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Gideon Oakes, Reasonable Libertarian?

I know Gideon Oakes is a wingnut. But if there’s hope for South Dakota’s Libertarian Party, it lies in candidates like Oakes who can speak to his party and the public in practical terms about what it takes to win an election:

“It’s time to get to work.”

“…get out the messages of individual liberty and economic freedom.”

“One person can’t do this on [his] own. I’m going to need door-knockers, sign-wavers, phone-callers, parade-walkers, letter-to-the-editor-writers, and social media task force members….”

“As someone who is fiscally conservative, I hate that it takes money to run and win races, but the fact is, we’re going to be up against some serious money, and I’m not Donald Trump, I don’t have millions of dollars to spend on a campaign of my own money.”

And not a word about admiralty law, flag fringe, bogus protection orders, or “the common Indian” being “worthless bastards”.

Dang—replace Libertarian with Democrat, and I could have made most of that campaign speech. Any reasonable candidate could have. And the Libertarians will definitely benefit from reasonable candidates who will promote their philosophy, policies, and party brand instead of grinding their personal axes.

Oakes received the Libertarian Party’s nomination to run for District 30 Senate this fall. The Keystone denizen will face Democrat Kristine Ina Winter of Hot Springs and the winner of the three-way GOP primary among former legislator Bruce Rampelberg of Rapid City, former legislator Patricia Shiery of Hot Springs, and incumbent Senator Lance Russell of Hot Springs.


  1. Gideon Oakes 2018-04-16 19:03

    Thanks for the mention, Cory.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-16 20:30

    Hey, everybody! Click Gideon’s name—he’s got a campaign website! “Life, Liberty, Limited Government”—he’s also got alliteration. :-)

    We’ll see just how crazy your policy statements sound as the campaign gets rolling. But you know, I think I could enjoy working with you and debating you in the Senate.

  3. Debbo 2018-04-16 23:40

    Mr. Oakes, you said these words?
    “admiralty law, flag fringe, bogus protection orders, or “the common Indian” being “worthless bastards”

    Elaborate please.

  4. Gideon Oakes 2018-04-17 00:00

    My policy statements will be just crazy enough that you might even find yourself liking some of them. ;-)

    Anymore, it’s not only a novel concept, but it’s borderline radical to believe that the Constitution applies equally to everyone who lives under its jurisdiction. It seems to me that a lot of very vocal people love the concept of freedom when it comes to themselves and like-minded individuals, but are quick to add the “well, but…” when they don’t see eye to eye with another. And that goes for some members of both major parties.

    I, myself, am a Christian, conservative, heterosexual, cisgendered, gun-owning, outdoors-loving, red-blooded American man. My lifestyle works for me, and it works for my family. But my way is not the only way — and I understand that. I certainly don’t want the government stepping in to systemically approve/deny any of my life choices, so why should I expect the government to do just that to those who don’t share my worldview? Yes, we must vigilantly fight to protect our ability to practice our traditional values. But we also cannot in good faith turn around and deny people their right to live their own lives.

    Cory, if you found yourself agreeing with what I just said, then count yourself among a silent majority of voters. I said these words in a way that probably makes sense to you. And when we’re done here, I can turn around and talk to a conservative friend and deliver the same exact core message in a slightly different package, and that friend will nod their head vigorously. That’s the beauty, and the simplicity of liberty. My race will be won by finding common ground with individual voters, and by reminding them that the message of liberty does not know the bounds of any single party. Underneath the suffocating trifecta of over-regulation, under-representation and systemic discrimination, we are still America: Home of the Free. And I intend to remind the folks in my corner of South Dakota that there are still those willing to fight for that freedom.

    Thanks for the soapbox. :-)

  5. Gideon Oakes 2018-04-17 00:04

    Re: Debbo – No, Cory was referring to a couple of other candidates who are/were running on the Libertarian ticket. I didn’t say those things. If you click the links on the words in question, they’ll take you to articles that talk about who said what.

