Editor's note: This episode originally aired on Sunday, Oct. 28. Its transcript has been provided by Jeremiah B. Leonard, to whom the SFRB is grateful.
Murray Sabrin is the Libertarian nominee for New Jersey's U.S. Senate race, an unexpectedly close match between Republican Bob Hugin and Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez. Sabrin brings ideas to the table not embraced by either major party candidate and has much to say about his policies, experiences on the campaign trail, and take on the state of American politics. Sabrin shares his perspective on this week's episode of 'Cotto/Gottfried.' SEE more interviews HERE: http://www.sanfranciscoreviewofbooks....
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COTTO: The US Senate election in New Jersey is shaping up to be one of the country’s most competitive. It really shouldn’t have been competitive, there’s no reason that a republican should do well in a state like New Jersey even during a year in which the GOP is favored. This year isn’t one of those years, although now it’s coming out to be more Republican-friendly than it was just a few weeks ago. So, Murray where do you think your campaign is today? Is it in a better place than it was, say, at this point last month?
SABRIN: Well, there are several factors influencing our campaign, or affecting our campaign. One is, there’s been a virtual blackout from the mass media. The major print media in the state have virtually not covered our campaign. I recently had an editorial board meeting with the Bergen Record which is my local paper that covers a good part of north-east New Jersey and a few days later they published a long article about my candidacy, and it said I should have the seat at the table because I have ideas that should be discussed openly with the electorate. And so, it’s very disappointing that the mass media in New Jersey only considered two candidates. They only think a page has two margins, but a traditional page has four margins, left and right, top and bottom. And sometimes it has five margins when you have a margin in the middle. So it’s been very frustrating trying to get noticed by the media because for all intents and purposes with the senate race coverage the two major candidates are getting full coverage which is basically an in-kind contribution because every time there is a story — for example in today’s paper, Tuesday, there’s a story about the US Senate candidates, and of course I’m not there and neither are the other third-party or independent candidates. So, it’s been very frustrating to say the least. But we’re getting our message out. We’ve got people all over the state handing out flyers — pieces of literature. I’ve been going around the state. I was at a community college yesterday at a meet-the-candidates night and we only had ten minutes to present. But that was enough to give my ideas about how to make America better, how to make America freer, how to make America prosperous, how to make America more peaceful with the rest of the world, and that message is resonating with individuals across the political spectrum.
Today I did an hour interview at Montclair State University, a student run radio station. And the students loved it because I gave them the full exclamation of what libertarianism is. It’s essentially, as I said, our founding principle that’s in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. And then I applied it to contemporary issues of how we need to move America forward, and the students said it was the best explanation they’ve heard of libertarianism and hopefully it’ll be on the web soon as a podcast. I think it was done live today. So, once I get out there and have the time to explain to people that libertarians are not some alien philosophy but it’s the bedrock of the American republic, people realize that this is something they should consider, especially since there are 2.4 million unaffiliated voters in a state of 5.8 million registered voters. So, there’s a large pool that we can draw from, and if we’re successful who knows what’s going to happen on election day, because the polls now have me in single digits which is a lot better than they had the previous Libertarian candidates. And the other frustrating thing is we’ve had challenge raising funds in state and from people who support our ideas around the country. So, there are two frustrations — raising the money to get the message out on radio and TV. Of course the two major-party candidates have spent multimillions of dollars attacking each other. Nothing about the issues but constant attacking and attacking and attacking, and from what I’ve been getting from feedback, from voters across the state is that they’re disgusted with those two candidates just ripping each other apart with attack ads. So, maybe they may say, “hey, let’s give the libertarian a chance to go to Congress and do something good for the country, instead of people reflexively voting for a D or R.” And the interesting thing about this race Joseph and Paul, is that Hugin is basically running as a Democrat. He’s running as a Democrat under the R label, and as I like to tell people when two major party candidates are running as Democrats, the Democrat who has the D after his name is going to win, because Democrats don’t vote for Republicans, usually. And so, that’s where I think Hugin has made a strategic error. In addition, he calls himself a libertarian which is incredible, and he said this in a speech in July to a business group — he said, “I’m a libertarian, but I believe in a welfare state, that we’ve got to help each other through the government.” So, in effect he’s trying to please everybody. He’s running as a Republican. He’s basically saying to voters, “I’m really a democrat, because look what I believe in. They’re very similar to what Menendez believes in, and by the way I’m also a libertarian because I call myself a libertarian.” So, the guy is really schizophrenic when it comes to politics. He doesn’t know where he is, but he’s a rich guy. He’s already put twenty-four million dollars of his own money into this campaign, which demonstrates that he’s really desperate for a job. He should post his resume online. I think he’ll get much better offers than trying to buy a seat for twenty-four million dollars which is really incredible that he’s dipping that much into his personal assets to try to get to the United States Senate. So, that’s the overall gist of the campaign.
