Video: Libertarian Party Chair Candidate Opposes Voting

Libertarian National Committee Chair candidate Ernest Hancock responded to 10 questions posted on IPR for him by saying they will be answered by videos on a DVD he will be mailing to LP national convention delegates.  This is the first in a series of investigative reports that will use Hancock’s video and audio archives to anticipate what messaging he might send to LP delegates.

43 thoughts on “Video: Libertarian Party Chair Candidate Opposes Voting

  1. Thomas L. Knapp

    Apparently Hancock’s message sells to the voters … in a way.

    He racked up more than 50,000 votes, 3.x% of the vote, in a race he told people not to vote in.

    I suspect that’s above average for a Libertarian candidate for statewide office in a three-way race.

  2. Rob Power

    This reminds me of the movie Brewster’s Millions where the title character encourages everyone to vote None of the Above, which the voters interpret as voting for him. 🙂

    Seriously, though. Telling people not to vote? When you are yourself a candidate? Really? Maybe Ernie will tell his supporters not to vote for him in St. Louis. I’ll buy him a drink if he has the nerve to do that.

    In case there is any confusion, I absolutely DO want people to vote, and specifically to vote for ME.

    Rob Power
    Candidate for LNC Secretary

  3. JT

    That’s your response, Tom? Hancock still got more votes than a Libertarian usually does in a statewide race? I’m not even sure that’s true in Arizona, which is one of the most libertarian states. But if there were videos online of Root previously urging people *not* to vote because it’s a con that only “feeds the beast,” would you hold that against him as he runs for national chair of the Libertarian Party? I think you would. And that’s not a defense of Root.

  4. Nice Gimmick

    Gimmicks get attention.

    Gimmicks make people listen and consider what they might glass over otherwise.

    There is no way with a minute or so out of what are obviously much longer pieces, to put this guys words in context.

    Who ever his competition is must be a really desperate do-nothing, to criticize a performer for putting on a show.

  5. Robert Capozzi

    I often don’t vote if there’s no L on the ballot, so “not voting” doesn’t strike me as an inappropriate position for the LP’s chair to take. Almost always, voting L is a symbolic act that stands virtually no chance of helping to select the winner.

    I also have no problem with voting for the “lesser of 2 ‘evils'” if one feels called to do so, or voting against the incumbent, which some Ls do.

    All good.

  6. Thomas L. Knapp

    JT,

    You write:

    “if there were videos online of Root previously urging people *not* to vote because it’s a con that only ‘feeds the beast,’ would you hold that against him as he runs for national chair of the Libertarian Party? I think you would.”

    If there were videos online of Root previously urging people *not* to vote because it’s a con that only “feeds the beast,” I would not hold that against him as he runs for national chair of the Libertarian Party to any greater degree than I hold it against Hancock.

    The vibe I’m getting from you is that you think that I’m a bigger fan of Hancock than I actually am, and/or that I give less credit to Root than I actually do.

    I’ve attacked Root more often than I’ve attacked Hancock.

    I’ve also praised Root more often than I’ve praised Hancock.

    Because I attempt to treat the national LP as a going concern, and because I believe that the effect of electing either one to the chairmanship would be the de facto dissolution of the national LP, neither Root nor Hancock is my first choice for the position.

    Hancock, however, is my second choice after Phillies, while Root is my last choice, after NOTA, Hinkle and Myers.

    That’s because I believe the kind of national party dissolution Hancock would create would be an attempt at intentional decentralization of party activity to the grassroots activism level, while the kind of national party dissolution Root would create would be an unintentional (though predictable) financial collapse accompanied by depression and disgust at the grassroots level.

    To put it a different way, Hancock has at least some understanding of what the LP should be doing, even though he might fail to get it doing that; while Root has no fucking idea what he’s doing. Hancock might fail, but if he succeeds the party will be better off. If Root is in the chair, the party is screwed if he fails and even more screwed if he succeeds.

  7. JT

    Robert: “I often don’t vote if there’s no L on the ballot, so “not voting” doesn’t strike me as an inappropriate position for the LP’s chair to take.”

    Well, Hancock didn’t say, “don’t vote if there’s no L on the ballot.” That’s good. He just said, “Don’t vote.” If that’s not a weird thing for a Libertarian candidate to say, I don’t know what is. Now he wants to be national chair of the party? Campaigns and elections are kind of integral to the party’s activities.

