There have been many complaints of late regarding Libertarians “stealing” elections from Republican candidates. That we agree in principle about 80% so we shouldn’t be fielding candidates. It has even been suggested that the Libertarian Party should simply fade away and its members and activists return to the parties from whence they came and work within them to effect change.
I have but one word for these sentiments.
Last evening I had the misfortune to meet a most disagreeable man who voiced these very points. I shall, therefore, endeavor to dissect his “logic” and present a case as to why third parties, and specifically the Libertarian Party, are necessary. JP, this is for you.
Let us begin with the charge of “stealing” elections. Locally the biggest complainer is the old-line Republican Party and it is directed at the Libertarians. This is where the 80% idea comes into play. The Republicans claim that since the Libertarians and they are so similar in their beliefs, what we have is basically two Republican candidates running against each other dividing the vote to such a degree that the Democrat is elected even when he or she would not necessarily be.
What these ideological arguers fail to take stock of is that it is the other 20% that makes all the difference. For example, I can agree for the need to have a balanced budget. I can agree that government spending is out of control. I can agree that we are paying too many taxes. I can agree as to the need for a strong defense. But, I disagree with need for a constitutional amendment defining marriage which many Republicans insist is necessary.
Third Parties are highly necessary. Consider the citizen, who after years of watching his party drift further and further from the ideals that bound him to it in the first place, can no longer support the creature it has become. Some would argue that one should not leave the party in question, but should stay and work within the party to effect change. I’ll give this an “A” for theory but an “F” for practicality. When the rift has grown to great and the party so insulated from new ideas or change, those who control the workings of it will jealously guard their influence and do everything in their power to maintain the status quo. I give you the Carson Machine and the Center Township “gang”. So what is a Democrat with conservative economic values, but who treasures the civil liberties guaranteed to us by the US Constitution and Bill of Rights to do other than become a Libertarian? Without that third party individuals capable of thinking for themselves instead of regurgitating “party” rhetoric would have no voice. But then that is the goal of those who would impose their ideology on us. It was true in the time of George III and it is just as true in the time of George W.