Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Michael J. Badnarik (born August 1, 1954) is an American software engineer and political figure. He was the Libertarian Party (a third party) nominee for President of the United States in the 2004 elections, and placed fourth in the race, slightly behind independent candidate Ralph Nader.
Born in Hammond, Indiana, the oldest son of John and Elaine Badnarik, and the grandson of Slovak immigrants, Michael Badnarik attended Indiana University at Bloomington but left one semester away from earning a degree in chemistry. He worked as a computer programmer at the Zion nuclear plant beginning in 1977, and from 1982 to 1985, was a senior software engineer for Commonwealth Edison.
In 1985, he relocated to Montebello, California, to work on the Stealth Bomber simulator project and in 1987 moved to San Luis Obispo, California, as a system administrator and computer trainer at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.
In 1997, unhappy with gun laws enacted by the California legislature, Badnarik moved to Texas and began work as a senior trainer for Evolutionary Technologies International. He currently resides in Austin, Texas.
Badnarik worked as a Red Cross volunteer during the 1970s, and has been a volunteer leader in several Boy Scout troops (Badnarik came just short of becoming an Eagle Scout as a youth). He is a certified scuba and skydiving instructor.
An advocate of individual gun ownership rights, Badnarik first ran for public office in 2000 as a Libertarian, earning 15,221 votes in a race for the Texas legislature; he ran again for the same seat in 2002. Badnarik is a participant in the libertarian Free State Project. In February 2003, Badnarik announced his candidacy for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, and spent the following 18 months travelling the country, teaching a course on the United States Constitution to dozens of libertarian groups. He has written a book, Good To Be King: The Foundation of our Constitutional Freedom (ISBN 1-59411-096-4) on the subject of constitutional law; the book was first self-published by Badnarik, but was released in hardcover in October 2004.
Badnarik was viewed as unlikely to win the Libertarian presidential nomination, facing challenges from talk-show host Gary Nolan and Hollywood producer Aaron Russo. At the 2004 Libertarian National Convention, Badnarik gained substantial support following the candidates' debate (broadcast live on C-SPAN). In the closest presidential nomination race in the Libertarian Party's 32-year history, all three candidates polled within 12 votes of each other on the first ballot (Russo 258, Badnarik 256, Nolan 246). When the second ballot placed the candidates in the same order, Gary Nolan was eliminated and threw his support to Badnarik; Badnarik won the nomination on the third ballot 417 to 348, with None of the Above receiving 6 votes. Richard Campagna of Iowa City, Iowa, was selected as his vice-presidential nominee.
Badnarik's capture of the nomination was widely regarded as a surprise by many within the party; both Nolan and Russo had outpaced Badnarik in both fundraising and poll results prior to the convention. Badnarik commented following his success at the national convention, "If I can win the nomination, there's no reason I can't win this election."
Badnarik and Green Party candidate David Cobb were arrested in Saint Louis, Missouri, on October 8, 2004, for an act of civil disobedience. Badnarik and Cobb were protesting their exclusion from the presidential debates of the 2004 presidential election campaign. They were arrested after crossing a police barricade in an attempt to serve an Order to Show Cause to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
By the end of the election cycle, Badnarik's presidential campaign had raised just over one million dollars (US), obtained ballot access in 48 states plus the District of Columbia (the Libertarian Party failed to obtain ballot access in Oklahoma and New Hampshire, although Badnarik was a qualified write-in candidate in New Hampshire), and placed nationwide political advertisements on CNN and Fox News in addition to local advertising buys in the swing states of Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada, plus Arizona.
No national polls including Badnarik had put him above 1.5%, though one poll put him at 5% in New Mexico and another at 3% at Nevada.  A Rasmussen Group poll on October 26 2004 put Badnarik at 3% in Arizona. 
Badnarik polled just under 400,000 popular votes nationwide, in the November 2, 2004 election, taking 0.34% of the popular vote and placing fourth, just behind Ralph Nader. He has announced his intention to run for a statewide office in Texas in 2006 and has not ruled out another presidential run in 2008. Badnarik is currently touring the country speaking and teaching the class on the U.S. Constitution which he developed during his presidential campaign.
- Abortion: Badnarik personally opposes abortion, but believes that decisions regarding abortion rights should be made at the state and not the federal level. He recognizes that there is significant controversy surrounding when life begins, and argues that therefore the state should not legislate against abortion, since a fetus is not unarguably a human life.
- Broadcast regulation: Badnarik opposes government regulation of "offensive" content. "I find it very offensive when the government tells me what I can and cannot watch. [...] Individual people should decide what is or is not obscene and they will make that decision by watching or not watching reality TV."
- Campaign finance reform: Badnarik supports eliminating public matching funds and contribution limits for political campaigns.