But the good news is this week I’ll be on NJTV for an interview. Unfortunately, today is Tuesday, tomorrow is the debate on NJTV, and I haven’t been invited because they have a criteria that you have to be ten percent in the polls which we don’t have including the margin of error. But who knows where the poles are! This is the thing about American politics these days since the 2016 election because the polls are kind of unreliable. Just ask president Hillary Clinton! Who according to the polls right before the presidential campaign in 2016 was supposed to be a shoe-in for the presidency and then several months ago Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was down thirty five points against a ten-term incumbent congressman and she won by fifteen points. So, who knows where the people are on election day, given that the polls have been so wrong in key races in the United States over the past two years.
COTTO: Before Paul give’s his two cents I just wanted to bring up a few things. Number one, you’re absolutely right about the polls. Here in Florida they were very, very far off in both the Republican and the Democratic primaries, especially the Democratic primary. The fellow who won didn’t lead a single poll. Now on the Republican side polls showed a small lead. One actually showed the fellow who lost ahead. But the fellow who won, won by about twenty points. So, the polls are very much unreliable. And here right now over the last few days one poll has showed the Republican nominee for governor up by three points. Another showed him down by twelve, and another showed him up by two, another showed him down by six — so on, so forth. So, there’s no question that the polls are — you really can’t rely on them today to any meaningful extend. I think they’re just done for attention more than anything else.
Now, talking about New Jersey though , and the sort of campaign Hugin is running, some would say — and I would agree with them — that in a state like New Jersey you have to run as a Democrat because even if you present a broad contrast, you’re going to alienate yourself from the main stream of the electorate which is well left of center. That’s even being too charitable. New Jersey is one of the most progressive states in the country. So, it would seem to me that anybody who is going to win has to be well to the left of the center, even though that doesn’t give people on the right much of anything to vote for. But Paul, please add whatever you were going to add.
GOTTFRIED: Well, I’m afraid to speak because I probably will turn everybody off, or both of you off, with what I have on my mind. I’m willing to admit that polls are very often off by a few points, or maybe ten points, but if Murray is only polling two or three percent, and the other candidates of the major parties are getting, polling forty or fifty percent, it’s highly unlikely that Murray will overtake them on election day. Because no matter how silly the polls are, they’re not going to err by thirty or forty points. That seems highly unlikely. And the question I would pose to Murray, is are you running because you seriously think you have a chance of winning, or are you running in order to provide a platform for libertarian ideas which you feel are those that are closest to what is the American heritage and the ideas that underpinned the founding of the United States and ideas with you feel we should return to? So, is an attempt to seek a government office although you have only a very, very long shot of obtaining that office? Or are you basically trying to present libertarian ideas, and to justify them before the citizens of your state? I find that highly unlikely that you’re doing both in this election.
SABRIN: Well, when I started this Paul and Joseph I spoke to the Libertarian Party leadership back in February, and I said the goal of this campaign is to be competitive. And in my mind that means to raise enough money to raise my profile in the state, so I would get into any debate that was scheduled in October. And that didn’t happen because we didn’t raise enough money to get the media’s attention because most of the media care about how much money you raise as a third-party candidate. They don’t care about the ideas that would make America better. They don’t care about the ideas that would end our crazy involvement overseas and this continuous warfare. They don’t care about civil liberties which I’ve been talking about for decades. They don’t care about the bubble that we’re in which is going to burst in the next two years, I believe. They don’t care about that. All they care about his Russo-mania. Who’s up, who is on top of whom in the polls. That’s what gives them grist for the mill to write about. So, the ideas that I’m espousing is resonating. My universal credit for donations to non-profits which people across the political spectrum love because it means we can finally phase out the welfare state and give people in Florida, in Pennsylvania, in New Jersey — all across the country — the opportunity to do the helping and caring that they want without having to rely on big government. That’s my signature issue and people, like I say, it’s resonating especially with the houses of worship since they’re 501c3 tax-exempt organizations.
