At Last, a Libertarian Party Strategy
By L. Neil Smith
Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise
Americans could have a free country again -- starting within less
than two years -- if Libertarians show enough intelligence, courage,
Since its inception 26 years ago, the Libertarian Party has never
had anything resembling an overall, long-range strategy. During that
time, argument has raged over whether the LP's first priority should
be educating the public or getting its candidates elected (and
whether either of those alternatives excludes the other), and whether
-- assuming the latter of the two were chosen -- state parties should
attempt to fill every slot on the ballot or focus all their limited
resources on a single "winnable" race.
Through all those years, it's occurred to very nearly nobody to
question the staggering amount of time, energy, and money expended
without significant result on seven presidential campaigns that
educated nobody, got nobody elected, and, unforgivably, squandered
limited LP resources on the single least winnable race in American
Even more unforgivably, with each year wasted this way by the
so-called "party of principle" (a salutary expression we seem to hear
less and less these days), America has come more and more to resemble
the very police state that the LP was created to prevent.
The hour has passed for further examination of this failure. It's
crucial now -- for the first time -- to produce a real strategy which
will not only make America free within a reasonable amount of time,
but quickly engender enough easily-seen improvement to forestall the
violent reaction which the major parties appear suicidally determined
Such a strategy already exists and has proven successful -- so
far mostly by accident -- in the recent past. Although a majority of
Libertarians appears unaware of its profound significance, it's
something the LP has demonstrated on at least three occasions it
can do -- almost without trying -- in Oregon, Georgia, and
"He who can destroy a thing controls a thing." -- Frank
The strategy is simple: identify Republican office holders who
won their last election by a margin of five percent or less. Ignore
every other position on the ballot. Run Libertarians against these
Republican five-percenters, the object being to deny them their
five percent and put Democrats in office in their place.
If the prospect of handing Democrats control, not only of the
White House, but of both houses of Congress and many more state
legislatures, alarms you, then you haven't been paying attention the
last five years: Republicans "gave" us RICO and the War on Drugs;
"gave" us the Brady Bill and a ban on semiautomatic weapons; "gave"
us a national ID card.
At worst, electing Democrats instead of Republicans will merely
accelerate this country's race toward fascist authoritarianism -- and
the inevitable reaction -- and get the whole thing over with that
much sooner. At worst, history will have been wiped clean of a gang
that claims to favor liberty, but never does anything consistently
but undermine it.
Certain observers have always maintained that (for some reason
they never get around to specifying) America is inherently a
two-party nation. Fact is, what the Founders really wanted was a no
party nation -- but fine. The LP isn't going to go away; that means
one of the others has to go. At worst, Libertarians can always say
afterwards that they had to destroy the GOP in order to save it.
But if the five-percenter strategy works as it's intended to,
Republicans will eventually notice what's being done to them, or --
if this essay is spread far and wide enough* -- even anticipate it.
Understand clearly: there can be no selectivity, there can be no
exception. Libertarians mustn't argue among themselves over
individual cases. If a Republican won by five percent or less last
time, he's fair game. Promises don't count; we should be well beyond
that by now. Introducing "good" bills, or even voting for them
They know how to fake that one, too.
Even repealing bad laws doesn't count, and it's important to
understand why. The only way Republicans can be allowed to save
themselves is to be better than Libertarians on important issues.
For this to work -- and keep on working -- Libertarians must keep the
pressure up relentlessly. Republicans must genuinely change, not just
as individuals, but as a party. If a Republican congressman protests
that he's really a "good-guy", he must be told that he's a member, by
his own choice, of an evil collective that has to change as a whole.
He has to make it change, or he's out of work.
It's the "good" Republican who's likeliest to engineer the needed
changes anyway. He must be given an "incentive" equal to that given
any "bad" Republican. He must know that it's in his hands: if he and
his party genuinely change for the better, then nobody will vote for
Libertarians, because there'll be no need to.
To survive, Republicans must restore the rule of law, the highest
law of the land, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. They
must come to see it, not as a list of taboos to be gotten around, but
as the Ten Commandments of American politics.
They must enforce the Bill of Rights.
Libertarians will know it's time to stop taking the GOP's five
percent away (and this is the only measure to go by) because they
won't be able to.
The best part is that once Democrats and the media catch on that
Libertarians are out to destroy the Republican Party, Libertarian
candidates will suddenly find themselves invited to all the debates
and receiving all the air-time and column inches they could possibly
desire. They may even suddenly find campaign contributions a little
easier to come by.
As this is written, there's a congressional election seventeen
months away. If Libertarian state parties begin preparing now to
employ this strategy -- consistently and to the exclusion of all
others -- America could turn a corner within those seventeen months,
on its way back to being a free country.
And about damned time.
L. Neil Smith is the award-winning author of The Probability Broach,
Pallas, Henry Martyn, and other novels, as well as publisher of
The Libertarian Enterprise, available free by e-mail subscription or
at http://www.webleyweb.com/tle/ His own site,
the "Webley Page" is at http://www.lneilsmith.org//
*Readers are urged to pass this on to all Republican office-holders.