    Tom: “If there were videos online of Root previously urging people *not* to vote because it’s a con that only “feeds the beast,” I would not hold that against him as he runs for national chair of the Libertarian Party to any greater degree than I hold it against Hancock.”

    Based on your comment, I didn’t think you were holding it against Hancock at all. You just made an observation that he still got 50,000 votes.

    Tom: “The vibe I’m getting from you is that you think that I’m a bigger fan of Hancock than I actually am, and/or that I give less credit to Root than I actually do.”

    I thought you liked Hancock for chair much more than Root. As you went on to explain, I was right. If videos surfaced of Root doing the same thing while he was an LP candidate, I think you’d comment negatively on it. You didn’t with Hancock. I’m not a big fan of Root.

  8. JT

    Actually, I can think of many weirder things that a Libertarian candidate could possibly say. But that one is strange. Even stranger from someone who wants to head up the whole party.

  9. Hotlz's Ego

    This is the first in a series of investigative reports…

    Not so much an “investigative report” as a blog posting.

    Brian Holtz has delusions of grandeur about his posts and blogs.

  10. Starchild

    Dissident political parties in other countries have often boycotted elections that they think are unfair and urged people not to vote.

    This is a legitimate strategy and has sometimes been more effective for dissidents than voting. I’m not saying it’s the right strategy for the Libertarian Party *right now*, but I do think it’s an option we should keep on the table.

    Given that some LP members talk as if running candidates is the main or even the *only* thing our party should be doing, I think Ernie’s message about the merits of not voting strikes a valuable counter-balance that will help us diversify our agenda to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and not put all our eggs into the “getting elected” basket.

    Ernie was instrumental in promoting Ron Paul’s candidacy in 2008, and has been helping Barry Hess run for governor on the Libertarian ticket in Arizona this year, so clearly he is able and willing to promote candidates and seek votes when he feels the time is right to pursue that strategy.

    I think he is simply trying to get people to think about the big picture and not be obsessed with the idea that the only way forward is to win elections. Also, as a previous commenter alluded to, telling people not to vote for you when you’re a candidate is a way of getting media attention and breaking through the apathy. It’s especially apt when you’re running for Secretary of State — the state office that oversees elections — as Ernie was in 2006.

    Ernest Hancock has shown that he has a keen instinct for garnering media with “guerilla” approaches of this sort, which is one reason I think he would make a good Libertarian Party chair.

    Obviously an election for Libertarian Party chair does not involve participating in a government-run process the way that a public election does. So any suggestion that Ernie needs to urge people not to vote for him in St. Louis in order to be consistent is comparing apples and oranges.

  11. Thomas L. Knapp

    JT,

    I wrote:

    “If there were videos online of Root previously urging people *not* to vote because it’s a con that only ‘feeds the beast,’ I would not hold that against him as he runs for national chair of the Libertarian Party to any greater degree than I hold it against Hancock.”

    To which you replied:

    “Based on your comment, I didn’t think you were holding it against Hancock at all.”

    Correct. And I wouldn’t hold it against Root, either. I’m not sure that I agree that telling people not to vote is a good strategy for a political party, but I’m at least open to the possibility.

    “You just made an observation that he still got 50,000 votes.”

    Yup. That’s what I found interesting about it. And it’s not the first time I’ve noticed that phenomenon, either. I’m just not sure how to interpret it.

  12. Brian Holtz

    Starchild, what do you think it would do for LP candidate recruitment and morale to have an LNC Chair with a record — let alone an ongoing practice — of advocating against voting?

  13. JT

    Starchild: “Dissident political parties in other countries have often boycotted elections that they think are unfair and urged people not to vote.”

    Why exactly did such parties do this? Did they do this because they thought voting itself is wrong in principle?

    Starchild: “Given that some LP members talk as if running candidates is the main or even the *only* thing our party should be doing, I think Ernie’s message about the merits of not voting strikes a valuable counter-balance…”

    What is the *defining* characteristic of a political party? What one aspect differentiates it from every other political organization? The answer is: It fields candidates for government offices. Obviously, the party doesn’t put those candidates on ballots so people won’t vote for them; if that were true it wouldn’t offer candidates at all. So to espouse the view that people should *not* vote at all and run for chair of a political party is therefore a strange contradiction. Unless you only want to become chair to try to shut the party down (I’m not saying Hancock is doing that).