So, the goal is to be competitive and that hasn’t happened. So, right now the goal is to get the message out that both political parties are responsible for the twenty-one trillion dollar debt, the four trillion dollar budget, trillion dollar deficits, the constant warfare, the constant spying, and basically I came up with a new analogy that we have a bus called the federal government, and there are two people in it, one’s a democrat, one’s a republican, they alternate between the driver’s side and passenger’s side, but they’re both stepping on the gas pedal, driving us over the fiscal cliff. And that’s the message I will try to do the next two weeks from now to election day, to point out that voting for either a republican or a Democrat is the quintessential definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So, people who identify strongly as a D or an R they dig in their heels and they each are probably starting with around thirty-five, forty percent of the vote. So, I have to get to the unaffiliated which are 2.4 million and say you don’t have to vote for a D or an R because they’ve disappointed us as a people, as a state, as a nation and why don’t you give somebody a chance who will stand up for the things that will make things better?! In other words I’m not trying to run an ideological campaign, but a practical campaign of libertarian ideas applied to contemporary issues that will give us the free society that people say they want — maybe some people don’t want it like Bernie and the progressives and Republicans who want more control over our lives — more mandates and of course there’s constant warfare and I don’t know how much that is resonating with people because it’s not been the news anymore — what’s going on in Yemen, what’s going on in Syria, it’s just not there. So, you have to talk about bread and butter issues.
One thing I came up with to help people in New Jersey because we just had a big increase in the gas tax, and we had another one in October, is abolish the federal gas tax of eighteen cents. And have the military budget pay for the interstate highway system which we all know was funded by the national Defense Highway Act. So, I’m trying to point out that we can do things and downsize the federal government that will improve our lives, that will make us less dependent on Washington. And so, for me this is almost like a massive lecture to the people that you keep on voting for people who constantly disappoint you and then you keep on doing it again. It’s like in abused spouse — you keep on going to the abuser, and you stay in your marriage even though you keep on getting abused. And this is the way I feel that the voters are not getting it yet because they’re still voting D or an R. So, if I had the same exposure as the Ds and the Rs, I thank I would be in double digits in the polls. I think I would be clearly competitive in the sense that I would be someone whose ideas would be resonating with the public, but when you get virtually no media coverage, and of course you’re not on the air like they are — every time you turn around Paul you see their commercials on Philadelphia TV for South Jersey, or New York TV for the rest of the state, and that costs multi millions of dollars, and obviously we can’t compete with that so we’re trying to use social media and I’m trying to do something which is from a grassroots perspective is if we think we can win, the way the path to victory Paul and Joseph is very simple, there has to be at least ten thousand Sabrin supporters out there in a state that has 5.8 million registered voters, that’s a fraction of a fraction of a percent. If ten thousand people are so committed to having me compete in this campaign, if they can get a hundred people to the polls for me that’s a million votes without spending a penny. So, that’s the challenge we have in order to really get the vote out with a basically an empty campaign chest at this point, because we’ve spent it over the past several months trying to get me a radio, TV, and getting ads on. But that message is resonating. All I can say is every time I speak to people one-on-one or in small groups, they like what I have to say about the economy and foreign policy. As I point out, we have nine hundred bases around the world, the Russians have five bases around the world. So, who is the biggest threat to peace in the world? Is it us with nine hundred bases or the Russians with five bases?
GOTTFRIED: The thing is, I agree with just about everything you are saying including the bases and which is the greater threat to peace and so forth. The question though is you ask people, ”what do you value, liberty or social programs?” Most people, at least in the abstract, would favor liberty — liberty is nice, equality is nice, whatever. But if you say, “we’re going to have a different approach to government, one in which we’re not going to offer you more social programs, but we’re going to offer you more liberty. Which one would you take?” If I were a betting man, I’d bet on people voting for more social programs. And that is the reason that both political parties, both of which are utterly opportunistic, favor more social programs. The other point that I would make is that although both candidates for the senate for the major parties are utterly distasteful — and I would not question your judgment of them. I think there still is a difference between the republican candidate and Menendez, who is totally contemptible, he’s an inexpressibly disgusting individual, and if I were living in New Jersey the choices were — I would vote for you by the way — but if the choice we’re between those two guys, I would very definitely pull the Republicans lever. There’s no way I would ever want to see Menendez come back into, or stay in power. He has done enough to merit a jail sentence for the next fifty years, and he’s also an absolute liar and hypocrite when he accuses his opponent of being a sexist for bringing up his own predation at the expense of underage women whom he imported into the country. So, I think because of the utterly contemptible character of the Democratic candidate, at least I would make a distinction between the two. I also think the Republican candidate is more likely to vote for things that I would favor that Trump would try to put through Congress — another tax break, something like this.
The problem that I have with all of this is that I agree with you in the end ‘A,’ the welfare state is going to be expanded no matter which party is in power, and ‘B,’ we’re going to have endless wars because the military establishment or the defense industries are paying the bills for everybody, and what is called the conservative movement in the United States and conservatives foundations are heavily financed by defense industries. Something of which Joseph and I have been working on a book that is critical of the conservative movement, and Joseph today an essay showing to what extent defense industries are paying for AEI, Heritage foundation, and other fixtures of the conservative establishment. But I think at least in this race it is possible to make a judgment for the lesser of the two evils if only because Menendez is so disgusting.
