Libertarian Party: None Of The Above for President?

A number of IPR readers and writers, including Gene Berkman, Chuck Moulton, JT and Sane Libertarian have suggested in recent IPR comments that the field of candidates currently seeking the LP presidential nomination is so weak that we would be better off running no candidate at all.

I’m wondering what the rest of our readers think. If you have an opinion, please reply in the comments.

According to LP bylaws and tradition, NOTA is a choice in every LP nomination election.

112 thoughts on “Libertarian Party: None Of The Above for President?

  1. Darryl W. Perry

    I’d like to see Lee Wrights get the nomination. Depending on who else enters the field, NOTA may become an option for me, however I believe the party should field a candidate – even if it’s a candidate that I do not support.

  2. paulie Post author

    I think Berkman is more dead set on NOTA than the rest, but there seem to be more people expressing support for NOTA over the field as it currently stands than is usually the case.

    I personally prefer most of the FEC-filing candidates to NOTA.

  3. Andy

    The field of candidates who have announced that they are seeking the Libertarian Party’s Presidential nomination is extremely weak. None of them are really doing anything to bolster their campaigns either.

    I do think that there is a big down side to the Libertarian Party not running a candidate for President though, one of which is ballot access. There are some states where running a candidate for President can help the party maintain or achieve ballot access. Another point is that the Libertarian Party is supposed to be a national political party and the party won’t look like a national political party without a candidate for President.

    If I had to chose right now out of the people who have announced for the nomination it would be a toss up between RJ Harris, Roger Gary, and Jim Duensing. I’d probably vote for RJ Harris because it looks like he’s trying to bring in the Ron Paul r3VOLution crowd which I think is a good strategy (although it needs to be implemented a lot better).

  4. JT

    Andy: “I do think that there is a big down side to the Libertarian Party not running a candidate for President though, one of which is ballot access. There are some states where running a candidate for President can help the party maintain or achieve ballot access.”

    In which states has running a candidate for President helped a state party maintain or achieve ballot status? That’s a sincere question, not an implication that you’re wrong. None of the state laws I know of depend on running a candidate for President to maintain or achieve ballot status. If some do (and don’t also require that the candidate receive a larger percentage or number of votes in that state than past Libertarian candidates have received), then I’d have to think more about voting for one of the announced candidates.

    Andy: “Another point is that the Libertarian Party is supposed to be a national political party and the party won’t look like a national political party without a candidate for President.”

    Perhaps, but I’d suggest that any Libertarian has a line that if crossed makes a candidate not worth voting for. That line may be ideological, or organizational, or both, or something else. If all of the candidates who’ve announced that they’re seeking the nomination don’t meet a particular Libertarian’s threshold, I doubt that Libertarian would vote for any of them.

    For example, say all of the several announced candidates for the nomination were just like Bob Barr–ex-Republican politicians with a long history of socially conservative leadership against civil liberties who only want to target disgruntled conservatives. I think many Libertarian delegates wouldn’t vote for any of those candidates, even if they think it’s good for the LP to run a candidate for President. In fact, I think many of them would ditch the LP altogether.

  5. paulie Post author

    In which states has running a candidate for President helped a state party maintain or achieve ballot status? That’s a sincere question, not an implication that you’re wrong. None of the state laws I know of depend on running a candidate for President to maintain or achieve ballot status. If some do (and don’t also require that the candidate receive a larger percentage or number of votes in that state than past Libertarian candidates have received), then I’d have to think more about voting for one of the announced candidates.

    I’d still don’t remember the answer to that.

    I’m hoping Richard Winger will read this and reply.

    Incidentally, which candidate(s) at present do you think are least bad and why?

