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Tuesday June 7, 2022 — California Primary Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 17

Photo of Joe Dehn

Joe Dehn

Square Dance Caller
1,833 votes (1.6%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Defend the Bill of Rights and the right of all Americans to make their own choices in their personal lives and businesses as long as they do so without violating the same rights of others.
  • Keep the United States out of wars and promote peaceful relations with the people of all nations.
  • Cut the size and cost of the federal government enough to both elimininate the deficit and reduce taxes.



Massachusetts Institute of Technology Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (1975)


Joe Dehn is a resident of Sunnyvale. He was born in New York, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, worked in the computer industry, and lived in Connecticut, Oregon, and Colorado before moving to California in 1993.

He has been a member of the Libertarian Party for 38 years and has run for public office several times previously. He served as a member of the Libertarian National Committee for many years, including two terms as National Secretary. He created the Libertarian Party's web site, the first of any political party, in 1994. He is currently the County Chair for Santa Clara County as well as a member of various committees at the state and national levels.

Outside of politics, his main activities relate to square dancing. He is a caller/instructor for several local clubs, has been named a "Top Ten Caller" several times by the Santa Clara Valley Square Dancers Association, and is active in several committees of CALLERLAB, the International Association of Square Dance Callers. He enjoys dancing all programs of modern square dancing from Basic through C-4, and also volunteers as an officer of several square dance organizations and serves as webmaster for the California Council of Square Danceers.

Who supports this candidate?

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California (4)

The Federal Government plays a part in California water allocation and use through a variety of projects and laws.  What, if any, new programs or projects or reforms to existing programs and projects would you support in an effort to handle water shortages caused by the current and any future drought?
Answer from Joe Dehn:

The federal government should stay out of the business of water allocation and attempting to regulate water use. Water, like all resources, is best managed by market mechanisms.

Should immigration laws be changed?  What changes would you support?  Please explain why.
Answer from Joe Dehn:

The Declaration of Independence famously proclaims that "all men are created equal". It doesn't say "people born in the United States have more rights than other people".

This has always been a nation of immigrants. People born in other parts of the world have contributed their energy and culture to make America what it is today. Almost everyone living here now is either an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants.

Most politicans seem to have forgotten the basic idea of democracy – that it should be the people living in a geographic area who get to decide who governs them, and how. Allowing the government to decide who can live where is turning that idea on its head! And the government has not, in fact, managed to prevent immigration – what it has done, instead, is brand a large number of human beings as "illegal" or "undocumented", without the rights of the rest of the population, against whom discrimination is not only legal but required. No democracy can survive with such a large and growing population of disenfranchised subjects.

As a Libertarian, I respect the rights of all people, no matter where they were born. The right to move about and seek a better life for oneself and one's family is a fundamental right. I look forward to a day when all the present restrictions can be eliminated.

In the meantime, I support the following common-sense reforms:

  • Eliminate all caps on "H-1B" and similar visas. People with the education and skills to be attractive to employers are exactly the sort of people we should be happy to have come here and stay here – it's crazy to keep them out.
  • Allow anyone who has been living in the U.S. for at least five years, and who hasn't committed a serious crime against some actual victim, to become a citizen. The current system, that forces millions of people who are just trying to live peaceful lives to stay in hiding for decades and without the prospect of becoming full members of our political and economic community, is an outrage to the very idea of a democratic society.
  • Privatize "refugee" and "asylum" immigration. Americans are generous people, and many want to help save people suffering from war and other troubles in other countries. But there are hundreds of millions of people all around the world who might be deserving of such help, and it's not the business of the U.S. government to decide which of them should be saved and which not. It's also not right to force taxpayers to pay for bringing such people here and supporting them once they get here. Instead, let's allow private charities, other organizations, and individual Americans to make those choices and to support those choices voluntarily with their own funds.
  • Dismantle the apparatus that has been built up over the years to hunt down and persecute immigrants whose only "crime" is not having the government's permission to live and work here.
As Congress Member what, if any, policies or legislation would you support to preserve democracy for all US residents?
Answer from Joe Dehn:

The United States has a federal system where the basic mechanisms of democracy, including the operation of elections, are primarily the responsibility of the states. The federal government can best support fair and open elections by leaving candidates free to campaign, leaving everybody else free to support the candidates of their choice, and refraining from using its power to support one side or another in debates about public policy. People in government are supposed to be our servants, not our masters, and should play no role in elections beyond counting the votes.

I support repeal of the federal campaign finance laws, including limitations on campaign donations and spending, and the abolition of the Federal Election Commission.

At the same time we should remember that democracy is about more than elections. The people play their part in governing their own communities in other ways, such as by serving on juries. I support legislation to ensure that jurors are fully informed of their right to find defendants innocent when they are being tried under unjust laws.

And even more broadly, the ultimate form of democracy is self-government, where individuals make their own choices, and manage their dealings with each other through voluntary agreements. Elections and other mechanisms based on the concept of "majority rule" should not be viewed as the primary tools for determining the course of society. They are an improvement over the various forms of autocracy that were prevalent in the past, but they are not a proper basis for making most decisions, because government should not be making most decisions regardless of how government officials are chosen.

