The following is posted with the permission of the author, Jacqueline Passey. You can view the original on her website here.
The Libertarian Party national convention is this weekend in Denver. I won’t be going, but I know at least one delegate reads this blog, so I’m posting my endorsements for candidates and issues in the hopes that they are at least somewhat influential in the delegates’ decisions.
First, to give my endorsements the necessary context, I should explicitly disclose my history, positions, and biases: I’ve been involved in the LP since 2000, including working as the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Washington State (2001-2002) and running as a Libertarian candidate for Washington Secretary of State (2004), but I’ve been less active since the 2006 election. I’m a minarchist, but I welcome anyone who supports reducing the size, scope, and power of government as a member of the Libertarian Party and libertarian movement even if they don’t share my exact vision of what Libertopia should be. I think that the Libertarian Party has the greatest chance for success in local races (state legislature and lower) and thus the role of the national party and Presidential candidates should be to first do no harm (do not say or do anything wacky that will hurt local candidates), and second, help recruit and develop a pool of Libertarian activists, donors, and voters that local candidates and organizations can tap into.
To get caught up on the candidates and issues, I read their websites, their Wikipedia biographies, searched YouTube for videos of them speaking, and sought out opinions and gossip from other Libertarians on blogs. I’ve also had personal interactions with George Phillies and Mary Ruwart, and I heard George Phillies and Steve Kubby debate at the LP Nevada convention last year.
Unfortunately, none of the candidates this year really excite me. However, there are a few that I think would help our party grow if they won the nomination:
Wayne Allyn Root:
Pros: Moderately famous for his gambling TV shows/books and Millionaire Republican personal finance book. He’s a very good speaker and smooth with the media, as shown here. Has raised the second most money of the “good” candidates”.
Cons: He only recently made the switch from the Republican Party and is a little on the conservative side. He also seems to have already alienated a lot of people within the LP, although it’s not clear to me what exactly he did to get their panties in such a bunch.
Pros: Relatively famous politically. He was successful in getting California Proposition 215 (Medical Marijuana) passed, so we know he has the connections and resources to get things done. He would probably get media attention for being a convicted felon, but this is a good thing because it would show the stupidity of the Drug War. He’s been campaigning for 2 years. Consistently libertarian positions.
Cons: Most Americans are more concerned about other issues than the Drug War right now, so Kubby’s biggest strength is sort of wasted this year. Despite campaigning for 2 years he hasn’t raised much money.
Pros: Is an excellent speaker and communicator. Is moderately famous within the libertarian movement. She’s able to explain fairly radical libertarian positions and policies without scaring the crap out of people. Running a woman for President or Vice President this year might win us more media attention than we would otherwise get. She’s been involved with the libertarian movement for a long time so we all know her pretty well by now. Consistently libertarian positions.
Cons: She entered the race pretty late and hasn’t raised much money or probably built much of a campaign yet. She doesn’t seem to know how to dress appropriately for a Presidential candidate. Please, Mary, go get some black or navy suits and wear them to all future events instead of that hideous gray thing.
Pros: George is probably the most sane/mainstream candidate for the nomination — he consistently advocates reducing the size of government, but in incremental ways that are actually politically viable. Has raised the most money of the “good” candidates. He’s a long-time member and activist in the Libertarian Party, so we all know him pretty well by now. He “gets it” that the Presidential campaign should be a recruiting tool for building the party and helping elect local candidates. He’s been campaigning for 2 years.
Cons: I think George might have a touch of Aspergers Syndrome — those of you who have met George know what I’m talking about. He’s not at all notable outside of the party.
I wish that George was working as the campaign manager or strategist for a prettier, more charismatic candidate instead of running for the nomination himself. Regardless of who wins the nomination, I hope that George stays involved in the Presidential campaign, because I think he’s got the right mix of libertarian ideology and strategic pragmatism that we need to run a party-building Presidential campaign.
I don’t think these candidates would either help or hurt us that much:
Pros: She seems to have consistently libertarian positions on all the issues. She’s a decent public speaker as seen here. Although I generally wish that female candidates would dress more conservatively, she pulls off the red suit look well. Running a woman for President or Vice President this year might win us more media attention than we would otherwise get.
Cons: She’s just not that notable — it’s too bad that she decided to jump into running for President, because she would have made a great candidate for local office if she actually wanted to be elected to something. She desperately needs a web designer to improve the look and feel of her campaign website.
Other: She shares a name with a Playboy Playmate (NSFW Google images search). Inevitably, some people will get the two mixed up — not sure if that will help or hurt her campaign. 🙂
Pros: Seems comfortable speaking, as shown here. Long-time member (claims he joined the LP in 1980). Founder and CEO of a successful small marketing company. Managed to score a Wall Street Journal blog post about his campaign (“A Small Business Owner for President“). I think his internet-focused campaign strategy is a smart idea given the LP’s lack of resources for conventional campaigning. Has raised the most money of the not-bad candidates. Hasn’t done anything to motivate people to write nasty things about him on blogs.