  6. AroundtheblockAFT

    “National Party?” Yeah, the media will catch on quick if we don’t run someone (sarcasm).
    No one in the world expects the Libertarian candidate to win. The purpose of a candidate is to clearly and convincingly expose as many voters as possible to Libertarian principles and solutions. He or she isn’t going to be in the presidential debates. He or she isn’t going to raise enough money to buy 30 minute infomercials on the the major networks in prime time (as Ed Clark was able to). But our candidate will get local media exposure – talk shows, newspaper interviews – when visiting
    decent sized metro area and appearing along with local LP candidates. In fact, if a local candidate can announce he will be campaigning with the presidential candidate he is more likely to warrant media attention. Problem: there is no way the LP presidential candidate can appear in all 50 states at the side of LP candidates further down the ballot. So, at this stage of the party’s development, why not have multiple qualified presidential candidates? Maybe a candidate for NJ, NY, Penna. Del and Maryland.
    Another for Texas, Okla., Ark, and New Mexico?
    Such a candidate could more easily appear almost everywhere in those states within the 60 day campaign time frame. I believe the aggregate media attention would be far larger than that garnered by one national candidate.
    Another plus: less hard feelings if one or more states really thought the convention winner was unacceptable; they could run the choice they felt more comfortable with. And, over a few presidential cycles, the Party would have ample evidence of which candidates were truly better campaigners, fund raisers, and articulators of
    Libertarian ideals.

  7. paulie Post author

    Problem: there is no way the LP presidential candidate can appear in all 50 states at the side of LP candidates further down the ballot.

    70-something Ralph Nader campaigned in all 50 states and DC in 2008. True story.

  8. paulie Post author

    I believe the aggregate media attention would be far larger than that garnered by one national candidate.

    The LP candidate does get some national media, even if it is not a lot.

    BTW, to make paragraph breaks, just hit enter twice rather than once at the end of each paragraph.

  9. George Phillies

    “Problem: there is no way the LP presidential candidate can appear in all 50 states at the side of LP candidates further down the ballot. ”

    Richard Nixon did. And his convention was much later in the year than ours.

    There are about 180 days between the convention and the election. Even allowing the candidate spends a fair amount of time at home base, there is plenty of time to hit every state.

    Money? As a practical matter, you are looking at $2000 per destination, or a bit less, for the candidate and one staff member; that’s $100,000, which is affordable for a Presidential campaign.

  10. Curt Boyd

    If the LP, or any third party wants to get serious about this, they ought to run candidates in all 435 congressional districts. The Green Party of Canada started running candidates in all Canadian ridings, and started getting national attention. What’s to say something like that won’t work here in the U.S.?

  11. LP voter

    State LPs should try to run electoral slates with no named candidate — just run them as uncommitted electors with “NOTA” listed on the candidate line.

    If they’re stimied doing that, they could just put any name up there — Ron Paul or Paul/Ventura would be good.

  12. paulie Post author

    If the LP, or any third party wants to get serious about this, they ought to run candidates in all 435 congressional districts. The Green Party of Canada started running candidates in all Canadian ridings, and started getting national attention. What’s to say something like that won’t work here in the U.S.?

    The LP can’t find 435 willing congressional candidates who live in the states they would be seeking to represent. I think the goal next year is to have candidates for more than half the seats, although all of them would certainly be nice and the party would love to do it if it is possible.

  13. paulie Post author

    State LPs should try to run electoral slates with no named candidate — just run them as uncommitted electors with “NOTA” listed on the candidate line.

    If they’re stimied doing that, they could just put any name up there — Ron Paul or Paul/Ventura would be good.

    Listing NOTA on the ballot would probably not be allowed (not that I would be for it if it were allowed).

    I would certainly be against running a candidate who would not accept the nomination and at least try to campaign.

  14. Curt Boyd

    @15

    Half would be a great start. I know there are some strongholds like Texas or California where they can get candidates in almost all districts, but even getting one per state, in a major metro area especially, is a good next step. A good congressional candidate could equal support for a presidential candidate.

  15. AroundtheblockAFT

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Sure, our candidate could touch down in all 50 states. I’m thinking more of him or her hitting the top 150 metro areas, with several days easily being spent in the each of the top 25 which have numerous media outlets, countless civic groups, many county LP parties, and (one hopes) candidates to campaign with. The Demopublicans don’t have to do this – they have numerous safe states and they are seeking to win. We, on the other hand, are seeking to spread our ideas and build local parties.

    There’s a limit to the number of Saturday night fundraisers one candidate can attend. A regional presidential candidate, however, can cover all his/her states in Sept. and October.

  16. Kleptocracy And You

    Ron Paul does NOT want to be on the LP or CP ticket. Ron Paul is running for the R nomination. With the new R rules Paul can actually win delegates this time and may even get to speak at the R convention.

    Just REMEMBER it…

    The more voices spreading the liberty message the better. The voting at the L convention will take care of who the nominee will be (NOTA usually has it’s supporters). The ticket needs, no MUST be balanced this time to keep activists from all sectors of the Party energized thru Nov. A R lite as both the P and VP candidates don’t float everyones boat. It takes TWO wings to fly. Try to nominate a “balanced” ticket to hopefully FLY over the opposition….

