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On being Libertarian in Delaware: a response to the dogmatists around the country

If you are a dogmatic Libertarian, who started retching when the Gary Johnson campaign announced it had qualified for Federal matching funds, be forewarned:  you won't like this post.

I live in a Blue State.

No, I live in a BLUE STATE.

The worst that a Democratic Presidential candidate has done in Delaware since 1992 (with Perot at his strongest in the mix) is win by 6%.  It's usually a lot more.  As for party registration and the fact that the GOP here has been effectively reduced to minor party status, I'll turn it over to long-time Libertarian Party of Delaware activist and frequent commenter Tom:

As of May 2012 it's 47% D, 29% R, and 24% "All Others", which is the Dept, of Elections' way of saying 3rd Parties & unaffiliated.
But if you break it down by General Assembly districts, the picture gets much more interesting in several ways that the DE GOP's so-called Leadership are unwilling to even acknowledge in public:
1. After the redistricting, there are 12 of 21 Senate seats and 19 of 41 House seats that Republicans can not win even if they get nearly all of the 3rd party votes and many of the Democrats stay home.
2. By contrast, there are no safe Republican seats, and only 3 Senate and 6 House seats that Republicans even have a chance of winning w/o substantial help from 3rd party & unaffiliated voters and or defection by Democrats.
3. There are 7 Senate districts and 12 House districts where "All Others" outnumber Republicans, and only a few districts where All Others does not constitute a very substantial swing vote.

Nonetheless, one of the few things that the Dems and GOPers agree on in Delaware is that they want to exclude third parties.  We used to have fusion nominations; last year the General Assembly eliminated them.  We used to have very low registration requirements to maintain ballot access, last year the General Assembly raised them, nearly costing the Greens, the Constitution Party, and the Working Families Party their ballot access.  Latest reports suggest that they all dodged the bullet, but we'll see.

Just so you know: the
Indpendent Party of
Delaware is NOT named
after a popular MP3
player.  It's the other
way around.
So there are five minor parties in Delaware:  the LPD, the Independent Party of Delaware, the Greens, the Constitution Party, and the Working Families Party.  We run the gamut, obviously from Libertarian to socialist, with every homegrown idiosyncratic option in between.  The IPOD and LPD disagree vigorously over state single-payer healthcare, but turn around and make common cause over the constitutional authority of county sheriffs.  We send people to each other's conventions, we talk, we work together to keep the system open for as many voices as possible.  Right now, our Sussex County LPD Chair and the IPOD Chair have a cooperative project aimed at using a coalition of minor parties to  lobby for easing the registration requirements.

We are a small state, and we are all outlaws.  Most of us are friends.

We are friends who do not allow our political differences to separate us on the one over-arching issue where we have common ground:  breaking open the two-party (in our case, de facto one party) death grip on political access and power.  We would all cheerfully go into the legislature and fight tooth and nail against each other over issues of policy and law--but I can say this about my friends in those other parties:  none of them would ever try to create an exclusionist political system as bad as the one we currently operate under.

Most of the membership of the Libertarian Party of Delaware tends to consist of pragmatic, not dogmatic Libertarians.  We talk a lot about tactics, and less about theory.  We accept the idea of libertarian as generally meaning socially tolerant and fiscally conservative.  We don't have prolonged diatribes about all taxation is theft.  And we don't get upset, or meddle in, the choices that other Libertarian Parties make in other states.

Which is an important distinction, as dogmatist libertarians seem quite prepared to tell us what we should or be shouldn't doing inside Delaware.  Again and again.

Will McVay:  The Delaware GOP hates
him so much that they nicknameed him
"McVenom" after he sued them over
ballot access.
Yep, our LPD Vice-Chair Will McVay is running in a Republican primary in the 32nd Representative District.  Yes, you read that right--a Republican primary.  He changed his registration to file there because Will is a firm believer in infiltration, invasion, and the ultimate devastation of the GOP in Delaware in the cause of establishing the LPD as the second "major" party.  I don't always agree with his tactics, but I love his enthusiasm, his nerve, and his commitment.  Frankly, his own Dad said it best about Will, and the whole piece is worth reading.  Besides, as Will would point out (being half my age), our generaton hasn't exactly taken over the political landscape doing it our way.