- Civil rights: Badnarik supports all of the Bill of Rights unequivocally, a position which he claims contrasts with most political candidates. Badnarik says government does not grant rights but rather acknowledges them, that they exist independently of government as part of who and what we are, and that, as Jefferson noted in the Declaration of Independence, the only legitimate function of government is to secure them.
- Economic stimulus: Badnarik would stimulate the economy by eliminating the federal income tax in concert with drastically cutting government spending, effectively increasing personal income for most Americans. He also advocates the elimination of the Federal Reserve and the restoration of a commodity-based currency.
- Education: Badnarik supports the elimination of the federal Department of Education, claiming that it is both unconstitutional and ineffective. Badnarik has called for the privatization of education, which he believes would result in both more effective and affordable alternatives due to free-market competition.
- Energy: Badnarik opposes government regulation of the energy industry, instead arguing that the free market is more effective in controlling prices and maintaining stability. "All you need to know about economics is the law of supply and demand. When the supply of something goes down, the price of it will go up. And as the price of gasoline goes up, the consumerist at the pump is going to provide the incentive for finding alternative sources."
- Free trade: Badnarik would withdraw the United States from NAFTA and GATT. "NAFTA and GATT have about as much to do with free trade as the Patriot Act has to do with liberty," he has said. "We need to get the government out of regulating trade, so that American workers can do what they do best and that is to create wealth."
- Gay marriage and Civil Unions: Badnarik believes that marriage, as a contract between two individuals, should not be a concern of government, and supports the right of individuals to associate in whatever ways they see fit.
- Gun control: Badnarik opposes restrictions on gun ownership as restrictions on an individual's right to self-defense.
- Health care: Badnarik opposes government involvement in health care and drug regulation, as he contends that the current drug approval process raises costs for consumers.
- Illegal drugs: Badnarik supports the decriminalization of marijuana and other illegal drugs, citing the restrictions on personal freedoms as a result of the War on Drugs. See also: Drug legalization.
- Immigration: Badnarik supports amnesty for certain illegal immigrants who already reside in the United States. Badnarik believes peaceful immigrants should be allowed to enter the country without restrictions or quotas, subject only to ensure they are not terrorists or criminals. Badnarik does not believe that the existence of a social 'safety net' is a good excuse for excluding immigrants.
- International relations: As president, Badnarik would avoid "entangling alliances" and would initiate "a rapid recall of our troops from around the world. Other countries will be less likely to attack us when we are trading goods that are necessary for their survival." He supports the reduction and eventual elimination of government-funded foreign aid programs.
- Iraq War: Badnarik supports a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, while providing for repair to infrastructure damaged by U.S. action.
- Military draft: Badnarik opposes any reinstatement of a military draft.
Badnarik believes that the U.S. Constitution does not provide for a federal income tax. Thus, in the past he has stated that refusing to file a tax return is justifiable until the IRS provides a legal reason for doing so. For several years, Badnarik did not pay income tax. When he moved to Texas, he did not obtain a driver's license, due to that state's requirement that an applicant provide a Social Security Number and fingerprint, and has been therefore convicted in court several times for driving without a license. Badnarik also believes that ZIP codes constitute federal territories, and because of this he places the ZIP code before the state when he writes mailing addresses. 
On his website, prior to receiving the Libertarian Party's nomination, Badnarik has proposed that in order to make prison guards have safer jobs, violent felons should not be allowed to exercise for their first month, so that their muscles will atrophy. Badnarik also suggested that if he were elected president he would re-establish America as a sovereign nation by removing and bulldozing the United Nations headquarters in New York. Badnarik has also commented that if elected president "I would announce a special one-week session of Congress where all 535 members would be required to sit through a special version of my Constitution class. Once I was convinced that every member of Congress understood my interpretation of their very limited powers, I would insist that they restate their oath of office while being videotaped."
In a July 2004 interview with the San Antonio Current, Badnarik dismissed some of these statements, commenting "It was intended to be hyperbole." They were removed from his website after winning the nomination at the Libertarian Convention.
2004 Ohio recount
After the 2004 election, Badnarik, working with Green Party candidate David Cobb, sought a recount of the Ohio vote. This caused a great deal of controversy within the Libertarian Party, as 2nd place candidate John Kerry had not contested the vote in Ohio, and a recount would cost the state an estimated $1.5 million of tax-payer money. Some party members were concerned that a recount would damage the public perception of the Libertarian party despite the fact that the party was not involved, either on a national or state level. 
Badnarik said that he decided to push for a recount after receiving "about two dozen passionate requests to do so from Libertarians in various states."
- Bradford, R. W. "An Interview with Michael Badnarik," Liberty Magazine . Retrieved October 11, 2004.
- Bradford, R. W. "Dark Horse on the Third Ballot," Liberty Magazine . Retrieved October 11, 2004.
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