Much of what are typically characterized as problems with "democracy" are actually the result of attempting to apply one specific form of democracy, majority rule, to far too many aspects of our society. Concerns about campaign finance, lobbying, and specifically the influence of corporations, are a direct result of government meddling in the economy. If government were playing a much more limited role, corporations and other businesses would have little reason to spend their money trying to buy politicians.

Democracy is a value that only makes sense in conjunction with other values, like liberty and prosperity. A tyranny endorsed by majority vote is not, as a practical matter, a useful form of "democracy". An economy that is mismanaged by attempts at central planning and as a result leaves average individuals poorer than they would be in a free economy is also not a useful form of "democracy". There is no right way to elect a king or a dictator or central planner -- because we are better off without a king or dictator or central planner.

The best way that members of Congress can preserve democracy for all US residents is to restrain their own behavior, avoiding the temptation to act as masters of every aspect of life, so that elections can go back to being about who can best serve the community in what should be a very limited capacity.

What legislation, if any, would you support to reduce American greenhouse gas production?  Please explain the reasons for your position.
Answer from Joe Dehn:

I would not support attempts by the federal government to directly manage greenhouse gas production. The job of government is to protect the rights of individuals from violation by others, including criminals and government itself. It is not the job of government to manage the weather, the levels of the ocean, or other aspects of our planetary environment.

The issue of "greenhouse gases" is connected mainly with the ways we produce energy. Energy production involves a very large set of processes that are interwoven with other aspects of our economy and society, and these processes are constantly evolving with developments in technology. This kind of complex and dynamic situation is best managed through market processes that can efficiently make appropriate tradeoffs. It is exactly the kind of system that governments are worst at managing, because government action is almost always focused on narrow interests, shaped by political pressure, based on out-of-date information, and motivated more by a desire on the part of politicians to be seen "doing something" than by what is best in the long run for the most people.

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Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Joe Dehn is running for Congress this year to offer a radically different alternative to the failed policies of the Republicans and Democrats. Under both of those parties the government has grown to monstrous proportions, dominates every aspect of American life, and continues to meddle in the affairs of other nations — none of which are good for us as citizens or taxpayers.

He proposes the exact opposite platform: drastic cuts in the size of the federal government and taxes, ending U.S. military involvement in disputes between and within other countries, and an end to the domestic "wars" as well, including the war on drugs, the war on guns, and the war on immigrants.

These are issues that can only be addressed by Congress.

These are problems that will not be fixed as long as Americans keep electing Democrats and Republicans to Congress.

The Libertarian Party is the answer.

A vote for Joe Dehn for Congress is a vote for Libertarian positions on the issues, including:

  • Cutting and repealing federal taxes – and rejecting calls for any new taxes (e.g., national sales tax, VAT, or wealth tax).
  • Getting the federal government completely out of many parts of our economy where it should never have gotten involved, and eliminating the corresponding agencies (Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, etc.).

  • Cutting back the military establishment to only what is needed to defend people living here in America – and ending the U.S. role as "policeman of the world".

  • Protecting the basic rights of all Americans to live their lives as they choose, including making their own choices about what goes into their own bodies – the federal government should not be in the business of either prohibiting or forcing individuals with respect to taking drugs or medications.

  • Putting an end to deficit spending and the Federal Reserve's manipulation of the money supply that are giving us the worst inflation in decades.

The Libertarian Party represents a consistent approach to government and politics, defined for almost 50 years by an unchanging Statement of Principles and elaborated in its national Platform.

If you share our goal of an America and a world set free, free from the harm that is being done to our liberty, our lives, and our economy by government at all levels – or even if you just want more freedom in one area or another than the Republicans and Democrats are willing to allow you – there is only one good choice on Election Day. Vote Libertarian!


Position Papers



Protecting the people from being over-taxed is one of the primary jobs of a Representative in Congress.

High levels of taxation are a burden on individual citizens, a drag on our economy as a whole, and a continuing source of injustice. Discontent about taxes was one of the reasons our country was founded, and it is one of the primary jobs of our representatives in Congress to protect the people from being over-taxed.

Ideally, our goal should be to replace as many tax-supported functions as possible with ones based on market solutions and voluntary actions, which would allow for dramatic cuts or even the elimination of many taxes in effect today. Meanwhile:

  • I will not vote for any tax increases, tax rate increases, or "surcharges". Taxes are already too high. That's true for personal income taxes, corporate income taxes, "payroll" taxes, excise taxes, and tariffs.
  • I will support any proposal to reduce income tax rates across the board, or to "flatten" them by reducing the higher rates, as long as it doesn't increase taxes for any other group.
  • I will not vote for any new taxes – including any National Sales Tax or Value Added Tax (VAT).

Although new taxes are sometimes offered with the promise that they will replace existing taxes, things are extremely unlikely to work out that way. If any new tax is instituted, it will most likely at best be coupled with a reduction in some other tax which will then start creeping up again – and in the long run we'll end up with higher taxes overall than before.