    Starchild: “Ernie was instrumental in promoting Ron Paul’s candidacy in 2008, and has been helping Barry Hess run for governor on the Libertarian ticket in Arizona this year, so clearly he is able and willing to promote candidates and seek votes when he feels the time is right to pursue that strategy.”

    Yes, clearly he’s able and willing to do that contrary to his admonitions that voting at all legitimizes the depredations of government no matter who you vote for.

    Starchild: “Also, as a previous commenter alluded to, telling people not to vote for you when you’re a candidate is a way of getting media attention and breaking through the apathy.”

    Why shouldn’t the 2012 Libertarian presidential nominee talk about why people should *not* vote for him and every other Libertarian candidate to break through the apathy as well? Every Libertarian should do that if it will possibly get more media attention (how much attention that tactic gets is debatable).

    Starchild: “So any suggestion that Ernie needs to urge people not to vote for him in St. Louis in order to be consistent is comparing apples and oranges.”

    The inconsistency is in seeking to head a political party, whose defining characteristic is to field candidates who then campaign for votes, while saying that voting itself is wrong.

  14. JT

    Tom: “Correct. And I wouldn’t hold it against Root, either.”

    So if Wayne Root, as the Libertarian vice presidential nominee, campaigned by saying don’t vote at all in any election, the act itself legitimizes state depredations, it makes you feel icky, etc. you’d have had no problem with that and wouldn’t be bringing it up now that he’s running for national chair? Okay then.

  15. JT

    Tom: “I’m not sure that I agree that telling people not to vote is a good strategy for a political party, but I’m at least open to the possibility.”

    I wonder if a cell phone company should tell people as a strategy that using cell phones is wrong and dangerous. I hope one is at least open to the possibility.

  16. Thomas L. Knapp

    JT,

    You write:

    “So if Wayne Root, as the Libertarian vice presidential nominee, campaigned by saying don’t vote at all in any election, the act itself legitimizes state depredations, it makes you feel icky, etc. you’d have had no problem with that and wouldn’t be bringing it up now that he’s running for national chair? Okay then.”

    In other words, since you don’t like my answer to the question you asked, you’re going to try to pretend that you asked a completely different question.

    If Root was saying these things, I’d certainly be bringing it up.

    I don’t have a problem with Holtz bringing up the fact that Hancock says these things, no matter how much you may want to believe that I do.

    All of the candidates should be under a microscope on any issue that’s of significant interest, and this one, IMO, is.

    In point of fact, I said exactly this about Hancock, on the LP Radicals discussion list on February 25th:

    In 2007-2008, Ernie was a high-profile campaigner in support of a Republican presidential candidate.

    I suspect that’s going to be an issue in his chair campaign — and it’s entirely fitting that it be one. That’s not to say that he may not persuade the delegates to set it aside, or even to consider it a positive, of course.

    If you think that I’m engaged in some kind of reflexive defense of Hancock, you’re not paying attention.

  17. Thomas L. Knapp

    JT,

    You’re conflating the role of a majority, plurality or reform party in the existing system with the “defining characteristic of a political party.”

    The purpose of the LP is “to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles.” A number of means for achieving that purpose, including but not limited to electoral means, are subsequently listed pursuant to that purpose.

  18. Mark these words .......... Lake

    “If you think that I’m engaged in some kind of reflexive defense of Hancock, you’re not paying attention.”

    ——— Thomas L. Knapp // Apr 10, 2010

    [oh, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, when you change your tune every few minutes it is kinda difficult to follow the score ……….]

    [when I was warning folks about Doctor Phillies in 2008, people were warning me about your two faced ness ………… Live and learn ……….]

  19. Cobb - LaMarshe P2004 .......... Lake

    Brian Holtz // Apr 9, 2010:
    “what do you think it would do for LP candidate recruitment and morale to have an LNC Chair with a record — let alone an ongoing practice — of advocating against voting?”

    ———— Oh come on Brian, look how WONDERFUL it has worked for the verdant partisans!

    “If you think that I’m engaged in some kind of reflexive defense of Hancock, you’re not paying attention.”

    ——— Thomas L. Knapp // Apr 10, 2010

    [oh, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, when you change your tune every few minutes it is kinda difficult to follow the score ……….]

