Archive for November, 2016

Please Blame Me! I Voted Libertarian.

November 15, 2016

Last Tuesday was the greatest election in my lifetime.  Finally we libertarians have statist politicians right where we want them. If we play our cards right politicians will be supporting more policies that respect individual liberty, while distancing themselves from those that don’t.

At first glance this may appear to be a celebration of Donald Trump’s victory.  It isn’t.  Rather, it is a celebration of libertarians attaining the balance of power at the Federal and state level. Here the phrase “balance of power” refers to the attainment of a greater number of votes by an alternative party candidate, then the margin of victory between the two establishment party candidates. For people trapped in the bipartisan paradigm, this is a situation to be avoided.  For those who have broken free, it is cause for celebration.

In the days leading up to the election, Donald Trump supporters kept pushing the idea that a vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson was a vote for Hilary Clinton, while Clinton supporters kept pushing the idea that a vote for Johnson was a vote for Trump. Taken literally, either one of these statements is blatant nonsense, and is an outright contradiction when taken together.  But at their core, these remarks were a symptom of fear by devotees of both establishment parties that the Libertarian Party’s nominee would attain a balance of power in the election, and they thought libertarians would be afraid of this as well.  To some extent they were right; many people who thought Gary Johnson was the best choice chickened out in the voting booth, and voted for one establishment party candidate out of fear of the other.  I addressed the folly of this mindset in my previous Blog post, “Voting Your Hopes And Not Your Fears In 2016” where I wrote:

If your vote (and the votes of others for the same candidate) is more than the margin of victory for either establishment party candidate, then your vote is more powerful than ever!  Now you and your comrades have done much more than send a message that you want change in a direction that is consistent with the platform of your candidate and his or her party. You have become a voting block that the winning party must prevent the opposition from recruiting in the next cycle.  The winner must appease you by incorporating some of your policies.  At the same time the loser will actively seek out those who are of like mind to secure future victories, and this can only be accomplished by adopting some of the policy positions that your favorite candidate and party advocate.  A win-win for you.

Well now the selection of the electors is over and Clinton supporters are blaming those who voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party Candidate Jill Stein for Trump’s victory.  If the results had been reversed, Trump supporters would be placing the blame on us instead. Unfortunately, many Johnson voters are feeling guilty, or dodging culpability by arguing that Libertarian votes affected both establishment parties equally. Whether or not the numbers support this last claim, the mindset that views citing such numbers as necessary is ultimately defeatist and condemns alternative parties to indefinite irrelevancy.

If all libertarian leaning voters held their ground and voted for the Libertarian nominee, I have no idea who the current President elect would be, but I do know that we would be a much greater force to be reckoned with. I do know that Libertarians would have earned Federal recognition as a minor party, and more states would recognize us a major party.  Most importantly, for the point I’m making here, supporters of the losing establishment party would still blame us.

In 2000 Ralph Nader and the Green Party finished with only 2.75% of the vote, but were blamed for the defeat of Al Gore by George W. Bush because of the narrow margin of victory in some states, especially Florida. Neither Ralph Nader nor the other Green Party Presidential candidates have done nearly so well since.  Though the claim that their participation in the election tipped the outcome in Bushes favor has been largely disputed, I think it is a good bet that many left-leaning voters have coward away from alternatives to the Democrat because they fear the so-called Nader effect.  By contrast, Johnson won 3.28% of the national popular vote while Trump and Clinton’s votes differed by less than a percent.  In Michigan Gary Johnson’s vote total was thirteen times as great as the difference between Trump and Clinton!  So if attempting to deflect blame didn’t work for Nader, how can it possibly work for us?  In my humble opinion it won’t and it shouldn’t.

We are at a crossroads.  We can either move full speed ahead and become players on the national stage, or retreat back to obscurity, cautiously avoiding the risk of tipping the scales in favor of the worst candidate.  If we are to move forward, we must be willing to be blamed for every electoral outcome until we finally win.  We must convince others that this course is a righteous one, and that our mission is more important than which of the establishment party candidates, wins a particular election.

No matter how bad the winner is, that winner will need to draw from the libertarian voting block to win.  This time that appears to be Donald Trump. As long as the Libertarian Party sticks to principal and doesn’t coddle the “lesser-of-two-evils” game he will need to go out of his way to win over libertarians if he doesn’t want the Libertarian Party to receive their votes in 2020.  The Democrats will be doing the same if they expect to defeat Trump.  It remains to be seen if they will be courting Green voters or Libertarians, or both on certain issues where Greens and Libertarians agree like marijuana, privacy, militarism and civil liberties … The more we refuse to chicken out, the harder they will try.