  17. That Guy

    He will want the LP and CP nominations because he will WIN the Republican nomination and be our next President.

  18. Darryl W. Perry

    Neither faction of the Republicratic Duopoly places candidates on the ballot for all 435 House Seats, and ballot access is so difficult for minor parties that only the LP has placed candidates in more than half of the seats since 1920.

  19. Gene Berkman

    GW @ 4 – “If Americans in 1776 had chosen NOTA we would not have had a Revolution.”

    And if Americans in 1787 had chosen NOTA, we might not have the centralized federal government we have today.

  20. Gene Berkman

    CB @ 17 “…there are some strongholds like Texas or California where they can get candidates in almost all districts…

    In California we have not had candidates in many districts in the last few elections, and many of our candidates are people that run every two years. The media just stops covering candidates who run all the time without getting a significant vote.

    In 2012, California will have few or no Libertarian or other alternative candidates on the November ballot because of “top two.”

    In fact, top two will make it hard to get Libertarians on the primary ballot. California charges filing fees equal to 1% of the annual salary of an office, or 2% for a statewide office.
    We have qualified candidates for the primary ballot for years using a petition method that is in lieu of the filing fee.

    Our “in lieu” petitions have until recently been based on Libertarian voter registration. Now, we have been told we have to collect thousands of signatures because any voter of any party can sign the “in-lieu” petition and the percentage is taken from the general voting population.

  21. Gene Berkman

    My reasons for questioning the concept of a Libertarian campaign for President are both practical and philosophical.

    Practically, we do not have any candidates who can convince people outside our party that they are qualified to be President. The result is that our other candidates, who are qualified to serve in Congress or state legislature, are not taken seriously.

    A Libertarian candidate for President gets little free publicity, and it usually includes taking one or more “controversial” statements out of context and making the LP look ridiculous.

    And philosophically, Libertarians should aim to take power away from the President, which means putting people into Congress who will oppose the President’s statist proposals.

    Instead, when we run a candidate for President, he has to talk about all the power he will use, and how he will push Congress into passing his proposals. It just does not sound right for a party committed to limited government.

  22. Robert Capozzi

    gb, the LP could run a Merry Prankster for President (and VP) who would pledge that, if elected, he/she to not take the oath of office, and would encourage Congress to do the same.

  23. Gene Berkman

    RC @ 27 – that proposal is even less serious than our normal campaigns.

    Seriously, if we are going to engage in electoral politics, either to change society or to change the intellectual climate to prepare for social change, “pranks” are not appropriate.

    We should be aware of the meaning of what we do, and when we run a candidate for President when we have no Libertarians in Congress, our candidate is going to talk as though he should have more power as President, in order to bring us “freedom.”

    I am just not convinced that that approach will work. I have seen it ever four years since the MacBride campaign in 1976.

  24. JT

    Paulie: “I’m hoping Richard Winger will read this and reply.”

    Me too. Or, since he said it, Andy may know of states that have maintained or achieved ballot status because of a candidate for President.

    Paulie: “Incidentally, which candidate(s) at present do you think are least bad and why?”

    Hmmm…I’d have to think about that and get back to you. Right now I honestly don’t know. Whom do you prefer and why?

    Gene: “A Libertarian candidate for President gets little free publicity, and it usually includes taking one or more “controversial” statements out of context and making the LP look ridiculous.”

    Can’t say I agree with that one: http://harrybrowne.org/2000/medialist.htm

  25. AroundtheblockAFT

    #27. That was sort of the thinking behind having Russell Means as the nominee.
    I still get tingles up my leg at the thought of him rolling into Monroe, Michigan to campaign in full Lakota regalia.

  26. paulie Post author

    philosophically, Libertarians should aim to take power away from the President, which means putting people into Congress who will oppose the President’s statist proposals.

    Instead, when we run a candidate for President, he has to talk about all the power he will use, and how he will push Congress into passing his proposals. It just does not sound right for a party committed to limited government.

    Is there something unlibertarian about a presidential candidate talking about the power of the veto, bringing home the troops as commander in chief, or pardons for victimless “crimes”?