Tyler Nixon:  Libertarian and
anti-drug war activist that the
State has gone to amazing
lengths to shut up.
My co-blogger at The Delaware Libertarian, Tyler Nixon, utilized a Libertarian/Republican fusion strategy in Delaware's 4th Representative District in 2008, and picked up 26.6% of the vote in one of the most heavily gerrymandered Dem districts in the state.  Nobody in Delaware suggests that Tyler is not a Libertarian.  Tyler has been the foremost marijuana legalization activist in Delaware for many years, so successful that the powers that be finally felt compelled to shut him down with an arrest and disabarrment that will eventually become nationally famous as a case of abuse of power.  (Nor on a broader stage do I think my friend Scotty Boman is any less committed to Libertarian ideals when he decides to follow the Ron Paul strategy and run as a Republican.)

We do things our own way in Delaware.

Andrew Groff: endorsed
by the LPD for the
US Senate
At our convention (not without considerable discussion and some dissension), we also endorsed Green Party US Senate nominee Andrew Groff.  In better times Andy would have run as a fusion LPD/Green candidate, but this year the Greens had their convention first.  A lot of dogmatic Libertarians got pissed us over at Independent Political Report, because Andy supports single-payer health care.  They didn't look at anything else he stands for, just that.  So for a position shared by one prominent 2008 Libertarian Presidential hopeful (Mike Gravel) and recently espoused by former Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate in North Carolina and LP convention 2008 keynote speaker (Michael Munger), a bunch of folks from other states decided that it was even appropriate to talk about disaffiliating Delaware from the national LP.  (To be fair, these critics were in the minority. Barely.)

But we're proud to have Andrew Groff running for US Senate against corporate shill Tom Carper, particularly in a circus race where nobody even remembers who the Republican is, and the chief entertainment is being caused by wealthy bar owner Alex Pires runnning against him as an independent.

Many LPD members
routinely change
their party ID to
vote for Ron Paul
We also have a huge contingent (maybe 20-35%) of the LPD in Delaware that routinely switches registration to GOP to vote for Ron Paul or one of our candidates in a GOP primary, and then quickly switches back to avoid losing ballot access.  Unlike a lot of states, we're on real good terms with our cousins in the Campaign for Liberty, and we like it that way.

So guess what, Libertarian world?  Get over it.

We work hard for our candidates, we're working hard for Gary Johnson in a hostile environment, and normally we get absolutely no consideration and no attention from the national Libertarian Party because our ballot access is rock-solid assured, so they don't have to spend a dime here.  And trust me, they don't, and they generally don't seem to give a rat's butt about us, either.

The Gary Johnson campaign has been quite different.  They've been interested, involved, and willing to help since day one.  They understand what we're about here, and it is the same thing that Gary Johnson seems to be about:  building a real alternative party that can actually compete.

Here's the thing, Libertarian world:  those of us who want to see more liberty, fewer taxes, less war, and less Federal intrusion in our lives realize that we're going to have to grow this party beyond the 18% or so of the public that considers itself Libertarian in some fashion now.  We're going to have to educate, use every tactic at our command, and work through increments.

I love the people who won't endorse Gary Johnson because, after bringing all the troops home from Afghanistan and cutting the defense budget by 43%, he won't condemn the proper use of military force to track down a genocidal murderer.  This somehow makes him a neo-con.

I love the people who won't support Gary Johnson because he's realistic enough to know that the US Congress won't just abolish the Federal Reserve, and therefore puts out a plan to audit the Fed and limit its activities.  This somehow makes him appear to have been co-opted by Ben Bernanke.

I love you guys, I really do.

But neither I nor any of the other Libertarians in Delaware are going to let you dictate to us how we run out party, select our candidates, or approach life in the bluest of Blue States.

No apologies.


Will McVay said…
Well said, Steve. The national LP can disaffiliate us if they really want to lose a free ballot access slot for their presidential nominees. I won't lose a wink of sleep.
Scott Gesty said…
Nice piece Steve. I'll admit, I was taken back by the matching funds thing. And, some of the things we've done here have me scratching my head a bit. But you know what, just like you said, in a state like ours, we have to try new things and see how they play out. As for national, Im glad GJ is stepping up to help out. Last cycle, I got some free generic door hangers and a letter when the election was over from national asking me to send any left over money I had to them. At that point, I didnt much care what they thought about what we were doing here.
tom said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
tom said…
[previous comment deleted because it didn't make sense but i hit "publish" instead of "edit"]

To be fair, National's "no support for Delaware" policy is a fairly recent thing and might be partly our fault.

Have we kept lines of communication with them open? Have we reached out to them with well thought out proposals for funding or volunteers and been rebuffed? Or did we just keep quiet and hope they would send us a check every so often.

In the past, representatives from National have routinely attended our Conventions. We've had several LP Presidential candidates make campaign stops in Delaware, or come to our Convention to ask for our support in the nomination process. We've had National send substantial funding to a few of our local candidates.

