Wednesday, October 27, 2010

None of the above...

Whenever the Libertarian Party holds a convention and elects its officers, one of the choices on the ballot is always NOTA, or None Of The Above. It's a perfectly legitimate option.

There may be times when none of the candidates suit your fancy. The Palladium-Item recently selected NOTA in the District 54 race when it made its endorsements for the 2010 general election.

I have been questioned a few times about why Libertarian Party candidates who don't run active campaigns are on the ballot. Sometimes it is to provide an option.

You won't find NOTA on your ballot when you go to vote this November. In most places you will find a Republican and a Democrat, or maybe just a Republican, or maybe just a Democrat. And of course, if you are happy with the way the Republicans and Democrats have been running the government, you probably don't have a problem.

The problem comes if you would like for the Republicans and Democrats to stop spending so much of your money and running so much of you life. Your only option then is to abstain from voting for them. But the problem with that is they don't know why didn't vote for them. It could be that you're not happy with them, or it could be that you were just to busy, or it could be that you just don't care. Either way, they get 100% of the votes that are cast. That's not much of a deterrent.

However, having a Libertarian candidate on the ballot gives people that want a less expensive and less intrusive government a chance to vote for it.

Most Libertarian candidates run active campaigns, and certainly the LP is looking forward to the day when it has grown to the point that in every election, all positions are filled with active candidates.

Until that day arrives, every candidate that runs on the Libertarian ticket, whether that candidate receives 5%, 15%, or 51% of the vote, allows a growing number of voters to say that they believe limited government is a viable option, and that they would like to vote for it.

And then if you're still not happy with the choices, we'll see about getting NOTA on the ballot.


Monday, October 25, 2010

What's it gonna take?...

A country is a big thing to turn around, and undoubtedly, turning ours around will be a daunting task. But it might not be as daunting as some would have us believe.

Consider that when Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, the population of the United States was around 305 million. That puts the number of eligible voters at about 240 million, more or less. That means the 69,456,897 people that voted for Obama represent about 29% of possible voters, or about 22% of the total population.

Not to say that that's not a lot of people, but at least it's not all of them.

When you run for office as a Libertarian, you find out that a lot of people don't want to turn the country around. A lot of people want to keep it going in its current direction. And if you're running for office as a Libertarian, you realize that people who are satisfied with the direction our country has taken probably aren't going to vote for you. Ever.

And used to, when you ran for office as a Libertarian, you were probably going to get 1% or 2% of the vote. But we've seen those percentages increase over the years, and hopefully we will see them increase more this year. But probably not to 100%. And probably not to 50%.

But as more and more people decide they can't afford any more of the current direction, and start voting for a change in direction, it's not out of the realm of possibility that someday 25% or 30% of the population could decide that the Libertarians are right.

And sometimes that's all it takes.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

You've come a long way, baby.....

"Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.".... Galatians 6:9

Back in 2004, when the Libertarian Party was still new in these parts, the Wayne County party had three solid candidates for the county council seats that were up for election that year. Two were business managers, and one had worked in production in Wayne County for over 30 years. A couple of weeks before the election, one of the Democratic Party candidates for council was arrested for shoplifting cold medicine at a local drugstore.

When election day came, the Democratic candidate that had just been arrested received more votes than the 3 Libertarian candidates combined.

I don't mind telling you, that made candidate recruitment a little tougher the next time around.

But recruit we did, and each election the LP's vote totals increased, and our candidates became a little better versed in campaigning. Around the state, some candidates began to receive endorsements from service organizations, and even the FOP.

In 2008, The Libertarian candidate for Wayne County Commissioner, Cheryl Heacox, received the endorsement of the Palladium-Item. Over a seated Republican.

Earlier this month, over in Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Matthew Cantrell, the Libertarian candidate for State Treasurer.

This morning, the Indianapolis Star endorsed Chard Reid, the Libertarian candidate for Indiana District 5 of the U.S. House of Representatives. Over a seated Republican.

Of course, the endorsement didn't produce a win for Cheryl, and I don't know what effect it will have on Cantrell or Reid's race, but it sure feels better than being ignored.

Or getting defeated by a shoplifter.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

May I take your order?...

I'm not a big fan of poached eggs. If we go out for breakfast, I don't order poached eggs. I know that if I do order poached eggs, I'm going to get something I don't really want.

On November 2nd, we get to place an order with our government. There is a good possibility that you don't want your tax dollars going to wealthy corporations at the federal, state, and local levels. There is also the possibility that you don't want your tax dollars being spent to provide stadiums for millionaire professional sport team owners. Or maybe you don't want your road use taxes spent on things that have nothing to do with roads.

Maybe you don't want the government to have the ability to tax your parents out of their home, or maybe you don't want the government to tax and regulate job producing businesses completely out of the country.

Unfortunately, if you vote for either of the major parties, that is exactly what you are ordering.

Perhaps you would prefer a government that concentrates more on its proper role of protecting its citizens, instead of redistributing their earnings, that offers better and more affordable choices in education, and allows you the freedom to distribute more of your income as you see fit.

If that is the case, you will need to place your order with your Libertarian candidates. Those choices are not on the Republican or Democratic menu.

But if enough people started ordering them, they might be.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Are we there yet?!?!

