I first met Larry Sharpe, a prominent New York Libertarian activist, at a pizza place in Des Moines, when I invited him to speak at Drake University on behalf of Young Americans for Liberty.
Larry is charismatic, philosophical, convincing, relatable and so much more as he spoke about the failures of the “Drug War” to an entire room of mixed political views. I know at least one of my non-libertarian friends left the room with the same views as me.
Unfortunately, not every person in the Libertarian Party is Larry Sharpe.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been highly critical of the laws, regulations and entities that damage third parties and preserve the American two-party dictatorship. I’ve seen firsthand as Libertarian Party politicians are kept from debate stages across the country for not polling well enough (in polls they aren’t included in), and regularly facing challenges from signature requirements, to legal battles, to federal funding for the major parties.
That said, it’s time to take responsibility for shooting ourselves in the foot time and time again over remarks and actions that are controversial, utterly stupid, or divisive.
This isn’t to say other parties don’t do this, but they more or less get away with it because they’re drained out and there are so many more of them that their remarks don’t paint an entire movement.
Here’s just a taste of the poor remarks in the past few years:
Gary Johnson: “What is Aleppo?”
Gary should’ve known where Aleppo is, but I will defend him that his stance on foreign policy is a thousand times better than either Trump or Clinton. However, that doesn’t give him a free pass to make his party a national embarrassment.
Arvin Vohra: Military members are “Moral-less murderers.”
I, too, am critical of the military, but calling an entire voting bloc “murderers” is plain stupid. This is not how you criticize the military.
Nicholas Sarwark: “The Libertarian Party is treated like African Americans before the 1960’s and Women before suffrage.”
Yes, we are judged more harshly, but don’t make historical comparisons to oppression to pander or for sympathy. That doesn’t help.
Austin Petersen: “You couldn’t approach one quarter of the pyramid pile of p***y that I swim in on a regular basis.”
Many people got a laugh out of this, but having a thirty-five year old say this won’t make them take us seriously. Unacceptable.
Man strips on stage at the Libertarian National Convention.
I don’t know what he was thinking. He’s a no-name without a voice in our party, but outsiders don’t know that and it hurt our reputation.
Female delegate proposes that Dobby from Harry Potter becomes recognized as the Libertarian Party mascot.
I don’t know what she was trying to achieve or if she remembers that Dobby died shortly after the quote she mentioned. This was more cringeworthy than anything.
Bill Weld: “Hillary Clinton is a person of high-moral character” while “vouching” for her.
Most people who bomb civilians in foreign countries and take money from Wall Street and Saudi Arabia aren’t what I would consider morally good beings, but even if she was, you don’t betray your running mate a week before the election. This was awful!
If you pay any attention to Libertarian Party politics, you would know there are far more gaffes than this that I could mention just from Gary Johnson alone. That said, I like the people I mentioned here and I think the named people would make excellent governors and senators.
However, these kinds of quotes are not what win elections, and we have some cleaning up to do too.
I would love to see Starchild, Darryl Perry, Adam Kokesh, Aaron Commey and every purple-haired loser leave the party so the adults and intellectuals can take over.
Obviously, the Republicans and Democrats have a long way to go when it comes to governing and campaigning, but so do we.
Here are a few New Year’s resolutions that everyone should follow in the realm of politics, but I’m directing this towards my fellow Libertarians (because I’m sick of it being the fringe party that comes up short).
- Stop identifying further into an already small movement.
I don’t care if you’re left-leaning, an Anarcho-Capitalist, a Conservertarian, a Libertarian purist, a Libertarian pragmatist, a monarchist, or a Libertarian moderate. I don’t care if your favorite Libertarian is Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Walter E. Williams, or Ron Paul. What I care about is that we’re united on a platform and that we can win elections.
Stop debating the exact size of government or miniscule issues about cakes when we don’t yet have control of government, we need to unite, not divide. I’m a Libertarian, and there’s nothing more to it.
- While we’re on the topic, lower your standards for “libertarian enough.”
This isn’t an idea held only by me, as Larry Sharpe advocated the 80/20 rule to me: if you agree with a candidate on 80% of the issues, cast a vote for them.
Gary wasn’t the perfect candidate, but I won’t condemn him and call him a statist for saying we should look into a Carbon tax.
We can still have a sense of purity while being a little pragmatic at the voting booth, because giving him 5% was the greatest good for the party.
- Stop using buzzwords. This goes for everyone, but saying “Taxation is theft” and “End the Fed” won’t win us votes and it doesn’t gain favors or mean anything to non-libertarians.
It’s important to move past dialogue and the “fiscally conservative, socially liberal tag” to actual policy discussion.
- Realize that the only way Libertarians can take over government is by unifying under a political party.
The Libertarian Party certainly has its flaws and we should fight impurities and gaffes every step of the way, but refusing to get involved, refusing to vote, writing in Ron Paul or arguing that voting isn’t a libertarian thing to do aren’t helping.
- Know that unlike Republicans and Democrats, everything we say is a representation of our party and that we’re examined under a microscope.
Trump’s Hollywood access tape was far worse than Austin’s clever sexual insult, but Donald Trump was elected President while Austin Petersen couldn’t win even the Libertarian Party nomination.
The Libertarian party has a pure platform, excellent ideas, and good leadership.
It’s radical without being crazy, and has managed to be reasonably pragmatic without selling out. It hasn’t been corrupted by big interests and it tries to serve the people, but it must avoid turning into something repulsive.
It has infinite potential in a time when the major parties are historically disliked, and its tactics and supporters must simply change for it to become a serious political threat rather than a libertarian debate club,
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