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by Alan Korwin

The political conventions and primaries are behind us, the candidates are no longer "presumptive," and the elections loom on the horizon. It's time now to start asking tough questions that media pundits typically overlook, and find out what sort of leaders we are about to elect.

Although news outlets often appear to play hardball with candidates, truly fundamental questions are rarely part of the mix. The Liberty Poll makes this dramatically clear -- it is a fresh approach designed to examine candidates' knowledge and views of:

1 - The United States constitutional form of government, 
2 - The separate powers of federal and state government, and 
3 - Constitutionally guaranteed civil and human rights.

Politicians have tended to express shock, or to simply stammer when asked about such things. Some suddenly find they're late for a meeting, and hurriedly duck out. But they can help us better understand their views of the Constitutions they will take an oath to preserve, protect and defend if they are elected to public office, by taking The Liberty Poll. Reporters do the public a great service by injecting these revealing questions into the national forum.

You should ask your local news media to use questions from The Liberty Poll. Next time you see a "newsmaker" yourself, instead of asking about corruption, or progress on project X, try asking some of these questions instead, and see what happens.

In these days of expensive sound bites and slogan campaigning, this is an eye-popping opportunity for voters to see their future representatives' views on the public offices up for grabs, and to avoid the wedge issues and glossy funding promises that politicos are eminently more comfortable with.


1 - If you are elected to the office you seek: 

a) what laws will you repeal; 
b) what taxes will you reduce or eliminate;
c) what government agencies will you shrink or close?

2 - Would you support criminal penalties: 

a) for politicians who violate their oath of office; 
b) for bureaucrats who act outside the powers delegated to them?

3 When did you last read the state and federal Constitutions?

4 - Should someone who has sworn an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, but who then votes to allocate tax funds to programs or departments not authorized by that Constitution, be removed from office?

5 - Can you name any current areas of government operations that are outside the authority delegated to government?

6 - Can you name areas where government might serve the public interest, but where it has no authority to act? If not, is it still accurate to say we have "government of limited powers"? Does this matter?

7 - As a candidate for a state or federal office, can you think of any ways to improve enforcement of the 10th Amendment (the states and the people retain powers not delegated to the federal government)?


8 - With regard to jury trials, should judges be required to inform jurors that they have the power, in the sanctity of the jury room, to decide whether a law in question is just, or constitutional? Should schools teach this?

9 - With regard to due process, should judges be allowed to prevent defendants from presenting a defense on constitutional grounds if they so choose?

10 - With regard to the war on drugs, is the war succeeding? When could it be declared a success, the expense of waging it cease, and the tax-based infrastructure surrounding it be decreased or dismantled? If it can't be declared a success, when might it be declared a failure and brought to a close?

11 - With regard to law enforcement, are you in favor of police being allowed to use deadly force when absolutely necessary to protect innocent lives from criminal attack? Do you believe that people, even people with no training of any kind, have less right to defend themselves than the authorities do?

12 - With regard to the right to keep and bear arms, would you support gun laws that would specifically disarm religious individuals, either on the way to or at religious services?

13 - With regard to establishing a federal ID number for every American, would you vote to enable or block such legislation if it were proposed? Which part of the Constitution would authorize such controls?

14 - With regard to asset forfeiture laws and policies, describe how these are permissible under the Constitution. If elected, would you do anything to change current asset forfeiture law?

15 - If elected to the office you seek, would you support legislation to license writers or register printing presses? Would you support legislation to license publishers to help control "hate speech?" Why would an honest writer or publisher object to such a program?

A followup module of The Liberty Poll, with detailed questions for reporters to consider for extended interviews, appears next.

The Liberty Poll was developed by attorney Michael P. Anthony, author Alan Korwin and syndicated columnist Vin Suprynowicz.