Although some argue that we should increase rates for some people in the name of "fairness", I do not believe that shifting the burden from one class or special interest group to another is the answer. Current levels of taxation are already unfair to average working people because they would be better off being able to spend the money that they earn themselves. And the wealthy are already paying far more than their share of total taxes. The so-called "1%" are currently paying more in federal income taxes than all of the bottom 90% combined!

Taxation is inherently unjust, because it takes people's money without their consent. There is no way to make the income tax "fair" by taking more of anybody's income. The only way to make income taxes "less unfair" is to reduce them for everybody, to the point where they are not a significant burden on anybody.

Other taxes should also be reduced or, better yet, eliminated. The tariffs imposed by the Trump administration but now being continued by the Biden administrations are a kind of tax that hurts American consumers – and in the long run also American businesses as other countries respond with similar actions. Congress should act to roll back these tariffs, and to remove the president's ability to impose them unilaterally.

How can we avoid increasing taxes, given current spending levels, without continuing to add to the national debt?

We can't! The correct solution is to lower the level of spending – both to eliminate the deficit and so that taxes can also be reduced.

Health Care


The health care industry has big problems, but the solution is less government involvement, not more.

Everyone can see we have a problem with health care. In some ways, America's health care industry is the envy of the world, leading in technology and with some of the best facilities anywhere. At the same time, costs are soaring, making even basic services unaffordable to some and a significant burden on others -- and on our country as a whole. As Warren Buffett has often commented, it's become like a "tapeworm" on our economy.

The advances are coming from the work of our biotechnology and other high-tech companies (many of them right here in Silicon Valley), the researchers at our universities, and of course the many dedicated and skilled health care practitioners. But the benefit of these advances is being held back by the way health care services are managed, delivered, and paid for.

Some say this is a failure of the free market, and call for more government involvement. But we do not currently have a free market in health care. This is one of the most heavily regulated industries in our entire economy! Almost everybody in the United States has their health care paid for either directly through a government program or through insurance programs that have their current form because of regulation, subsidies, and tax policies. At the same time, government policies limit the supply of medical professionals, and drive up the cost of equipment and drugs. And individuals are powerless to control any of this, because they don't even understand what they are paying. Yes, it's a complicated mess that needs to swept away. But "single payer" or "Medicare for All" isn't the answer -- and in the long run would make things even worse.

The right answer is to get the government out of the way so that the basic economic principles that have led to lower costs in almost every other industry are allowed to function.


  • De-couple health insurance from employment by eliminating the special tax treatment of health insurance, while at the same time increasing the standard deduction by a similar amount. This will enable consumer choice, make the market for insurance more competitive, and eliminate the need to switch providers when switching jobs. Employers will be happier too, not having to worry about any of this!
  • Increase supply of services by cutting back limits imposed or enabled by government policy. More doctors, more nurses, allowing medical services to be offered by new classes of providers enabled by new technology, eliminating "certificates of need" that limit competition among hospitals -- these and other steps will create a competitive environment that will drive down costs.
  • Introduce real competition in the pharmaceutical industry too, by repealing laws that limit the ability of patients to purchase drugs across state lines and from other countries.
  • Clearly separate the "welfare" aspect of government health policy from the rest. There will always be people who need help paying for health care, just as there are people who need help paying for food. But decreasing costs for everybody through competition will help these people too, and make it more practical for those who want to provide such help through private charity to do so.
  • Whatever remains of government programs to pay for health services for specific segments of the population -- the poor, the elderly, veterans, etc. -- those should not be confused with, and should not be allowed to distort, the market for the entirely separate service of "insurance". Health insurance should be left to the private sector and deregulated so that individuals will be better able to select the kind of coverage that fits their needs, and not forced to pay for services that they don't want.

War on Drugs


It's long past time to end the "War on Drugs", completely.

The so-called "War on Drugs" is in reality a war on people. It's certainly true that people can use drugs in ways that are dangerous and make their own lives worse. However, drug prohibition is more dangerous than drugs themselves and comes with a staggering cost in both money and human lives. The War on Drugs is a continuing threat to individual liberty, to domestic order, and to peace in the world. Furthermore, it has provided a rationale by which the power of the state has been expanded to greatly restrict our right to privacy and to be secure in our homes.

There has been a lot of political activity recently relating to "legalization" or "decriminalization" of marijuana. The sentiments behind this are mostly good, and some of the changes have helped some people. But there are three big problems with this: (1) the "war" against many other drugs is still going full steam, (2) these changes haven't led to a free market, even for marijuana, and (3) the federal government continues to interfere with marijuana, against the explicit wishes of voters in the various states.

There are ways to help people who get into trouble using drugs. But these services can best be provided through private action, by people who care about the individuals involved and by medical professionals. The War on Drugs doesn't help bring this kind of positive change, and in many cases it makes it harder for the victims to find their way to getting help.

What we should be demanding from Congress is an end to this counter-productive and expensive "war".

  • End the classification of marijuana and other drugs that makes them subject to federal regulation.
  • Abolish the Drug Enforcement Agency and the components of all other agencies that have as their primary function the hunting down of drug users, sellers, and producers.
  • Free from federal prisons anyone convicted of non-violent drug-related "crimes".

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