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Holcomb: “I’m a 49-year-old school teacher. They have 49-year-old teachers in Tehran, too. Why should we impose our views on their life?” Photo by Edward Brown

Looking back, Trey Holcomb said he’s always been a Libertarian at heart. The 49-year-old public school teacher has largely voted Republican, but the election of Donald Trump led him to part ways with the Grand Old Party a few years ago. 

“I looked at what the Republican party was saying they were about and what they were actually doing,” he said, “and it didn’t match up. They want to extend compassion to some groups but not to others. If you are going to love thy neighbor unless they are a refugee from another country, that doesn’t make sense to me. Why not treat people as individuals. There are great Christian people in the Republican party, but, as a party, that’s not what it stands for anymore.”

Disillusioned, he went with an open mind to Tarrant County’s Democratic primary in 2016 only to find narrow partisan talking points that Holcomb said felt contrived to garner votes. The real issues that are facing this country — ballooning national debt, endless foreign wars, unjust marijuana laws — were largely missing from the discourse of both parties.

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Partisan politics dumbs down elections into fearmongering over abortion rights and gun control, Holcomb said. Both parties, he added, are guilty of misrepresenting the other side to gain votes. While the idea of joining a political party felt anathema to his new insights, Holcomb saw an opportunity to make a difference as a candidate for Texas’ 12th Congressional District under the Libertarian ticket. 

Libertarianism, Holcomb said, is based on the “philosophy of liberty. You own your life. Your decisions should not be made for you.” 

On March 10 at Billy Bob’s Texas, Holcomb will plead his case to Libertarian Party delegates at the party’s county convention. If chosen to represent the Libertarian party in the national Congressional race, Holcomb will face the winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries. Incumbent Republican Kay Granger is facing off against TCU grad and staunch conservative Chris Putnam, who, according to the Texas Tribune, has shown “fundraising prowess” with an early haul of $456,000. The Democratic primary will pit aircraft assembler Danny Anderson against college professor Lisa Welch.

For the first time in recent memory, Granger, who is in her 12th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, appears to be politically vulnerable. Her ambitious pet project, the $1.2 billion (and rising) flood control development north of downtown known as Panther Island, has suffered from ballooning costs, construction delays, and a noticeable absence of promised federal funds (“Buddy, Can You Spare a Billion?” April 11, 2018).

 “Everyone who is paying attention [to the Panther Island debacle] is frustrated,” Holcomb said. “Whether that amounts to change at the polls remains to be seen. Granger has been in Congress since 1996. I have no interest in being a career politician. Politicians who stay in for a generation and enrich themselves are only there for themselves. That’s how Congress operates.”

Holcomb is building his campaign on three pillars: addressing the national debt, stopping the United States’ endless cycles of foreign wars, and reforming marijuana laws that have sent hundreds of thousands of nonviolent young men and women to jail for the offense of smoking a plant. 

Future generations of Americans will be forced to pay down the debt that they did not create. Holcomb sees national debt as a moral issue and a growing political crisis. The U.S. government’s public debt is now more than $20 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. 

“This country was founded on principal,” Holcomb said. “Look at the primary source. No taxation without representation. When you’re at $5 or $10 trillion, you are now borrowing money from people who have not been born yet. If that’s not an example of taxation without representation, I don’t know what is.” 

The killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and the subsequent saber-rattling tweets by Trump have been a reminder of how the United States is seemingly always on the verge of war. Holcomb sees profits as driving that cycle. Banks fund our debt, he said, and our debt floats the military. Around one-sixth of federal spending goes to the military, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  

“I’m a 49-year-old school teacher,” he said. “They have 49-year-old teachers in Tehran, too. Why should we impose our views on their life? I have had kids in my class who went to war. Some were improved, some were maimed, and some didn’t return. It changes your perspective.”

Teaching has also informed his views on marijuana. When politicians visit Holcomb’s high school history class, many teenagers ask about the prospects of marijuana law reform. 

“My first impression was, ‘These kids want to know when they can legally get high,’ ” Holcomb said. It turns out that “a lot of these kids have relatives who have been caught in possession of a plant. Now, they have legal consequences for an action that didn’t hurt anybody. That has to stop. Kids have a good B.S. detector.” 

Marijuana is legal for medical purposes in 33 states. It’s only a matter of time, Holcomb said, before marijuana is rescheduled by the Food and Drug Administration from its current status of Schedule 1, the category reserved for heroin and other controlled substances that are deemed highly dangerous for public use. 

