By Nathan Barton
Following the 2018 general elections, the LP headquarters sent out this missive:
Libertarian candidates move Republicans and Democrats in a Libertarian direction
“Opposition in an election affects far more than just vote totals. Candidates react to each other and their messaging changes to capture voter interest. Over and over, electoral races that include a strong Libertarian campaign have proven to move the rhetoric of both Democratic and Republican candidates in a more Libertarian direction. As Republicans worry that a Libertarian candidate will siphon away fiscally responsible votes, Democrats also worry that a Libertarian candidate will attract socially tolerant and accepting votes. Both sides tend to claim that Libertarians are ‘spoilers,’ especially when their vote total exceeds the margin of difference between the others. ‘Do I intend to spoil the election for them?’ asked Lucy Brenton, the Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Indiana. ‘Absolutely, and here’s why: something doesn’t spoil unless it’s rotten.’”
While I certain agree with Lucy, can I agree with the LP “staff” on this?
Definitely not. Certainly not the headline, for the press release itself explains the reason.
The presence of a “strong Libertarian campaign” “move[s] the rehetoric of both Dem.. and Rep… candidates in a more Libertarian direction.”
The candidates play lip service to libertarian principles IN THEIR CAMPAIGN. They don’t actually DO anything to address issues in a way that promotes freedom, except by accident. And I have no doubt that this year will be no different than past years. The winning candidates that take office will NOT in any meaningful way take principled positions and actions which support restoration of liberty, and more freedom.
Indeed, those who came closest to losing because a Libertarian candidate “spoiled” the election will double down on ways to neuter the LP (and any other parties except the two old ones).
In other words, the more effect a Libertarian or Constitutional or Natural Law candidate has on an election race, the greater the negative impact on the potential to actually elect such a candidate to office in the future. Especially in today’s climate. When the two old parties are constantly ramping up their rhetoric against each other, becoming less civil by the day, they want to clear the potential battlefield of anyone they can. And if you are not with them, then you are against them. Whatever the issue, whomever the candidate.
Does this mean we lovers of liberty need to get out of electoral politics? It is a difficult decision, but I am more and more convinced. The answer is yes. We need to stop squandering precious hours and dollars on running races that cannot be won and which actually harm the cause of liberty more.
We need to put that time and effort into reaching people one on one and teaching them, and learning with them, to be free. To isolate NOT lovers of liberty, but lovers of government and control.
Hearts and minds, souls and bodies, are not won by laboriously gathering petition signatures and then fighting to get into debates and fori to advocate libertarian positions. They are won by discussing, with both reason AND emotion, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness one on one and in small groups around a living room or a McDonalds’ table.