Viability Of The Libertarian Party

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Travis Hallman  September 5th

Many voters assume 3rd party candidates can’t win, so they resort to voting for the lesser-of-two-evils presented by the two major parties. This is becoming less of a problem because the Libertarian Party is growing daily. The purpose of this article is to present a few facts supporting the viability of the Libertarian Party.

FACT #1:

“The number of U.S. voters registered as Libertarian has surged by 92 percent since 2008, reports Ballot Access News in its March 2018 edition. That increase has come at the expense of both Democrats, who are down by 8 percent over the same time period, and Republicans, who are down by 5 percent. The number of voters registered as independent or with other parties has increased by 19 percent.”

FACT #2:

“The Libertarian Party is the third-largest political party in the United States after the Republican and Democratic parties.”

FACT #3:

“The recently concluded Libertarian National Convention, held in New Orleans, set attendance and fundraising records. Preliminary figures indicate that this year’s convention may have surpassed the 2016 presidential nominating convention in both attendance and fundraising.”

FACT #4:

“Nationwide, there are 174 Libertarians holding elected offices: 55 partisan offices, and 119 nonpartisan offices.”

FACT #5:

Gary Johnson was the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 2016. He was on the ballot in all fifty states plus D.C., but was only listed as a Libertarian on the ballot in forty-seven of those states plus D.C. Nationwide, he received approximately 3.24% of the vote. He received between 1.19% and 9.34% in each of the fifty states plus D. C.

Because presidential candidate election results affect ballot access [in most states], Johnson’s run was able to secure ballot access for the Libertarian Party for at least one election cycle in twenty-two states. In eighteen of those states, Libertarian Party ballot access is secured for all offices. In two of those states, Johnson only secured ballot access for the 2020 Libertarian Party presidential nominee. In Georgia, Johnson only secured ballot access in 2018 to Libertarian candidates running for statewide offices, while in Pennsylvania, Johnson was only able to secure Libertarian Party ballot access in special elections in 2017 and 2018.”

This means the candidates nominated by the Libertarian Party in these states can redirect resources (typically spent on gaining ballot access) to marketing and campaigning.

FACT #5 continued:

“As of July 2018, we have 2018 ballot access in 44 states.”

Unfortunately, because of a variety of factors, we are unable to pursue statewide access in Alabama, Tennessee, or Rhode Island this year. But we are pushing forward aggressively in the other 3 states.”

“It is likely that the Libertarian Party [LP] will have at least one nominee for a federal or state office on the ballot in all 50 states in November 2018, for the first time in a midterm year.”

FACT #6:

“December 28, 2017, Washington, DC — Attorneys with the Our America Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy organization, have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a Writ of Certiorari asking the Justices to reinstate an antitrust suit brought against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) by former presidential candidate Gary Johnson and others challenging the Commission’s boycott of third party and independent candidates from nationally televised debates.”

FACT #7:

Libertarian candidates like Craig Bowden, Larry Sharpe, Laura Ebke, Bill Gelineau, Honor “Mimi” Robson, Autumn Browne, Gail Lightfoot, Derrick Michael Reid, and many others are breaking old records with their campaigns.

In conclusion, the Libertarian Party is becoming very much more viable every day. However, viability should not determine the way we vote. The founding fathers created a representative republic so we could vote for the candidates we want to win (as opposed to voting for who we think may win). Voting for who we think can win will always give us a less desirable government. We should only be casting support for the projected winners during sport matches, not political campaigns.

In liberty,

-Travis Hallman

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Election Science

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Aaron Hamlin, 7/25/2018

Freedom in the US depends heavily on the judgment and integrity of those we elect. But if the ballots we cast are somehow defective, then we could be electing the wrong people. If so, then the freedom we strive for is in serious danger.

Unfortunately, there is ample evidence that the way we cast our ballots is defective. We use a voting method called plurality voting where we choose only one candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins. This seemingly innocuous restriction to pick only one candidate causes us severe problems.

When we lack the freedom to choose all the candidates we might want, bad things happen. For instance, if there are multiple freedom-minded candidates, our support gets divided and quality candidates can lose to an opposing candidate. And if other parts of the electorate share our views but fear that a candidate of higher integrity can’t win, despite bringing good ideas to the table, then that high-integrity candidate may be unfairly marginalized as the electorate votes for second-rate, but more electable, candidates.