Holcomb feels good about his chances of earning his party’s nomination and garnering a large number of votes later this year. Most voters, he said, aren’t diehard Democrats or Republicans. The binary thinking that drives our elections is an illusion that is perpetrated by the entrenched powers who benefit from being reelected. 

Holcomb said his campaign will be an awakening for Tarrant County voters who are fed up with politics as usual. He’s betting that voters will respond to a concept that has been the bedrock of American values since 1776. 

“There’s a marketplace of ideas” that will be presented to voters, he said, and “I think freedom is pretty popular.” 

8 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, where do I begin?

    First, it seems to be apparent that Mr. Holcomb has good intention and I applaud him for that.

    Nevertheless, libertarianism is a white person’s pipe dream. All the rhetoric about “freedom” masks a craven ideological stance that leaves most people behind, distorts the marketplace, and fails to provide for the greater good which is at the heart of the social contract between citizens and government.

    Libertarianism is all about “I got mine so fuck you”. Imagine privatising police and fire services, which would be a requirement within such a society. Your house on fire? Cool, the private fire company will come put it out if you have the right insurance policy, or you can pay cash for what is supposed to be a public good. Extrapolate that to police services, schools, civil engineering, etc and you realise the basis of such a society is pay for play.

    Unless you are still ignorant enough to believe that everyone is born with equal prospects you can see why libertarianism is a privileged fool’s ideology.

    The reality is this: in the USA we have two parties to choose from: the Trump party and the not Trump party. Any vote to a third party is a wasteful act of hubris and privilege, as there are real people suffering *right now* under Trump’s GOP and there will be real world consequences should he get another term. In 2020, you’re either on the right or wrong side of history; there is no other rational, pragmatic choice.

    • Real people were suffering under the Obama administration which deported millions more real bodies than the Trump administration. Your problem is that you evidently support “no terms limits” vampires who enrich themselves at your expense and promise you stuff they never intend for you to have. These creeps are mostly Democrats or Socialists like: Sanders, Pelosi, Schiff , Lee, Waters, Schumer. These creeps are like cancer. You just can’t get rid of them no matter what. The only “white people” and others who are holding you back are the ones you keep letting have control over your life.

  2. Every four years we get this “the system is broken” lecture from the libertarians. Before we throw out our two-party system, we should consider the alternative. Lots of countries have multi-party systems. However, there are two characteristics which mark the political disfunction of those countries.

    The first is the tyranny of the minority. This is common in Europe where small, single-issue parties garner just enough votes to force their pet policies on the majority. The most infamous is The Green Party. The Greens wield power far beyond their minority status. They use that power to impose environmental policies that would never pass on their own merit. You might argue, what’s wrong with that? I’m all for the environment. Great, are you okay with “alt-right” parties using the same methods?

    The second characteristic is political stalemate. Israel has thirteen political parties. They’ve had three elections and still do not have a Prime Minister. The reason? No candidate has been able to assemble a coalition from the various parties to get a majority of the votes.

    For all those whining after the last presidential election about, “the popular vote”, which has never been a thing, are you ready to let the House of Representatives decide who becomes President? That’s what would happen if we had more major parties.

    President Obama once said, “…there was an election, and I won.” His point was that’s the genius of our system. We decide from our two choices, and we move on. Unless of course, you’re Hillary Clinton.

  3. “We decide from our two choices.”

    Interestingly, we stand a very good chance of seeing those two choices embodied by a former Democrat turned Republican New York billionaire vs. a former Republican turned Democrat New York billionaire.

    Just the possibility of that being reality makes it obvious that what we have in reality is a duopoly that gives people the illusion of two choices. A lot of us are tired of the same old illusions.

    • Once again, libertarians complain about the current system but refuse to explain how voting for them would make the system better.

      In 2016, if Texas had voted for a third party candidate for president, the election would have been decided in the House of Representatives. How is that a better system?

  4. Libertarians or whatever third party gad flies always show up at the last minute to stir the pot and collect the campaign money. It’s kind of like the uninvited guest who muscles in for your family dinner, stays for two weeks without an invitation then complains about the hospitality and the fact that he/she wasn’t taken to dine at a gourmet restaurant. if Libertarian ideas had any weight or appeal, they would be out there campaigning and facing the public long before the few weeks leading up to an election. Libertarians are con men.

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