Candidate Spotlight: Zach Houk for TN Rep District 13
What initially got you interested in politics? When was this?
My interest in politics started in my freshman year of college. During a World Politics course, I first considered minoring in Political Science. I decided against that but remained interested in politics, and developed a passion for it during the 2016 election cycle. I finally saw the broken system for what it is and decided to get involved.
The derision and vitriol between the two parties showed me that neither would cede on important issues, and the People were set up to lose either way. So I decided to get involved and got connected with the East Tennessee Libertarian Party through a friend. Since then, I have immersed myself in politics and the party and have dedicated my time to building the party that represents the rights of the individual.
Tell us about your campaign. What office are you a candidate for?
I am running for Tennessee House of Representatives District 13. There are laws in place in Tennessee that create an extremely high threshold for party recognition for third parties, like the Libertarian Party. Because of this, I won’t be identified as an LP candidate on the ballot. However, that is not stopping me from running as a libertarian. I knew this campaign would be an uphill battle from the beginning. District 13 is one of the most contentious races in all of East Tennessee, with the same two people duking it out every two years for the last three terms. Having a new and different name show up on the ballot is bound to shake up things. My goal, however, is not just to disrupt the ballot but to win.
If elected, what would be the first thing you want to accomplish?
This is a difficult question. There are so many issues I am equally passionate about. To start, I support fair third-party ballot access, the end of state taxpayer-funded primaries, a repeal of the gas tax, and legalization of medical cannabis. That being said, I would also like to see an end to civil asset forfeiture. From my perspective, it is legalized theft that skirts due process and the traditional American’s right to be secure in your property. Law enforcement officers that truly understand what role they are supposed to play in American society should have no problem with ending the practice.
Which of the former U.S. presidents is your favorite?
It's a toss-up between Washington and Jefferson. Washington predicted the current state of US politics. He remains the only true independent president by not choosing a party. Parties, as a whole, create division. Now we have two ruling parties and half of the country doesn't even vote. Elected officials should be willing to work with each other, and their main obligation should be to protect the rights of the smallest minority: the individual. On the other hand, Jefferson is the author the Declaration of Independence, one of the cornerstone documents of this nation, and a student of the great philosophers of the past. I have immense respect for his classical liberal values, so choosing between the two is challenging.
Are you affiliated with a political party? Why or why not?
Though you may find me with an “I” beside my name on the ballot, I am a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party. I believe the LP is the best vehicle for a more free and prosperous society. The Republicans and Democrats care more about fighting each other and “winning,” than holding to their values. They are all guilty of a dereliction of duty to the people they are meant to serve. The Libertarian Party stands on principles instead of ideals like the dinosaur parties. Ideals are nice, but if you don’t have a solid principled foundation, those ideals will not stand on their own.
What intrigues you about local politics?
I believe in ground-up approaches to most everything in my life. You can't build a skyscraper without a proper foundation. Local politics is where that foundation happens. As I see it, running for the House of Representatives is the convergence of state and local government. After all, the government was created to represent regular people, and there’s no place better to effect positive change than through the mechanism of local politics. My goal is to improve the lives of the people in District 13 and consequently have a positive effect on people across the state.
If you could change one thing in politics, without any opposition, what would you change?
The reestablishment of the values and principles of individual liberty. When looking at proposed legislation, the first thing I ask myself is: “does it make people freer or less free?” Some in government believe that the state can take care of you better than yourself. There are people that believe that the government gives you rights and therefore can take them away as well.
This is just not the case. The inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (or Property, if you ask Locke) are given to us by our creator, regardless of whether you believe in a god. Any law created that goes against those rights is an affront to a free and prosperous society.