SABRIN: I understand that point of view perfectly clearly, and the only point I would make is having been in the Republican Party for several tries at the U.S. Senate, and seeing the utter disgust these people have for ideas. It’s all about winning. It’s not about the future of the country. It’s all about, as you said, opportunistic ways of getting elected especially at the governor’s level which has tremendous patronage for the hangeron-ers in the state. But the point I would make is that — somebody wrote an article that Hugin getting elected would be a death blow to any sort of conservative principles in the Republican Party which are leaning libertarian. And so, that was the criticism that was levied at Hugin by this one analyst, political consultant who has been around about thirty years. In fact, he’s from Pennsylvania. Paul you may even know him, William Collier. And he wrote this great piece about Hugin — that would be the head of the Republican Party in New Jersey and would have enormous influence on who would become the gubernatorial candidate in 2021 against Murphy. And so, his point was clearly he would like to see me get elected, but that’s going to be a difficult path with two weeks left to go. But the point is if I have a good showing at the end of the day on election day, that will have an impact, just as my campaign in 1997 had an impact on a whole host of issues. Again, we’re living in a world of very incremental steps toward liberty, and the point I would make Paul is I don’t talk about liberty per se when I talk about social programs. I talk about what’s the best way to help people in our community? Is it through the welfare state? And I quote from Peter Drucker’s 1991 Wall Street Journal article ( ) where he says government has proved incompetent at solving social problems and therefore, he concludes, we need the nonprofit sector to deliver social services to the people and get rid of the welfare bureaucracies which are ineffective. So, here is a non-ideological social-analyst, management-consultant who looks at the world and says, “what’s the best way to help people in our community on a temporary basis to get back on their feet?” — and he concludes it’s the nonprofit sector. It’s not the welfare state. So, that’s the way I frame it. I don’t frame it from an ideological perspective. I frame it from a practical perspective. What’s the best way to be philanthropic, to be charitable — and certainly government is not charitable because it’s based upon coercion, called taxation. So, if you really want to be charitable it has to come from the heart. It has to come from the spirit of helping people, like I helped create a nonprofit health center here in Bergen county. And so, I explain to people this is the best way to do it. In fact, it’s the quintessential American culture with the mutual-aid societies prior to the great depression. And then the great depression sort of co-opting a lot of the mutual-aid societies, and so the welfare state has grown by leaps and bounds, and now we know the welfare state’s in deep trouble, because both Social Security and Medicare are running annual deficits instead of surpluses. So, one of my proposals is to give young people the option of opting out of Social Security and Medicare because I think young people today really want to be empowered to be responsible for their own lives. They’re very entrepreneurial. They are very [socially conscious]. And so, I explain to them that being charitable, being philanthropic, creating a nonprofit or working for one is the best way to have better outcomes than the government. And you have to always speak in terms of better outcomes. And I don’t try to run this as strictly as an ideological litmus test for people, but I say here are these issues facing us in America today, what’s the best way to address it? Is it the Republicans or Democrats that are taking us over the fiscal cliff? Is it more stimulation for the federal reserve which has created another bubble? Clearly not if you are a clear thinker on these issues. So, again the more people I can expose these ideas to, I think the more support we will get, because as I pointed out people are really disgusted with these commercials. They think they’re just pathetic because it doesn’t say anything about how you’re going to address the issues people are concerned about. So, I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll do better than the polls show us now, because as I pointed out if Hugin is running as a small D with an R after his name, people who reflexively vote for Ds will vote for the guy who’s got the D after his name — the big D after his name.
GOTTFRIED: One of the questions — if you try to approach people, and say that the welfare state is not working for you, and we are going to get rid of these welfare programs, and we’re going to give young people the chance to opt out of paying for Medicare, Social Security, whatever and they can have their own programs, do you think that you will win votes in light of certain facts — that many young people seem to incline very strongly towards socialism? They want more social programs, not fewer social programs, even though I agree with you. They think of themselves as entrepreneurial and they like making money and investing their money but they also they love government programs. The other factor is that as soon as you start saying, “well we will let the young people opt out of it,” immediately you’re going to have Democrats and then probably Republicans saying that this is the first step to phasing out a government program that’s going to leave millions of retired people without any kind of security. Even the discussion of giving people an option which we all agree would be fine, I’d be very happy if we had some alternative to Social Security, but it is not likely to win many votes. What it does of course is create panic that people are going to lose what they depended on for their retirement as more and more young people opt out of it there will be less and less money available for those who are retiring. And I think the Republicans have tried this a few times — saying that “we’ll let people opt out of this, do this” — and it certainly does not help them gain votes. Whether we want to admit it or not, the reason these gargantuan parties, wooden parties exist which are careerist and don’t stand for very much — but the reason they can keep going and they survive is they are good at getting votes. This is what they are about, getting votes.
