

    Building on those campaigns and momentum, we should continue to grow our ranks. Gallup revealed that 72% of Americans -- a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents -- think big government is the greatest threat to the U.S. in the future.

    What exactly is "big government," though? Different people are concerned about different aspects of big government. Regulations, taxes, new programs. We should find out what issues are most important to our friends, neighbors, and potential allies, and connect with them.

    9. Auditing the Federal Reserve.

    Thanks to the hard work of dozens of Ron Paul-aligned delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention, this relatively obscure policy was launched into the spotlight during the 2012 cycle. The "Federal Reserve Transparency Act" (or "Audit the Fed") overwhelmingly passed the House (327-98) in 2012 but stalled in the Senate because of Harry Reid.

    Turns out, Harry Reid supported an audit of the Federal Reserve in the past.

    The push has been renewed during this Session. Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA) is the lead sponsor now that Ron Paul is no longer in the House, and the bill has 181 co-sponsors. The Senate version, sponsored by Senator Rand Paul, has 29 co-sponsors.

    10. Expanding Economic Choice.

    This is left intentionally broad because there are so many opportunities here. Specifically, I'm referring to innovations like food trucks, home brewing, peer-to-peer accommodation like Airbnb, and livery services like Uber or Lyft.

    In the age of instant gratification, entrepreneurs are bounding over the old barriers to entry and creating new and innovative services that make our lives easier. We should encourage this sort of innovation and take action when government attempts to get in the way.

    These are also issues that unite us with people who may not identify as libertarians or as members of our movement. Who doesn't like using a new innovation that makes life easier? Each of the above mentioned innovations is an opportunity to talk to someone who's maybe less engaged or less political about getting government out of the way. Seize those moments!

    11. Stop the Droning of Innocents.

    I personally think this one's a long shot, but we can at least raise awareness for it. A recent Breitbart editorial revealed:

    "The U.S. has incinerated innocent women and children as well as low-level minions who pose no risk to our country in the process of fighting our endless War on Terror. The irony of this war is that through our own actions, we are creating a new crop of jihadists who might have otherwise lived their lives out in peace.

    In the 2008 and 2012 election cycles, Presidential candidate Ron Paul brought up the concept of “blowback” to the American public. People like Rudy Giuliani showed their ignorance by laughing in response. This term, familiar within government circles, is not something the average man on the street spends any time contemplating. In essence, by waging a covert war from the skies, the very thing we are trying to stop – terrorism – might blowback in our faces further down the road when the families of innocent victims set out to avenge their loved ones’ murders."

    Honorable Mention.

    In addition to the criticism about the "marriage equality" point, many were concerned that I left some issues out. My list was by no means exhaustive (nor were the issues listed in any particular order), but here are a few more that should be mentioned:

    Opposition to Obamacare.

    Most Americans oppose Obamacare. Millions have lost their private insurance coverage and have been forced into the exchanges. And public pressure is building in opposition as Obamacare's negative effects touch more people. Where will it go from here? I don't know. But this is certainly a uniting issue against big government.

    Tax Reform & the National Debt.

    I don't see any meaningful move to reform the tax code or to bring down the national debt, but a few people mentioned it to me, so here it is.

    This list may be updated as needed. Do you have a suggestion? Tweet it at me (@matthewhurtt) or post it in the comments.

    There are countless other ways to continue advancing liberty in the new year. Find what works best for you and resolve to help us continue shrinking the size and scope of the state in our lives.

    "Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience to bring about necessary changes. But let it not be said that we did nothing." - Congressman Ron Paul

    Follow the author on Twitter: @matthewhurtt

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