According to the Vote Different Initiative: “To achieve victories, we have to do something different to get something different. Let’s raise the bar by bringing innovative startup spirit and entrepreneurial savvy to campaigns and messaging. Let’s think beyond Presidents.” However, we wanted to find out more on the Vote Different Initiative thus LibertyBuzz recently sat down with Grace McKay Livingston, campaign coordinator for the new Vote Different Initiative, to discuss the project.
LibertyBuzz: Can you summarize for our readers exactly what Vote Different is all about? We have heard rumors but don’t know what it is and what you are trying to accomplish.
Grace McKay Livingston: Sure! Vote Different is challenging people to go look beyond our current political spectrum. The common mantra is: “If you vote for a third party candidate, you’re throwing your vote away.” Thus, people have become so conditioned for voting the lesser of evils now seems perfectly adequate. This is simply not the case. Even though John [McAfee] did not win the nomination, we are still rebuilding the party from the ground up, starting with local and state politicians that want to legalize freedom.
LB: So this has nothing to do with presidential politics at all? You are not forming a new party, just trying to help designated LP candidates? Are you an official organ of the LP with the blessing of the national chairman and/or the national committee?
GML: The situation is that we are going to continue to expand the ideas of Liberty. If the LP wants to achieve those same objectives, they are more than welcome to. However, we aren’t looking for a blessing from anyone. We are libertarians. We take self-responsibility and our own accountability incredibly serious.
LB: I want to come back to that, but first could you just give a brief bio of yourself, and how you personally came to this point?
GML: I am an investment consultant and have several companies I’m looking to establish my firm, Livingston Financial Consulting & Associates (LFC & Assoc). I am from Mobile, Alabama and currently live in Mountain Brook, AL. I graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Psychology.
With VDI, I work very closely with John and Janice McAfee, Tiffany Madison, Kevin Takanega and Judd Weiss. I have been active in the Libertarian Party, and when Judd Weiss announced his candidacy for LP Vice President as John’s running mate, this made me take a serious look at the tech genius. Seeing how authentic John truly was and how the team I mentioned before, truly do spectacular work in such a short period of time, when I was asked to be part of the campaign… This was something I couldn’t pass up. I played many roles, and I fondly became known as “the campaign mom.”
LB: Will the main role of the Initiative be to endorse candidates? Do you envision that most candidates endorsed will be Libertarian Party candidates or not necessarily?
GML: Yes. We are going to be working tirelessly until elections and also make sure libertarians have ballot access in all 50 states. I do see a major shift happening. The LP is attracting more varied demographics by the day, instead of it mainly be comprised of a bunch of “intellectual white males”. We are starting to see a myriad of individuals from all different backgrounds seeing what this libertarian thing is all about. It’s a very exciting time in the party, and the VDI is really capturing people’s attention because the options for this election are grim on the presidential level.
LB: I want to come back to that too, but what exactly is Mr. McAfee’s role in VDI? Is he personally involved? Is he the ultimate authority with final decisions? Is he funding the operation?
GML: I know John is personally involved. As you can imagine, it’s been exhausting, and so he has been taking a few days to rest.
LB: So would you say that this is a personal project of John’s? He makes the final decisions and is funding it as far as you know?
GML: Yes that is correct. Judd Weiss is no longer involved but is still close with the McAfee’s.
LB: What is the structure of the organization? Is it just John with a few assistants, or is there a board? How many people would you say are involved. Is there a formal membership or is it more as-hoc?
GML: Tiffany Madison is heading this up very well. John is taking this on personally, but we have a very motivated team that works best in a decentralized way.
LB: If a candidate would like an endorsement, what is the procedure? Should they contact Tiffany to get started? And what criteria are used to determine if a candidate is worthy of endorsement? What qualities are you looking for and why not just endorse all LP candidates?
GML: If a candidate would like to be endorsed, they first need to contact Tiffany Madison, Keriz Reynolds, or myself. They will then be vetted, and then John has the final say in the matter. What we are looking for are people that truly understand the real nature of the problems with our current system. Our economical, technological, agricultural and medical enterprises are in serious danger. We are building a truly grassroots effort in dealing with the current situations that plague our society as a whole. The party needs to be changed from the bottom up and within itself. The Vote Different Initiative is a platform for the bottom numbered candidates to achieve not only recognition but guidance as well.
But VDI is more than endorsing candidates; we are starting a movement.
LB: Please elaborate. My impression is you are all about endorsing candidates. What do you mean by “a movement?” A platform implies a political party. Is VDI a new political party?
GML: I am meeting with John and Janice in July. We are in the process of developing a platform that gives all of our coordinators the criteria for being endorsed by John. This is a decentralized process, but we are working with candidates that are true libertarians that are down on the ticket or are not known in the political sphere. John, with his views and name recognition, allows for these candidates to get exposure. We are running with the slogan “Exit Politics.”
It’s not a new political party per se… However, we are trying to reconstruct the LP from the ground up. The LP is based on people disagreeing, other viewpoints being brought to light. However, the overwhelming principle to the platform is Less Government and More Freedom. Kill politics so it can be reborn. This is a new animal in and of itself.
Why start a new party when we can change what we have with a genuine grassroots effort?
LB: Given that, can you address this quote? During the campaign, Mr. McAfee said: “A rumor has spread that if I do not get the Libertarian nomination, I will abandon the party. Totally untrue. What I said was I will completely support any candidate running with the single exception of Gary Johnson. If Johnson does get the nomination, then it is clear that I misjudged the party. And I do not belong here. Nothing and no one will change my mind on this.” Has he, in fact, changed his mind on this?
GML: I will be completely honest, I don’t know if he has softened on this. I do know that he will not under any circumstances support Gary Johnson. I do believe he has softened on leaving the Party, but I don’t know the particulars on this quote.
LB: Ok. Going back to an earlier question:
Have you endorsed only Libertarian Party candidates or would you also consider Republican, independent, and/or other candidates as well?
GML: As of now, we are only endorsing Libertarians, but that could change based on individual circumstance.
LB: What exactly does an endorsement of VDI entail? Obviously, it comes with the McAfee stamp of approval, which is worth a lot, but does it also come with a set financial commitment from John? Is he fully funding VDI? Accepting donations? Is the staff volunteer or paid?
GML: The top staff members are paid. John will be potentially be attending fundraisers for candidates. I don’t know if he is directly contributing to them, but he is helping them raise funds themselves. John also helps draw a crowd which is an obvious benefit to an up and coming candidate.
The bulk of VDI is run by volunteers that are simply passionate not only about John’s message but truly changing the political landscape.
LB: Finally, if someone is not necessarily a candidate, but interested in getting involved what can and should they do?
GML: John has a townhall meeting next week. Follow Rob Loggia, Tiffany Madison and Desarea Lindsey. (more information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1140171029377119/
LB: Thank you.
You can learn more by Vote Different Initiative by visiting their website. http://www.VoteDifferent.us/