L. Neil Smith's
Number 296, November 7, 2004

"Please, sir, may I have another?"

The Libertarian Party and Market Politics
by Alan R. Weiss

Exclusive to TLE

Austin, Texas (NetPlanetNews)—In a stunning move, Liberarian Candidate for President Michael Badnarik today conceded that he will not be President of the United States of America, but noted that the party, held last night at "Legends" in Austin was a smashing success .... in further news, the Libertarian Party has announced its going into the "celebration party" business.

At first blush, I think we can say a few things that make sense:

1. At its most basic, Libertarians did pretty well in local elections, and the advice to concentrate much more on local and state races is probably sound advice. For example, without winning the race, we definately influenced an election in Travis County, unseating Jack Stick.

Check out:

www.canyoncreek.net/editorials.html to learn why a coalition of Libertarians, Democrats, and pissed off Republicans formed to defeat Stick.

Check out this article from the San Antonio paper (copied below, used with permission via fair use).

[very long URL]

The Western Libertarian Alliance (of which I am a member) has advocated disbanding the national LP office and giving over all resources to state LP offices. This position will be greatly strengthened, although truth be told the National LP didn't interfere, hurt, nor help the Badnarik campaign at all this election. They stepped out of the way. The campaign was run from Austin and Michigan.

2. Even though we (the Libertarian Party) raised $1 million, it wasn't enough money to buy enough advertising to run in enough places, often enough. A new product launch budget is typically $30 million or so for consumer products. That's probably the right target to aim for.

3. This election I really think people felt a need to choose between Bush and Kerry, and it was a divisive election that left little room for a third party. Given that we're "at war", wartime leadership took center-stage, and in a war Americans are almost always opposed to ending the war without either total victory or else looming total failure. We're not at that stage yet, either way, so ....

4. This was constantly reinforced by the major media, by the way, who never listed "Libertarian" in its polls, had hugely biased polls, etc. (but usually included Nader, oddly enough). In the end, Nader and Badnarik got roughly the same number of votes, despite this media blackout on Badnarik (those of us in the gunny movements KNOW about media bias, don't we?).

All I can think of is that they simply refuse to grant any additional recognition to the Libertarian Party. I believe, strongly, that Libertarians scare the major media so much because we would remove corporate liability protection and also institute a free market everywhere. Big companies largely detest a free market, and they sure as hell don't want to be responsible for their own actions. We'd end corporate welfare and tax breaks. etc. etc.

Libertarians have thus achieved the perfect storm—we scare everyone: corporatists, statists, socialist freeloaders, cops, school teachers, the medical establishment, the major media, etc. etc. It takes a lot to be a libertarian and believe in principles.

No wonder we're never going anywhere. The Powers That Be will never allow it. It may be the case that running in stealth mode a la Ron Paul or as an "Independent" is the only way to go. Hell, even Patrick Rose down in Hays County, a foursquare Democrat, ran all his ads saying he was an "independent" ! And he won, too. Jesse Ventura is fairly libertarian and he never, ever called himself that—he's a smart cookie.

5. Our messages either didn't get out enough, or—more ominously—we're really not "selling" what people want to "buy." We are living in the days of Big Government, and Really Big Government. Even if the Libertarian Party moderated its more principled (to us, to some of you "extreme") positions, it wouldn't matter very much. Until we change the culture of entitlement, the culture of busybodyism, the culture of socialism, a political movement based on really limited government, those of us who favor really limited government will not be successful. The evidence of this is found in the fact that not only didn't Libertarians win big, no Republican Liberty Caucus member has much influence in the GOP, including the very principled Ron Paul. By the way, to most Americans, Ron Paul is an extremist. sigh There is not really powerful Republican Party movement towards limited government of the kind that divided the GOP's mind, say, between Goldwater and Nixon.

6. If you combine Libertarian plus Constitution Party, it is more than the Greens plus Nader—but not by a huge amount. If you add the RLC to the Libertarian/Constitution mix, its still not very much. The Constitution Party is avidly anti-immigration, and it didn't do very well, so immigration isn't as big an issue as these three:

  • (Based on Exit Polling) 52%/44% say the the terrorism issue, and handling it, is most important.

  • 44% say economy is in good shape, four years ago 88% said it was in good shape. This would seem to favor Kerry, but even in economically hard-hit Ohio, it wasn't enough to cause Bush to lose.

  • The War in Iraq: on the decision to go to war: 49 approve, 47% disapprove. This is roughly 2% points, and roughly the difference between Kerry and Bush.

I am almost reaching the conclusion that the purpose of the Libertarian Party should be to simply funnel money, volunteers, etc. to candidates no matter what they call themselves ("the endorsing party") and serve as an educational facility and point of focus. Running candidates for President may be fine, but spending any money on them instead of local candidates is a waste of time.

As much as I admire and like Michael Badnarik, and as much as I know he nearly killed himself campaigning across this country, ignoring the politically bipolar landscape and the market itself is suicide.

Alan R. Weiss is CEO, of EEMBC Certification Laboratories and Synchromesh Computing, as well as Economics Editor for TLE and NetPlanetNews.com.
ECL: http://www.ebenchmarks.com
EEMBC: http://www.eembc.org
Synchromesh Computing: http://www.synchromeshcomputing.com

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