Libertarians: The Dirt and Filth of the 2014 Election Cycle

August 22, 2014 9:20 am

by Jessica Szilagyi · 11 comments

Forum, debate, whatever you would like to call it, the first one for the U.S. Senate debate was hosted by the Georgia Chamber yesterday. Both David Perdue and Michelle Nunn attended. Amanda Swafford, the Libertarian candidate, was not invited – though she did answer each question ‘live’ on her campaign Facebook page.

A few times in the last few days, I’ve had conversations with fellow Republicans who were ‘not so bothered’ that Amanda was not attending/planning to attend and acknowledged that they were unwilling to draw attention to the ‘Big L’ candidates. It’s nothing new, but it’s still surprising to me. I guess it’s that pesky idealistic mentality of mine.

It does leave me wondering: Is this really what we have become? So closed-minded, so restrictive that we bar people from playing in the huge sandbox of the political game, so protective that we won’t let anyone even express ideology in the same forum? And when we see it, we sit silently?

**Before I go any further, please note that I fully recognize that the Chamber is able to invite or not invite or uninvite anyone they so choose to their private events (and I believe most could acknowledge that Libertarian principles generally aren’t good principles for the Chamber of Commerce, but that is neither here nor there). I am simply expressing why I don’t think it’s a good idea.**

Libertarians and Independents, but mostly Libertarians, will be blamed if there is a runoff and they’ll be blamed if there is a Republican loss. But what about if Republicans win? Do we want it to be because we stood by while another candidate, an entire group of people, were essentially silenced and told ‘You’re not worthy of participating?”

I’m not a Libertarian voter. In fact, the only ‘Big L’ vote I ever cast was for Public Service Commissioner in 2012. I vote R and I believe what our state party platform touts. But I don’t want to play on a team that doesn’t believe in a fundamental value of American politics. There is a stark contrast between believing you have the best platform and believing that you should narrow the amount of room available for additional platforms to zero.

I’m also not saying Republicans should spearhead the movement for Libertarians to be on the ticket across the state or blaze a path for people to pay attention to their message. I’m just saying we should be an example and not stand in the way.

We complain about ignorance and apathy. Are we going to support people playing in the political process or only if they are playing on our team? I’ve said it time and time again: There will come a day when Republicans realize they are unable to win an election without the help of libertarians and Libertarians. People have memories. They will remember this. Not just that there was a difference of opinion but that no one stood up and called out a wrong. They will remember that we told them they are ‘wasting’ votes and their candidate isn’t viable enough to have a seat at the table.

Our election process is flawed enough. Let’s not exacerbate it. It’s not good PR and I really don’t think this is our best strategy long term.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Ralph August 22, 2014 at 9:47 am

Libertarian votes mostly come at the expense of otherwise Republican votes. The Democrats should be pushing for their inclusion to possibly force a runoff – which they would then lose anyway.

Dave Bearse August 22, 2014 at 10:18 am

“I’m also not saying Republicans should spearhead the movement for Libertarians to be on the ticket across the state or blaze a path for people to pay attention to their message. I’m just saying we should be an example and not stand in the way.”

With every statewide office GOP and the legislature 2/3 GOP, you’re in essence giving this lip service, since nothing is going to change if the GOP doesn’t spearhead the movement (as was the case for the Dems when they had large majorities)

Jon Richards August 22, 2014 at 10:25 am

Jessica, what actually are you advocating? You stipulate that the forum was a private event, and Republicans did not choose who would attend. You don’t think “Republicans should spearhead the movement for Libertarians to be on the ticket.” Nor do you think the GOP should “blaze a path for people to pay attention to their message.”

You say Republicans should not stand in the way.

So, how did Republicans stand in the way of what went on yesterday in Macon?

The Libertarian Party is not going to help Republicans win elections. They will, rightly, compete for voters with the GOP and Democrats, Greens, and other parties. Their goal should be to get as many votes as they can, and many will come from former Republicans. Why should the GOP assist them in that effort?

Instead, Republicans should be a big tent party, working as hard as it can to attract voters who lean libertarian.

Jessica S. August 22, 2014 at 10:37 am

I’m advocating for exactly what I said I’m advocating for: Republicans (and Democrats) to speak up and acknowledge it’s wrong to exclude Libertarians from the process

Ed August 22, 2014 at 11:08 am

Not being involved in organized politics it doesn’t bother me what any party wants to do but… If the Libertarians want to be a part of the process, they should do more than be a bit player. Is it “unfair”?

Well, perhaps.

But our system is designed for two parties and currently the Libertarians are not able to be part of the table. They’re not even competitive in elections! (Yes, I know that there might be a “build it and they will come” scenario here). At some point, an honest discussion has to say that they are not a factor and not a true part of the process because…. well there’s just not any of them in Georgia.

Besides all that, the two parties have very broad tents and the GOP has libertarian factions. And right now, Libertarians are just that–a faction in Georgia politics. Hell, if the GAGOP were truly exclusionary of libertarianism, I don’t think Jessica would stick around.

Ed August 22, 2014 at 10:31 am

Come now. Libertarians are only the dirt of every election cycle, not the dirt *and* filth.

ricstewart August 22, 2014 at 11:02 am

The Libertarian nominee is the only candidate in the race who has ever held elected office before… when has that ever happened before?

northside101 August 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Hardly radical stuff I have suggesting, but if Libertarians ever want to get beyond the standard 3 to 4 percent they get in contests for Governor and US Senate, they have to spend money on TV ads. Lots of it. And on prime time, not Cable Channel 99 at 3 in the morning. I can’t recall a time in the last 10-15 years where I ever saw a Libertarian candidate for either of those offices run an ad on network television in prime time. Not once. Of course I’ll hear, “well, those type candidates have a hard time raising money.” Well, duh…but the reality is that voters are reluctant to vote for someone they have never heard of. Just look at the May 20 Democratic primary—Michelle Nunn of course had the famous last name, but she was regularly on TV ads—her 3 primary opponents were not. On the Republican side, the candidates who spent the most on TV—Perdue and Kingston—made the runoff, while Handel was left high and dry, unable to raise sufficient funds for a large-scale ad buy. Further back in 1992, Ross Perot came out of nowhere and with a big-spending TV campaign got 19 percent of the nationwide vote (no telling what that would have been had he not dropped out that summer before later getting back in). Maybe what the Libertarians need to mount a viable statewide campaign is a rich business executive who is willing to self fund or mostly self fund his or her campaign. But Saturday morning breakfasts, candidate forums, TV debates and party conventions will not cut it (in terms of getting known to a potential voter audience—registered voters—of some 5 million+ in Georgia).

griftdrift August 22, 2014 at 12:23 pm

They have a pair of rich businessmen that could fund campaigns. They just choose to fund Republicans who narrowly hold their economic lines. I’ll give you a hint – 11th letter of the alphabet.

EAVCandor August 22, 2014 at 2:19 pm

There’s probably like 4 real Libertarians in America, all of them living in Wyoming.

Will Durant August 22, 2014 at 4:25 pm

If they are on the ballot they should be on the dais. The real dirt and filth is being spewed by the PACs that are receiving the bulk of their money from the Chamber of Commerce member corporations. Whether the money has strings attached or not the perception of corruption is enough to make the current process smell like the influent of a sewage treatment plant. Those giving the money showers certainly do not want a runoff because they will have to crank out even more.