I had the opportunity to talk with my old friend Judd Weiss. Known for his exquisite photography of the liberty movement, his latest claim to fame is serving as John McAfee's running mate for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination. Here's what Judd had to say about pop culture, the future of the Libertarian Party, and how a Libertarian VP would use his Senate vote.
Zach: I’m Zach Foster with the Libertarian Party of Nevada coming to you from Las Vegas where I’m enjoying a fabulous hotel suite party that’s hosted by none other than presidential candidate John McAfee and VP candidate Judd Weiss. I’m with my old friend Judd Weiss here. How you doing tonight?
Judd: I’m doing great. Are we live?
Zach: We are totally… not live. This is being recorded but it’s gonna be live when people listen. So everybody just wave hello to your computer screens because you hear our voices right now.
Judd: I’m watching you guys.
Zach: Yeah, you’re watching me right now, totally!
Judd: No, I’m watching them.
Zach: Oh, okay. [Singing The Police:] Every breath you take…
Zach: Now, first serious question is: give us a Reader’s Digest synopsis of what we can expect to see in your upcoming video.
Judd: Oh, in the fourth video. Oh, I’m not going to do that. [Zach gives him a dirty look.] But what I will do is I’ll tell you that if I don’t cause controversy with this video, I will have failed. I will have totally failed. All these other videos I’ve done before this have pushed boundaries that are not [within] normal political messaging. What I’m trying to do is establish templates—laying down templates—of different ways to communicate outside those boundaries of messaging. And each one is a completely different experience. So this one—each one of those has pushed boundaries, but this one makes everything else look tame. What’d you think, Zach?
Zach: I actually haven’t seen it yet because I got to the party late.
Judd: Oh, shit! Well, I’m gonna show it to you my friend.
Zach: Outstanding, outstanding. I really look forward to seeing it. Now, the biggest question that I’m wondering is, why did you initially agree to join the campaign as a VP candidate?
Judd: Sounded like an awesome opportunity.
Zach: Now, whether McAfee does or does not get the nomination, what do you see being the near future of the Libertarian Party?—
Judd: Let me actually answer that [last] question. The truth is I’ve got a voice in the scene, I’ve got strong opinions, and this was an opportunity for me to broadcast my view of this. I feel like libertarian messaging has been… um, I wish there was a rank below terrible. I mean… It’s terrible, but it’s like… It’s definitely an F, but maybe F minus if there was such a thing.
Zach: And you’re not talking smack right now, this is constructive criticism.
Judd: No no no, I’m talking with a broken heart. I’ve been seeing this for a long time. So with a camera I try to re-do our image. I try to make these nerds look cooler one nerd at a time.
Zach: Yeah, my social media definitely owes you.
Judd: And girls are swiping right on Tinder now to libertarians, and that hasn’t happened before. I’m trying very hard to bring the scene to a sense of… Instead of it being these socially awkward nerds that people are trying to avoid, it’s like, ‘How do I get into that? That’s amazing. That’s beautiful.’ And I want to respect what we’re doing. What we’re doing here is actually something very beautiful because force is ugly. Force leads to very bad consequences wherever it’s tried and we are the group of people that are trying to reduce and remove force from human interaction. That’s a very beautiful thing and we need to respect that, so I wanted to capture the vibe and take it seriously.
Instead of just doing silly goofball retard face photo-bomber shots, I wanted to take beautiful, captivating, glorious photos that [will make] people realize these are the humans that are laying down the foundations of liberty for a better future. They’re trying to change the world and they might actually change the world for something better, and we want people to be excited about that but they’re not representing themselves very well. They have well-engineered ideas but they have no sales skills, and therefore we have no sales. Our sales is… abysmal. I’m a salesman, that’s my background, and with my photos I’ve been trying to sell us better. And I think that’s been really effective. The response has been absolutely incredible and I think I’ve had a good impact. Just me, one obsessive maniac with a camera.
Zach: I think you definitely have had that impact.
Judd: And now, so why did I join the campaign? Well, I had an opportunity to now bring that to another level—to bring that messaging that’s been resonating very well just to another degree. These videos—I’ve never edited videos in my life. I’ve been afraid to ‘cause I was scared of being sucked into that black hole of video editing, which now I am. But these videos are allowing me to try a different avenue of messaging and I’ve never done it before, so I’m at the edge of my ability here. I’m living on my edge. I push myself as hard as I can. That’s as much as I can do.
With that second video, "Vote Different," I was determined to create the most powerful, best political messaging—political ad—that any human has ever seen in history. That was my goal, or I’m gonna die trying. And I never edited a video before, but I had a concept that I love. I was like, ‘I’m gonna make this amazing.’ I was so excited about it! So this new one—it was not coming from a different place, it was coming from a different galaxy. Anyways, so the point is that—I don’t wanna go on too many tangents—it gave me an opportunity to bring my voice to another level. I was really excited about that.
I can tell you how it started. It just started because I was throwing a mixer, a cocktail party fundraiser for McAfee at my house. I was asked to. During that conversation it came up as an idea of me as a VP candidate, which blew my mind but made sense when I thought about it. I was like, ‘That’s amazing.’ I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. It’s a big hit for me financially, ‘cause now I have to raise money for the campaign instead of earn money for myself. I kind of pissed off some people I was working with because they feel abandoned right now. But IU’ll come back. They still want me to make them money.
Zach: Oh, there you go.
Judd: They’re gonna want me to make them money later. I would like to be making money right now but I can’t miss this opportunity.
Zach: I couldn’t agree with you more.
Judd: It’s like a band is going on tour, an arena rock tour, and they’re asking me to come on and I have to fucking go.