Alan Korwin 
12629 N. Tatum #440 
Phoenix, AZ 85032 
602-996-4020 Day phone 
602-494-9320 Evening phone 
602-494-0679 Fax

Do you wonder why you typically don't hear Liberty Poll style questions on the nightly news? For the same reason the nightly news is so tame compared to the Internet. Why is that? Because broadcasts in America are state controlled (and the web isn't, yet). You should hear broadcast executives agonizing over programs that might jeopardize their government license, and you'd think anew about how free is free speech. 


Followup Module 

Part 1 
(Proposed by attorney Michael P. Anthony)

The one-page Liberty Poll is distilled from a range of questions proposed by three prominent writers on the American scene. Here is the full range of questions, designed to make reporters and the public think, and to inject fresh air into current political discourse.

Do not be surprised if you notice relevance in these questions, even though little if any of this has appeared thus far in standard American news reports.

The idea of The Liberty Poll was first proposed by attorney Michael P. Anthony with the following set of questions.


1. Do you believe government is the right size? Please answer separately (circle your response) for your state and federal governments.

Your State: (a) too large, (b) about the right size, or (c) too small. 

Federal: (a) too large, (b) about the right size, or (c) too small.

2. If elected, identify up to five laws, if any, that you would seek to repeal or restrict, or circle: None.

3. If elected, identify up to five agencies, if any, that you would seek to reduce or eliminate, or circle: None.

4. If elected, identify five laws, if any, that you would seek to enact or expand, or circle: None.

5. If elected, identify five governmental agencies, if any, that you would seek to create or expand, or circle: None.

6. Do you believe that if you are elected to the office you seek, you should be sworn to preserve, protect and defend your state Constitution (if elected to state or local office) and/or the U. S. Constitution? (circle your response)

Yes     No

7. When did you last read the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights?

8. When did you last read your state's Constitution?

9. List by number the Articles of the "Bill of Rights" of the United States Constitution that you believe should be preserved in the 21st century.

10. List by section numbers the sections of your state Constitution's Bill of Rights that you believe should be preserved in the 21st century.

11. In your understanding and view, which of the following is correct? 

_____ The states derive their power from the federal government. 
_____ The federal government derives its power from the states and the people.

12. If you are elected to the office you seek, will you support and defend your state and U.S. Constitutions, including those portions with which you might disagree? 

Yes     No


Followup Module 

Part 2 
(Proposed by author Alan Korwin)

"So where do you stand, Senator..."

In part 2 of the Liberty Poll, author Alan Korwin pursues issues in depth, primarily concerning balance of power, designed for use in direct questioning of politicians during debates and public appearances.

In an introduction, Alan notes:

People complain about media bias when they see constant distortion and misinformation that routinely passes for "news." But perhaps the greatest bias results from news that never appears, because important questions are never asked. Next time you see a "newsmaker" try asking some of these questions yourself, and see what happens.

Where do you stand, Senator, on deterrence at schools?

You know, is it legal for a person caught in one of these media-hyped killing sprees to shoot back if they are able? Is there any limit on the number of bullets they could use? Do you think they should be charged with something if they manage to stop the attack and the attacker dies in the process, or if they use a type of gun not on an approved list?

Where do you stand, Senator, on tax credits for training?

You know, with all the accidents and costs associated with gun violence, do you support a tax incentive to encourage Americans to take courses that teach safe handling and use of firearms? Do you think this statement is true: "Gun-safety training would cause accidents and cost lives"?

Where do you stand, Senator, on poor people's right to self defense?

You know, do people living in substandard housing have the same right to protect their families as suburban homeowners, or even politicians? Do you believe politicians or police officers are entitled to armed protection that poor people are not? Do you support outlawing guns that are affordable for poor people -- often derided as "junk guns" -- and how do you respond to charges that this is a racist policy with blatant effects?

Where do you stand, Senator, on the civil right to self defense?

You know, do you believe a person can legally fight off a mortal attack by using lethal force? If a person is truly innocent and survives such a confrontation, is the type of firearm or ammunition they use any sort of legal problem after the fact?

Where do your stand, Senator, on gun laws that would disarm Jews?

