The 2016 Vice-Presidential Candidacy of Will Coley
by Duston Barto
Hailing from eastern Tennessee, Will Coley is a self-professed redneck. He is also a studious Muslim who has spent over a decade researching the tenets of Islamic law, and he has lectured at the university level. For the last six years he has been an outspoken advocate for Muslim rights to prove that Sharia is wholly compatible with American law. He has taught the foundational elements of the Maqasid al-Shariah to Libertarians who are then able to recognize the direct connections with John Locke’s principles of natural rights.
When Will announced that he was running for Vice President on the Libertarian ticket, I wanted to know what motivated him to run. “Well, I was asked!” exclaimed Will. “Basically, someone in the Libertarian Party wanted to have a Muslim voice in the race. I agreed that it was a good idea.” He lamented that current outreach efforts to communicate Muslim positions were clearly not working fast enough. “See, the problem is that we’ve been having the same conversations on the same subjects for the last 16 years which have gotten us nowhere. I wanted to change that at the top levels with major issues like how our foreign policy works with Muslim majority nations and how Islam is addressed politically. Other issues such as war, immigration, etc. have all taken a different tone when Muslims are connected to the discussion.”
Will shared that he believes one of the biggest problems with politicians is that they have no connection to the problems, no real face to put on the human cost of bad policies. “We put a personal, human connection to these bad immigration policies. I was able to speak from the perspective of someone who has had that conversation with his wife: ‘Honey, the government wants $1500 dollars to let you stay here and I don’t have it; if we can’t find it in 30 days they will send men to our house to come take you away.’ When we shared this story with the masses, they openly wept while applauding.”
As a result of the campaign, Will was able to impact Libertarian candidates across the country. “Now we have candidates in every state that are seeking Muslim communication and integration. Now we have a presidential candidate that rewrote his entire foreign policy based on communication with Muslims. Now there is a whole movement to eradicate our flawed immigration policy.” Will says that he got to prove that the policy he’s been promoting for years is the best one: “You get further with presenting the idea of freedom overseas by creating a good example here than by dropping hellfire bombs on people’s children.”
During the debates, C-Span televised every word that Will spoke, “We got a Muslim candidate on national television to articulate positions from a Muslim position on the issues to humanize the issues. According to the media, I won that debate because every time I spoke, the crowd went insane.”
So why didn’t Will get the nomination for Vice President? Will explains, “One of the main reasons why I did not get the nomination is that, although we had a Muslim candidate, Muslims were not interested in showing support. Additionally, we could not get the funding needed to show strength from the Muslim community. The same Muslim community that raised millions to support Obama, even after he’d dropped bombs and killed thousands of Muslim children, could not help me raise a few thousand dollars to go places and campaign properly.
“I got endorsed by two of my opponents, one of whom dropped out of the race at the national debate to put full support behind me. Non-Muslims were putting their support behind me in very strong ways. ISNA and CAIR both seemed enthusiastic in the beginning, but withdrew support because I had not already won the nomination. We organized a letter writing campaign with hundreds of people writing to ISNA to have me speak in their national convention, and we were denied. Every major Muslim organization I went to shut the door on me because I was running with the Libertarian party. The harsh partisanship and unwillingness to support a Muslim was shocking.” Conversely, Will says, “I am able to make a single phone call to people that I’ve never met before and I can get a position to speak in a national Libertarian convention in less than 24 hours.”
Will expressed his frustration, “I am trying to make outreach efforts on behalf of a community that doesn’t even know I exist. We (Muslims4Liberty) spent 5 years silencing the anti-Muslim speaking voice out of the Libertarian national community and we may as well have never even done it, because the national level Muslim organizations won’t acknowledge our efforts.”
In contrast, Libertarians across the country rallied to support his campaign. Will explains, “We had amazing and overwhelming support; I polled in first place across the board and was the man to beat going into the convention.”
Will says that from the top of the Libertarian party to the bottom delegate level there was remarkable support. Will emphatically stated, “Muslims are shut down by Democrats and Republicans alike. Harry Reid himself told a potential Muslim candidate, ‘You’re Muslim, you can’t win; we won’t let you run.’ Conversely, the national chair of the LP contacted me to encourage me, supported the campaign and never once told me that I couldn’t run or couldn’t win.” Will challenges die-hard party-liners by saying, “When the party that you identify with will accept your vote but not your candidacy, there’s definitely time to re-evaluate your political identity.”
But what about the delegates and voters? “Only about 4 out of 1,000 of the delegates had a problem with me being Muslim,” Will shared. “A few others were concerned because they didn’t think that Americans would vote for a Muslim, especially since the Muslim community as a whole was not supportive of my campaign.”
Will Coley is working with the Libertarian Party to connect local and state level candidates with Muslim communities. No press, no cameras, no campaigning –just people who are genuinely interested in connecting and forming relationships with the Muslims in their area. He has also been teaching Libertarians about Zakat. Libertarians prefer a concept of private welfare and social services; they are interested in the concept of Zakat. As a result of Zakat information to Libertarians, Will says, “This leads to them either being directly involved in financially helping these communities or, via the advice, setting up their own systems modeled after the Muslim social services program.”
Will explains, “Libertarian philosophy fits in line with the sunnah of Medina. The competition in society which Muhammad (SAWS) established was based on competition and contracts rather than by force. Each community had contracts with one another which were built around mutual defense and not initiating aggression against one another. These communities lived on top of one another through voluntary association. That is the purest description of a Libertarian society.”
Will continues, “The Libertarian Party is the only party that will openly say ‘America shouldn’t be blowing up Muslim countries,’ the only party to consistently say that invasion of Iraq was wrong and that Israel should not be funded. They are the only ones who support our right to have a Sharia legal system for our communities, who support our right for polygamy and who support our right to have a sharia wedding contract.”
In addition to these, Will explained that the Libertarians are supportive of using precious metals, barter and trade, along with alternative currencies which fall in line with the sunnah method of commerce as opposed to the current method of currency and exchange which is based on debt and inflation. “The Libertarian party is a safe space for our community. They don’t care about your religion, your race, your accent. In fact, they want 10 Muslims running for office in 10 different offices in 10 different states! This is the plan for 2018 for the Libertarian party.” revealed Will Coley.
Does Will Coley plan to run for office again? “Yes, absolutely!” Will eagerly stated, “Four separate caucuses have approached me to create an exploratory committee to raise $100,000 to run for the presidential nomination in four years. The Freedman PAC – The PAC who raised money for the Rand Paul 2016 campaign, will also be raising money to fund a campaign for Will Coley 2020 instead. Four Libertarian caucuses and a PAC that used to fund Republicans have already gotten behind me.
“I went from ‘that guy’ to somewhat of a legend among Libertarians and all it required me to do was get out of my chair and go do something. My biggest regret, my biggest mistake was not doing this sooner because we reached more people in four months of campaigning than I had in four years of traveling the country, getting on the radio, and getting speaking engagements.”
Will’s final advice for the Muslim community is: “If you want to reach people, get out and run for office. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there for the critique and approval of your neighbor. Do not settle for mediocre. Fate and Allah favor the bold.”
For more of Will Coley’s work, visit Muslims4Liberty on Facebook and at www.Muslims4Liberty.org