SABRIN: That’s the only strength that they have is getting votes, they are running the country into the ground. This is just a fact of life, and when I have time to speak to people for example, last Tuesday night a week ago, I spoke to a public relations class at the college — a colleague invited me to speak to the public relations class on how we’re doing the messaging. So, I explained how we’re doing the messaging on all these issues, and then we did about a half hour or so of Q and A, and the students really enjoyed it. They understood what my perspective is and what my background is in teaching finance and being an immigrant and addressing the immigrant question and addressing all these other issues that would improve their lives. And like I said Paul and Joseph, as I get to speak to more and more people in small settings, or in settings where people are not locked into with the D-&-R mindset, people are open minded. And when you come from a perspective of — listen I’ve observed America for nearly seventy-two years and I teach finance and I’ve written about this and I’ve discussed this for more than forty, forty-five years, people, I think, are appreciative that you are not coming from a self-interested point of view, but you’re talking about the future of the country. So, I bring my little booklet that has the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in it and I say “when I became a US citizen in 1959 I raised my right hand to defend this document, and guess what, virtually everything the government does is not authorized by this document. So, we have a problem. How do we resolve it?” I go through the litany how do we resolve it, and it resonates with people. The thing we know Paul is you don’t have to get a hundred percent to win an election, you just need to get most of votes in an election. And if we had a three-way competitive race I theoretically could win with thirty four, thirty five percent of the vote, and that was sort of the outside goal that we had that if we could be competitive — super competitive — by raising enough money to get my ideas out there, and getting media attention, because the media basically have given Hugin and Menendez millions of dollars of free time every time they talk about their campaigns. So, my contention is if I had the same coverage as they did and my ideas were expressed in a way that would show people that this is about how to make America better, which is essentially what the Bergen Record wrote about in the article about me, Murray Sabrin on the Stump Again ( ) and people could read it on North Jersey (dot) com and this is written by an unabashed liberal, editor of the paper. And he said very clearly, I don’t agree with Murray on a lot of issues but he certainly make sense on military spending and the warfare state, and he said Murray deserves a place at the table, so I take that to mean the US Senate dining room table.
COTTO: I must ask, before Paul interjects, is the reason that you receive such a favorable assessment from this Democrat because he expects you, as a libertarian with strong connections to the conservative movement, did he give you such good treatment because he wants to use your candidacy as a means of siphoning away votes from Hugin? As a Floridian I’m used to very close elections and I see how both parties trying to use splinter candidates just to get their candidate through, and that seems to me as very likely as to what he’s doing.
SABRIN: Well, it’s interesting. If you read the article guys, he basically says he doesn’t think I’m going to siphon votes away from either of them. That was kind of an interesting statement that he made. But when we did a poll in August and initially, I was at seven percent, and then he started asking questions of the people who were polled about the issues, I went up to sixteen percent and Menendez went down by ten percent. So, once they started asking questions because people don’t know Joseph and Paul that Menendez is one of the biggest war mongers in the United States Senate. Most Ds have no clue about is foreign-policy views.
GOTTFRIED: By the way, I did. The fact that he was long a favorite of the neo-conservatives who thought he was a good senator, suggested to me that he was a warmonger. He has sort of the same voting record as Joe Lieberman on foreign-policy. There’s so little difference.
SABRIN: And I spoke to a neighbor of mine who’s in her eighties but she’s a retired school administrator, and I told her about the campaign. I said, “did you know that Bob Menendez is one of the strongest warmongers in the United States Senate?” She said, “I didn’t know that.” And she reads the paper! This is the shamefulness of the American democracy and electorate that they’re not familiar with the candidates on the issues. So, my job is trying to break through the fog and trying to point this out. So, we’ve got two weeks left and if people in New Jersey line up for my campaign and get their friends and relatives and business associates and neighbors out, I think we’ll do exceedingly well because like I said, people are really disgusted with the tenor of this campaign because of the unrelenting attack ads on TV saying nothing about how they’re going to address the issues facing the people of New Jersey. And so, we’ll see what happens on election day. Stranger things have happened. I would love to finish in the stronger double digits position. That would be a huge, huge win — I think — for the campaign since historically libertarians had polled less than one percent — I think — in state-wide races since I ran for governor in 1997 when we got nearly five percent of the vote.
GOTTFRIED: What do you feel badly if the votes which you obtained in that election came at the expense of the Republican candidate and helped to keep Bob Menendez in the United States Senate — that was the effect of you doing relatively well?