The way that this plurality voting system forces us to cast our ballots leaves us vulnerable to vote splitting and the spoiler effect. Independents and parties like the Libertarian Party are forced to drain their precious resources on onerous signature requirements just to get on the ballot (Georgia’s ballot access laws being a prime example).

Of course, here major parties give themselves either a complete pass or much easier signature requirements. Even more, major parties—instead of fixing the problem—have chosen to retaliate against outside competition.

We’d find this unlevel playing field unacceptable in the economic marketplace. So shouldn’t we also find it unacceptable in the political marketplace?

Undoubtedly so.

Fortunately, we can solve this violation of our rights by using a ballot that gives us the freedom to select—not rank—as many candidates as we want. The person who receives the most votes still wins, but more votes are cast. This is called “approval voting,” and it can fundamentally improve our elections.

Studied academically since the late 1970s, the evidence of approval voting’s advantages over our current plurality voting system is overwhelming. One major advantage is that approval voting always lets you vote for your favorite. No matter what. This means that when candidates bring good ideas to the table they get the support they deserve—regardless of their name recognition or perceived viability.

No longer could debate commissions bar competitive independents and third parties. Public scrutiny won’t allow this injustice for candidates who are able to get over 20 or 30% in approval voting polls. Imagine further that the US’s largest third party (the Libertarian Party) is able to win seats in national office and more than the occasional seat in local office. The same is true for liberty or freedom-minded independents.

The merits of approval voting haven’t gone unnoticed in libertarian communities. The straw poll for the Republican Liberty Caucus in 2016 used approval voting. The Texas Libertarian Party not only uses approval voting itself but also explicitly includes approval voting on its official platform. And the National Libertarian Party has been using approval voting to elect its national officers. Even the Western Conservative Summit uses approval voting for its straw polls. The word is catching on to oust plurality voting and replace it with approval voting.

The Center for Election Science values a level playing field for all candidates, regardless of party or ideology. We want a system where good ideas are able to rise to the top. This means that in addition to studying voting methods and research, we’re also using this evidence as our cue to take action. Taking action is the only way we can ensure that we really have the freedom we claim. Notably, that includes changing the way we elect people to government office. The Center for Election Science is helping local activists run ballot initiatives to get approval voting in their cities.

Do you, too, hope to see a system where good ideas receive the support they deserve and all parties are operating on a level playing field? If so, here are some ways you can help us make this a reality:

  1. Invest in our work to bring approval voting to a city near you with a tax-deductible donation
  2. Share our content on Facebook and Twitter to help your friends learn how they can make their ballot more free
  3. Join our movement for a more fair, more free ballot by signing up to receive our monthly newsletter

Together, we can create better elections and a smarter democracy.

The Center for Election Science is dedicated to helping the world use smarter election systems. They are a nationally-based, nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit comprised of voting system experts and activists. They incorporated in California in 2011.

They do this because the collective decisions we make through voting dramatically impact our day-to-day lives. Smarter collective decisions whether in government or in organizations promise to provide us all with a better quality of life.

-Aaron Hamlin

 

This article was originally created by The Center for Election Science for FreedomFest 2018. However, the content was quickly removed from the FreedomFest 2018 webpage after the event concluded. Ask A Libertarian deems this information to be important and decided to share it with you here, with approval of The Center for Election Science.

 

 

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The McDonald’s Standard: A Guide for Determining The Legitimate Role of Government

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Kristopher Morgan, May 23, 2017

We all have things we would like to see humanity do, whether we want to feed the poor, move towards clean energy, protect endangered species, scientific research, or setting floors on wages.  We all like to believe that passing a law is akin to waving some magic wand that simply makes things better. We get ourselves into trouble when we consider the reality of the situation;  there is no wand.  When we realize passing and enforcing new laws means making criminals out of more and more people, we have to choose responsibly.

Coming to a balanced belief system as to what the proper place of government in society takes an immense amount of study into the social sciences, history, political economy, ethics, philosophy, etc.  This can be extremely time-consuming… fortunately there are shortcuts to answering most questions pertaining to the proper role of government.  I call one of them the ‘McDonald’s Standard.’  The method is very simple: Clarify what action the government is taking and ask yourself “how would I feel if McDonald’s were doing this?”  Here are a few examples to demonstrate how it works.

