Joe Cobb: The Purpose of a Libertarian Party

user3The Purpose of a Libertarian Party
I am a supporter of the Libertarian Party, and an active officer of the Party, because I believe in our American constitutional system. Our constitution does not identify two parties. It allows for many parties, as well as independent candidates. The LP doesn’t seem to win many elections, but that is not the real purpose of the LP. We are “running to win,” but the bottom line is that we are running because it is important to run.

Why?
First, consider the “wasted vote” question, which we are always asked. If only the Democrats or Republicans are going to win, why challenge them? If you hate the Republican the most, you need to vote for the Democrat to defeat him. Voting for a “third party” seems like a wasted vote.

But the issue is why anyone should vote from a motive of hate? Democracy is supposed to be about voting for the leadership you support. There must be something fundamentally wrong with a democratic system that is motivated mostly by hate or fear. I support the Libertarian Party because it represents what I do believe in, not merely the “lesser of two evils.”

Second, I urge everyone who wants to drop out of the electoral process to think again. If you dislike both the Democrats and the Republicans (for good reason), please do not simply walk away and let other people choose your government. Your government will tax you and regulate you and arrest you, and it will not leave you alone. You have to stand up and fight it, in the constitutional way by voting.

Why Do You Support Any Politician?
When political pollsters and talk show hosts ask people whether they support the Democratic or the Republican party, most people will tell them they do not support either one. If that is true, why do the Democrats or the Republicans always win our elections? Something is wrong here.

Sometimes a complete outsider seems to do a better job than an “insider.” Look at what happened under Reagan or Clinton, contrasted with either Bush administration.

The Libertarian Party may not win an election very often, but it is important the LP should always be there as an alternative. I can say the same for the Green Party. When the opinion pollsters ask, “are you a Republican or a Democrat?” you need to be able to answer, “I am not either one.”

You need to be able to say, “I am a Libertarian” or “I am a Green.”

Threaten to Take Over the Government
If you say, “I am a liberal” or “I am a conservative,” this is only a sentiment, or point of view. A statement of sentiment is different from declaring you are a member of a political party, which can attempt to take over the government and write new laws. There are liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. They have no influence. Unless you are a supporter of a political party that represents your views, which you can vote for, your statement has no significance.

It is important your statement should have significance. If the Libertarian Party or the Green Party were not on the ballot, or if they are wiped out in a primary election (as the proposed “open primary” proposals that only allow the top two candidates after a catchall primary), then none of the small parties would have a candidate in the November election, and you will have lost your significance as a voter. Your personal statement that you do not support either the Democrats or the Republicans will become meaningless, because all that remained would be your void ballot. You would no longer have any reason to vote. If you chose to vote at all, nobody would be there to receive your support and you could only be a negative, frustrated, impotent voter. Your vote would go to waste for sure.

Most people vote against the candidate they dislike the most. The trend in our society is toward polarization. This trend is bad for democracy. The Democrats today are motivated in anger against President George W. Bush. Their hate has grown more passionate than in 2000 when the Supreme Court closed off the Florida recount. Most Democrats were not enthusiastic about John F. Kerry. Many Republicans, too, were not very happy with George W. Bush. He is the biggest spender and the most regulatory, protectionist, interventionist president in history since F.D.R. and Wilson. If “compassionate conservatism” means a bigger, pro-war, police state, why should they support its candidates?

They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait
The Libertarian Party is running candidates every election, for every office, because we are waiting for the American people to come on over to our side. We offer a choice, not an echo (to quote an old slogan). A “protest vote” is not a wasted vote if it sends a message.

There is no possible mistake what a vote for the Libertarian candidate signifies. To vote against someone only buries your message in a lot of “noise” and nothing is communicated about why you are frustrated – the change you demand is not understood because the candidate who wins is only “the lesser of two evils.”

Did you support the winner, or did you only vote against the loser? Who knows? I am an officer of the Libertarian Party because I refuse to run a negative election campaign. We should have something to vote FOR, not merely the blind opportunity to vote against one form of evil, only to end up with another form of evil.

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