  6. grudznick 2018-04-17 07:10

    Young Mr. Oakes will bear keeping an eye on, as his parents are a little fringish, but we could use some new ideas in District 30 (currently represented by 3 who are insaner than most) and a good sandwich man in the legislatures can’t hurt anybody.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-17 07:20

    “not a word,” Debbo. Gideon avoided saying the crazy things that Libertarian gubernatorial candidates Abernathey and Novotny were saying before the convention.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-17 07:24

    I am never part of a silent majority, Gideon.

    “my way is not the only way”—I will look forward to seeing how you will apply that message in a state where Republican leaders promote systemic discrimination against gays, non-Christians, Indians, and others who don’t affirm the Republicans white conservative theocratic vision.

  9. Dicta 2018-04-17 08:29

    I rarely talk about it, but I was involved in libertarian politics for a good bit. The END THE FED stuff and GOLD STANDARD talk ultimately drove me away as did elements of what I considered skirting social darwinism, but I really do believe the libertarians have a hell of a lot right. It’s just too bad that people like Novotny have so much influence in the party within South Dakota. Gideon seems considered and well-spoken, which is refreshing.

  10. Gideon Oakes 2018-04-17 11:57

    Re: Dicta — Thank you for the kind words. I would certainly love to earn your support. I’d be honored if you would spread the word on social media, especially to any friends you have in D30. And if you are willing and/or able, I’m kicking off the campaign with a “Tax Day Money Bomb” fundraiser.

  11. grudznick 2018-04-17 19:52

    Don’t talk about bombs, Mr. Oakes, or the police in your town will come searching for sure.

  12. Gideon Oakes 2018-04-17 19:56

    Re: grudznick — Especially in correlation with the word “money”… I love the smell of civil forfeiture in the morning. ;-)

  13. OldSarg 2018-04-17 21:51

    “systemic discrimination against gays, non-Christians, Indians, and others who don’t affirm the Republicans white conservative theocratic vision” that’s a mouthful of crap. . .

  14. grudznick 2018-04-17 23:23

    What, Mr. Oakes, is “civil forfeiture” and can you tell us where you stand on some stuff? Where do you stand on sanctuary cities or towns, where do you stand on gay rights, and where do you stand on citizens and governments being in compliance with environmental laws like leaking poop into creeks and such?

  15. grudznick 2018-04-17 23:29

    Those are, of course, some of the issues most on the minds of your constituents. I’m leaving out boreholes and uranium and gold mining, which are just good common sense issues that need backing.

  16. Gideon Oakes 2018-04-18 18:01

    Re: grudznick — Thanks for the questions. Civil forfeiture is the act of the state/law enforcement confiscating supposed crime-related assets from a suspected criminal, often without a trial and conviction. South Dakota sadly has one of the lowest levels of protection from this action. Whereas in states like Montana, Nebraska and Minnesota a trial and conviction (or guilty plea) are required, South Dakota law allows agencies to seize assets simply based on a “preponderance of evidence”. I’m not a lawyer, but I understand that to be essentially the same thing as probable cause. Furthermore, the burden of proof of innocent ownership is on the subject rather than the state.

    Now, this probably isn’t going to be one of my top platform planks, but as a Libertarian, I do believe that citizens have the right to keep their own property/assets, and that our current civil forfeiture policy deprives them of due process and right to informed consent. It also has the potential to be misused when the money goes into the coffers of the agency who executed the forfeiture.

    To your other questions:

    • Sanctuary Cities — This isn’t simply a thumbs up or thumbs down topic, and I’ve had arguments with folks on both “sides” for different reasons, so I will have to expound. First and foremost, I don’t believe we should be creating refugees in the first place by “getting involved” [read: starting, funding, provoking, or interfering for our own purposes] in other countries’ civil wars, regime changes or conflicts. Simply put, fewer bombs -> fewer refugees -> less expenditure all around. Second, I summarily oppose federal mandates. The federal government has no business forcing states to accept refugees, no matter who is paying for it (hint: taxpayers are taxpayers are taxpayers). Third, if our state DOES willingly decide to host refugees, I believe it is thoroughly un-American to discriminate on who we will and won’t take based on their religion.

