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The Little Party That Saved America (with a little help from our friends)

by George Phillies

George PhilliesHaving gone on at considerable length about the Republican Party and its War on America, we now reach the momentary denouement: The Republicans have lost.  

They lost the House.   They lost the Senate. With the Senate, they lost the ability to install far-right judges.   With Congress, they lost the ability to field ultra-right legislation.   In the next two years, there will be no more Patriot Acts.   There will be no more Military Commission Acts.   There will be no more Real ID acts.

And while the Democratic Party deserves much of the credit, in the end it is the Libertarian Party that plausibly has saved the America judiciary, at least for the moment:

I turn to three Senate elections:

Montana:
 
Tester (D)         198,302 49%
Burns(R)           195,455 48%
Jones (L)             10,324     3%

The Libertarian Party was far more than the difference between the two votes, with a candidate likely to have drawn far more Republican than Democratic Party voters.   The candidate, Mr. Jones, who gained some publicity a few years ago through contracting argyrosis and turning himself blue, has now done one better: He turned his state blue.

Then there is Missouri:
 
McCaskill 1,047,049
Talent           1,001,238
Gilmour               47,504
Lewis                     18,274

Here the difference is close to the Libertarian total, but the Libertarian total is larger.   And by spreading the Libertarian message of peace, freedom, and prosperity (Gilmour polled as large as 9% at one point), Gilmour contributed to separating Republican voters from their (if you will forgive the pun) Senator, making Missouri Talentless.

Finally, when the Democrats did not bother to show up in Indiana:

Lugar (R)       1,155,577
Osborn (L)         169,858

Of course, there are a few things that Libertarians might reasonably ask from the Democratic Party in exchange for our help, recognizing that we all live in the America that we just saved.   The most important is a systematic easing of ballot access laws.
In New Hampshire, the libertarian who was elected ran as a Democrat: Under New Hampshire law, that candidate was legally unable to run as a Libertarian.   His choices were Democratic, Republican, and Independent. The newly-blue New Hampshire legislature could correct this.   For example, many states allowed ‘independent’ candidates within reason to choose their own ballot line name.

In Massachusetts, more than 2/3 of all state legislators ran unopposed. This includes, incidentally, five surviving Republican State Senators. In most of Massachusetts, voters for state legislature had less choice than did voters in the old Soviet Union, where it was technically legal to vote “No”.   I can readily name people who have tried to run for office, collected far more than the legally required number of signatures, only to discover that the bulk of their signatures were invalid, e.g. Jim Fredrickson, who collected more than 6000 signatures in an effort to run for Congress as a Libertarian, only to have ¾ of his signatures invalidated.

It is legitimate to judge a legal process by its results.   If a middle school admission exam mysteriously passes 90% of boys and only 9% of girls for no rational reason, a reasonable observer infers that something discriminatory has been build into the exam.   We don’t have to argue about what the something is; in the absence of an overwhelming state purpose, we insist that matters be fixed.

Massachusetts’ ballot access laws float in the same boat.   When most voters in most races get to choose between their one candidate and leaving the ballot blank, it is time to lower ballot access obstacles until choice becomes present.   (As a reasonable first step, try cutting signature requirements in half, and if that doesn’t work, cut them in half again.)

In Georgia, almost no third party candidates have run for Congress in most of the past century.

 

George Phillies is a contributing editor for Liberty For All.   You can contact Dr. Phillies at phillies@wpi.edu.

11 Responses to The Little Party That Saved America (with a little help from our friends)

  1. Joseph Knight

    November 28, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    THANK YOU for pointing out the legitimacy of the “balance of power” strategy.

    In New Mexico, in 2000, the state party got behind our prez candidate more so than ever before. Harry Browne got more votes than the difference between Bush and Gore. In 2004 Karl Rowe supposedely said “We’re not going to let those piss-ant Libertarians cost us New Mexico again.” Badnarik targeted NM with TV and the GOP truly feared us. Badnarik was the first presidential candidate to EVER visit my home town – and Bush was the second, soon thereafter. Bush was in NM more than ANY presidential candidate in my lifetime.

    Let’s keep doing it – and watch those other guys try to sound like libertarians to get those votes back!

  2. David M. Schmidt

    November 29, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    Please explain why you think that “In the next two years, there will be no more Patriot Acts. There will be no more Military Commission Acts. There will be no more Real ID acts.” It was Bill Clinton, after all, who gave us the Clinton Crime Bill and the Clinton Terror Bill.