SABRIN: Well, the thing is in ‘97 — let me just backpedal — in ‘97 if you look at the breakdown of the votes I was getting — a hundred and fourteen thousand votes which was unheard of for someone who just had a sixteen-week campaign. I am so, in ‘97 if you look at the voting breakdown by county, I was drawing very well from Democratic counties, and winning by one percent. So, I got nearly five times as much of the difference between Whitman and McGreevey. As far as Menendez and Hugin — Hugin to me is a typical opportunistic guy who’s coming into this race thinking he can buy the seat with not saying anything to the voters except that “I’m not Bob Menendez.” That’s his whole campaign. And embracing a left-wing social-agenda. So, to me as despicable as Menendez is, Hugin in many ways mirrors that but in a much softer, kinder way because he’s not been an office. But he has a lot of baggage also. And so again, I’m agnostic on the issue. To me it doesn’t matter. My goal is to get my message out and see where it plays out in terms of the election. But given that if Hugin wins it would be the death knell of anything conservative or libertarian in New Jersey politics from the Republican side. And that I think would be hurtful because there are some good Republicans out there who I have known for years who would be great state-wide candidates, but if Hugin gets elected then he would squash that immediately. So, so we have to look at the future Paul and Joseph as to what would a Hugin victory mean for the conservative, Libertarian movement within the Republican Party. And what would it mean for New Jersey in the future. Because look at Murphy — here’s a business guy who’s governing so far to the left it’s unbelievable. And Hugin I think would do the same thing — governing from the left, without the contemptible — as you phrase it — character that Menendez has.
COTTO: I’m going to pose the closing question, but before I do, I would like to say that I used the word “interject” before in reference to Paul. That was the wrong word. I meant to say, “before Paul speaks.” He wasn’t interjecting in the least. Sorry about that.
GOTTFRIED: I do not take umbrage at your remark.
SABRIN: I have the highest regard for Paul. I’ve read his material over the years and Paul should have a national radio show or TV show because what he could teach the American people is invaluable for the future of the country.
GOTTFRIED: Well thank you. That’s probably equally true of you. I’d be delighted if it were possible to put you in United States Senate, although I don’t know if you’d be happy once you got there.
SABRIN: Well let me tell you something. I have a copy of my father’s memoirs entitled We Dared to Live ( ). And there’s a picture of him on the front cover with his submachinegun training one of his snipers to be a good shooter. I would go to the United States senate not fearing any of these characters because I’ve seen them for decades Paul and Joseph. Remember the Supremes song Stop in the Name of Love? So, I would get up there and say, “stop in the name of freedom!” Think of what you’re doing to the country with all the policies and programs that you’ve committed to and legislated for decades. It’s time to have a reboot, a reset of America — and that’s what I would be calling for. The other thing I keep on telling people — if you’re in the United States Senate, as you well know, you can get on every Sunday talk show whenever you want and that’s reaching thirty, forty, fifty million people, at no cost to anybody. So, getting elected would be probably one of the greatest boosts to the freedom movement, the liberty movement in the United States.
GOTTFRIED: They would even allow you onto Fox news!
SABRIN: Oh, absolutely! Again, it’s a matter of people doing what the socialists have been doing successfully with Bernie’s campaign and the other campaigns around the country of electing these incredible left-wing ideologues to the United States senate, to state legislatures, to mayorships, and now in governorships here in New Jersey. So, it’s time that people in the Liberty movement stand up and be counted and trying to elect people who are going to be a voice for them over the next ten, twenty, thirty years. As my wife said, this is my last campaign because I’ve done this several times and it’s hard work. It is incredibly hard work. People think running a statewide campaign is sort of glamorous. This is probably the least glamorous thing you can do next to what, mining coal. It’s tiring. It’s exhausting. Yesterday we spent five hours-plus on the road going back and forth to South Jersey, and I had to get up early because I had an eight o’clock class this morning. And so, there’s nothing glamorous or romantic about it. It’s about being part of a great movement that is desperately needed in the United States to get the country back to its moorings, it’s foundation which is libertarian ideals. Conservatism in the real sense of conserving traditional values, conserving traditional governance processes, as opposed to this progressive, socialist, welfare-warfare state monstrosity that’s been built up by both political parties.
COTTO: For the last question — actually, before I ask that, with the kind of schedule you keep have there ever been any days when you don’t get any sleep at all, and you just go through your schedule regardless?
