Monday, November 17, 2008

"Grow"-ing the party and the vote: some thoughts from a Libertarian candidate

This email by Daniel Grow [used by permission] is an intriguing statement of the problem faced by third-party candidates:

In my U.S. House (1st District, Michigan) campaign, the three 3rd party candidates scored nearly the same number of votes, about 1%. The incumbent (Democrat) received nearly double the number of votes of the Republican challenger. As far as I know, the Green/Socialist party candidate did absolutely nothing, not a single survey, debate, sign, or anything, and she still did as well as she did. On the other hand, I did three televised debates (usually just me and the D and the R), two radio interviews, a TV interview, and had a nice write up following an editorial board interview with one of the bigger papers in the district. I completed all of the non-biased surveys, and always stuck to a radical/anarchist message (I even suggested in one LWV survey that Michigan could fix its economy by basically seceding.)

Had I preached "pragmatic" positions or "transitional" plans would I have done better? I'd say if I had never left the house, I would have done exactly the same. Maybe I would have raised more money with a different message, but at least everyone who was stuck listening to me had a chance to hear a 100% libertarian message. I can only hope it rattles around the back of their heads such that they might see the truth, either sooner or later...

Maybe next time I'll run a public "don't vote for anybody, don't vote at all" campaign, such that we might deny government its "legitimacy" completely. Voting only gives the illusion that you make a difference.

Notice that this isn't a ballot access problem. It's a problem that there is a certain third-party base vote out there to be collected, and not much more--no matter what you do.

Daniel's suggestion is therefore realistic: stay true to your message and hope that it echoes even after the election.

Going to run as a Libertarian--then really run as one. Likewise a Green or a Constitutionalist.

I think, perhaps, that the 2008 election was something of an anomaly: open presidency, highly organized Democratic campaign that massed both enthusiasm and unprecedented amounts of money, and a GOPer campaign that virtually tanked itself but still managed to place a putative partial Libertarian on the ticket.

2010 will be a bye-year--usually a bad time for the incumbents of the ruling party, and 2012 may well see some of the luster flake off the Change we can believe in signs. I'm not suggesting that we're going to take Congress or the White House in 2012, but that there will potentially be a larger uncommitted or independent vote up for grabs than we have seen in a long time.

Yet Daniel's comments really echo in my head; how do we reach more than 1% without presenting a message that simply isn't Libertarian.

I do believe there is an answer out there ,,,


Brian Shields said...

Maybe by talking some Libertarian realism.

Munger did well as a Libertarian because he was established, educated, and respected.

He also was pragmatic while still staying idealistic. He faced real issues in North Carolina with real solutions based on libertarian ideology.

We need more candidates that can bring libertarian based solutions that are realistic. Start from the middle and work your way out, because the extreme will only get you the extreme vote.

Less theory, more reality.

George Donnelly said...

Look at these duopoly candidates. most of the time, they say nothing. oh, they mouth a lot of words, but it's a whole lotta nothing.

we might want to take their lead but in a more productive sense.

be vague, talk about better healthcare, better X Y and Z and when asked explain how, sure, but no need to get so detailed off the bat.

also, libertarian candidates need backup. we need teams to raise funds, set up websites, market them, train them, etc.

Duffy said...

Libertarians need to enter the culture war. They need to infiltrate Hollywood and produce TV shows and movies that trumpet libertarian worldviews. All we get now is the dystopian corporatist future or the dystopian anarchical future.

Libertarians need to be seen as fun yet rational not as hedonistic and irresponsible.

We have a choice of being the party of low taxation, freedom with responsibility and property rights or we can be the party of legal drugs, legal prostitution and libertinism. Guess which one will give us some traction?

Anonymous said...

I know Dan Grow personally and he really worked his ass off during his campaign. I thought for sure he would receive the most congressional votes for a libertarian in Michigan. Turned out to not be the case.

I do believe part of what hurt Dan may have been the fact that he lived out of district. Remember, there is a loop hole in the law and as long as you live anywhere in the State, you can run for office in any congressional district. Both Dan & myself live in lower Southwest Michigan. He ran in District 1, which covers Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Had he lived "in district" as the other candidates, I believe he would have finished higher than 1%