|Senator from Rhode Island|
2012 – present
|Preceded by||Sheldon Whitehouse (2007-2012)|
|Born|| Percy Hunter|
16 May 1971
Providence, Rhode Island
|Political party||Libertarian Party|
|Spouse(s)||Tiffany Hunter (nee Robertson)|
|Residence||Silver Lake, Providence|
|Alma mater||Brown University (law)|
Percy Hunter (born 16 May 1971) is an American politician and the current junior United States Senator from Rhode Island. Formerly, Hunter served as the U.S. Representative for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district from 2002 to 2008. He is the only member of the Libertarian Party in Senate.
The son of prominent African American civil rights activist, Percy R. Hunter, he was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and has lived there ever since. Hunter obtained his law degree from Brown University and started working there as a lawyer until 1997, when he decided to go into politics. Having decided earlier on in his life that neither of the two large political parties in the country adequately represented his views, he registered with the Libertarian Party. When he stopped actively working as a lawyer, he accepted an offer to work as the chairman of the Party's state chapter in Rhode Island.
In 2001, he announced his intention to enter into national politics and was, against the odds, elected as the Representative for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district in the House in 2002. He remained at that post for three consecutive terms until he did not run for the 2008 election. During his break from Congress, Hunter returned to the internal structures of the Libertarian Party and served on the Libertarian National Committee until in 2012, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, representing Rhode Island.
Vocal on liberties, Hunter describes himself as an "individualistic man of the ideology", referring to what he mockingly calls "Hunterism". Hunter is a classical liberal, believing in a sovereign individual above the state and in a free and open market. He has been widely criticized by members of the Republican Party as well as members within his own party as "a threat to order in society".
Hunter was born and raised in Silver Lake, Providence. His parents, Percy Robert Hunter and Abigail Hunter (nee Marks) provided him with a relatively comfortable middle class lifestyle. His father had been a civil rights lawyer and activist for most of his career while his mother was a housewife. Hunter claims his parents raised him with the "traditional American values of respect, tolerance and patriotism."
He attended public school and showed intellectual and political potential early on in his development. As a child, besides debating and public speaking, Hunter was very interested in singing. In the fourth grade, Hunter was a senior member of his school's choir and remained actively involved with choirs until he finished senior high school. Inspired by his father, Hunter decided that he wanted a career in law, and applied to study at the University of Rhode Island; however, to his and his parents' surprise, Brown University also accepted his application, and he went there instead.
Whilst studying at Brown University, Hunter also started doing some solo singing, mainly in support of the charities the societies he belonged to took part in. Before long, Hunter also won several singing contests that the University hosted. In addition to this, he graduated with distinction with his law degree and decided to take a break year before starting to work. During this break, Hunter came to terms with himself politically, and decided to become a registered member of the Libertarian Party.
Although singing was a major part of his life, he never had an interest in making a career out of it, saying it was merely a hobby. Since becoming involved in politics, Hunter has sung some songs with relevant lyrics at his own campaign events.
House of Representatives
2016 presidential bid
Hunter has shown significant interest in running for President of the United States in the 2016 presidential elections, although this is yet unconfirmed. Hunter is noted to have said in an interview that "if I were president; if I were to decide to run for president in 2016, I would be done with this whole, as I call it, 'national security excuse'." Many analysts think that Hunter may have been alluding to the fact that he is indeed going to run during that statement.
To be clarified
Hunter had always remained a firm proponent of the pro-choice movement in the United States. Most notably, he was at a NARAL event during their 2003 campaign to make abortion a key issue for the upcoming presidential elections in 2004. There, Hunter took to the podium in front of a crowd and clearly stated his position on the matter: "None of us want abortion. None of us encourage abortion. In fact, I don't even consider this an issue remotely related to 'abortion'. Pro-choice has a much wider meaning. It simply means that no matter what someone else is doing - immoral in our opinions or not - it's not our business and, of course, their own choice."
Speaking at a reelection campaign event in 2004, Hunter reaffirmed his pro-equality position in terms of homosexuality. Before and after the event, Hunter repeatedly stated that even though he grew up in a conservative household and will always, personally, view a marriage or a relationship between one man and one woman as normal and homosexual relationships as abnormal, he will never encourage or support any legislation or acts to deny homosexuals their freedom to marry whoever or "whatever" they wish. LGBT organizations have criticized Hunter for stating that homosexuality is 'abnormal', citing that homosexuality had been around for a millennia. Hunter has no public position on transgender or transsexual issues.
Hunter has been vocal on the legalization and regulation of prostitution in America. He has stated that the government, as with most other things, have no authority to decide whether or not women or men may or may not engage in sexual intercourse for monetary gain. He is reported to have said at a campaign event that "our bodies, second only to our minds, are our most prized and personal possession - nobody, not a majority nor the government can decide what we do with ourselves". However, Hunter has also stated that should prostitution be legalized, it should be regulated to ensure that prostitutes are not exploited by their pimps. He sees the issue as outside of a normal labor-related matter.
Censorship has always been a key point in all Hunter and his fellow libertarians' campaign platforms. In one of his speeches, Hunter quoted the Libertarian platform directly to outline his position: "We defend the rights of individuals to unrestricted freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right of individuals to dissent from government itself." With that, Hunter has stated that he apposes basically all forms of censorship; including most forms of classified government documents and information. In connection with this, Hunter said at one rally: "It would be ignorant of you to trust me. Yes - I mean it. Do not trust politicians. At some or other point, we're all out to get you. That is why I don't think the government, which is by far and large the most unified and organized group of politicians, should have the monopoly over information which controls your - the American people's lives. In that regard, I trust soldiers more. But seriously, though, don't trust me. Keep me accountable."
As with the Libertarian Party platform, Hunter's position on pornography and "obscenity" is that any legislation prohibiting or over-regulating it is an abridgment of freedom of expression and speech. In connection with it allegedly demeaning or degrading women, Hunter has stated that "whether or not you're a man or a woman; you shouldn't take offense on behalf of other people"; referring back to that every individual is sovereign and those who choose to partake in such "obscenities" do so on their own accord.
While Hunter has repeatedly stated that he is in favor of citizens' right to bear arms, he questions the need for civilians to be armed with assault rifles. Personally owning a hunting rifle and two sidearms, Hunter said at an interview that the American government has no right to tell the people whether or not they may or may not use a firearm to defend themselves with or hunt with as a form of recreation. He did however also mention that automatic weapons were purposefully created for killing and that owning such a weapon privately "leaves room for doubt on the part of the owner's intentions".
- Capital punishment: anti-death
- Freedom of speech: pro-freedom
Military and foreign affairs issues
- Free trade: pro-free trade
- Intervention: only in severe abuses of human rights
- Foreign aid: anti-foreign aid
- Israel: pro-Israel (not anti-Iran)
- Protection: pro-protection by private groups (and not unaccountable government)
- Intervention: anti-government intervention
- Education: pro-privatization
- United States House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct
- United States House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
- United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice
- United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women's Issues (chairman)
- United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law
- United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
- The National Security Excuse (2005) - bestseller
- Government Authority: How we ended up giving it all away (2009)
- The Moral Question of Liberty (2012)