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." - -- Mahatma Gandhi

10 years ago, when I happened across Harry Browne on C-Span speaking at their national convention, I had never heard of Libertarians or the Libertarian Party. I liked what Mr. Browne had to say, and the more I read about the Libertarians, the more I liked what they stood for. It was quite a change from the Republican ideology that I had become comfortably accustomed to, and required a re-examination on my views of the proper role of government, but after a couple of years I was pretty much converted.

Third parties face an uphill battle in Indiana and the United States. The major parties place obstacles to keep them off of the ballot. Even after achieving ballot access, the Libertarian Party has struggled in many areas of the country to be included in debates and election coverage. There have been a few exceptions, and local newspapers in this area have been very fair and accommodating to our candidates.

Anyway, what started as an unheard of political party with a few candidates getting 1% or 2% of the vote, has become a party that this year is running over 100 candidates across the state. Libertarian candidates have won local elections, and many candidates finish with 30% or more of the vote.

We can't say that we have won yet. We haven't reached major party status, and we haven't started winning at the state level. We don't have as many candidates as we would like to have, and some of our candidates aren't as engaged as we would like them to be.

But Libertarians aren't being ignored as much as they used to be, and as more and more people gain an understanding of Libertarian positions, it's getting a little harder to ridicule them.

As for the fight part, I keep a blog over at the Palladium-Item website called TheBellCurve 3.14159. In the last week there were a couple of pretty nasty attacks against Libertarians. One couldn't understand the national platform, and another one tried to blame a failed government operation on them. While their attacks were misguided and ill informed, I guess it's better than being ignored.

I was heartened by the number of people who stepped up to point out the errant bloggers mistakes. I don't know if that would have happened just a few years ago.

I don't suppose either one of those bloggers will ever accept the personal freedom and personal responsibility that Libertarianism both offers and requires.

But that's okay. When we finally win, they can get together and live their lives as they see fit.

As long as they let me do the same.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Fairly even...

I've been encouraged this election season by the increased comments regarding the unfairness of the Economic Development Income Tax. While not everyone agrees on the specific duties of government, it seems more and more are deciding that it isn't right to tax the wages of employees, and give the money to selected and favored business owners.

While we need to create a business friendly climate to attract jobs to the area and state, we don't need our government giving one company an unfair advantage over another. And we see this in more than just the EDIT.

Let me preface this next statement by saying that I have a lot of respect for the Amish community, their work ethic and their way of life. My concern is not with the Amish, but again with the government.

The Amish have long been exempted from paying Social Security taxes. I congratulate them on this victory. I believe every citizen should have the ability to opt out of the system if they so desire. The problem is everybody doesn't have that ability under the law.

If a company is bidding on a project against an Amish company, the Amish have a 15.3% advantage on labor costs because of this discrepancy.

I have no problem with any business underbidding another business. Competition is good for everyone.

I do have a problem when government starts playing favorites.

That isn't good for anybody.

Friday, October 01, 2010

We're not gonna take it...

My old buddy Stinky Wilmont was, without a doubt, shoes off or shoes on, the best tree climber at Millville Grade School. Even the big knobby Hackberry that was the corner marker between the school playground, Summit Taylor's back lot, and Fred Harrison's corn field, and stood 15 feet to the first limb was no match for Stinky's prowess.

Most of Stinky's buddies, who fancied themselves accomplished tree climbers also, held a deep appreciation for his abilities. Bernice Hawkins, however, upon seeing Stinky up in the tree, would assume her duties as a Junior Volunteer Safety Patrol Captain and inform Principal Baker, who in turn would come out and unleash a torrent of invective against poor Stinky for climbing the tree, and against the rest of us for encouraging his behavior with our praise.

Afterwards, Stinky felt bad, his buddies felt bad, Principal Baker went back and joined the other teachers in the furnace room/smoking lounge, and Bernice went back to playing on the maypole, and keeping a watchful eye in case anybody started to enjoy themselves again.

I never really understood why it bothered them so. While our gang wasn't really into maypoles, we didn't mind if Bernice and her friends enjoyed them. And most of us were still at least a couple of years away from taking up smoking full time, but it didn't bother us too much that most of the teachers had the habit. Besides, everybody knew that climbing trees wasn't nearly as dangerous as maypoles and cigarettes.

That's one of the things that attracted me to the Libertarian Party. I've never had a Libertarian tell me I couldn't climb a tree. Or tell me I had to.

Many of the discussions I have about Libertarianism involve peoples' concerns about what they think Libertarians want to take away from them, and why most of the time those people are wrong.

Libertarians are opposed to the initiation of force. That means if an adult decides to enter into an arrangement with another adult, or group of adults, and if that arrangement doesn't require force, then Libertarians probably aren't going to use force to keep you out of that arrangement.

If you choose to pool your retirement savings with another person's savings, or with a million other peoples' savings, and dole it out as the group sees fit, Libertarians have no desire to take that choice away from you. You get to choose how it's managed, and who manages it. The only thing you won't get to do is force somebody else to join or fund your arrangement.

And if you want to join together with some people and invest in a new business that wants to come to your town, you can do that too. You just won't be able to force your neighbors to invest if they don't want to.

Libertarians aren't going to try to deprive you of your right to associate with whoever you choose to associate with, and they won't try to deprive you of your right to support any charity or project you deem worthy of support, as long as you remember that your neighbor may not share your feelings about the worthiness of a particular charity or project.

The only thing Libertarians will take away from you is the ability to initiate force against another individual.

And that's a heck of a lot less than what the government is taking away from you now.