By Rodney Benker
I was recently speaking with a local talk radio personality, and the conversation was very typical when discussing Libertarian politics with someone who “identifies” as libertarian. His comment was “I would vote Libertarian, but you guys keep getting ‘Loons’ to run for office”.
Running for office as a Libertarian is the most admirable and courageous thing any regular citizen could ever do in their lives. But most people do not understand why this is so, and some probably just laughed out loud at my statement.
What people see is a symptom of the problem, it’s not a problem with libertarianism or the Libertarian Party.
The problem is… every single card in the deck is stacked against our Party and our candidates. In Indiana specifically, the Old Parties have built themselves a comfortable cushion to limit political choice in our election process. And before I continue, I’ll say Indiana is more “fair” than most other states. So this is not complaining, this is talking about the battle we have to fight in the system we’ve been given and why we get to run the most courageous people in the state.
Did you know… the Old Parties get donations from people while they are at the License Branch. There’s never a mention of any other political parties. This means a government agency is fundraising for only two of three officially recognized parties in the state – the Libertarian Party of Indiana is the other one.
Did you know… the Old Parties get to select their candidates in taxpayer funded primaries. The Libertarian Party of Indiana has to select our candidates at our membership-funded State Convention. In 2013, Indiana’s primaries for the Old Parties cost you, the taxpayer, $6,969,771.96! The same year, LPIN Membership paid less than $10,000 dollars for our State Convention.
Did you know… state and federal laws make it very difficult, even risky, for anyone to campaign as a Libertarian before our State Convention? This is why people ask why we were not campaigning during the primaries – not only are we excluded from the primaries (for now), it could be a risky venture to campaign early for the candidate or our party if everything is not executed perfectly.
Did you know… due to current laws, the Libertarian Party of Indiana can’t even identify our own voters? Until we hit 10% in a Secretary of State Race, we only get data for Republican and Democrat voters. As our straight ticket votes and individual Libertarian voters continue to rise throughout the state, the information for those voters is not even in the data we buy from the state (and it’s not cheap).
Did you know… just getting ballot access as an officially recognized political party is tough? In Indiana, a political party must get 2% or more in a Secretary of State race. The LPIN attained this in 1994, and we have retained it every election since. Thus is the meaning for our 1994 Society.
All of that is just the tip of the iceberg. The hurdles we face as a political party and what our candidates face are enormous. Things like exclusion from debates, exclusion from media, and much more make it “too risky” for other candidates who want the easier road with the Old Parties.
So, the next time you hear a Libertarian candidate say something “Loony” like the “Leviathan State” or “alcohol should be sold on Sundays”, remember two things. To us Libertarians, the State is the Leviathan which is set-up to protect itself from the competition, and that candidate had the courage to stand up to it.
Our candidates don’t suck! They are the most admirable and courageous people I know in politics. They stand against all odds for what they believe in. They do not sit at home and yell at the TV and they do not take the “easy road” by selling out to the Old Parties (and often still lose). Do you have the guts to stand up for what you believe in? Let’s talk.