Perspectives: The Appeal of the Libertarian Party
Being Libertarian Perspectives will serve as a weekly, multi-perspective opinion and analysis piece by members of Being Libertarian’s writing team. Every week the panel, comprised of randomly selected writers, will answer a question based on current events or libertarian philosophy. Assistant Editor Dillon Eliassen will moderate and facilitate the discussion.
Dillon Eliassen: Welcome to a special edition of Being Libertarian Perspectives. I know several of you are involved with the Libertarian Party, but I’d like to get the perspective of those who do not routinely work to broaden the LP’s appeal and base of support.
The common refrain of libertarians now seems to be it is a great time to go third party, what with the impending nominations of the Hutts that call themselves Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. What is your sales pitch to someone on the fence? What is your opening salvo to get someone to consider joining the LP and/or voting for the LP candidate? What is your variation of a car salesman that asks a potential buyer “What will it take to put you in this car today?”
My opening line would be “Who knows better than you how you should spend your own time and money?”
Mike Avi: We have the best of both worlds. We’re polling in the double digits according to a recent poll. And we’re certainly a better choice than Hillary or Trump!
Mike Mazzarone: Whenever I talk to my Republican friends or my Democrat friends it’s always the same kind of pitch. For the Dems, it’s about how socially liberal the LP is. How we care about LGBT rights, how many of us are pro-choice and how we could care less about how you live your life as long as you aren’t harming anyone. For the Republicans it’s all about the fiscal side of things, and in my experience it’s been easier to sell the LP to disenfranchised Republicans. All the Democrats I know are Bernie bots and think his cause is what’s worth fighting for. Whereas Cruz and Paul supporters have been more receptive to the Libertarian Party.
Nathaniel Owen: The Libertarian Party has the disadvantage of being the only non-populist party, yet is the only political party for which registrations have increased. We represent a principle for which ethics and economics are on our side, and best of all, we’re a relatively new face in the political crowd. If people sincerely want positive change, the Libertarian Party is the way to go.
Avens O’Brien: I think this year provides an exciting opportunity for a Libertarian candidate, as there are many people within each party and in the middle who cannot stomach Trump or Clinton. I start by asking people what they think of each of them. Typically words like “corrupt” or “evil incarnate” come out. Once they’ve said something bad about each side, I tend to laugh and go “you sound like a libertarian.” That broaches the subject and then I ask what issues they care about, and adjust my pitch to emphasize their own liberty preferences. Everybody’s got some way they want to be free and some way they think the current system is corrupt. It’s about tapping into that artfully, and presenting an alternative. My pitch always utilizes the Ransberger Pivot.
Dillon: That’s my favorite kind of pivot.
John Engle: To take a slightly different tack, approaching people fed up with tired ideas: there are almost no battleground states. We know the result in most. A vote for the LP in such states raises their national total and can get them over the hump to be considered viable. Even if you don’t particularly like the LP, it is good service to our electoral system to help chip away at the current duopoly. Clearly there is an appetite for more than two big tent views. Voting LP whether you are on board with their politics completely or not helps that process along. And of the third parties it has the best chance of making that breakthrough.
Anna Trove: I think many people on all sides of the spectrum are sick of corruption of the “establishment” and recognize the two main candidates are intertwined in elitism. A great way to send a message of disapproval and change is to vote third party. We will no longer succumb to the status quo and the candidates pre-elected by the media. Unfortunately, many people think Bernie is anti-establishment when he is the opposite.
Bric Butler: Well, I’m the political outlier here once again. I’m not really a supporter of the Libertarian Party. That is simply because the structure of our political system does not make a multiparty (more than two) system viable because we do not have proportional representation in local, state, or federal governments. So I would only advocate the Libertarian Party as a protest vote because we have bad main party options. Then using our influence we gain from a large 3rd party vote in 2016 to pressure the main parties to move in a more libertarian direction. Trump and Sanders have had such massive success because they have used already existing party structures to rise in influence. They did not waste time by futilely swimming against the current by trying to lay down an entire new party which takes massive amounts of resources and time.
John: The rise of Trump and Sanders are a pretty good demonstration. They are introducing ideologies far outside the parties they putatively represent. They see co-opting the primaries as their way forward. But the fact that there were essentially four or five ideologies in clear display shows people want a bigger choice. The trick is to show viability by expanding ground game and bringing maximum force to a point, i.e., use the national libertarian organization to fight a handful of legislative and congressional races where a plurality could be won.
Neil McGettigan: This is strange election, never in recent memory have two front runner candidates lacked so much legitimacy in both their parties. But, sitting at home isn’t tallied. Even if voting third party is a protest vote, it will be counted and will send a message that neither candidate can say they have the backing of half the voting population.
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