You know, like vice president Al Gore's plan that would make anyone attending religious services a criminal if they also keep and bear arms? Do you think a law that disarms Jews would be OK as long as it disarms other religious individuals as well?

Where do you stand, Senator, on armed intervention by police?

You know, are you in favor of the police being able to use deadly force to protect innocent lives from criminal attack? Do you believe a person, even one with no training at all in self protection, has any less right to defend themselves than the police do? Would you support ammunition limits for police firearms, or do you believe this might jeopardize police safety? How high or low would you set those limits?

Where do you stand, Senator, on Sunshine Gun Laws?

You know, gun laws that encourage decent behavior, and support training, as opposed to laws that seek to restrict the civil rights of gun owners? Do you support laws that protect people who legitimately defend themselves against crime?

Where do you stand, Senator, on a Presumption of Innocence Act for abused women?

You know, when a woman shoots a man already convicted of abusing her, within a court-ordered protective zone he's not supposed to enter, should her actions be illegal? Would you support a legal presumption that her acts are self defense, if there's no concrete evidence to the contrary? Would you support awarding such survivors with a civilian medal of honor?

Where do you stand, Senator, on the 240 felons the FBI and BATF ignore every day under the Brady law?

You know, the 240 criminals denied guns daily by the national background check. The FBI has direct personal knowledge of felony after felony, yet does not enforce the law and apprehend them. Do you support that? How do you as a politician answer the complaint that, after $250 million spent on the Brady law, you don't arrest any of the criminals you find? Do you think the "official" numbers are inflated, or did we really identify and turn loose 800,000 crooks trying to buy a gun? What purpose does it serve to leave these criminals on the street? If these criminal were arrested, would crime drop? If you seek money for new gun laws, yet admit you do not arrest gun criminals you already find under expensive existing laws, do you think the public should see this as unwise public policy? Does failure to make arrests under the Brady system help perpetuate the system's existence, and how do you respond to charges that the system is, in large measure, a federal jobs program for more than 1,000 people?

Where do you stand, Senator, on a federal ID number for every American?

You know, a number required by the federal government, without which you could not get or give money, make purchases, travel or be employed. Do you think this is something the government should be working on, or might this be the overbearing role of central government the founders warned us about? If not, what would be? Where exactly in the Constitution do you find language authorizing federal numbering of all people? Do you support Ron Paul's bill to prohibit federal numbering and registration of the general public?

Where do you stand on registering writers, Senator, if you stand in favor of registering gun owners?

You know, would you be able to justify equal procedures for all the rights under the Bill of Rights? If you don't favor registering writers, why not? If a writer is honest, why would they care?

Where do you stand, Senator, on how much gun law we should have?

You know, we have over 88,000 words now at the federal level, how much do you think we need? Is there an outside limit we can look forward to? When do you believe we'll have enough? Can you name any gun crimes that have victims and are not already illegal?

Where do you stand, Senator, on a total gun ban for anyone who voluntarily wants to sign up for such a ban?

You know, would you support a federal pledge that people could make, to be forever banned from any access to firearms, under penalty of felony charges? Do you think people who want guns banned would register to ban themselves? Would you support such a no-gun-rights class of citizenship in America if a majority in your district wanted it?

Where do you stand, Senator, on encroaching on the Bill of Rights?

You know, is it OK to give up some of our freedoms if it's to help prevent crime? Can you name any laws on the books take this approach? Would you support or fight such laws is you are elected? Does the government have any power to outlaw armed response to an armed attack, and if so, where is that found in the Constitution?

Where do you stand, Senator, on a marksmanship component for National Gun Safety Training Week?


Followup Module 

Part 3 
(Proposed by syndicated columnist Vin Suprynowicz)

"Hi, what is the purpose of government?"

Nationally syndicated columnist Vin Suprynowicz produced a set of questions in response to his editors' request for a politician questionnaire. His work builds upon the directions of the Liberty Poll, and are useful for a more thorough analysis of a candidate's position on liberty and freedom.

