Rex Bell, longtime Libertarian and small business owner, makes it clear that his stance on improving the state of Indiana is anything but politics as usual. This campaign marks his eighth run for public office and his first attempt for the office of governor. When asked what sets him apart, Bell compared his approach to that of the current administration and ran down his stance on limiting government influence on a variety of levels.
“A lot of what (Pence) has done, I feel like I can step in and do a better job. For instance, RFRA was totally uncalled for; how the Lt. Governor was appointed, there were certainly other people that were more competent. He’s been involved in politics the whole time, and everyone who’s running are political insiders, so they get into that frame of mind.
“The reason (Libertarians) run is to raise issues other parties don’t. We want to win, but even if we don’t, we know that running brings up issues that get overlooked, things that are important to a lot of people,” he said. “If someone is opposed to property tax or confiscatory tax, they don’t have a way to vote for it other than having a Libertarian on the ballot.” He sees his presence in this election as an alternative for those looking for another way.
“I know what it takes for a business to succeed, and I think I have some real life experience that will serve me well in that office. I can look at things from a different perspective.”
Bell’s platform focuses include job creation, improved roads, education and lessened prosecution of victimless crime. On roads, his plan is a seemingly simple one: use the funds acquired through road use taxes. One consistent theme throughout the platform is decreased governmental input. For example, Bell remarked that legislation like the Affordable Care Act and federal student loans, while beneficial to thousands of citizens, have created more harm than good. “Government has overstepped its boundaries. They think they’re doing good, but in the long run, it ends up costing us money and freedom.” Traditionally, third-party candidates have received a reputation of having ideas that are too far fetched for a voting public that is largely used to seeing things from a strictly Republican or Democratic point of view. Bell shared that, although his ideals may seem unconventional to some, they are not impossible to enact.
“Government is way too big, intrusive and expensive,” he said. “(Limited government) is a realistic goal. A lot of people assume that because we don’t want the government to do something, we don’t want it done at all. That’s not true.”
On jobs and unemployment:
Bell stated that while he would not put the onus on government to create jobs, he believes the goal should be to create an environment that has more equitable opportunity for entrepreneurship and job creation. He shared that, in terms of the state’s Black unemployment rate, which is nearly double the national average at 7.7 percent, fewer restrictions on the creation of small businesses as well as a more lenient approach to hiring individuals with prior convictions may be the key to improvement.
Early childhood education is something Bell feels should be left in the hands of parents and local neighborhoods. His plan seeks to promote school choice and eliminate both federal- and state-mandated standardized testing. As governor, he plans to work differently with the state superintendent of public instruction as well, a relationship that has been marred in controversy during the Pence administration. “I’d like to see the superintendent’s role become a very limited job,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll be the end of the world if either Glenda Ritz or Jennifer McCormick is elected. I think a lot of the friction has come from the governor having too much control and the superintendent having too much control. If that control is given back to the people, I don’t think it’ll be the issue that it is now.”
On marijuana legalization:
“We’ve been fighting the drug war for 50 years now, and we haven’t accomplished anything. The crime rate is about the same as when we started, and our prison population has increased 700 percent. Government stepped in and took an addiction and made it illegal. As long as you’re not harming someone, we don’t believe you should go to prison for it. We were so concerned about the opiate problem we have now; medical marijuana could solve a lot of that. People can use it in place of an addictive opiate. When they ask will it ever be legalized, it will be. Do we do it now or in 10 years? How many people do we put in jail over it? We have to look at it and see what we are accomplishing, and, I would submit, nothing. We’re making more of a burden on society.”