Who is Joe Bishop-Henchman? Libertarian leader silent as party trolled for opposing vaccine passports
Have you ever heard of the name Joe Bishop-Henchman? He's not as well known as his counterparts – Jamie Harrison or Ronna McDaniel – in fact, he's largely avoided public scrutiny altogether. Yet, he holds a key position in America's politics. Henchman is the chair of the Libertarian Party, an alternative party that gained 1.2% of the vote in the 2020 Presidential Election. He's quite vocal on social media but has surprisingly remained silent as a large controversy erupts, thanks to his party.
Nearly a day ago, the party's Kentucky wing tweeted, "Are the vaccine passports going to be yellow, shaped like a star, and sewn on our clothes?" The shocking comparison has outraged social media, with many including Seth Rogen slamming the tweet. The party has been opposed to vaccine passports, but the tweet seems to have taken that opposition too far. Most leaders would see this as a major PR crisis, and now Henchman has as well.
Are the vaccine passports going to be yellow, shaped like a star, and sewn on our clothes?— Libertarian Party of Kentucky (@lpky) March 29, 2021
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Initially, Henchman remained silent on the matter. He's made nearly 10 tweets since the party's tweet was made, but none of them have addressed the controversial tweet. As someone who keeps a low profile on the national political stage, we thought it was worth digging into Henchman. Who is the chair of America's third-most-popular party? That's what we try to answer.
Who is Joe Bishop-Henchman?
Henchman's Twitter profile describes him as a husband, VP, chairman, and lawyer. He certainly wears many hats, each with its own unique story. Henchman graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003 with a BA in political science. He then went on to complete his law degree from George Washington University. Before getting into law, Henchman was already exploring his interest in politics. He worked as a Press & Policy Aide on Peter Ueberroth's 2003 campaign for Governor. He also interned at the Office of the D.C. Attorney General.
Maybe he was always destined for politics, but he decided to take a longer route there. After completing his law degree, Henchman spent over a decade at the Tax Foundation. Starting out as a law clerk, he was promoted to counsel, director, and finally Executive Vice President. He then left the foundation for a brief stint at McDermott Will & Emery, before taking on his current role as VP at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
Unlike the chairs of the DNC and RNC, Henchman acts as both Chair for the Libertarian Party and has a full-time career outside. It's not clear when he returned to politics, but it is probably sometime around 2007. In 2008, he ran for DC's Attorney General. the bid failed, but his political aspirations didn't die there. Henchman grew from being a small-time player in DC to getting on the national stage. In 2018, he served as an at-large member of the Libertarian National Committee (LNC). That opened doors for him, eventually leading to his current role. Henchman was elected in 2020 as chair of the party.
Even before that role, Henchman has been quite outspoken on political matters. His 13-page CV lists a long list of appearances on TV and radio, articles, blogs, and reports. Henchman hasn't been hiding, he's been quite vocal and public about his beliefs. He's also quite active on social media, constantly tweeting out the party's stance on various issues.
Henchman has also been involved in another controversy. In November, Henchman posted a photo of Marshall Burt, a Libertarian who had just been elected to Congress from Wyoming. The image was quickly removed after it was found showing Burt's three percenters tattoo. At the time, Henchmen merely deleted the image and offered no explanation. Henchman did not reply to MEAWW's request for a comment but did issue a post on Facebook hours later.
In the post, he said, "it is gross, factually inaccurate, and frankly unimaginative and amateurish PR to use the Holocaust as a debating point on any issue other than the Holocaust. The Libertarian Party is "trending" on Twitter yesterday but only because thousands of accounts are dunking on us as wrong and terrible and repulsive, greatly outweighing the Internet trolls who prize edgy tweets over results."
'Exhibit A as to why Libertarians aren’t taken seriously'
While Henchman has remained silent, social media hasn't. Many people have taken to Twitter to slam the party for the horrific tweet. Comedian John Fugelsang said, "Libertarians is the Latin term for "Embarrassed Republicans." The Republican comparison continued, with another tweeting, "I don’t see the difference between libertarians and conservatives to be honest."
Libertarians is the Latin term for "Embarrassed Republicans."— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) March 30, 2021
I don’t see the difference between libertarians and conservatives to be honest.— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) March 30, 2021
Another said, "Exhibit A as to why Libertarians aren’t taken seriously." Seth Rogen didn't mince his words, tweeting, "F*** right off with this shit." Others though were less subtle in their trolling. One user said, "heyyyyyyy shout-out to the kentucky libertarians for the worst tweet I've seen in awhile...love that subtle antisemetism". Another person said, "There’s no better example of why Libertarians are absolute shit than this tweet."
Exhibit A as to why Libertarians aren’t taken seriously. https://t.co/ySbA913ESC— Chris Hahn (@ChristopherHahn) March 30, 2021
Fuck right off with this shit.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) March 30, 2021
heyyyyyyy shout-out to the kentucky libertarians for the worst tweet I've seen in awhile...love that subtle antisemetism pic.twitter.com/xjqnv4zf5G— sarah (@sarah_micheleg) March 30, 2021
There’s no better example of why Libertarians are absolute shit than this tweet. https://t.co/YW9ITVKxqC— Tim Hannan (@TimHannan) March 30, 2021
Henchman's post also detailed solutions to ensure that such a controversy would not happen again. The first includes hiring a communications director for the LNC, as well as for all the party affiliates. He said that this would allow the party to "better coordinate - on a voluntary basis - effective messaging that proactively promotes the Libertarian Party and our platform and our candidates."
Vaccine passports have become a critical flashpoint in American politics over the last few days. Jen Psaki announced that the Biden administration was working with private companies to develop passports. The announcement has not gone down well with Republicans, who have strongly opposed the idea. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he would issue a ban on the passports, and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene angrily tweeted and ranted against them. The Libertarian Party to has opposed the idea, with key leaders tweeting against the passports.