Zach: Absolutely! I’m curious. How would you use your Senate vote as Vice President?
Judd: My Senate vote? Well I would use it the way I would vote naturally. I would vote towards liberty.
Zach: Fabulous! Now, my final question is, what do you see the near future for the Libertarian Party being?
Judd: Oh, that doesn’t depend on me. I can have an influence. I can tell you what I hope. What I hope is the Libertarian Party does is become relevant. Because right now we are… basically a bunch of intellectual engineers dominating the sales department. Which is why we have no sales. Because engineering and sales are very different skill sets. A good engineer shouldn’t be able to sleep at night if the numbers don’t add up right. That’s great engineering—we need them. That has absolutely zero to do with introducing people to these ideas. The high level nitpickiness isn’t holding people’s hand, guiding them in, and moving them off of that safe platform they’re on into something better.
So I feel like it’s an intellectual movement. It’s been that way for a long time and the engineers only allow communication to other engineers. They were asking me what my policy positions were on that first video. “Where are the policy positions?” Well I had one strong policy position laid out at the end powerfully, in three words: Let life live. That’s what we’re all about. I didn’t put down an engineering spec sheet that people most can’t read, on purpose. I thought that was essential because I’m trying to introduce people. ‘Do you like this vibe? Is this a cool idea? Let life live. Let’s enjoy our world, let’s enjoy our lives. Do you like that? Okay, cool, let’s go further with that.’ So that was just a very introductory message.
Zach: That is absolutely beautiful.
Judd: Right?! So where do I see the Libertarian Party…? Are we still going?
Zach: Yeah. [We’re still recording.]
Judd: Well… My issue with Gary Johnson has nothing to do with gay Jews having to bake Nazi cakes. I disagree with him on that but I don’t care. I’m happy to live in Gary Land—that’s an improvement. In fact, he’s not going to get elected and even if he does get elected, he’s not going to institute Gary Land. That’s a moot point. I hope people stop jumping down his throat about gay Jews and Nazi cakes. That’s not what I care about.
What I care about is the fact that he’s boring as hell, he’s super awkward, and nobody’s excited about him. Not even his own supporters are excited about him, and I was one of his biggest supporters. And I put in a lot of energy for him and his liberty movement over the last several years and I just can’t stomach—tolerate the possibility of a repeat lackluster 2012.
Judd: Because Gary had such a historic opportunity with seriously low favorability ratings for Obama and favorability ratings for Romney. It was a historic opportunity. We were gonna crush it. Everyone was excited we were gonna get 5% and he got 1%. It would be a shame—it would be such a sad shame right now if we put all of our energy into somebody nobody wants to pay attention to. We do have a historic opportunity. What we need right now is a rock star that catches attention. And so we’re doing stuff—our campaign—that is unconventional. People are saying that we might turn people off. Oh, you can be certain about that because we’re going to be creating outrage.
Zach: As you should.
Judd: We’re going to create outrage and we’re going to pour gasoline all over those fires and create something really beautiful for the media, because they love talking about our material. So the media will be all over this. We’re gonna be pop culture media figures—that’s our goal. People have to understand this: not only is it okay that some people are turned off, but outrage is not a problem. Outrage is totally fine. Apathy is a problem. Apathy equals death. Gary Johnson inspires apathy. Nobody’s really curious, “What’s Gary Johnson up to right now?” It’s not exciting. But everybody wants to know what McAfee’s up to—what he’s possibly into right now. He’s always up to something interesting. He’s a very interesting, dynamic character.
So what I’m trying to do here is say… Yes, we’re not targeting Midwest housewives; we’re targeting youth. We’re going after something exciting. Outrage was not a problem for Bernie or Trump. Bernie was nothing just a few months ago, maybe a year ago. He was nothing. Nobody knew about him, nobody cared. Hillary has been a big figure for a long time and he gave her a serious run for her money. And a huge movement around him! That would not have been possible if he played it safe. He would still be nothing if he played it safe. Donald Trump: if he played it safe, he would not be our presumptive [Republican] nominee. Outrage is not a problem. Apathy is.
We are not going to play it safe. We’re gonna do a lot of things that are absolutely ‘not okay’—totally okay by Libertarian standards. If I don’t create outrage, then I will not have succeeded. I’m determined to create outrage because I’m not trying to create outrage [for its own sake], I’m just trying to stand true to our message. And people are going to be upset but I’m just not going to water it down to avoid that. I’m going to allow that to exist and to fester and rise up, and become something that the whole world can’t look away from. So this is going to lead—we’re going to move the liberty protest needle further than it’s ever been moved before.
I’m in business. People come to me with ideas all the time about whatever business ideas. They talk about how the potential—how amazing the potential is. I don’t give a shit about potential. Potential’s nice, but I care about how much of that potential you can actualize. That’s what matters. And Ron Paul, quirky old man that he was, did not have potential. But just look at what he inspired.
[I open my leather jacket to reveal my dark gray Youth for Ron Paul 2012 t-shirt.]
Judd: Yeah, you’re even wearing his shirt right now. Look at what’s happening today because of Ron Paul—because of what he was able to actualize. That’s what our campaign is trying so hard to grow, and that’s why the Libertarian Party needs to step up. I don’t care about the Party, I have no Party loyalty. But as long as the Libertarian Party can be an effective means for change, then I’m happy to be a part of it.
Zach: That’s incredible and inspiring, brother. It’s always a pleasure talking to you.
Judd: Thanks, same here.
Zach: That’s all the questions I have for now. On behalf of the Libertarian Party of Nevada, thanks a bunch for giving us the inside scoop.
Judd: Not a problem. Next time we can talk about some fun ideas I have for YouTube shows!
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