  3. Rocky Frisco

    November 29, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    The article says, “In the next two years, there will be no more Patriot Acts. There will be no more Military Commission Acts. There will be no more Real ID acts.” THAT’S NOT ENOUGH! If the Democrats were worth a pinch of sh*t, the statement would read, “In the next two years, there will be no Patriot Act. There will be no Military Commission Act. There will be no Real ID act.”

    It’s NOT ENOUGH to stop setting fires. We want the fires set previously to be put out forever. We will not be satisfied to see the war on the Constitution put on hold; we want the Constitution to be reinstated in full force. Unless the Democrats reinstate Habeas Corpus and end the torture NOW, as a start, we will repudiate them forever.

  4. Bleeding Head Ken

    November 30, 2006 at 7:00 pm

    When Iraq held it’s “first ever fair elections” last year, it had lists of candidates almost a page long. That was a fact to be celebrated, the Republicans told us, but see how they huff and puff when we try to get a list like that in the US! Why, it’s undemocratic! The people cannot be expected to understand whom they are voting for if they have more than 2 or 3 choices! It’s bad enough when there are 5!

  5. Dave Sullivan

    November 30, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for the insight.
    I lived in NH for 20+ years and there was a time I was able to registar Libertarian. It should happen again in the “live free or die state”. I was able to hold a town position and made no effort to hide my Libertarian postion.

  6. mdh

    November 30, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    Don’t forget that Clinton was also a huge fan of making the “war on drugs” look more like a real military war and less like civilian police actions. Clinton also introduced the DMCA. Going back further, we could find plenty of actions by both of these parties which are abhorent to our own codes of ethics/morality/whatever you want to call it.

    It’s a lot of fun to feel like we’ve made a difference in national politics and been noticed, but to think we’ve done ourselves a favor by helping the Dems get elected any more so than by helping Reps get elected is outlandish. The simple fact is that neither of those two parties is any less of a threat to freedom at the national level, despite the motives purportedly being different and a *few* of the methods being a wee bit (not much!) different.
    Once we’re getting real LP candidates elected is when we’ll have done ourselves a favor. When a Libertarian can stand up at the pulpet on capitol hill and make plain to everyone watching what is wrong with a given proposed piece of legislation that the other two parties will gladly cover up, then we’ve started getting somewhere at the national level. Until then, lets keep working for that goal, and enjoying the lols at statements like the OP’s Karl Rove quote! :-)

  7. Richard Winger

    December 1, 2006 at 10:33 am

    Also Libertarians were balance of power in past US Senate races in Nevada (1998, when Michael Cloud saved Harry Reid); Washington (2000, when Jeff Jared saved Maria Cantwell); and South Dakota (2002, when Kurt Evans saved Tim Johnson).

  8. Nuke 'n Pave Dave

    December 1, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    The old saw about “things having to get much worse before they can get better” unfortunately holds true here. All we, as Libertarians, will be able to manage (until matters get to the point of absolute absurdity in this country) is to get others elected. But if we carefully target the most egregious members of Congress, we are capable of garnering respect from both of the major parties. That respect will get us a seat at the table out of fear, if nothing else. So we must not don’t get frustrated over not winning, but rather focus our attentions on the truly important races and give them our “special attention” they so richly deserve. This type of action must not be construed as lessening our resolve for our other candidates, but rather to increase our efforts and outlays in races where our visibility can be seen as influential. It is this growing visibility (and influence) that will coerce the other parties to begin leaning into our camp. We are starting to attain this position and it must not be squandered. The power and influence that this type of policy will continue building is exactly what will bring more people to recognize the Lib’s as a force to be reckoned with, and that, feriends and neighbors, is what will bring the public to respect and support our views…
    Dave

  9. Bill Lawry

    December 9, 2006 at 2:08 am

    Thank you George for getting this aired.

    I think that while king makers put fear into the R or D camp they do nothing substantive for the country.

    Dems waged the war in Kosovo, Dems brought us the Assault Weapons Ban, Dems gave us ‘Blackhawk Down’ and the mess that inspired it, etc.

    R & D are just two sides of the same big gov’t coin and to the extent that we draw attention to them we are helping them and the two party system they support.

    If L’s aren’t winning elections they are as effective as a light bulb in Antarctica – interesting but irrelevant.

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