    [when I was warning folks about Doctor Phillies in 2008, people were warning me about your two faced ness ………… Live and learn ……….]

  20. Why are the .......... Lake

    Why are the ………. Lake // Apr 10, 2010:
    Democans and Republicrats laughing at the ‘Loyal Opposition’ so loudly ??????????

    Phillies: “LP as the solo peace party …………”

    Root: “$100T national debt ……….”

    Hancock: “Don’t vote ……….”

  21. Thomas L. Knapp

    Don,

    “oh, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, if you ever start changing your tune every few minutes it will get kinda difficult to follow the score”

    There, fixed that for ya.

  22. Don Wills

    Thomas Knapp writes –

    “Because I attempt to treat the national LP as a going concern, and because I believe that the effect of electing either one to the chairmanship would be the de facto dissolution of the national LP, neither Root nor Hancock is my first choice for the position.”

    I agree 100% that Root or Hancock would cause the national LP to dissolve into irrelevancy. Where Knapp errs is in his belief that Phillies has any chance of winning. He does not. Knapp’s voting order should be Phillies, Myers, and then the rest. John Jay Myers is a real libertarian. He’s an activist and would be a fresh new face for the LP. He’s the only candidate who is anti-war, believes in voting, and most importantly, has a chance to win.

  23. JT

    Tom: “In other words, since you don’t like my answer to the question you asked, you’re going to try to pretend that you asked a completely different question. If Root was saying these things, I’d certainly be bringing it up.”

    Wow. You specifically said that you don’t hold it against Hancock at all–and you wouldn’t hold it against Root anymore than you do Hancock (which means not at all). You’re saying that if Root said the things I mentioned in post 17 as the Libertarian vice presidential nominee, you’d have had no problem with it and wouldn’t be *judging him negatively now*, just like you’re not doing with Hancock in this case. Okay then.

    Tom: “If you think that I’m engaged in some kind of reflexive defense of Hancock, you’re not paying attention.”

    I think you’re not reacting to Hancock the same as you’d react to Root in this case because, overall, you like Hancock more and prefer him for chair (even if he’s not your first choice).

    Tom: “You’re conflating the role of a majority, plurality or reform party in the existing system with the “defining characteristic of a political party.”

    The purpose of the LP is “to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles.” A number of means for achieving that purpose, including but not limited to electoral means, are subsequently listed pursuant to that purpose.”

    No. I said a party, like any other concept, has a defining characteristic that differentiates it from all other groups. What is that one thing? It’s candidates for public office. A party may do *other things* besides field candidates and still be a party (whether it should or not is a tactical question). But without offering candidates who seek votes, you don’t even have a political party. Therefore, to advance the idea that people should *not vote* on principle and want to head a *political party* is bizarre.

  24. Null

    “Nulo — Spanish for null and void — is drawing support from disgruntled Mexicans who say the country’s politicians are focused more on their own power games than on the people they are supposed to serve. So, instead of urging voters to throw their weight behind any of the real candidates vying to be elected mayors, governors or members of Congress on July 5, Nulo’s backers are calling on Mexicans to nullify their ballots — and vote for no one at all.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/world/americas/21mexico.html

    Abstention
    Nullification
    Boycott

    These are not bizarre concepts in the least.

    What purpose does anyone serve criticizing people’s tactics when they themselves do not have a track record of continued success. Politics is not (despite what the status quo offer as anemic example) a linear equation.

    Insurgent political movements do NOT move forward by playing politics as usual.

    The status quo HATES nullification:

    “Many officials say nullifying ballots is as bad as staying home on election day. Santiago Creel, a senator from the conservative National Action Party of President Felipe Calderon, called it an act of “political suicide.”

    Lawmakers with the three top parties lined up to denounce the voto nulo; a leftist congressman said it was akin to “dynamiting” democracy. And there’s the vote-fraud angle, always big in Mexico: What if ballots left blank end up mysteriously marked during the tally?

    Even Mexico’s Roman Catholic bishops weighed in, urging nulistas to drop their campaigns as acts of “irresponsibility.””

    http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jun/16/world/fg-mexico-novote16/2

    Whether you like Hancock or not, to point at creativity and drive and call them negative traits for a movement that has to fight for every second of public attention is nothing other than spoiler punditry. It is punditry aimed at stifling new and coming ideas for engaging the body politic and strengthens the Status Quo.

