The Libertarian Party Might Survive 2016
As we move closer to late balloting deadlines and very near to the beginning of early voting, it certainly looks as if The People have missed a tremendous opportunity to strike a blow to the system. Barring the entry of a viable, potent independent candidate over the next three weeks, this election is shaping up to be a regular affair. The only person on the stage right now that is willing to speak loudly about the abuses of the system is himself in favor of continuing and in some cases ramping up most of the worst of them.But the news is worse.The institution that should have been the instrument of The People, the Libertarian Party, has itself suffered yet another identity crisis, and has become bloated by people that like to designate themselves as "moderates." These moderates have one characteristic that is arguably inexcusable by now - a belief in the system and a desire for a seat at the table. There isn't one, the house is already burning, and politics as usual is a big part of the reason why.The desire to seek approval of the mainstream and be accepted into the halls of power leads to some strange priorities and decisions. The Libertarian platform is at odds with just about every element of the system as it exists. Seeking to participate in the mess we call government is not only a fools errand, it is inconsistent with the stated principles of the party. So moderates have become comfortable with the idea that much of that platform is disposable, or at the very least unimportant.These moderates have one characteristic that is arguably inexcusable by now - a belief in the system and a desire for a seat at the table. There isn't one, the house is already burning, and politics as usual is a big part of the reason why.The result is a nominee unfit to do what is necessary, to attack the very system itself loudly and by every legal means possible. He could not do it anyway because he is now beholden to a VP that considers the Clinton family to be lifelong friends and good people. Hillary Clinton. Good people.Any real threat Gary Johnson may have represented has been neutralized, so the very least Libertarians could hope for out of 2016 is the strong, shameless delivery of the message. They have not and will not get even this. And many Libertarians, even those that are holding their noses to support Johnson, are not happy.But what happens in November, after this election cycle plays out and the political scene cools down until 2018? Can a calamity like this be prevented in the future? And most importantly, can the Libertarian Party realistically be transformed into a potent tool for achieving Liberty? Or must those of us that have the system in the crosshairs look elsewhere for results?My experience working with the #VoteDifferent Initiative has been discouraging, to say the least. The sheer volume of neglect present in down-ticket campaigns is nearly insurmountable, and indicates that they are backed by a party that does not recognize the importance of winning these elections. Many of these should be winnable elections, but without any official apparatus of support even the strongest candidates will continue to fail.Can the Libertarian Party realistically be transformed into a potent tool for achieving Liberty?I've come to believe that a new party may be necessary, but I also believe in reserving the nuclear button for as long as possible. Starting a new party is a lot of work, and would be silly to undertake if the Libertarian Party were salvageable. So let's consider what can be done to pick up the pieces and transform the Libertarian Party into a force for winning hearts and minds and achieving Freedom.One major problem concerns the nature of parties. Despite the platform, and the stated purposes and goals upon which the party was founded, the effective purposes and goals of the party are in fact whatever the majority of voting members say it is. This is an important distinction.Suppose Bernie Sanders, with his level of support, had instead pursued the Libertarian nomination. He could likely have inserted enough delegates, under the current rules, to carry the day. These delegates would also select a new chairman and board members, effectively removing the threat of having the nomination overturned. Far fetched, maybe. But the important question is this: would the Libertarian Party still be the Libertarian Party?The answer is no, and this is a problem. Some say the entry of William Weld cemented this outcome for the LP. The DNC recognizes the problem - their system of superdelegates is meant to protect against it and is doing so wonderfully. But the RNC is currently feeling the same pain as the LP. Outside of some major party reforms that would make the selection process far less democratic, there is only one remedy. Vigilance.The answer, put crudely, is to bring more heads. And here we are at a disadvantage - most of the people that are sympathetic to the Libertarian worldview have no interest in voting, or politics. Even many of those that fight for Liberty in different ways stay away from the LP, what should be the political arm of a united front. And moderate, mainstream types are far more likely to put up with bureaucratic nonsense than anti-authoritarian types that are more aligned with the party's platform.Even many of those that fight for Liberty in different ways stay away from the LP, what should be the political arm of a united front.It is a conundrum, but one that will have to be solved if the Libertarian Party is to be reclaimed and put back to use for its intended purpose. For if the same people get together and vote in 2020, the LP may well have Gary Johnson as its nominee again. Down-ticket races are perhaps more important, but there is no better driver for down-ticket success than a powerful presidential campaign. Unless "hard Libertarians" can build the necessary support and reclaim key party positions by then, The People will have to turn elsewhere as yet another opportunity is blown.People that believe in the system and want a seat at the table belong in the mainstream parties. The Libertarian Party, however, is supposed to be the voice for resisting the use of force. Opposing force. And therefore, a political system based on force, and a corrupt one at that, should be viewed at all times with contempt. As should it's willing participants.Much else will have to be done, but "fixing the people" is the most important because it is a necessary condition. The voting majority in the party must be stacked against the moderate, watered-down mass of people that has gathered in its ranks. As much as they make accusations to the contrary, it is these people that will ensure the continued irrelevancy of the LP. A watered-down message of Freedom is no message at all, and if history teaches us anything it is that no population will ever flock to a limp, hollow banner.