  1. Taxation.  On one hand, we are threatened with fines and jail time if we do not pay taxes.  On the other hand, those taxes pay for services such as roads.  Let’s imagine that McDonald’s decided to use the same business model.  McDonald’s decides to provide every resident within a 1mi radius with a Big Mac.  McDonald’s then decides that they will collect money from all residents, and those who decline simply get locked in a room on McDonald’s property.  Is food not a vital service?
  2. Welfare programs.  On one hand, they are paid for through taxation, on the other hand poor people benefit from them.  So, let’s imagine McDonald’s decides that they’re going to send their employees in a neighborhood, armed with tasers, guns, and clubs, and they collect money from some residents to give to others (while keeping about 80% for themselves!).  What would we think about McDonald’s?
  3. War.  On one hand, evil do-ers really should be taken out of power.  On the other hand, innocent people die in government wars.  So, let’s imagine a McDonald’s employee tracks a criminal into a Burger King bathroom, right after taking from the BK cashier’s drawer.  The McDonald’s employee then proceeds to blow up the entire Burger King restaurant to get this criminal.  Does this person get to claim all the other people inside the Burger King were simply collateral damage?

Now I know someone out there is going to say something along the lines of: “of course we don’t expect McDonald’s to take on the same role as the government ya dope!  McDonald’s doesn’t have a Constitution, and we don’t elect politicians to operate McDonald’s like we do the government.  We don’t expect these things from them because they’re not the government!”

This line of reason is exactly why I am writing this article.  What we are actually talking about is government legitimacy, so let’s examine the reasons people believe government has it.

1. The government represents the people through voting.  Their job is to carry out the will of the people they represent.

  • False.  All governments operate via law and enforcement thereof.  So what that means is the first thing politicians assume is that they do not have your consent.  If they had your consent, there would be no need to use law enforcement measures.  Also, the idea that some bureaucrat you have never met before can accurately take your conscience and values into account when making decisions… come on…

2. The government is an entity on its own charged with the task of running society.

  • False.  The government is a collection of human beings.  Society is not a machine that needs an operator, but rather a collection of people.  If no human being has the moral right to use force against another, then the government can’t possibly have it.  Morality for McDonald’s doesn’t change if they change their name to McGovernment!

3. The government derived its power to use force from the consent of the people.

  • False.  If nobody has the power to use force against others to begin with, nobody could have possibly given that power to the government.  Giving one’s consent to others to use force against themself is a contradiction in terms.

This list could grow exponentially, but I hope the point is clear.  Governments are nothing more than groups of people, same as any other, whether it’s a business, a family, a charity, a community watch group, etc.  It doesn’t have to be McDonald’s necessarily, but before you support anything any government does, ask yourself “what if someone else in society were doing the same thing? How would that make me feel?”  Because let’s face it:  most of us spent our formative years pledging allegiance to the flag and learning politically correct/tainted history.  By projecting government actions onto parties we feel neutral about, we can overcome these biases.

 

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Voting & Gun Rights Restored for Non-Violent Drug Offenders?

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“Arguably, the government had no authority to “take” the right of self-protection in the first place, it being a natural right, protected-from, NOT bestowed-by, government. By contrast, the “right” to vote is a privilege bestowed by government. Further, any “crime” which did not involve depriving, or attempting to deprive, another person of life, liberty, or property, is in fact no crime at all. The State, not being a person, cannot be a victim. That stipulated, anyone not actually incarcerated should retain all rights belonging to any other citizen.”

J.D. Parks-Ask A Libertarian- Jan 26, 2017

Further Reading:

Restoring Voting Rights for Former Felons

Felon Voting Rights

House votes to let nonviolent ex-felons restore gun rights

Federal Lawsuit Could Restore Gun Rights To Nonviolent Felons

 

*Contest Winner Mr. J.D. Parks was selected based on the articulation of his argument which made persuasive points that we feel best represents the libertarian perspective on “voting and gun rights for those convicted of non-violent drug offenses.

 

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The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.