Illinois Libertarian Party candidate visits West

Jon Stewart, Staff reporters

2018 candidate for the Illinois Libertarian Party, Kash Jackson, came to visit Normal West after school Wednesday, April 25th. Jackson, whose birth name is Benjamin Winderweedle, agreed to speak to West students after being reached out to by various students who attended his speech at the Libertarian convention in town and various other political events.

One of these students, senior Chandler Huffman, was a lead in organizing the event. “Jackson agreed because he wants to spread his message of liberty to anyone he can, he does not discriminate on age or intelligence,” said Chandler, when asked about Kash’s reason for coming. “We organized it because we have a lot of students who wish to learn, or are disappointed in the two other options for governor.”

Kash’s visit was nearly canceled after a parent reached out to staff, concerned about Kash’s other ventures, like Restoring Freedom, a custody rights group Kash founded in 2016 and various legal charges he’s faced in the past. However, everything carried out as planned.

Kash spoke in room 112 after school, arriving around 3:50 and staying until 5:45. About 20 children were in attendance, most being involved in West’s clubs headed by social studies staff like Model U.N. or Mock Trial.

Jackson began by giving students some info about himself. “Sorry I was late,” Jackson began, “I just got a little behind. I was at a 2nd amendment march in Springfield and I had some interviews to do. Actually, you may see me on CNN tonight.” Jackson came in fairly plain attire, he wore a tan hat with a 1776 velcro-patch, a Nine-Line t-shirt, cowboy boots and blue jeans.

Jackson was born and raised in Louisiana, but moved here after his military service. “I served in the military for 20 years. I had many jobs. I was a drill instructor up at Great Lakes. I worked on a submarine, doing repairs. Fixing things like refrigeration or maintenance. I could’ve gone to college when I got out, but I saw the political turmoil in Illinois and decided to run.”

“What is a Libertarian?” asked junior Jacob Hofte. “Good question.” Jackson said. “Who likes being told what to do? Raise your hands.” After no one raised their hands, Jackson continued, “Most of us don’t. That’s what Libertarians are all about. From some of the more anarchist-libertarians, you know, the ‘taxes are theft type’, or someone like me, we all are just concerned with individual rights. Look at this room, it’s made up of all different people. We can all sit peacefully. That’s something you won’t find in Washington, or Springfield, because this country had become polarized since the last election. Libertarians can get past this polarization by reaching across both parts of the aisles.”

Jackson then let students bring up various issues, ranging from guns to drugs to abortions. Jackson discussed each of these in depth, spending about 20 minutes on each. One of the most prominent points was Kash’s view on drugs. “It’s not a criminal issue, it’s a health issue, and an economic issue. The reason people sell drugs isn’t to commit crime, it’s to raise money. To sell for their families. You have a generational issue, where the parents are part of that culture, they go to jail, and then that’s all the kids know. When people get addicted, that’s when it becomes a health issue.”

Kash is currently the main independent in the Illinois gubernatorial, but still has a long way to go to get on that ballot. “See, it takes Democrats and Republicans 5,000 to get on a ballot in Illinois, but it takes Libertarians 25,000. I’m currently at around 8,000, so we’re far, but it’s a long time until the deadline.”