On August 11, with the death of Michael Badnarik, Libertarian candidate for president in 2004, liberty lost one of its most passionate defenders. Michael, born in 1954, was just ten days past his birthday and had written his last essay a few days before, when he was dying. He had long been afflicted with a heart condition.
Sorry, other Michael, but I am going to disobey your last request:
A friend of mine is hosting a birthday party for me on August 6th. It will be my 68th birthday. It will also be my last. Assuming I was still the “life” of the party, I will post a review of who attended and what kind of fun we had. Please do not mourn my death. Instead, celebrate the wonderful life I lived. If you are going to remember me, please remember me as a man of honor and integrity.
We’ll compromise, Michael Badnarik: I’ll remember and show respect for you as a man of honor and integrity, and of knowledge, and of strength and decency, but I will mourn.
I mourn selfishly: we cannot spare the advocates of liberty.
I also mourn because I know you were not happy in your last years. At least, in our phone conversations and in our correspondence, you expressed great sadness that your message of the value of the Constitution seemed to fall on deaf ears, and disappointment that the Libertarian Party — as it seems to have done for every one of its presidential candidates, starting with its first, John Hospers — rather brushed you aside.
I’ll remember and show respect for you as a man of honor and integrity, and of knowledge, and of strength and decency, but I will mourn.
You expressed to me sadness and disappointment that the entire liberty movement seemed to be failing.
Gosh, what a wonderful tribute it would be if those friends at your birthday party, and all your other friends and admirers across the world, would perform even one act to help advance human rights and individual liberty. It would show that you absolutely did not live in vain.
I first met Michael Badnarik in 2004. He, Aaron Russo, and Gary Nolan were the apparent frontrunners in the Libertarian Party presidential primary, and they traveled together across the country. I met them in Chattanooga and had a good time listening to their campaign speeches and quips.
Aaron Russo I had spoken with in about 1996, by phone, when he was running for governor of Nevada, where I then lived and worked at the Nevada Appeal “news” paper. I had talked to Gary Nolan the night he had Harry Browne as a guest on his radio talk show; the night, in fact, Gary joined the Libertarian Party.
Michael Badnarik I had merely admired from afar, hoping that someday I would be able to take one of his seminars on the Constitution. He was widely respected as a scholar on that sadly neglected document.
What a wonderful tribute it would be if those friends at your birthday party, and all your other friends and admirers across the world, would perform even one act to help advance human rights and individual liberty.
Then, a few years ago, when someone asked me to help him bring out a new, and only slightly revised, version of Hospers’ classic, Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow, part of my job was getting recognized libertarians and Libertarians to submit articles. Michael Badnarik was one I approached.
He and I stayed very loosely connected, by phone and email, much more so this last year, for which I am very thankful.
At my age, I probably don’t have a proper perspective, but I think that Michael Badnarik has been taken from us far too soon. I believe that his intellect should have been left among us so he could continue to share his knowledge and wisdom.
He was a good man, a valuable man. I miss him, personally, and I miss him for what he taught us and for what more he could have taught us.
Michael Badnarik was the underdog when running for the 2004 Presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party. He upset both front runners and went on to campaign tirelessly. His courses on the Constitution have enlightened many. I’m honored to be able to call him a colleague and friend.