Any young woman who has organized conservatives or libertarians on campus can tell you first hand that sexism is a lingering problem. Dealing with young males emboldened by this toxic culture is hard enough, but leadership figures exhibiting blatant misogyny is over the line. And it is what I experienced first hand from perpetual candidate Austin Petersen.
Petersen is running a Republican campaign for the U.S. Senate in Missouri right now, and I was never expecting him to gain much traction. That is what was so shocking about seeing the Harvard Political Review, of all places, essentially endorsing Austin Petersen’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate as the way to “Make Libertarianism Cool Again.”
“Petersen is neither stuffy nor old. In an age of increasing polarization between two parties, he has a serious shot at making libertarianism appealing,” Laura Nicolae wrote in the Harvard Political Review. “His centrist positions could strike a balance between the parties, providing a voice of reason in the senate that motivates Americans to vote for compromises they support, rather than against candidates they oppose.”
Petersen may seem vaguely passable reading prepared talking points from a script, but the facade breaks down from there. Any woman who has been subject to his direct messages over social media know exactly what kind of creep this man is. As evidenced from his deceptive profile on a quasi-prostitution website, Petersen is not above misleading women for the purposes of manipulating them into his bedroom.
During my time working directly with Petersen, he stated frequently that he was devoted to building the Libertarian Party for the long haul. He said he wanted to help Libertarian Party activists build something for the future. He lied to all of our faces, and then proceeded to harass the few women involved in the operation. Boundaries are not something that Petersen is known to respect, and his own words show that clearly.
Petersen also appeared on a podcast with the shameful white supremacist jailbird, Christopher Cantwell, to discuss libertarianism and women. The fact that Petersen would associate with a man this disreputable is bad enough. But somehow over the course of the exchange, Cantwell sounded like the moderate voice of reason comparatively to Petersen, who displayed a sickening amount of disdain and contempt toward the opposite sex.
“You know, Christopher, all the time I get women sending me naked photos, they do it so voluntarily and immediately and it does strike me as a little bit strange,” Petersen said to Cantwell. He would later boast to Cantwell that he “could not even approach one quarter of the pyramid pile of p-ssy that I swim in on a regular basis, and it is because I have class, motherf-cker!”
Is this a man who represents the values of Harvard University? The Harvard Political Review needs to do a better job of vetting the individuals they promote through their publication. The fact that someone like Petersen was practically endorsed by the publication is unacceptable. They should retract this article, inform their readers about Petersen’s true character, and be far more careful in what they choose to publish in the future. Unless they want people to think that their organization supports intolerance.
NOTE: The author wrote this article under a pseudonym, fearing reprisal from Petersen and his army of online trolls for publishing this testimony.