In an introduction, Vin writes:

"If you get a chance to chat with one of your local politicians at a picnic in your hometown this summer, don't fall into the old trap of asking "What are you going to do to get more funding for (insert your favorite government program here)?"

"Instead, try one or two of the questions below. If you still believe this is the "land of the free," the answers you hear -- or the look of horror that flashes briefly across that face before he or she spots someone across the way he just HAS to go see -- may shock you."


1) Can lawmakers enact legislation for any purpose "in the public interest," or are they limited to those functions for which they've been delegated specific powers? Can you name some areas where government could probably do some good, but where it has no delegated power to act? If you can't name any such areas, is it still accurate to say Americans have a "government of limited powers"? Does this matter?

2) Can you name any departments or programs not specifically authorized in the state's (or the nation's) founding documents? Should someone who has sworn an oath to protect the Constitution, but who then votes to allocate tax funds to programs or departments not authorized by that Constitution, be punished? If not, why not?

3) Can you name a current tax that you would repeal? A fee?

4) Are residents of our state free to engage in any business they choose? Is operating any local business for profit a privilege, for which a citizen should apply for a permit, paying a fee or tax? Would you favor any changes in this regard?

5) Do residents of this state have a right to buy and keep machine guns? Why or why not?

6) Do residents of this state have a right to carry handguns openly on their hips without applying for or receiving a "permit"? Why or why not? Would you change current law enforcement in this area? In what way?

7) Should judges tell jurors they have a right to decide whether the law in question is constitutional? Is it a fair trial if the judge tells the jurors they do NOT have a right to decide the constitutionality of the law? Should judges be allowed to prevent defendants from presenting any defense they choose? If not, what is the proper recourse in the case of a judge who refuses to let the defendant do so?

8) Should judges exclude prospective jurors after questioning them and determining they do not favor the law which the prosecution seeks to enforce? If so, why do we still call them "random juries"? Does that mean the John Peter Zenger jury should have been stacked with crown sympathizers? Should juries have been stacked in the 1850s to guarantee convictions under the Fugitive Slave Act? Should judges be punished for thus excluding jurors based on "voir dire" questioning? Alfred the Great summarily executed judges who replaced jurors who refused to convict. Would this be a good solution for us to adopt, today? Why not?

9) Should it be legal for police to search automobiles without a warrant? Is it OK for police to tell drivers they have to consent to such a search? If a police officer searches a car without a warrant, should the police officer be arrested and put on trial? If not, why not?

10) If a police officer stops a car in which the driver is carrying a legal pistol, with a permit, should the officer disarm the driver before proceeding to write a ticket? Why or why not?

11) If police serve a search warrant which does not list any firearms, but they find firearms in the house being searched, is it OK for them to seize the firearms anyway? Why or why not? Would you favor a law to alter current practice in this regard? If so, specify.

12) Do we need more "gun control" (victim disarmament) laws? If so, name one new "gun control" law you would favor. If not, can you name a current "gun control" law you would repeal?

13) Can a tax rate be so high that it's not acceptable? If so, name a tax rate so high that citizens would be under no moral obligation to pay it. If you can't name such a rate, are you saying the government has a right to take 100 percent of what we earn and what we own?

14) Is the war on drugs succeeding? Can it succeed? Should all drugs be legalized? If not, why not? Should recreational drug users be committed for psychiatric treatment?

15) Whose powers are limited by the 10th Amendment? Can you think of any ways to improve enforcement of the 10th Amendment? No, you can't look it up.

3,401 words

Alan Korwin 
12629 N. Tatum #440 
Phoenix, AZ 85032 
602-996-4020 Day phone 
602-494-9320 Evening phone 
602-494-0679 Fax


Printer Version

"Let us contemplate our forefathers, and posterity, and resolve to maintain the rights bequeathed to us from the former, for the sake of the latter. The necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance. Let us remember that `if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.' It is a very serious consideration...that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event." --Samuel Adams, speech in Boston, 1771

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