Locals form Libertarian Party of Dubois CountyApril 27, 2021
By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
JASPER — Adrian Engelberth worked with the Republican Party in Dubois County for nearly a decade before he realized it wasn’t what he wanted.
As the head of the Freedom Makers of Dubois County for years, Engelberth has always considered himself someone who has always fought for individual freedoms. So when he received a call last August from Micah Haynes, who represents the Eighth District of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, and was asked to be a county affiliate, he took the opportunity.
“I have been in the Republican Party as the precinct committee person pretty much straight from 2011 until 2019. And after working in the Republican Party for years, I realized it was not changing for the better,” Engelberth said. “Locally, there are good people who are Republicans. It’s nothing against the people. But at the state and national level, the direction the Republican Party was taking really didn’t follow what I wanted.”
In the 2020 general election for Indiana Governor, candidate Donald Rainwater received about 11% of the votes, making him the most successful Libertarian to run for office in Indiana in the past two decades.
“You’re seeing it at the state level that well over a third of the people are registered as Independents,” Engelberth said. “We feel that we represent them … This isn’t just something that we’re making up because there was good success in one election. We’re a growing party, and we’re here to stay.”
The Libertarian Party of Dubois County includes Vice Chairman Eddie Boehm, an active Libertarian since college who was involved in the Rainwater campaign; Treasurer Vicki Schnarr, the Dubois County campaign chairperson for Rainwater; and Secretary Kyle Hugenberg, who has been an active Libertarian in Kentucky, where he ran for State Auditor in 2019.
One of the most important priorities is balancing budgets and cutting taxes, Engelberth said. At the federal level, Engelberth said he feels the public has been failed.
“They have an inability to understand that if you have this much come in then you should only spend that much,” he said. “To be honest, the federal level has turned into one party with two different names.”
At the state level, issues are being discussed and voted on that should not be up to the state to decide, Engelberth said.
For example, Indiana has had a law since 2012 making restaurants smoke-free. Engelberth said the decision should be left up to each individual establishment and not the state.
Another example is creating and amending laws regarding same-sex marriage in Indiana.
“I’m a Christian, so I have certain beliefs on marriage,” Engelberth said. “But is it my role to use the government to make everyone think the way I think? As a Libertarian, the answer is no.”
Engelberth said that in general, there are two common misconceptions about the Libertarian Party. One is that the party is strictly pro-choice. Although the party does support individual freedoms, it also has to balance what the people as a whole want, he said. At the local level, especially in many places in Indiana, this means supporting pro-life measures, as well.
Another misunderstanding is that the Libertarian party supports pro-marijuana laws above all else.
“That’s not really what we’re about,” Engelberth said. “Our goal as Libertarians is to have government within the bounds that it works the best, and everything else, give the choice to the people.”
Engelberth said one of the main reasons he supported Rainwater was because of his stance on masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. He believed that everyone should be provided with all the information they need to know to make a decision and encouraged to wear masks, but that they cannot be forced. Engelberth said he felt Holcomb’s mask mandate was wrong because it left both Republicans and Democrats out of the decision.
“We’re not against doing the right thing,” he said. “It’s about telling you all the information and letting you have a choice, and in a true crisis, following the rules of the constitution. Let the people’s elected representatives make that decision, not one person.”
Representatives from the Libertarian Party of Dubois County plan to be at the 4-H Fair and Strassenfest and are planning informational sessions that will take place in the summer.
“We’re here to be a source of information and a source of action,” Engelberth said. “If you believe in your individual liberty and you want to hold onto it, we’re here. We’re not here to take sides on issues, that’s up to you. We’re not here to say, ‘We believe this and you’re going to follow us.’ We’re here to help the community and give them another option.”
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