    For that matter, much of what the presidential candidate talks about is simply libertarian views on a broad range of national issues, not presidential powers per se.

  27. paulie Post author

    Seriously, if we are going to engage in electoral politics, either to change society or to change the intellectual climate to prepare for social change, “pranks” are not appropriate.

    Pranks are absolutely appropriate. If I can’t dance, laugh, etc., forget your revolution.

    We should be aware of the meaning of what we do, and when we run a candidate for President when we have no Libertarians in Congress, our candidate is going to talk as though he should have more power as President, in order to bring us “freedom

    A Libertarian president would almost certainly only get elected if we also elect many Libertarians to congress at the same time.

    And a Libertarian candidate for president can talk about using existing presidential powers, without trying to expand them at all.

  28. paulie Post author

    Whom do you prefer and why?

    Wrights is a solid libertarian and writes well. His speaking is not as bad as, say, mine, but he could still use some coaching. His resume is not very impressive, but neither was Badnarik’s, so I don’t think that would hurt us too much. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about his temper, but haven’t seen that side of him myself.

    Harris seems to be good at reaching Ron Paul grassroots supporters, which is something I am looking for in an LP candidate. Unfortunately, I don’t think the LP is ideologically grounded enough to keep him from talking about abortion, as the party did with Paul himself when he ran in ’88.

    Roger Gary seems to be a good guy. He gave me a ride to Tennessee and a place to crash one time. I thought his piece on 9/11 could have been better, and he could do more press/opinion releases. I’m pretty sure he can afford to go to more state conventions…or maybe he’s already doing it, but I haven’t heard about it. He also backed out of running for national treasurer, which I think was a mistake. He’s been an elected official, state chair, LNC member (I think), statewide candidate. If he campaign more forcefully and communicates it to us more regularly he could earn my support.

    I’d be a lot less apt to vote for Carl Person, due to such things as his opinion on state banks and the fact that his campaign manager is running for president himself on the Objectivist Party line.

    I like Wayne Root’s energy, but his appeal skews too far to the right for my taste. Therefore he would not be among my top choices for the nomination.

    “A Libertarian candidate for President gets little free publicity, and it usually includes taking one or more “controversial” statements out of context and making the LP look ridiculous.”

    Can’t say I agree with that one: http://harrybrowne.org/2000/medialist.htm

    Good point.

  29. JT

    So would it be fair to say, Paulie, that your first choice right now would be Wrights? Or would you say that you don’t have any preference as of yet?

  30. Gene Berkman

    “…A Libertarian president would almost certainly only get elected if we also elect many Libertarians to congress at the same time…”

    Actually, a Libertarian might get elected President years after we have a significant bloc in Congress.

    I have been to many campaign events for Libertarians running for President, and the question always comes up “What can you accomplish”?

    The answer always involves using the Bully Pulpit – but we as Libertarians automatically discount what an incumbent President says when he uses the “Bully Pulpit.”

    Libertarian candidates for President also talk abut putting popular pressure on Congress. We have not got a lot of evidence that Congress listens to libertarians or other advocates of limited government.

    Libertarians advocate policy changes that can only occur through changing laws, which is the responsibility of Congress. If we have a Lib. candidate for President who says “I will propose a law…” that just gives more sanction to the expanded power and influence of the Presidency that Libertarians and limited government conservatives should oppose.

  31. Gene Berkman

    I am not aware of any state where ballot access is determined by the vote for President, except possibly in Georgia.

    I know in Georgia in the 1950s and 1960s any party that received 20% of the vote nation-wide for President qualified for the ballot – they did that to ensure that Republican candidates would appear on Georgia’s ballot.

    In some states, I believe Michigan is one, ballot access can be retained based on the vote for the top candidate on the ballot. Some small parties have declined to put their candidate for President on the ballot in Michigan because their candidate for Senate had a better chance of getting the required vote

  32. Steven Wilson

    I have stated here before the fact of NOTA in a game. If it does exist, it cannot suffer criteria. You can’t tell game players there are set conditions wherein it cannot be used, like saying,

    “We must field a Presidential candidate or suffer dire consequences at the state ballot access level”

    NOTA is used when the game player feels no justice when in the game. If you go to the convention and they remove NOTA from your options, do you feel as if you were treated fairly?

    NOTA is a tangent of removal. It can’t be anything else. Even a threat. It ends the game because you decide to stop playing.

