Bearing marijuana leaf pins and stickers on his suit and water bottle, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Ted Metz relayed his “Libertarian philosophy” during the Students for Ted Metz Rally at the Zell B. Miller Learning Center on Oct. 22.
Metz came to speak with the goal of re-educating the college demographic about the interpretation of the constitution and the role of citizens in government. He chastised the current state of education, emphasizing his proposal for teaching students the importance of character in history.
“One of the things they used to teach in history was not only the dates, the events and the outcomes but also the men behind the history — who they knew, what they studied and what their philosophies were — all the things important in understanding a man’s character,” Metz said. “Purely my opinion is that college is not teaching the true nature of the role of the citizen in government.”
Hosted by Students for Ted Metz, Metz was invited to speak to UGA students and Athens supporters in the midst of early voting. Zane Placie, a sophomore finance and risk management insurance major, organized a group of like-minded students to form the club at UGA, which supports Metz as the next Georgia governor.
“We’re a club that’s focused on individual liberty, social and economic freedom, so [Metz] is the candidate that most closely aligns with that,” Placie said. “Because you’ve got Stacey Abrams who is limiting economic freedom and Brian Kemp who is limiting social freedom.”
Placie introduced Metz at the start of the event, and Metz began his speech with a lesson on the constitution, relaying what he sees as misconceptions.
“The constitution of the United States is a constrictive document. It is meant to limit the authorities and the power of the federal government,” Metz said. “My approach to good governance is stuffing government back into its constitutional restraints. It’s not going to be an easy fight, but it can be done.”
The topic of marijuana constituted a large portion of the event, as Metz emphasized the health, environmental, economic and legal benefits of utilizing hemp. Metz advocated for legalizing marijuana and ending the drug war.
“I really want to see all forms of cannabis as legal as tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, because it’s a plant — it grows out of the ground,” Metz said. “It’s remediating the soil, pulling toxins out of the soil, it’s pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, and in Georgia, it truly could be a billion dollar industry, if not more.”
Metz went on to decry the two-party system, hoping that as ballot access increases for other parties, people will begin to vote outside of traditional party lines.
“One of the biggest things Libertarians have been fighting for is opening ballot access, so we can get a third voice in the government, because all we have are the Democrats and the Republicans,” Metz said. “Until we get third and fourth voices in government, we can expect the same thing out of government: more taxation, more regulation, fewer freedom, less liberty, and less health.”
At the end, Metz answered questions from the audience about his policies and perspectives on current events. From state income tax to child protective services to decriminalizing prostitution, a common theme of lessening the power of the government resonated throughout his answers.
“Don’t tell me what to do, don’t steal my stuff and leave me alone,” Metz said in defining what he calls the Libertarian philosophy. “We have forgotten that the lowest form of government is the individual, and we should all be brought up and trained and learned how to be self governing.”
April Brown, the chairwoman of the Libertarian Party of Athens, works closely with Metz’s campaign and came to the event in support of both Metz and Students for Ted Metz.
“I think the importance of reaching out to college students is that there is a particular party presence or philosophy presence when it comes to the spectrum, which is typically left,” Brown said. “Especially as Libertarians, it takes you awhile to find the party because you always think you’re the oddball out.”