SABRIN: No, that hasn’t happened because quite frankly it’s been very disappointing not getting invites from college campuses to go and speak to the student body. Because in ‘97 — see, this is the difference between now and ‘97 when I was called a celebrity because we got the matching funds and we had a lot of money to spend. I was all over the state. We had a driver that drove me around. And so, it was easy getting around the state and speaking in front of groups and letting them know what New Jersey would look like under libertarian governorship for the next for years. And we had an impact because there are some good things that came out of that campaign in terms of auto insurance reform, four years later we had a democratic governor deregulated the insurance market. We did a thing for free speech. I had a little note in my mailbox by a police officer saying I what is in violation of a town ordinance because I had a political sign on my lawn. We went to court and the judge immediately threw out the ordinance in a blow for free-speech in New Jersey. That’s part of case law in New Jersey. I campaigned on raising the speed limit from fifty-five across the state to sixty-five. After the election Whitman raised the speed limit is sixty-five, saving New Jersians tons of money in speeding tickets. So, we had a marginal impact on the state. So, in this campaign what I’m hoping to do is talk about the great issues facing the country, domestically and internationally. And unfortunately, I didn’t get the coverage that we hoped we would get because, as I pointed out, the media just respect how much money you raise. That’s all they care about.
GOTTFRIED: The other factor is that universities have become much more radicalized and much more leftist than they were back in 1997. We’ve both been professors. I am now retired but I was a professor for forty years, and you can see just process of radicalization and the growing leftist intolerance and bigotry, ideological-bigotry along the professoriate. In 1997 it was not as bad as it is now, and I’m sure many of the universities were quite happy to have you as a speaker and you were able to influence students back then. Now I think it’s probably harder task than was in the past.
SABRIN: Well, what’s resonating with young people obviously is legalizing marijuana as an issue — you have a generation gap. But listen, in ’97 I campaigned on medical marijuana. Now it’s so mainstream, it was such a radical idea in ‘97, and of course recreational marijuana is now becoming more mainstream today. So, things that were verboten — if you will — twenty years ago are now main stream. So, it takes a generation for these ideas to be transmitted throughout society and it becomes accepted. And that’s how bad ideas get accepted with prohibition back in the 1920s and some other issues. But it takes a while for these ideas to be transmitted as the opinion leaders change their view. Like Bill Buckley went from a hard-core prohibitionist to drug legalization. I think that’s a quintessential example of somebody who was adamantly opposed to drug legalization then realized this was a counterproductive public policy.
COTTO: For the last question, do you think your candidacy — do you think it’s likely to cause long-term change for the libertarian movement? We talked about conservatism. We talked about New Jersey. Do you think that it will influence the Libertarian party in any serious way during the years to come, and moreover in libertarian philosophy as it is perceived in American politics?
SABRIN: Well, what I hope that my campaign is doing is point out that you could run a “libertarian campaign” but applying those ideas to practical solutions that people can understand — this is a better way than the welfare-warfare state. I think that’s what I hope comes out of this campaign that we can address issues facing the people without being “rigidly ideological.” But talking about libertarian solutions without having to use the word libertarian. In other words, we talk about the nonprofit sector how to best boost the nonprofit sector to deal with social issues at the local level instead of this — what I call trickle-down welfarism out of Washington and state capitals. That message I think is resonating with people, especially the nonprofit sector. When I go to street fairs around the state and I see tables headed up by nonprofit organizations and I ask them “are you a 501c3” and they say yes, “well, I’d like to talk to you about my plan to help nonprofits.” And I tell them about the plan and their eyes glow. I mean it’s the best thing they’ve heard in ages about how to help their organization get more funding without people having to spend more dollars. All they’re doing is reducing their federal tax liability, so they can boost their charitable giving to the non-profits. And that I think should be the signature issue of the libertarian party — how to deal with the welfare state in a humane way, which improves outcomes as opposed to just getting rid of the welfare state, and saying abolish the welfare state. That’s not going to sell. But you have to have an alternative to the welfare state. So, every time there’s a public program or a public policy that we know is counterproductive we have to come up with something that is going to replace it and have better outcomes. I think that’s what I’d like to see libertarians run on in the future, rather than just saying “taxation is theft,” or “the state is evil” or something like that. Instead of using rhetoric talk about solutions.
COTTO: Paul, do you have anything to add?
GOTTFRIED: I have been listening with considerable attention, but there’s one thing that concerns me profoundly which we have not discussed and perhaps we can discuss this at some future point — and this is political correctness, which I think perhaps represents the greatest threat to our liberty. Of anything that the stage is now doing with the support of the media and a place like New Jersey one wonders how one can even approach a question like that, since I think political correctness has replaced Christianity as the state religion there, as it has in many of the coastal states in the United States. I’m just wondering if Murray has found some way in which he can raise this question that the people should not be forced to recruit this person or that person, that men has as much of a right to a men’s club as women to a women’s club, that if a Christian baker doesn’t want to bake a cake for a gay wedding this is his religious liberty not to do this. I’m wondering if one can present arguments like that without being totally rejected by most of the citizens of New Jersey.