    If NOTA is going to be altered, then just let it out altogether. If you manipulate it, the tangent becomes a decoy. You lose anyway.

    IMO, cheers.

  33. paulie Post author

    So would it be fair to say, Paulie, that your first choice right now would be Wrights? Or would you say that you don’t have any preference as of yet?

    Wrights or Harris, both have different good points. Gary could be, but he has to do more and say more.

  34. paulie Post author

    “…A Libertarian president would almost certainly only get elected if we also elect many Libertarians to congress at the same time…”

    Actually, a Libertarian might get elected President years after we have a significant bloc in Congress.

    Maybe I did not phrase that well enough. I meant that a Libertarian president would be unlikely to get elected without also electing significant numbers of libertarians to congress. It’s certainly possible that there will be a lot of Libertarians in congress before there is a Libertarian president.

    Also, the kind of mood it would take to elect a libertarian president would almost certainly have a major impact on members of congress even if they are not elected Libertarians.

    I have been to many campaign events for Libertarians running for President, and the question always comes up “What can you accomplish”?

    The answer always involves using the Bully Pulpit – but we as Libertarians automatically discount what an incumbent President says when he uses the “Bully Pulpit.”

    I gave several other answers above, none of which involved the bully pulpit.

    Libertarian candidates for President also talk abut putting popular pressure on Congress. We have not got a lot of evidence that Congress listens to libertarians or other advocates of limited government.

    Why would they listen to us now? We have demonstrated no electoral clout. When we demonstrate electoral clout they would have a reason to listen – keeping their jobs.

    Libertarians advocate policy changes that can only occur through changing laws, which is the responsibility of Congress.

    I already answered this above. Let me try again.

    Presidents can …

    *issue pardons for victimless crimes
    *bring home the troops from around the world as commander in chief
    *veto bad legislation
    *rescind bad executive orders of past presidents
    *appoint judges who, if approved, can rule many present actions of government unconstitutional
    *direct various federal agencies not to enforce bad laws

    None of this involves passing legislation or expanding the power of the presidency that already exists.

    Furthermore, most people realize that we will not elect a Libertarian president at this stage, so while it is good for Libertarian presidential candidates to answer those kinds of questions when they are posed, much of what they as candidates say and do has nothing to do with that – it’s just to be a general spokesperson for libertarianism and recruiter for the LP on the national stage.

  35. paulie Post author

    If you go to the convention and they remove NOTA from your options, do you feel as if you were treated fairly?

    No one, including me, has proposed removing NOTA as an option. I just get the sense it has more support, and an actual chance of winning this time, and that does worry me.

  36. Tom Blanton

    the LP could run a Merry Prankster for President (and VP) who would pledge that, if elected, he/she to not take the oath of office, and would encourage Congress to do the same.

    Was Karl Hess a Merry Prankster?

    This may the best idea Mr. Capozzi has ever had. (Notice how I used “Mr.” – an indication of profound respect).

    But, I think I may have an even better idea for the LP. This idea is so good that it is worth $29.95 and I’m going to just donate it for free.

    The LP can nominate a presidential candidate AND go with NOTA at the same time.

    Someone, let’s say Mr. Wrights, could have his name legally changed to None Of The Above. He is then nominated and suddenly millions of Americans have NOTA as an option.

    The LP should jump on this quick before the Constitution, Green, or Likud Parties do it.

  37. JT

    Paulie: “Wrights or Harris, both have different good points. Gary could be, but he has to do more and say more.”

    Actually, since you asked me if I’d name the candidates whom I consider the”least bad,” I’d say Wrights and Harris as well. I was thinking of both of them earlier, but I didn’t want to just throw it out at the time.

    You also asked me why. Here are a few positive comments:

    I admire the commitment to liberty of Wrights, which is beyond question given all that he’s done while in the LP. I was also touched by the wisdom and sincerity in his speeches while I watched them online.

    As for Harris, he strikes me as a respectable guy in the Ron Paul mold. After watching him online, I think he’s a pretty good speaker who’s obviously passionate about constitutional government.

    That said, I have no reason to believe that either of them will do any better than the average Libertarian nominee for President. Someone whom I consider a good (not least bad) candidate would inspire confidence in me about that.

