Washington Times: What’s Next For Third Parties

Geoff Neale, Libertarian National Committee (LNC) chair, in an email to the LNC earlier today, urges all LNC members to read an article published yesterday, Tuesday, 26 June 2012 in the Washington Times titled: “What’s next for third parties after Gary Johnson?”

Neale further comments:

I think this is the kind of feedback/advice we in the LP at every level should at least consider.

The article offers five specific suggestions for Third Party success, includes references to Sun Tzu’s Art of War, advice on fundraising strategy and concludes with the declaration that:

It’s time for third parties to reject the notion that being vanquished is their eternal inheritance.

The article by Washington Times reporter Danny de Gracia can be found in its entirety here:




14 thoughts on “Washington Times: What’s Next For Third Parties

  1. Austin Battenberg

    That is a fantastic article. Very inspiring. The biggest thing to me was this: “The biggest mistake one can make is to assume that campaigning is just passing out leaflets and knocking on doors for nine months during election season. Third parties need to make an active effort to be visible and active in their communities in and out of election years. Over and above marketing and recruiting outreach this means volunteerism.”

  2. zapper

    Nice article. Wonder if he reads IPR. He gives a nice rational explanation for the need for targeting states and party building/outreach on an ongoing basis, not just during elections:

    “If, as an example, the Libertarian Party were to focus on a few states – or even one state – we could see a third party beachhead emerge that serves as a launching point for future national campaigns.”

    And, as I said regarding why Wyoming would be a good target state for Libertarians if we had decent leaders who would try to take second place by defeating the very weak Democrats.

    And likewise do the same to become second and defeat the Rs in states where the Rs are weak, the author writes:

    “… states where one of the two major parties has a recurring poor record E combined with a large independent population are ripe for a third party alternative. Poor E over the course of several general elections may suggest the losing major party may be the wrong ideological fit for that state or the losing major party’s state committee fields poor candidates.

    “… we calculate a party’s Exchange Ratio as the number of wins divided by the number of losses in a single general election (E = w/l) …”

    Another significant factor the author overlooks is state population size. When targeting we must choose those states that are small enough for our limited resources to be enough to have a sinificant impact and pull us into second place by killing off the weaker “major” party.

    It’s time to launch the Zapper plan.

  3. Dale Sheldon-Hess

    All these ideas amount to “Help third parties by making yours into a local top-two party.”

    Okay, I guess that could work, for one third party; maybe two.

    But it doesn’t get to the root of the problem, that we have a system in which the top-two parties are unequally favored while all others are unfairly punished. This makes it incredibly difficult to achieve the aims of this advice, for a third party to unseat an existing top-two party. In fact, this has NEVER HAPPENED in US history (no, the Republicans did not unseat the Whigs; first, the Whigs fell apart, all by themselves; and then the Republicans rose into the vacuum created by their absence.)

    The only true solution, I believe, is a voting system that does not have this built in two-party bias. And the only such systems without this bias are the evaluative methods, such as approval voting and score voting.

  4. George Phillies

    “If, as an example, the Libertarian Party were to focus on a few states ”

    This line was pushed regularly in the 90’s, and led to a series of failures.

    Also, most party resources are not mobile.

  5. Be Rational

    It will be eaier for the LP to organize properly and win elections, district by district and state by state than it will be to change the voting system.

    There is nothing inherent in any of the alterative voting systems that will make it more likely that representatives of liberty will win enough seats to change policy. In fact, it can be argued that the current system gives us the best opportunity to elect a Libertarian majority.

    Let others fret over the voting system. We in the LP need to focus our limited resources on promoting Liberty.

  6. Be Rational

    @6 This has never been attempted. Your claims are just not supported by the history of the LP.

  7. Humongous Fungus

    Dale @5 and George @ 6 are both right.

    However, George is wrong @9 to assume that the error @8 is intentional deception, and to assume that someone using a pseudonym is “hiding,” as there are numerous perfectly legitimate reasons to use pseudonyms, which have a rich and proud tradition in human history and especially in struggles for liberty.

    It might also make sense to explain exactly what he is referring to. Off hand, I’m aware of the Murray Sabrin campaign in NJ; circa 1997 or so. What other examples is he thinking of?

  8. zapper

    For the official record:

    The Libertarian Party, specifically the national party or LNC, has NEVER at any time in its history, targeted any state party for development and growth.

    This has been presented and discussed in various threads and was named by others as the Zapper plan.

    This does NOT mean an attempt to WIN by spending money on some individual race somewhere. That is not the Zapper plan and is not advisable. Candidate targeting has been attempted and would predictably fail in most cases at the present time.

    The Zapper plan was always and still is a plan to build the LP presence and support in key, targeted states through advertising over a long period of time – a minimum of two complete 4 year election cycles ending with a POTUS campaign. It would build awareness, build the state and local LP organization, and move the LP in the targeted states into a significant 3rd party position.

    Over some longer period – time unknown since nothing like this has ever been tried – the next goal would be to become politically competitive and take the 2nd position as the 2nd major party in the targeted states.

    George Phillies @6 & 9 is wrong.

    It makes one wonder: Is he lying in order to achieve some personal agenda, or is he so Obtuse as to be unaware that he has completely misstated the history of the LP and completely misunderstood the topic being discussed.

    The Zapper plan would involve significant major network TV advertising during prime times and around news programs in each and every year over 8 or 9 years (ideally we begin this year and make 9 years on the first go round) with a minimum advertising expenditure of 10cents per capita per year.

    ADDITIONAL money could be spent – and ideally would be spent – on other forms of advertising including radio, cable TV, yard signs etc.

    The TV advertising would put a media umbrella over the state and result in free media far more valuable than the direct cost of the ads. The ads would promote the LP itself and Libertarian positions on key issues. They would tie in with conventions, speakers, and outreach activities as appropriate. They would not target candidates with the exception of targeting the POTUS campaign during the P election years as a media umbrella.

    Of course in some targeted states, it is possible that it would be advisable to use some of the funds to target ballot status races when those arise so as to provide a statewide media umbrella and win ballot status. In other states, advertising could assist in ballot drives or voter registration campaigns.

    In addition, the target states would receive assistance in the form of training so as to allow the state leadership to make use of the new members and donors that would be streaming in so as to form single, stand-alone county affiliates in every county and for those affilitates to begin the process of organizing their own cities and towns on the precinct level.

    By targeting key states, For the FIRST TIME in LP HISTORY, the LP can finally …

    … begin the party building that has never been attempted.

  9. Bubbalicious

    Sounds pretty solid, but it depends on LPers in some states to contribute to national so as to target other states. They could choose to just donate to their state and local parties instead.

  10. zapper

    Yes. Some Libertarians are so parochial that they cannot see the benefit of helping some state LPs grow in order to help themselves build their own state LPs later. Instead of banding together to win, they prefer to stand alone and lose – forever.

    We should all think of the Amish barn raising – families and individuals all work together to rasie a barn on one farm for one family, then later they join together to help another. If they didn’t join together, one farm and one family at a time, none of the Amish families could raise their own barn and none could have one.

    Likewise, Libertarians need to be wise enough to band together to raise the banner of Liberty over our 50 states, one state at a time, starting with the small states where we can afford to begin.

    Being Libertarian and believing in individual liberty doesn’t preclude the wisdom of voluntarily helping others – especially when it is clearly in our own self interest to do so.

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