SABRIN: That’s a great question Paul. Basically, that issue hasn’t come up. But what I do say is that one thing I learned early on in life is that — I was watching a show back in the sixties when I was in college about Passover on a Sunday morning, and the rabbi was interviewed about the meaning of Judaism and he said, “the sanctity of the individual.” That stuck in my mind like no other thing I’ve heard. And I keep on saying it. America is about the sanctity of the individual, that the individual is sovereign and that the government is supposed to protect the rights that we have as outlined in the Declaration and the Bill of Rights. And that message is resonating. And the other thing I say is that if diversity means men’s club, women’s club, mixed clubs — that’s what diversity means. Not conformity which is you have to mandate things from Washington or Trenton as to what is the correct behavior. So, real diversity means all the permutations and combinations of gender, sex, race, ethnicity… you name it. And that hasn’t come up much because I just haven’t had that many speaking opportunities, but I certainly will talk about this after the election because I think it’s critical.
I spoke to a faith and freedom group in South New Jersey, and the point I made to them is that my wife and I recently celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary, and I want to talk to you about the next fifty years. And I said because of this political correctness, that sometime in the future it may be coming down from Washington that if you don’t do a gay marriage which is now legal we’re going to take all your tax-exempt status. And that I think is the threat to religious liberty in this country because of the tax exempt status of religious institutions that if you don’t conform to the “new norms of society” then you are not only politically incorrect but you are an evil institution and therefore we have to stamp out this evilness that you have in your hearts and your minds. And therefore, we are going to pull your tax-exempt status. That I think is possible ten, twenty, thirty, forty years down the road, because as you know it takes a while for bad ideas to really get accepted as the main stream.
GOTTFRIED: Right. Although I think in the present age, bad ideas are excepted with appalling rapidity. You don’t have to wait forty years. You can wait six months.
SABRIN: This is why things are moving very rapidly. We see things accelerating because of the Bernie phenomenon. I think Bernie from his perspective boosted the pro-socialist ideology very well for his cause. And so, Ron Paul did what he could in his campaigns. That’s why I got into this race, to try to be a spokesperson in Washington for anti-political correctness, anti-war, pro peace, pro civil liberties, pro free enterprise, and that would be a heady thing to do for six years in the United States Senate.
GOTTFRIED: Yes, it would!
SABRIN: It would be something that I think would resonate for a long time, and it would start the ball rolling of getting other libertarians elected on a platform that I think would appeal to people across the political spectrum. I think this idea of non-profitization as Drucker wrote about in 1991. Here it is, nearly three decades later, and this idea is resonating. When I go around the state and people — like I said — Democrats love it, republicans love it, people who don’t have any ideological strength, they like it because it means that they can do things in their local community that otherwise could not be done because we’re waiting for Washington to give us a grant.
GOTTFRIED: We have to be realistic about this. The left really has no vested interest in pushing localism. Unless it’s the right of some sanctuary cities in California that’s defying the federal government. It is the Right which is interested in decentralization and localism. Because the federal government is generally hostile to our side.
SABRIN: There is no question about it. That’s why what we have to do right now is if we really want to be part of this movement to restore America then we have to really roll up our slaves and commit some time to this because as you know Paul and Joseph this is very time consuming. And so, if you write — I write letters to the editor, I haven’t done any recently, but I’ll write Op-Eds and hopefully something can come out where I can have a much broader audience then just what I’ve been doing for the past few years. So, the US Senate would be the biggest platform I could get besides the presidency. So, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, but I can tell you that the more people I speak to, the more people like the idea of decentralization and that’s really the message. Decentralization — keep the money in New Jersey. Keep the money in our states so we can do good works without having to beg Washington for funding. And the problem is, as you know, is that a lot of nonprofits get a lot of their funds from the government. So, that’s the challenge.
GOTTFRIED: Yes, that’s a serious problem. And a lot of nonprofits are ideologically on the left. And, you’re going to have to deal with that problem as well.
SABRIN: But the point is, the Chinese proverb, “every great journey starts with one step, the first step.” So, we’ve got to start taking these steps. And be bold about it! Say listen, you guys have controlled the welfare state for a hundred plus years where has it gotten us? So, let’s try something that is quintessentially American, voluntarism. And that’s what I talk about. Volunteerism, quintessential American cultural value, trait, preference — and people like the idea because most people like to be free in their personal lives. So, let’s just extend it to the community.
COTTO: That was an excellent discussion. Thank you for joining us Murray. Thank you for tuning in everyone. We’ll see you next week.