Libertarian Elinor Swanson responded to all the proposed questions by email on October 12, 2018.
Montana Press: When did you feel a calling to run for Congress?
Elinor Swanson: When I realized that there would be no one on the ballot I could vote for unless I threw my hat into the ring. I am the only candidate who consistently respects individual rights and liberties, the only limited government candidate.
MP: What is your background in policy-making and legislative work? What would you consider some of your greatest successes in your career experience?
Swanson: I have no background in policy-making or legislative work, other than attending law school.
MP: Recently, a bi-partisan effort has produced a bill to protect 30,000 acres near Yellowstone Park from extractive industry. Do you support this legislation?
Swanson: Yes. I have a moderate stance towards public lands, it shouldn’t be all or nothing when it comes to preservation versus development. Some areas are too beautiful, pristine, and useful for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and hunting to develop, and that area is one of them.
MP: If elected, what kind of legislation would be a priority on your agenda?
Swanson: Criminal justice reform, a balanced budget amendment, eliminating regulations that do not define or prohibit harm but instead merely serve as a barrier to economic success, eliminating intervention in foreign affairs unrelated to our own national interests, and eliminating some of the unConstitutional 430 federal agencies that Congress has created over the past several decades.
MP: In the highly partisan environment of the U.S. House, how would you work to represent a third party among fellow Representatives?
Swanson: Libertarian Laura Ebke has been very successful at brokering tri-partisan deals in Nebraska. I would partner up with anyone to maximize individual rights and liberties and to decrease spending.
MP: Do you think healthcare is a fundamental right for a taxpayer?
Swanson: Healthcare is an economically valuable service that must be provided by other people, therefore it is not a right. If healthcare were a right, we could demand it without paying for it, and would be required to talk about healthcare on the global rather than national scale. Charity is a moral obligation; there is no legal right, however, to demand charity.
MP: What is your perspective on restricting ownership of weapons?
Swanson: For both moral and practical reasons, we should restrict weapon ownership only when someone has committed a violent crime or is mentally incompetent. Self defense and defense of others is a human right, recognized (not granted) by the 2nd Amendment, and that right to armament that shall not be infringed. There are more defensive than offensive gun uses. Gun restrictions do not decrease overall crime rates, but instead merely shift the modality from guns to car rammings, stabbings, homemade bombs, blunt weapons, etc., and also decrease the ability of people to effectively defend themselves.
MP: Do you support President Trump’s tax cuts? Would you be likely to take a stand against the President over issues where you disagree?
Swanson: The tax cuts are irrelevant compared to the scope of federal spending. For every $20 America makes, the federal government takes $3, borrows $1, and spends $4. Tax changes increase or decrease taxes by only 5-10 cents on that same scale. Even if we taxed the one percent at 100 percent, that would not even cover the money borrowed by the federal government, let alone the money spent. Increasing the corporate tax rate would just drive corporations overseas, and in addition double-taxes Americans who create and build businesses (once at the corporate level, and once when they are paid their salaries). Intruding into people’s lives, both domestically and abroad, is both immoral and expensive: we absolutely must decrease federal spending, it is completely out of control. If we don’t get a handle on it soon, we will be financially unable to honor our contractual commitments to Americans and others. With the extent of debt the federal government is accruing, we truly did not have a tax cut, but a tax deferral.
MP: Do you think the two-party system in America is working for voters? Do you anticipate your campaign to have a perceptible effect on either of the leading candidates?
Swanson: The two-party system in America is broken, because only ~5% of elected representatives actually present a meaningfully different option than the status quo. Neither of the two leading candidates respect the Constitution in its entirety: neither respect the entire Bill of Rights; neither respect the Constitutionally limited role of the federal government. Of course I will have a perceptible effect on both of the leading candidates - every single vote I obtain from a person who would otherwise have voted for one of them is a perceptible effect. We’re not only gaining votes - Libertarians are increasingly being elected around the nation.
MP: What has been a highlight of your campaign tour?
Swanson: It has been incredibly rewarding to introduce people to the Libertarian party and libertarian ideals.
MP: What would you point out as key concerns about either of your opponent’s abilities to represent Montana?
Swanson: Ms. Williams voting record indicates she does not uphold the 2nd Amendment, Mr. Gianforte’s voting record indicates he does not uphold the 4th or 5th (FISA - Patriot Act), and both of their voting records - big spending, high level of intrusion into people’s lives - indicate that neither respect the Constitutionally limited role of the federal government.
MP: Minority Leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D) and President Obama are frequently mentioned in statements and interviews about this House race. Do you think these nationally-known politicians are relevant to Montana voters?
Swanson: Yes, but only to the extent both other candidates do not have a principled understanding of the Constitution, and thus are both highly likely to simply vote as they are told, according to what sounds like a good idea - rather than first asking if they have the moral and Constitutional authority to do so.