Friday, July 25, 2008

article in the Jackson Co. Banner

A nice article by Steven Crawford in the Jackson County Banner...

Crawford interviewed me while I was campaigning at the Jackson Co. Fair on Tuesday night.

As a rule, politicians want potential voters to trust them. Sometimes it is all too obvious they are simply pandering to the people in an attempt to build that trust without saying anything substantive. In rare cases, however, a candidate can inspire that feeling by simply knowing what he is talking about and saying it in straight terms.

One of those rarities is Libertarian Dr. Eric Schansberg, who is running for Indiana’s Ninth District Congressional seat. Dr. Schansberg was at the Jackson County Fair on Tuesday evening and spoke candidly on issues ranging from oil to Iraq to Social Security to his campaign in general.

Dr. Schansberg will be facing Democrat Baron Hill and Republican Mike Sodrel in the November general election for the second time. His first attempt was in 2006 when he garnered 9,893 votes, or four percent. Hill won that race with 110,454 votes.

“We’re hoping to build on last time,” said Dr. Schansberg, who has been an economics professor at IU Southeast for the last 16 years. “We’re working harder. We’ve learned things, like how to run radio ads and other little nitty, gritty things.”

With gas prices at the top of most voters’ list of concerns, Dr. Schansberg’s economics background should play to his advantage. How far that advantage will go towards counterbalancing the inherent disadvantage of being a third party candidate is anyone’s guess, however.

Dr. Schansberg hopes to win the election outright, as would any candidate, but he has another goal short of winning. “My next best goal is get into double digits,” he said. He added that he could just as easily see an increase in the number of votes, but a lower percentage.

“Since it’s a Presidential election, there will be more voters,” he said. But that may not be all bad for the third party candidate, he said. “Obama is perceived as a different kind of politician. I may have some appeal to people like that.”

He should draw voters from both of the major parites, based on his positions. Economically, his views (and those of the Libertarian Party in general) should appeal to traditional Republicans. His liberal appeal stems from his position on the war in Iraq [and his policy positions that impact the working poor and middle class].

“I want the troops home sooner [than Hill and Sodrel],” he said. “Sodrel’s position is mostly the status quo. Hill has crafted a position near Sodrel’s.

“We shouldn’t have an intrusive foreign policy. Building democracies in the Middle East is not practical.”

Dr. Schansberg’s plan to lower gas prices is, in his words, a “no-brainer”, at least for the first step.

He proposes to start drilling off the Gulf Coast, which is common land and will eventually be drilled by somebody, he said. He also wants to start drilling in ANWR in Alaska, as long as it’s in “an environmentally sensitive manner.”

“The second issue is a little more sophisticated,” he said. “Forty percent of the cost of a gallon of gas is due to the devalued dollar.” If not for the weak dollar, gas would be around $2.90 a gallon and “probably not in the top ten [voter concerns],” he explained.

The cause of the devaluation is complicated, he said, but starts with increased government spending and debt. The sub-prime mortgage crisis and other government buy-outs further weaken the dollar. “What investor would want to hold a dollar right now?” asked the candidate....

He also spoke about his role as the supposed spoiler in 2006, when some people blamed him for Sodrel’s loss.

“Even if all of my votes had went to Sodrel, he still would have lost,” he said.

“Politicians like predictability. A third party candidate adds one variable to worry about. They [Hill and Sodrel] probably would rather me not run,” he explained.

And while Libertarians are thought to generally take conservative votes, the war issue makes Dr. Schansberg think a lot of Libertarian votes will come from liberals.

While explaining why he was running, Dr. Schansberg made an interesting comment: “Instead of scapegoating me, I would rather the parties run better candidates. I would rather be at home with my family than out doing this.”

For more information on the Schansberg campaign, visit