Cons: That no one is writing nasty things about him on blogs indicates that he’s not campaigning hard enough or being taken seriously as a candidate. Complete lack of notability — again, he should have run for local office instead of President. Campaign literature is way too cluttered and too focused on negative things.
Pros: Seems innocuous. The positions he describes on his website are fairly consistently libertarian.
Cons: I had never heard of him and didn’t know he was running until I did one last check of the LP’s website to make sure I hadn’t missed anyone. Has he raised any money or spoken anywhere? His website is pretty sad.
Pros: Seems to have consistently libertarian positions (although I couldn’t bear to finish slogging through all the text on his website, so there might be something that I missed). Strategically-minded.
Cons: I couldn’t find much about him so he doesn’t seem to be campaigning very much. Seems a bit nutty. His campaign website was difficult to find and is pretty lame. Keeps referring to himself as an “old, bald, fat white guy,” which may be accurate but is not the winning campaign rhetoric we should be looking for. He’s so very earnest that I want to pat him on his little bald head, but I don’t want him representing our party.
I think these candidates would be harmful to our party and I would be very disappointed if any of them were nominated:
Pros: As a former elected Congressman, he’s much more famous than most of the other candidates. His experience in public office gives him credibility, and demonstrates that he is able to run an effective campaign. His campaign website is very professional-looking.
Cons: HE’S NOT A LIBERTARIAN. He’s still really a Republican at heart, and he’s running to get Republicans to vote and help down-ticket Republican candidates (via), not to build the Libertarian Party. He’ll never be accepted by many libertarians due to his support of the Drug War, Defense of Marriage Act, and Patriot Act while he was an elected Congressman — he may give lip service to libertarianism now, but his actual legislative record on libertarian issues is abysmal. He waited until the last minute to officially announce, which seems to me like a slimy tactic to avoid giving Libertarians adequate time to investigate and debate his candidacy before the convention. I don’t trust him or his supposed change of heart (he doesn’t even declare his current positions on drugs or gay rights on the Issues page of his website) — this is a guy that we helped defeat for re-election in 2002, and now he sits on the LNC and is seriously being considered for our nominee for President?! Ron Crickenberger must be spinning in his grave.
Pros: As a former elected Senator, and as a former candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, he’s much more famous than most of the other candidates. His experience in public office gives him credibility, and demonstrates that he is able to run an effective campaign. His campaign website is very professional-looking.
Cons: HE’S NOT A LIBERTARIAN. The only reason he’s running for the Libertarian Party nomination is because he couldn’t win the Democratic Party nomination. He is campaigning for socialized medicine, which would be a massive increase in government. Need I say more?
Bob Barr and Mike Gravel are examples of one of the worst threats to third parties — major party candidates who can’t get along in their own party and decide to leave and try to co-opt a third party’s ticket. We saw this happen with the Movimiento Libertario in Costa Rica (which was the most successful Libertarian party in the world to date). There, the co-opters were successful, and the Movimiento Libertario doesn’t even call itself “libertarian” anymore. Let the fate of the ML serve as a cautionary tale to US Libertarians — don’t be so excited over the prospect of an experienced and proven “electable” candidate from a mainstream party that you ignore their ideology.
Pros: He seems to be putting a lot of effort into his campaign.
Cons: He’s not actually a Libertarian, he’s just a slut for third parties — he’s also tried to win the Green Party, Reform Party, and Constitution Party nominations, and seems to just want to be on the ballot regardless of whose ticket he’s on.
I support the World’s Smallest Political Platform (click the link to sign the petition):
“The Libertarian Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope or power of government at any level or for any purpose.”
I support it because I know from experience that opponents and media can and do go to the national Libertarian Party website, dig up something wacky from the platform, and use it confront local candidates in potentially winnable races. So while I personally don’t object to much in the current or old platform, I think it is a handicap and not a help for winning elections at the level we can realistically win them at. Let our CANDIDATES define their own platforms individually, based on the issues that THEY want to campaign on, instead of having to fend off questions about issues not related to the office that they’re running for or about positions much more radical than they themselves espouse.
Jacqueline Passey is the former Executive Director of the Washington state Libertarian Party, and former LP candidate for Washington Secretary of State. Blog enthusiasts likely remember her from her 2006 blog entry covering the Nevada LP presidential debates, amusingly titled “Two whackjobs, a convicted felon, and George Phillies”. That blog entry set into motion a short-lived “memogate”, in which a memo from then-LP Executive Director Shane Corey, referencing her blog and asking whether the LP can offer better candidates, was leaked into the blogosphere.
Ms. Passey lives in Las Vegas with her husband and dachsunds, and is currently working on her Master’s Degree at UNLV. Her current blog is “Jacqueline Gets Her Geek On”.