    I recommend celebrating the creative activists, as suppressing them has shrunk the party for too long and put us in a quagmire defined by the stagnant ground game of the Republicans and Democrats.

  25. LP Can Never Win in a Demopublican Game

    JT: What is the *defining* characteristic of a political party? What one aspect differentiates it from every other political organization? The answer is: It fields candidates for government offices.

    “Defining” characteristic? And who established that definition? The parties in power.

    But have you, JT, never heard of outside the box thinking?

    Have you never heard of asymmetrical warfare?

    The LP should fight for liberty through counter-intuitive moves. Publicly scorning elections as “tyranny of the majority” might be an effective PR/educational strategy, and would do more to promote liberty in the culture than mimicking Demopubicans.

    If you let the winners establish the rules, if you let the winners frame the issues, if you do whatever the winners expect you to do, you’ll always be a loser.

  26. deran

    Green Party Conservative: Uhm, if you follow the Der Spiegel link provided, it shows the German Greens at 14% and holding steady there for the last several polls. They are only two polling points ahead of The Left Party.

    No doubt if the SPD can pull it off, the GP will again become the the SPD’s lap dog to form a government.

  27. George Phillies

    For an alternative approach, on April 21 the NewPathForTheLP.org group will be rolling out its strategic and business plan for the National Committee. That’s 11 days from now and counting.

  28. JT

    LP Can Never Win: ““Defining” characteristic? And who established that definition? The parties in power.”

    Um, no. That’s just what the defining aspect of a political party objectively is. Other groups organize political protests, issue policy papers and op-eds, hold conferences, etc. Only a political party offers candidates in public elections. Democrats and Republicans didn’t create that, sorry.

    LP: “But have you, JT, never heard of outside the box thinking? Have you never heard of asymmetrical warfare?”

    No, what are those things? Educate me.

    Kidding. I’m all for “out of the box” tactics when they make logical sense. The idea in question doesn’t make sense.

    LP: “Publicly scorning elections as “tyranny of the majority” might be an effective PR/educational strategy, and would do more to promote liberty in the culture than mimicking Demopubicans.”

    If you want to scorn elections as “tyranny of the majority,” go ahead. To do so as a political candidate is bizarre.

    That won’t promote liberty in the culture. What will promote liberty in the culture is many Americans understanding and respecting liberty, and electing individuals who will give it to them instead of take it away from them.

  29. Donald Duck

    Meanwhile, most voters keep pulling the lever for Porky Piggies. Now that’s just goofy!

  30. JT

    I’ll just add that the Founding Fathers of America were very concerned with the “tyranny of the majority.” That’s why they wrote a Constitution, albeit imperfect, that enumerated what each branch of the federal government was legally allowed to do, and nothing else (which is largely ignored by government officials today). Yet they weren’t against elections in principle.

  31. Thomas L. Knapp

    JT,

    The defining aspect of a political party is that it seeks political power in order to implement its agenda.

    The Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Bolshevik faction) would probably have been surprised to learn that they weren’t a political party because for most of their pre-revolution existence they did not put up candidates for political office.

  32. JT

    Tom: “The defining aspect of a political party is that it seeks political power in order to implement its agenda.”

    It seeks political power through the *electoral* process (i.e. candidates and votes). Is there any other organization that does that? NO. Are there other organizations that seek to influence policy in other ways? YES. That’s the only difference, Tom, which is what makes it definitional.

    Tom: “The Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Bolshevik faction) would probably have been surprised to learn that they weren’t a political party because for most of their pre-revolution existence they did not put up candidates for political office.”

    I’m not familiar with the history of various Russian political parties. But a party that doesn’t endorse candidates who seek votes is a “party” in name only, not in fact. Whether anyone is “surprised” by that or not is irrelevant.

  33. Thomas L. Knapp

    JT,

    You write:

    “[A political party] seeks political power through the *electoral* process”

    Some do, some don’t. The fact following the comma means that it’s not an essential or definitional characteristic.

  34. JT

    Look, Tom, what in your view *differentiates* a party from all other groups if not candidates seeking election? What then does it mean to “seek political power in order to implement its agenda” that makes a party fundamentally different from any other group, including various lobbying groups? Many thousands of groups can claim to want more “political power” to get something through government; are they all political parties?

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