by Joshua Jongema – Secretary
Dr. James Lewis Hudler, born in 1952 in Michigan, is a man that has had a relationship with politics his entire life. A founder of the Michigan and national libertarian parties in 1971, he is an icon of our movement and has deep wisdom from the past, and for the future of the liberty movement.
While attending the University of Michigan, he ran for office with a student party called Screw Student Government Council (SSGC). Their hijinks were explosive and notorious, and the Michigan Daily Digital Archives holds records of some of their most memorable moments from October 6, 1973, among others. According to Hudler, “We were the bad kids on campus.”
Moving through many circles, Hudler gained more than the attention of the Daily. “I was on a list,” he revealed, and, “they called me a subversive. It was called the Red Squad.” The covert dragnet Red Squad program run by the Michigan State Police after taking it over from the Detroit Police Department, was spying on and targeting social groups and subsequently was exposed by civil liberty activism itself, and ended in 1974. Hudler was later given his Red Squad files and said, “it was all blacked out with marker. You couldn’t read it.”
In rising above the conflict brought on him by the State, Hudler went on to lead a productive career as a statesman in various offices and positions, including a seat on the Libertarian National Committee with Austrian Economist Murray Rothbard. Hudler championed gay rights with a group which eventually dissolved in 2002 called the Libertarians for Gay and Lesbian Concerns (LGLC), and was succeeded by another called Outright Libertarians. He most notably stood toe-to-toe with the Secretary of State’s prejudice in 1976 and won the case, getting the LP on the general election ballot.
Dr. Hudler recalls a time decades ago when the Michigan LP went for Major Party Status, while not having enough membership, and just how disastrous that effort became. He remarked, “We’re too small to win big elections. You’ve got to do stuff locally.” He remembered the words of Tip O’Neill who said, “All politics is local.” In reflection on these words, it is clear that as we grow the party, we must do it from the ground up. When we are ready for Major Party Status again, it will be a movement that keeps rolling and growing, bringing greater liberty to Michiganders.