Spotlight on a Libertarian: Thomas Simmons

Written by Heather Gwynn
Follow Heather on Twitter at @starlasworld

Thomas Simmons was born and raised on the south shore of Long Island, NY, where he lived for 28 years.  After leaving New York, Thomas spent 14 years in New Hampshire, and 14 years after that, in Massachusetts.  Just two weeks ago, he packed up and moved on to Vermont, where he plans to start a farm.                 

Thomas’ education is as impressive as it is extensive. Thomas holds multiple degrees from various universities such as A Certificate in Celtic Arts, from Colaisde Gaelige, St. Ann’s, Nova Scotia, a Bachelor of Science and Economics from Hofstra University, in Hempstead NY, a Bachelor of Arts and Theology from Eastern Christian College, in Bel Air, MD.  Thomas also has a Ph.D. in History, from the  Université du Québec à Montréal, and a Juris Doctor from Hofstra Law School in Hempstead, NY.   

Thomas was a Professor of Economics & Finance for the last 20 years at Greenfield Community College, and he has authored three Economics textbooks. Thomas is an active member of the United State Coast Guard Auxiliary, with qualifications in French-English Interpreter Services, Navigational Aids, and Vessel Examinations.  Simmons is also the Assistant District Staff Officer for Diversity, in Northern New England.

In 2016, Thomas was recognized for two prestigious honors.  He received the Coast Guard Sustained Service Award, and the Pioneer Valley Labor Council (60 unions) Community Activist of the Year Award.

Simmons is a member of both the National and his local Libertarian Parties. Thomas was the Libertarian candidate for Congress, 1st District, Massachusetts in 2016. 

Even with his busy life, Thomas always finds time to enjoy the things that make him happiest.  He loves to go boating, and he was a black-market commercial clam digger at the age of 13.  He has always been a homesteader, at one time Thomas commercially raised Jacob Sheep, which is a rare heritage breed.  He also raised 200 hundred chickens and produced 20 gallons of maple syrup per year. 

Thomas’ talents go well beyond the homestead; he is also a male model.  Thomas was featured in the “Beyond The Sash” leather pin-up calendar in 2015, and in an advertisement for the Human Spectrum Project.  Simmons experience on the runway doesn’t stop there, he produced a Wedding Dress Fashion Show and worked several Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks in NYC.

Thomas is a complex man, with a variety of interests and passions.  His life is full, but he always finds time to enjoy his hobbies. Thomas loves to travel, and his preferred modes of transportation are motorcycles and trains.  In his spare time, he paints Eastern Orthodox Icons.  

LibertyViral: Hello Thomas, wow, you have certainly been keeping busy!  Let’s start off with some basic questions.  Inquiring minds are dying to know,  how did you get introduced to the liberty movement, and when did you get actively involved?

Thomas Simmons: I have always been involved in politics, having come from a family that was active in politics in NY since the colonial Dutch days.  I was a Republican precinct captain in the same district my dad and grandfather were before me, and at age 18 was the headquarters coordinator of a local congressional campaign.  As the GOP made a hard right turn and I moved to NH, I became a Democrat and ran for state house on a platform of supporting Marriage Equality and ending marijuana prohibition.

I always felt my feet were in two different worlds: I agreed with Republicans on issues of fiscal responsibility and firearms rights but agreed with Democrats on civil liberties issues…and found myself more and more identifying with the LP.   I have been a dues-paying but admittedly inactive member of the Libertarian Party for at least a decade, but only “threw myself into” the party in 2015, and I expect to remain here for the rest of my life!

LV: What cause is most important to you within the movement?

Thomas: The loss of American civil liberties is my biggest fear that propels my involvement.  Whether it’s restrictions on firearms rights, speech codes at public universities, border crossing restrictions, the drug war, eminent domain as enabled under the Kelo decision, or the Patriot Act, I have watched civil liberties come under assault most of my life.

LV: Who is your liberty role model and why?

Thomas: I honestly do not have a single role model.  I think it’s important not to get caught up in “hero worship,” because that tends to cloud one’s independent thinking.  I respect a great many people, each for their own unique contribution to liberty: Thomas Jefferson, Frédérick Bastiat, Friedrich A Hayek, Elinor Ostrom, Donald Boudreaux, Matt Zwolinski, Justin Amash, and Sheldon Richman are all people from whom I draw my own approach to Libertarianism.

