Last week, the chairman of Florida's Libertarian Party, Adrian Wyllie,resigned from his post, citing his outrage that the party's executive committee refused to tell Augustus Invictus, the only Libertarian candidate running for Marco Rubio's Florida US Senate seat, that he couldn't be a Libertarian anymore.
There are a few reasons why Wyllie finds Invictus such a distasteful character. "Mr. Invictus has repeatedly vowed that it is his destiny to start a second civil war in America," Wyllie wrote in a Facebook post announcing his resignation. He continued, "He has described himself as an American Fascist... He has expressed support for a eugenics program... Many of his supporters are known members of Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups."
While the Florida Libertarian Party didn't out-and-out eject Invictus from its ranks, it did issue a press release Monday condemning the Senate candidate's views. "The LPF has not endorsed Augustus Invictus and has not provided him with any support," the party's new chair said in the statement. But, the party added, "Under the law, we cannot prevent him from running as a Libertarian and he is not required to enter our certification process."
The impetus for all this was apparently a post on Invictus' Senate campaign website titled "A Declaration of the Failings of the US Government." In it, the candidate does display some pretty racist views, like accusing the federal government of abandoning "its eugenics programs & elitist mindset in favor of a decadent ideology that rejects the beauty of strength and demands the exponential growth of the weakest, the least intelligent, and the most diseased."
Still, weird name and racist views aside, Invictus might have gone unnoticed by the public at large if it weren't for Wyllie's assertion that, "Mr. Invictus was ejected from Ordo Templi Orientis for brutally and sadistically dismembering a goat in a ritualistic sacrifice." Naturally, this got people's attention, piquing the interest of the national news media.
Speaking to me over the phone, Invictus dismisses the bulk of Wyllie's Facebook statement as slander, and insists that, contrary to the state party's assertions, he's a hard-line Libertarian. And while Invictus is certainly a weirdo and maybe an all-out Fascist, he also possesses the sort of beguiling charm that can make someone temporarily think that he is normal, and perhaps just misunderstood.
In the numerous videos on his official campaign site, the 32-year-old employs a speaking style that's halfway between JFK and Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained. Over the phone, however, he talks like pretty much any other dude from Florida. "When I'm out here with all you normal people, I have to tone it down," he explained. "My accent really comes out when I'm speaking in public or when I'm passionate about something."
It goes without saying that Augustus Invictus is a pretty polarizing guy—a representative of the Orange County branch of the Florida Libertarian party hung up on me as soon as I mentioned his name—and with good reason. In 2013, Invictus penned a memo renouncing his US citizenship. The letter, like the most recent controversy, might have gone unnoticed—people renounce their citizenship all the time, probably—except that Invictus ended the letter by calling for a second Civil War:
I have prophesied for years that I was born for a Great War; that if I did not witness the coming of the Second American Civil War I would begin it myself. Mark well: That day is fast coming upon you. On the New Moon of May, I shall disappear into the Wilderness. I will return bearing Revolution, or I will not return at all.
Invictus insists that the letter was supposed to be tongue-in cheek, but said that it nevertheless drew the attention of the FBI back in 2013. In our interview, he claimed that the agency, as well as the US Marshals, have been giving him flack ever since. "I'm not a paranoid schizophrenic," he said. "These things are really happening."
As for the goat sacrifice thing, Invictus explained that his political views have their roots in paganism, which he says he has practiced since he was a teenager. "Ninety-nine percent of the things that seem weird in my life can be answered with my religion," he told me. "Paganism," he added, "is mostly about nature-worship. It's about being in harmony with your environment and bringing the world of spirit and world of man together. It's about balance."
Until he returned from the vision quest alluded to in the 2013 letter, Invictus, who also mentioned that he's into black metal, was a member of the pagan organization Ordo Templi Orientis. "I walked out to the Mojave desert from Orlando in the spring of 2013," he said. "I didn't expect to survive. When I got back to the east, I sacrificed a goat in thanksgiving to the god of the wilderness for allowing me to survive. So, yeah."
So yes, technically Ordo Templi Orientis did kick him out for sacrificing a live goat, he admitted. But he claims it had more to do with a letter vowing to bring about a second Civil War than with any goats, dead or living. "They thought [my letter] was opening them to persecution by the FBI," he said. "That led to some real disagreements that lasted several months. Once that goat sacrifice happened, that was the last straw."
For all the outward outrageousness, Invictus's platform consists of fairly boilerplate Libertarian policy ideas—ending the War on Dugs, pursuing a more isolationist foreign policy, shrinking the hell out of the government—although the way he phrases these proposals, and the often-racist logic he ascribes to them, are obviously inflammatory. A badge on his website indicates it was paid for through the barter system, and directs those wishing to donate to his campaign to do so via Bitcoin. Perhaps optimistically, he's already changed his Twitter handle to @senatorinvictus.
[UPDATE: The Hidden Spring Oasis branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis has gotten back to us with comment about Augustus Invictus. They write, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. I can only confirm that effective November 9, 2013, Augustus Sol Invicitus is no longer a member of Ordo Templi Orientis. Love is the law, love under will."]
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