Eager to impact the way young people think about themselves and their place in society, Dr. Michael Munger chose the classroom and academia as the place in which he would leave his mark.
Munger, Director of the Duke Philosophy, Politics and Economics program, gained experience through working as a staff economist at the Federal Trade Commission before teaching at Dartmouth College and the University of Texas. His enthusiasm for engaging with students, through classroom work and conversations, has allowed him to impact many, including those who disagree with him.
“The biggest reward is a sense of participating in the democratic process, both directly in talking about particular policies, but also in talking about why some human societies flourish and prosper, and others wither and die,” Munger said. “Almost every day I have two or three really great conversations!”
Unhappy with the escalating size of government and actions of both major political parties, Munger decided the Libertarian platform best fit his philosophies concerning personal freedom and economic prosperity.
“I want a government small enough to fit inside the Constitution. My role is to try to remind the citizens of our state that for a society of truly free and responsible citizens, nothing is impossible,” he explained.
In 2008, he decided to run as the Libertarian candidate for North Carolina Governor to protest the state’s restrictive ballot access laws. Despite having to spend tremendous resources and time collecting the required 100,000 signatures, Munger garnered 2.8 percent of the vote–more than the 2 percent required to guarantee the Libertarian candidate a place on the 2012 ballot.
“The Libertarians are on the ballot now, and we’ll be there for a long time,” he said.
By keeping the Libertarian party on the ballot, Munger hopes to loosen ballot access laws while also increasing transparency on disclosure laws that “have a chilling effect on politics.” In addition, he wants to offer citizens an alternative to the two-party system, both whose platforms, he says, have failed because “they equal a gigantic deficit.” As the country faces a choice on dealing with the national debt, Munger wants citizens to care about economic sustainability and address the deficit now, while also devoting themselves to their families and communities through volunteerism rather than government.
Currently undecided about whether he will pursue public office again in 2012, Dr. Munger continues to impact young adults in the classroom while provoking others to reevaluate their ideas on the economy and role of government.
“I’d like to think it [teaching] has made a difference. Even a few voices like mine, in the sorts of places where I have worked are an important counterweight to the usual ‘well, we all know that.’ I have a forum, a stage where I can say, ‘No, we don’t all believe that, and here’s why!’”
Follow up with Dr. Munger by visiting http://www.duke.edu/~munger/