Longtime military veteran Grayson "Kash" Jackson has been running for governor on the Libertarian Party ticket. Jackson spoke with Windy City Times about why he is seeking the post, and his thoughts on fighting discrimination, among other issues.
Windy City Times: So what made you want to throw your hat in the ring?
Kash Jackson: It all stems from how I was treated in family court, fighting to be a dad. It was really that eye-opening experience, as to how government was functioning a treating its citizen. That just kind of opened up the door.
I can't speak for all military personnel, but I'll just say, from my observations, we're really bad about having the mindset of "I'm serving in the military, I'm doing my part, I'll leave the rest of making sure governments run as they should to citizens that aren't deployed or in the military." … I really believed that the judicial system was still operating to a high degree of trustworthiness.
That [experience] led me to opening up other doors and exploring criminal justice and different laws that our states and nation pass. I was kind of examining those things and thought, "Wow, we're not as free with those things as I was led to believe." … I sacrificed a tremendous amount of my personal life serving. To have the stark realization that it was not what you thought it was [led to my] having to resolve conflicting emotions within my self about that. I just thought, "I can do better."
WCT: Why did you pick the governor's office to start that work?
KJ: In 2016, I retired from the military and I was already already getting heavily involved in the family law reform movement, about bringing awareness and attention to improprieties in that specific awareness of law. But I was forecasting the future: I believe there is more that I can do with the skillset and talents I acquired in the military, so I looked at what sorts of offices are becoming available, and governor was one. I imagined that Rauner would keep the nomination, and there were rumors that J.B. Pritzker would run.
So I said to myself that if, as a libertarian, I could get the nomination from my party, running against these two guys, a millionaire and a multi-millionaire, I would be a stark contrast as a retired veteran, already fighting and advocating with the judicial system. I would provide a very viable third option … and I would bring a tremendous amount of attention to the libertarian message, which I belief is fundamentally different than the mainstream parties. Since our inception in 1971, we've always believed in our individual rights, that the largest "minority" group is that of the "individual."
We have always been on the forefront of advocating for LGBT rights, or the right to utilize medicine that you want to put into your body, or utilize cannabis. We've been on that before it was politically popular, more people need to be cognizant and aware of that.
WCT: What would having a libertarian governor mean for the state then?
KJ: It's sets a completely different precedent that we've never experience. We deal in partisan politics. … This would be a unique circumstance because I don't have a party boss. I I don't have to answer to a Republican base or multi-millionaire donors. I don't have any of that. I'm only responsible to the people. That puts me in a unique position that I can leverage both sides to [act responsibly] to promote good legislation and roll back bad legislation.
WCT: What do you think of as the most pertinent issues for LGBT residents of Illinois?
KJ: Ensuring that we are not using identity politics to defend different groups of people, but ensuring that all people, regardless of what they associate themselves with, enjoy the same rights as everyone else. So I don't see a specific issue or circumstance that the LGBT community needs additional defense for. I have to be cognizant or aware of, if the LGBT community brings something to me and says, "We're experiencing this in this community." … I have to ensure that government is not treating that community any differently than it would a heterosexual or a Muslim or a Christian community.
WCT: We're framing this as a matter of a gay person not be treated "equally"but the person mistreating them will come back with, "We're not being treated equally by having to cater for them," for example, or otherwise make public accommodations. A function that the government has is to protect against discrimination. Would we still see that with a libertarian governor?
KJ: We make a distinction, as libertarians. I want to say that we don't agree with discrimination, period. That being said, we stand by the private sector in having the private sector have the ability to choose whomever they want to, whether or not we think it's appropriate. We make that distinction, that the government's purpose is to protect people from government telling them what they can or cannot do. … If, for example, Westboro Baptist Church wanted to run an ad in your pape,r we wouldn't have the right to force you to do that. But if it was a publicly owned paper, it would be a completely different story. Then we can't discriminate at all.
WCT: But if somebody at our paper was getting sexually harassed, for example, the state has mechanisms in place to protect them. Would there be the same kind of commitment to those mechanisms if you were in office?
KJ: Absolutely, because then you're talking about something that is a criminal act and [involves] personal bodily autonomy, and the right to be treated in a respectful manner.
See www.kash2018.com/ .
See more Windy City Times 2018 candidate interviews and election coverage at www.windycitymediagroup.com/gaynewsarticles.php .