LV: In your opinion, which active Libertarian is most influential, and why?

Thomas: Within the liberty movement, I think Larry Sharpe has positioned himself as one of the most influential.  His pragmatic and empathetic approach resonates with all people, not just ideologues, and he knows how to speak to the average voter without drowning them in jargon and libertarian-speak.  He engages in dialogue rather than confrontation and spends tremendous effort broadcasting the message of liberty.

LV: How would you approach someone who is showing an initial interest in Libertarianism?

Thomas: I would meet them where they are at– and that means not overwhelming them with every fine point of libertarian doctrine, and not using our “in-house” clichés.  I would seek to agree with them on general goals, and explain that there might be alternate avenues to reaching those goals and that often libertarians will disagree on those avenues.  I would recommend that they not get caught up in nasty internet debates, but get involved locally to make a change on a specific issue, because ALL politics is LOCAL, and almost all victories are local.

LV: What is the first book you would tell someone who is interested in the LP to read?

Thomas: I think it is important not to try and mold new libertarians in our own personal image, and I think that is an error many of us who are passionate make.  Therefore, I would recommend different books depending on that person’s own personal passion.  If they are interested in getting the government out of the economy, I might recommend “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt; if they are interested in oppression of the poor by a corporatist-government axis (especially from a Christian perspective), I might recommend “Faith and Liberty” by Alejandro A. Chafuen; If their particular interest is in free speech on campus, I would direct them to the publications of TheFire.org.

LV: What do you like most about being involved in the LP?

Thomas: Being able to have a platform from which to offer consistently freedom-oriented solutions to political and social problems.  Democrats and Republicans have both been disingenuous and contradictory on their goals and philosophy.  We may disagree on some issues in the LP, but we all agree on the goal of extending liberty, in all areas of life.  I can hold my head up and be proud of that consistency.

LV: If you could eliminate one Government agency, which would it be and why?

Thomas: The US Department of Education.  The national juggernaut on “completion” and “Success” is reducing teachers across this nation to record keepers and destroying innovation and academic rigor.  For 20 year as a College teacher, I have seen the effect of federal policies as they emphasize ‘data’ over real teaching and learning.

LV: What plans do you have to grow the party in 2017?

Thomas: Having moved two weeks ago to Vermont, I plan to get involved in every way in that state’s Party.  Before even moving, I have located similar-thinking liberty-minded folks in the area of Vermont I am moving to, and I expect we will be organizing in that area shortly.  The Party *must* be built locally, from the ground up, with local people engaged in local issues.

LV: What words of advice would you give to other Libertarians on how to get involved in the party, locally and nationally?

Thomas: As I state above, start locally.  National politics gets all the glamour, but it is on the local level where a party is built.

LV: Wow, thanks so much for your incredible insight!  Let’s end the interview with some questions that are just for fun.  What song best describes you?

Thomas: “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles.

LV: What is your favorite book?

Thomas:  The Song of Albion Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead

LV: What is your favorite genre of music?

Thomas: Broadway Show Tunes. I was born and raised in New York, and there’s simply nothing like Broadway!

LV: What are your thoughts on “The Pussification of America?”

Thomas: Hot Button for me!  The willingness of people to consider themselves ‘helpless’ and run to someone to save them makes me crazy.  As a gay man, I know that statistically, I am more likely to be attacked than most other people – and that’s why I carry a .38 Rossi.  Many of my liberal gay friends are horrified that I do that – and yet, while they all know the fear of being bashed, they also think that it’s up to the police to magically and instantly teleport to rescue them when confronted.  It’s illogical and ridiculous.  On a similar note, when a tree falls across the road, why wait for the ‘authorities’ to clean it up?  Get out your chainsaw!

LV: What would the name of your debut album be?

Thomas: “Get Out of My Way, I’ll do it Myself!”  (I actually used to say that to my parents all the time.  I have fond memories of my father constantly saying, “You can’t help him…he has to do it himself.”

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  • Michael McNeight

    Mr Simmons is one of the finer human beings I have had the pleasure to know. Money and entrenched politicians are the only only reason he is not my congressman. ( Outspent $1.7 million to $18000.) Massachusetts’ loss is Vermont’s gain.