Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Libertarian Party Aspiring ... to be spoilers?

The Austin American Statesman has an article on the Texas Libertarian Party titled Libertarians want to be kingmakers in legislative races. The article's author spoke with Pat Dixon, Texas LP party chair and Lago Vista city council member, and notes:
The Libertarian Party of Texas is not ready to be king, but it expects to be kingmakers -- or spoilers, depending upon your point of view -- in the state's most competitive races. ... In 2004, Libertarians were credited with helping Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, beat Republican incumbent Jack Stick. The Libertarian candidate received 2,390 votes; the margin of victory was only 569 votes in the north Travis County district.
Credited ... or blamed? We are now saddled in north Travis County with a liberal Democrat - Mark Strama - who gets an "F" in fiscal responsibility from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. He votes in no way, shape or form in concert with libertarian mindset, but is an Obama-supporting, liberal-voting, tax-and-spend pandering professional politician, slicker than a greased eel. While I don't blame Libertarians for the HD-50 Strama situation, it is a calamity nevertheless. Like a tapeworm, a professional politician like that is hard to extract once embedded in the system.

So it is with great concern that I read:

For 2008, Libertarians are targeting the Central Texas races to replace retiring Reps. Mike Krusee in Williamson County and Robby Cook, whose district includes Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Fayette and Lee counties and part of Brazos County.
So is this "target" as in "target to win" or "target 4% of the vote to be spoilers" so the left-liberal politically-correct-Educrat Democrat Moldanaro can beat out a pro-liberty fiscal conservative Bryan Daniel in the HD-52 race? We have a potentially great State Rep there (Daniel) who will listen to libertarian-type voters concerns, and a potentially awful candidate who will be the catspaw of the public sector unions and trial lawyers.
Pat Dixon, the party's state chairman and a Lago Vista City Council member. "We can swing votes. We're going to be a factor in more races."
Wow! A 'factor'! As in maybe get in high single digits instead of low single digits, maybe even give the Presidential vote in a state or two to Obama instead of McCain by peeling off some conservatives. It's a more honest assessment of their real impact instead of the usual third-party "This time will be different" run-up to a 1% vote total. Yet aspiring to be the swing vote spoiler really shows how ineffective the LP is. They even underscore the LP's fundamental problem by touting Ron Paul: the prime example of how influential their ideas can be comes from citing the example of a Republican Presidential campaign! That says much - Ron Paul got more visibility and a larger platform for his ideas as a Republican presidential candidate than as a Libertarian.

It would be good if the Libertarians/libertarians attempted to aspire to real political effectiveness, because this country needs more freedom and less Government, and their influence could be salutory. But that would require taking off the big "L", abandoning a failed third party approach, and becoming libertarians working in the one major political party where their ideas are most at home: the Republican Party. Consider some of the most effective political activist organizations - the litigious ACLU, the social conservative Christian Coalition, the gay rights Human Rights Campaign. I would add another group from Texas: The Texas Alliance for Life. TAL has achieved multiple pro-life victories as a force that influences the two party system, working mostly with Republicans but also with prolife Democrats to achieve their goals. These groups successfully worked the two party system, rather than try to work outside it.

A "Texas Liberty Alliance" that influenced primaries and lobbied for liberty would be far more effective than aspiring to spoiling for victory for the greater-of-two-evils.


Randy A. Samuelson said...

I completely agree with your assesment. The Libertarians have helped to make great strides for Democrat candidates. The margin of defeat for many Republicans is the 1/2 of the number of votes the Libertarian receives.

What does this mean? Republicans should listen to their base of conservatives more often. In an age when political parties are less important than the political philosophy of the candidates, this makes a huge impact.

I also completely agree with the libertarian-minded conservatives getting involved to push our party in a more fiscally-responsible direction.

The pro-life movement has done a fantastic job of vetting candidates and moving public policy in their direction over the past 20 years. It is time for Republicans to do the same on fiscal issues and limited government issues, while maintaining our traditional family values stances and platform.

In many recenct cases, we have seen Democrats running in the Republican Priamry on a pro-life stance and nothing more. When they get in office, they expand government hand-outs, create new bureaucracies, and raise taxes. These people are the RINO's, but they fool many of the social conservatives into thinking they are Republicans because they are pro-life.

This is the main goal of many of the Republicans that supported Ron Paul...getting involved in the Republican Party to incorporate a strong voice for limited government, low taxes, a strong national defense, and free-market economic policies.

The problem with incorporating libertarians into our party infrastructure is that many in the party establishment want to shut out their voices because they are threatened by losing power. The Ron Paul supporters have a goal pushing their agenda within the Party, but they had to do it this year by voting themselves in power at precinct conventions, senatorial conventions, and state conventions.

I am going to continue to advocate to incorporate fiscal responsibility and limited government stances, while preserving our traditional family values, within the Republican Party for as long as I can. There are many others just like me, but there will be some contention among the Party establishment for letting these folks get more involved.

MJSamuelson said...

Travis County LP chairman Wes Benedict was quoted in the Austin Chronicle as saying that his goal was to eliminate the Republican Party (and he said nothing about the Democrat Party).

Given what LP turnout does to Travis County R candidates, this is definitely something to be concerned about. We need to include small-"l" libertarians and make sure the party is reaching out to conservatives (unlike what it has often done in this county for years, and snub them).

Bruce1776 said...

I read this with great interest. I'm a Libertarian Party county chair in California. Unlike most Libertarians, I think we should play ball (hard ball) with the major parties, most likely the Republicans. But the times that I've spoken with them, they are unwilling to compromise. When I ran for U.S. Representative, I offered to endorse the Republican and campaign for her in return for her signature on a "Contract With the XXth District" which we would publicize. It was a moderate contract, which entailed her being resolute where we agreed, on taxes, RTKBA, and to drag her feet or abstain where we disagreed, like the drug war and foreign interventionism. She wouldn't sign.

Sometimes the majority has to yield to the minority because the minority is morally right. However, most conservatives and Republicans are so caught up in false-righteousness that they are unwilling to reconsider their wrongful positions. When conservatives are willing to consider dumping the drug war because it is a case of government overreach and intervention in the market place and morally wrong infringement upon individual rights, then maybe we can do business. They don't have to actually dump it all at once, just phase it out (think of the violent crime reductions that would result). But that conservative self-righteous, false-righteousness has got to go if we want to do business. Otherwise, I have no sympathy.