After nearly nine years serving in the U.S. Army, Micah Haynes moved back to Vincennes.
He became “hyper-focused” on being a “good civilian,” just as he was once a good soldier, so he enrolled at Vincennes University to study economics and started a family.
But there was something missing.
“Most of the time when men and women get out of the service, they have great pride in their country and strong values,” the 28-year-old said. “And I really missed the camaraderie of being in the service.”
So to fill the void, Haynes thought he would get involved in politics, and he began researching both the Democratic and Republican parties.
But in neither, he said, did he find exactly what he was looking for.
“I took a scientific and logical approach to my search and just kept thinking to myself, ‘There’s got to be more.’ So I looked into the Constitution Party, the Green Party, the Traditionalists.
“But then I found the Libertarian Party.”
Finding favor the party’s small government, reduced spending and social freedom-for-all policies — and since Indiana already put the Libertarian Party on the ballot in 1994 — Haynes set to establish a local party here.
He began searching social media for others with Libertarian beliefs and before long, he’d found faithful partners in Vincennes’ Christine Fox, now the party’s vice-chair, and her fiancé, Shane Lemler, who acts as the party’s communications director.
Dennis Vickers serves as the group’s treasurer.
And after a lot of hard work, the party was affiliated in Knox County in August of 2017.
Only recently, however, have members of the county’s first Libertarian Party been popping up at city and county council meetings, specifically to express their opposition to taxpayer dollars being spent on the development of the Pantheon Business Theater, a small business incubator and shared work space in historic downtown.
They also entered a float in the Fourth of July Parade (a sure sign that a political party has arrived) and have plans to host informational booths at the upcoming Knox County Fair and Watermelon Festival and the Festival Latino in August.
They’ve even gone door-to-door to solicit new members. So far, they have 21, including members from surrounding counties without their own Libertarian Party.
“I think people are finding that they don’t quite fit with either the Democrat or Republican parties,” Haynes said. “That’s what we’re hearing.
“But if they’re fortunate enough, they find the Libertarian Party. It’s minimum government, maximum freedoms — that’s the basic principle that drives the party’s foundation of ideology.
“Individuals for themselves are a better provider of a free and prosperous society.”
In searching through local voter records, Haynes said there are roughly 3,000 people in Knox County that have voted for a Libertarian candidate, most recently, Greg Johnson who ran against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election.
The party, Haynes said, is rapidly growing both at the state and national levels as people look to come up for air amid the dirt-slinging politics so prevalent today.
“We can offer that ‘something else’ option,” Haynes said. “People are tired of our current two-party system. They want (a party) that can make a real difference instead of the toxic back-and-forth fighting where nothing ever changes.”
During the party’s recent door-to-door campaign, Lemler said he figured people would be skeptical. He expected doors to be slammed in his face.
But it’s been quite the opposite.
“So many people have opened their doors to us,” Lemler said. “They’re tired of the Democrats, of the Republicans, and they want that third option, even here in Vincennes. They want to see more people on the ballot.”
Haynes said as the Libertarian Party looks to be gaining momentum, he hopes the same for the new, local party. Its youngest member, he said, is just 14 years old, but they have active participants well in their 60s, too.
And already, he said, they have three members looking to run for city council seats next year.
“But don’t expect that, when our candidates run for office, we would be looking to immediately take over,” he said. “Libertarianism is an idea so good that you don’t have to force it.
“We’re not in the business of shutting people down. We’re not in the business of forcing a way of life upon people,” Haynes said. “We just want to leave it socially and economically open for people to do what is best for them.
“That’s why Libertarianism really resonates in America. Thomas Jefferson was a virtuous farmer who took care of his family, was proud of his community, but didn’t inflict himself on anyone else. That was the idea this country was founded upon.”