    • Gay Rights — There shouldn’t be a differentiation to start with. That we have to use the term “gay rights” is proof enough of systemic discrimination. Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals. Now, I’m sure you’ll ask the cake baking question next. In my opinion, if a shopkeeper (private industry, not government) wants to discriminate, s/he should have the right to deny service to anyone for any reason. That said, the shopkeeper has now earned the right to be labeled and ostracized by the community at large. That’s basic free market economics: You don’t have to buy from anyone you don’t want to support.

    • Environmental laws — I’ll start by saying that the federal government should have no part in the equation, Constitutionally speaking. Should a state wish to form its own DENR/DEQ and pass laws to protect its natural resources and citizens from harmful pollution (such as the aforementioned poop in creek), then by all means, I support that effort. Libertarians believe in letting people do as they please so long as it doesn’t harm others by force or fraud. I would argue dumping sewage in the creek would fall under “force”.

    What I don’t support is purposeful manipulation of governmental agencies to purposely subvert industry to serve a political agenda. Under the Obama industry, we saw many instances of the EPA being used by the executive branch to unilaterally institute policy changes which intentionally harmed industry. Closer to home, look at our own power companies who would like to build plants but must wait decades to even get through the licensing process. Or at our forests that have been ravaged by the pine bark beetle because environmental groups have sued to prevent the proper management of the resource via thinning operations. I’m not going to say I know exactly where the line is, but I do know we crossed it long ago.

    • Boreholes, uranium, gold mining, etc. — Same general answer as before. No harm, no foul. If bona fide harm, then foul.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-20 13:32

    On Gideon’s remarkable policy statements:

    The federal government doesn’t force any state to take refugees. The federal government admits immigrants of all stripes; once admitted, they are free like the rest of us to move wherever they want. States can’t stop that.

    But I appreciate any conservative who will agree with Gideon and me that “it is thoroughly un-American to discriminate on who we will and won’t take based on their religion.”

    I’m with Gideon on “gay rights” too—we only have to use that term because there are so many prejudiced Americans who don’t think gays deserve the same rights as all other Americans. I’m not quite able to go with Gideon on letting the free market be the sole protector of civil rights, although I do agree with the idea that Al Novstrup has a right to say bigoted things but that we have an equal right to call him a bigot and suggest that maybe we shouldn’t do business with a bigot.

    Environmental law: I’m intrigued to see that Gideon opposes federal environmental laws but appears comfortable with allowing states to impose such laws, and maybe even stricter laws. Can a Libertarian oppose federal government but support increased state government? Is more state government replacing and surpassing repealed federal restrictions still a net gain in liberty due to bringing the decision making closer to the people?

    Was the intent of Obama regulations to harm industry, or was the intent to protect the environment, while recognizing the inevitable harm that would do to current industries under current unsustainable practices?

    Maybe Gideon should have sought promotion to nomination for Governor. He can at least talk practical governing principles… and I don’t think he’s called anyone here names yet.

  18. Gideon Oakes 2018-04-20 14:35

    Let me be clear. I’m certainly not calling for state environmental laws which are stronger than federal laws, I’m simply saying that it’s a power which should be left to the states, and from that point it should be the state’s prerogative to set the level of regulation. Our SD DENR, at least in my personal experience, seems to be both reasonable and approachable.

    As for governor, thanks for the vote of confidence, but I have neither the resources nor the statewide name recognition to mount a viable campaign for governor. I can win in District 30, but it’s not my style to be a “sacrificial lamb” or a name-exposure candidate. I don’t plan on attending anybody’s victory party but my own on November 6.

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-20 20:08

    I’m clear on that—you personally aren’t calling for more stringent environmental regulations. But your position on devolution to the states invites stricter regulation from each state. Is such an invitation consistent with Libertarian principles?

    I was going to say that resources and name recognition appear not to be deciding factors in fielding a Libertarian gubernatorial nominee. I suspect you surpass the nominee on both counts (on name, compare how many times Kevin Woster has referred to you in print and how many times CJ Abernathey has gotten such treatment). But your third criterion is consistent, sufficient, and unassailable as a justification for sticking with the battle you have chosen.

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