Down-ticket, a strong libertarian party can have leverage even in races it is unlikely to win.  If there is a critical piece of legislation we need passed, or rejected, we can make a deal.  We can strategically chose to run or not run a candidate in a given contest.  What about libertarian-Republicans or libertarian-Democrats?  If they are really all that libertarian (and some are) they will have no problem attracting libertarian votes and will have no reason to fear the participation of a Libertarian Party opponent.  Libertarian participation might even help them stick to principle; when establishment insiders try to lead them astray, libertarian-Republicans and libertarian-Democrats can pragmatically point to the participation of the Libertarian Party “spoiler” as a reason they can’t make an exception and vote for the tax increase or regulation that the establishment insider is trying to push.

So we win even if we lose, the establishment parties can decimate the Libertarian Party by championing a libertarian agenda, or they can ignore us at their peril and watch us grow until we become a major party nationally, but either way libertarians win.  Because we will have more liberty.  More importantly, America wins, because everyone will either have more freedom in a two party system that bent to the wishes of libertarians, the way they once did to the socialists, or Americans will have a three party system where candidates will no longer be able to win elections by simply making us fear the other candidate.  Instead they will need to give people a reason to vote for them, not against an opponent.

So take pride in your Libertarian vote.  Take the blame!  Embrace it! Own it! You have the power to demand more liberty, and don’t be shamed into doing otherwise!


Voting Your Hopes And Not Your Fears In 2016

November 4, 2016

The 2016 Presidential election is upon us, and once again the establishment parties are telling us that a vote for a third party candidate amounts to a vote for the “other candidate” who is supposedly much worse the their candidate.  If you’re excited about the prospect of a Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump Presidency, read no further; I’m not writing anything here that is likely to change your mind… Now for the rest of you…

If the thought of both a Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump Presidency turns your stomach, you may be thinking of voting for one of these two in order to stop the worst candidate from winning.  But don’t take the bait; this very thinking is the reason you are faced with such an abominable choice to begin with.

If you are leaning toward a third party candidate like Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Darrel Castle or somebody else, you have probably been approached by Hilary Clinton supporters who insist that a vote for your favorite candidate is a vote for Trump, and Donald Trump supporters who insist that voting your conscience is a vote for Hilary.  This is a logical fallacy. There are two possibilities, either your vote determines the outcome of the election, or it doesn’t.

If your vote (and the votes of others for the same candidate) is less than the margin of victory for either establishment party candidate, then at least you and your comrades sent a message that you want change in a direction that is consistent with the platform of your candidate and his or her party. A minor victory.  If you vote with either establishment party candidate, you would be giving a nod of approval to that candidate.  In the case of an over-whelming victory by the “lesser evil” you chose, you would be giving a “mandate” to enact that candidates policies. A lose-lose for you.

If your vote (and the votes of others for the same candidate) is more than the margin of victory for either establishment party candidate, then your vote is more powerful than ever!  Now you and your comrades have done much more than send a message that you want change in a direction that is consistent with the platform of your candidate and his or her party. You have become a voting block that the winning party must prevent the opposition from recruiting in the next cycle.  The winner must appease you by incorporating some of your policies.  At the same time the loser will actively seek out those who are of like mind to secure future victories, and this can only be accomplished by adopting some of the policy positions that your favorite candidate and party advocate.  A win-win for you.

The reason that the choices keep getting worse is because the establishment parties and their accomplices in the mass media have found a strategy that works.  Ironically, It only works with the acquiescence of those who are most disgusted by it.  As long as there is the illusion of only two choices a candidate only needs to show his or her opponent is so horrifying, that anyone is better… and there is only one other choice.  The media keeps emphasizing the bi-partisan horse race with rigged polls that leave demographics out of the sample who would vote for a third-party alternative, or the polls will only ask about two candidates at first.  So this way, frustrated third-party supporters will feel increasingly marginalized, and begin to think they are “throwing their vote away” by voting their hopes and not their fears.

Here’s where things get really ugly.  If the establishment parties candidates were simply lame, but not scary, then many voters might still be willing to “throw their vote away” to send a message, but not if they were horrified by one of the establishment candidates, then all that matters is stopping that candidate.  This goes both ways.  SO THE WORSE THE TWO ESTABLISHMENT PARTY NOMINEES ARE, THE MORE THEY CAN COUNT ON YOU VOTING FOR ONE OF THEM!!! Taking the bait and voting for a lesser evil out of fear of the greater evil reinforces this atrocious bi-partisan political machine, and drives a race to the bottom whereby we can keep expecting worse and worse candidates.

Now the above seems to imply some level of collusion which smells of tin-foil hats and conspiracy theories right?  Well sort of.  Wherever two people and greed are gathered there is a conspiracy, and yes, there is genuine collusion.  The most visible and obvious example of this collusion is the Commission on Presidential debates.  It was created by the establishment parties to keep out other candidates. Before then, the League of Women voters hosted the debates, but they were no longer willing to limit the forum to two candidates.  Since the time of Ross Perot they have raised the bar to prevent any future three-way debates.  However, even without planned collusion, this mindset is bound to be encouraged by each of the major campaigns, and the outcomes are likely to be just as abysmal as long as voters take the bait.