I appreciated that support, and I think we need to build a better relationship with National so that our serious candidates can ask National for support and have a reasonable expectation of getting it.
Will McVay said…
I agree 100% that we need a solid relationship with the national party, but it is also important to build that relationship on the proper terms. The national party has existed for 40 years and still struggles quadrennially to secure their ballot status in other states, rather than helping us to win in states where ballot access is assured. We MUST impress upon national the importance of developing a relationship with US, or we will never be more than junior partners in a small, blue state that they don't NEED to be focusing on.
Eric Dondero said…
The LP should just use that matching fund money for ballot access. Problem solved!
Eric Dondero said…
Steve, this could be a landslide election. Could be Reagan/Mondel 1984. If that's the case, the GOP may do well, even in deeply blue states like Delaware.

Romney's rising tide lifts all boats.
Will McVay said…
Mitt Romney is not a rising tide. He's a sinking ship.
Eric Dondero said…
No Will, Romney's starting to kickass. He's even gaining in California.

I'm psyched! We're gonna win this thing! This could even be a landslide, which would carry all Republicans up and down the ticket with him, even there in Delaware.

Eric Dondero said…
If you're in a deeply blue state, no harm in voting for Gary Johnson. In fact, more votes for Johnson, more incentive President Romney will have to move in a more libertarian direction.

But if you live in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, VOTE MITT ROMNEY!!!
Will McVay said…
libertarians for romney?

no. romney is no libertarian. i wouldn't even concede that he has the libertarian "tendencies" republican politicians try to pawn off on us every 2 years.
Eric Dondero said…
Will, you're new to the libertarian movement, so I'll excuse your ignorance.

Back in the early 1990s, there was one - only one - prominent politician in the United States proudly calling himself a "libertarian."

William Weld.

Twas Weld who recruited Romney to run first for Senate, and later for Governor. The Weld people contacted us in the Republican Liberty Caucus, asking for our support, letting us know that Romney was like Weld a "libertarian."

We supported Romney enthusiastically.
Eric Dondero said…
You know Will, strike that. I'm actually quite pissed. I don't forgive your ignorance.

I am getting sick and goddamned tired of all these Newbies coming into the libertarian movement, and predenting as though, there's no history of endorsements or friends from past campaigns.

Will McVay said…
Yes, well, now I'm convinced. I mean, sure, he wants to continue/expand the wars, he wrote the template for ObamaCare, he would keep significant parts of it, he wouldn't reign in the Federal Reserve or make a credible dent in spending or entitlements, and he thinks the War on Drugs is just swell, but because you say so and dropped a name, I'll totally change my mind about everything.

How successful has your "libertarian political history" been? How libertarian would you say modern society is? Really, thanks for all the history, but I've learned from it how not to do things.

Will McVay said…
Also, the Republicans in Delaware are no prize. I wouldn't want Romney carrying them across the finish line even if I did think he had coattails.
Eric Dondero said…
Will, some of us would regard, "continuing wars," as PRECISELY THE LIBERTARIAN POSITION.

Letting Afghani women be slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands by the Taliban with an American pull-out would be wholly un-libertarian. Some might even suggest such a policy would be Nazi-like.

Will McVay said…
Orly? You and how many of your closest friends?
Will McVay said…
Oh, yes, very libertarian. Understands very well the fundamental libertarian concept of "minding your own business".

Does anyone besides you believe your BS?
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Will McVay got a DWI from snorting Xanax in October

For more questions feel free to Email me before Steve Newton decides to hide the truth some more

The Truth can be a bitch steve... deal with it.
Anonymous said…
Oh and STeve, thanks for these articles... You see all the people arguing with McVay?

the enemy of my enemy is my friends, they should all check their E-mails.

Next year, anyone with the name mcvay will not go very far, not as if they ever did in the first place... but yes, there will be an army of "trolls"
Uh, Jack--you moron--I allowed you to post the information about the DWI because it is public record. If you want people here to email you, you know what?

Be my guest. This is your one free shot.

Meanwhile your sad little crusade over somebody who never actually had a chance of winning even a primary, and who you are stalking because there's nothing else in your life to do . . . go for it. But this is the last free shot here.
Send it to Eric Dondero, Jack.

He hates Will as much as you do, and has roughly the same lack of taste, so he will publish it for you nationally, and then you can wash your hands and crawl back into your hole.
Jack said…
You think this is about not making him win?

Then you call me a moron? Ha! You got a lot to learn buddy..

I can't fully wash my hands until Jesse and Mary are properly trolled as well and for that I have to wait until next election...

For someone who makes his own little "hobby" out of screwing with politicians... I though you would understand the kicks I get from this.

Cheers Steve.

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