By Larry Clark
Barbara Howe really is running for governor.
The Libertarian candidate is running a solo 5-kilometer race in all 100 North Carolina counties to call attention to her candidacy and the Libertarian political philosophy. Wednesday morning, she ran in Taylorsville. That evening, she put on her running shoes in Newton. The Newton 5K was her 81st since her campaign began.
Howe, from Wingate, knows winning the governor's mansion is the longest of shots, but she's determined "to keep the message of liberty out there."
Libertarians endorse minimal government. "The Republicans and the Democrats have their differences, but they still stand for big government," Howe said. "They are variations of the same flavor."
Most of the time, Howe runs alone. Sometimes, somebody she's met will join her. She had company when she ran in Lenoir on Tuesday. But she meets people during her jaunts and chats with local folks afterward.
"I always go to a café or a restaurant in each county. I listen and I talk. But mostly I listen," she said.
"I'm learning that people in North Carolina are basically the same. They want to work, enjoy their free time and be left alone." That as in be left alone by government on all levels. "This country was founded on freedom, responsibility and self-reliance," Howe said. "We Libertarians don't want to tell people how to run their lives."
As one that advocates the government that governs least governs best, she has strong opinions on government entitlements and other programs. For example, Howe says everyone who has paid into Social Security should get their benefits as promised.
"We should fulfill our obligations," she said emphatically as she prepared for her run through Newton. "But we should fix a cutoff date and say no more (beneficiaries) in the Social Security program. Everyone would be responsible for their own retirement funding, however they want to arrange it. They would keep all their money."
She indicated there would be a tax advantage in maintaining future spending funds for things like retirement and medical expenses. Howe noted that medical spending accounts already are part of many insurance plans. "Private enterprise has answers," she said.
Howe said government's primary responsibility is to provide security for the American people. Libertarians balk at all the programs and regulations they see as deliberate control of the public.
"We need less government, not more," she said, adding that many people share that view even though most probably will not choose Libertarian candidates when they mark their ballots.
Still, Howe is running for the cause that maintains government is out of control and the people should take it back. Too, if she and other Libertarian candidates get enough votes in November, the party will be able to stay on the North Carolina ballot for the next election.
As far as running, her last 5K will be Nov. 4 in Raleigh. "This turned out to be a bigger task than I ever dreamed," Howe said. "I have never been to many of the cities and towns. I'm going to county seats. I map out a possible route and then drive it to make sure its safe." She's learned that traffic patterns are different in every town.
Howe, a graduate of Pfeiffer College with degrees in English and psychology, will run in a real 5K this Saturday at the NC Zoo. Not bad for someone who "ran a little" prior to her gubernatorial campaign and no more than a handful of 5Ks.
This is her third try for governor. She's not giving up. "Our message is strong. We don't want any tax increases and we want less intrusion by the government," she said. "The Libertarian Party is for the people, not government control."