But isn’t this election different?  Are the stakes much higher than a few policy issues?  Absolutely!  Especially for libertarians.  If you are a libertarian it is absolutely essential that you cast a vote for the Libertarian nominee in this election.

For the first time since the election of Abraham Lincoln, we have a chance to break the two party system for the foreseeable future!  Some might argue that Ross Perot’s Reform Party presented such a possibility and withered away quickly, but this is different. The Reform Party was really a ballot access vehicle for one independent candidate, whereas the Libertarian Party has been a nationally balloted party since 1972.  It has been on the vast majority of state ballots in every election since then and has been on the ballot in all fifty states on previous occasions.  Since the party’s founding about 600 Libertarians held elected or appointed offices . Since the party’s creation, 10 Libertarians have been elected to state legislatures. The Libertarian Party has a platform based on a specific ideology, libertarianism.

In Michigan, a political party whose top of ticket candidate earns over 5% of the vote caste for Secretary of State in the previous election is treated the same as a major party.  The only difference being that that Michigan election law reserves the phrase, “major party” for the top two vote getters, but other than that, there would be no difference.  So if Gary Johnson’s electors receive 154,040 votes in Michigan, the Libertarian Party of Michigan will effectively become a major party!  Most other states have similar laws.

In addition, Federal election laws will kick in that will make large sums of money available to the Libertarian Party thereby enabling it to overcome ballot obstacles in states where these problems still exist.  This last benefit is controversial among Libertarians, but I think Michael Emerling made the same points I would make.  Even being in the enviable position of being able to reject these funds would be a game changer. Being a federally recognized “minor party” is just a stones throw away from being a “major party.”

Having three major parties instead of two, would improve the candidates of the Republican and Democrat parties too; they would need to appeal to our hopes and not our fears.

Then there is the Holy Grail of Presidential elections… The Oval.  This is the first time in the Libertarian Party’s history when there is a reasonable probability of winning the election.  At first this claim may seem outrageous since even the most favorable polling doesn’t bring us to within a margin of error of earning a majority of electoral votes.  Here’s where the contingencies of the Twelfth Amendment of the US Constitution come into play.  If no candidate gets a majority of the electoral vote, then the election is up to the US House of Representatives, which must pick from the top three electoral vote getters. Given the fact that they are mostly Republicans who can’t stand Trump or Clinton, their would be a reasonable chance they would nominate a two-term Republican Governor turned Libertarian.  For the first time a number of Republican leaning major dallies, including the Detroit News, have chosen to endorse Gary Johnson because of their disgust with Trump.  Even former Republican nominee Mitt Romney who won’t vote for Trump, won’t rule out voting for Johnson.  So the idea of the House picking Johnson may not be that far-fetched.

How could Johnson get electors?  The untold story on the evening news is that there is enough support for Johnson in some states, that a plurality is not out of reach for the former New Mexico Governor.  Given the mass defections by Republicans who can’t stomach Donald Trump, a few disloyal electors can’t be ruled out either.

Another reason Republicans might settle on Johnson is that they would still be able to get their Vice Presidential nominee elected.  Under the Twelfth Amendment, only the top two electoral vote getters for Vice President could be considered.  This would probably be Mike Pence and Tim Kaine. The Republican Senate would probably choose Pence.  This leaves Bill Weld without a probable path to victory.

It is time to break the two party system and you have a chance to do it.  Furthermore, you would be voting for the most qualified candidate.  By himself, Governor Johnson has more executive experience than all of this years opposing Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates combined.  Unlike his opponents he is not likely to corner Russia and flirt with Nuclear war in Syria, nor is he a loose cannon who is likely to push the proverbial button in the midst of a temper tantrum.  Rather he supports a strong defense and a non-interventionist foreign policy. He is not under criminal investigation for endangering the national security or sexual assault. He has a positive message based on reducing the scope of government and affirming individual liberty.  He is a successful businessman who did not use repeated bankruptcies to avoid paying contractors.  He won’t be putting people in Prison for non-violent drug offenses.

He is a moderate, but here’s the biggest benefit to us more radical libertarians.  With the rise of the Libertarian Party, the new paradigm will no longer be left-versus right; rather it will be liberty versus authoritarianism, paving the way for a more clear cut ideological dichotomy moving forward.  Eventually this may devolve into another entrenched bi-partisan paradigm, but that tragedy is a way off.

Thomas Jefferson suggested that 20 years was too long to go without a revolution, the revolution we can win this Tuesday is way overdue.  Don’t blow this once in a lifetime opportunity by falling for the same old scare tactics.