  38. George Phillies

    If the National Convention voted for NOTA, and it were apparent that the National Committee majority was pulling for it because they disliked the leading respectable candidate, say Wrights or Person, I am fairly sure there would be rather serious internal consequences. For example, there are a number of states in which we will have spent a lot of money to put a candidate on the ballot, and the LNC majority would then be seen as wrecking its own expenditures.

  39. Darryl W. Perry

    It is my hope that the BTP nominates a good candidate; then if the LP nominates NOTA- hopefully LP members would be willing to assist the BTP with securing ballot access.

  40. Sane LP Member

    @ # 6
    How many times and in what states the the LP POTUS candidate actually keep the LP affilaite on the ballot? From what I heard it was maybe 1 or 2 times.

  41. Sane LP Member

    @ # 5 and # 22
    I am sure you know that most states do NOT allow for a fusion candidate (NY does).

    And to endorse a R or D or CP candidate would clearly violate the bylaws and rules of the national party and that of MANY LP affiliates.

  42. Sane LP Member

    @ # 35
    Many states use the presidential vote and a specific percentage threshold to RETAIN ballot access. It could be 1% or 3 % or 5% or even 20%. Depends on the state.

  43. George Phillies

    @50 Substantially not true, and not relevant. When there is a percentage, it is as often as nota statewide office, e.g, SoS in Indiana, any statewide office in Texas. In other states, it is a percentage of the popular vote.

    The important issue is that if state parties start showing up with no candidate for President after a piece the membership will evaporate.

  44. George Phillies

    #49 You totally and completely miss the point. Perhaps you should try re-reading what I said:

    “If the National Convention voted for NOTA, and it were apparent that the National Committee majority was pulling for it because they disliked the leading respectable candidate, say Wrights or Person, I am fairly sure there would be rather serious internal consequences. ”

    Thus, I said what everyone including you knew, namely that the National Convention has to vote for NOTA. My issue was that a majority on the National Committee might be visibly be trying to do so.

    We would also be seeing if this happened a recycle of 2008, where the National Committee resources were used to ignore PResidential candidates — unless you paid them off to put your photo on the web page — until a preferred by LNC candidate declared — Barr got his photo on the front page of LP news, one of few candidates to get that sort of mention. Then finally LNC resources — a press release — were visibly used to attack Mary Ruwart, possibly costing her the nomination.

    If that happens again, the National Party’s decline will be enhanced.

  45. NewFederalist

    As a person who has voted for every LP nominee since 1976 (except Bergland in ’84 because the petition drive failed and nobody had the foresight to file write-in paperwork in time) I say it is important to nominate someone. Most Libertarian (and libertarian) voters are making a statement with their vote. While NOTA certainly makes a statement I am not sure how many states would allow it. For those intent on bypassing the current field of candidates rather than NOTA why not Thomas Jefferson? Yeah he’s dead. So what? Certainly makes a statement. It would sure be easier to change one’s name to Thomas Jefferson than to None Of The Above.

  46. Robert Capozzi

    52 gp, where does the Nat Com’s responsibility end and each individual NatCommer’s prerogative begin? Not sure. If many/most of them think NOTA is the best course for the LP, how can they exercise that opinion?

    As I recall, btw, Corey claimed he put out that release to immunize the broader LP from a view that she reiterated that a reasonable person could assume would damage the broader LP. In the process, Corey resigned. I thought he overstepped his authority, near as I can tell. However, if David Duke decided he was going to run for the LP’s nomination, I’d probably want to see Benedict and Hinkle step up to insulate the LP from that PR nightmare, too.

    People with long and tunnel-visioned memories are likely to carry collective grievances forward, regardless of the circumstances. Whether a Stop Duke campaign would damage the national LP is not obvious to me. It might help…

  47. JT

    Phillies: “If the National Convention voted for NOTA, and it were apparent that the National Committee majority was pulling for it because they disliked the leading respectable candidate, say Wrights or Person, I am fairly sure there would be rather serious internal consequences.”

    Jesus…does every road lead to the LNC for you, George?? Enough already.

  48. Robert Capozzi

    55 jt, if one were conspiracy-minded, one might read into some on the LNC leaning toward NOTA as part of a vast right-wing conspiracy. In this case, the ringleader’d be Root, who — it can be reasonable to assume — is likely more interested in unseating Obama in the short term vs. the LP putting up a candidate for prez, despite some obvious downsides to not doing so. That argument is not without merit, despite the fact that many L prospective candidates might draw some of his/her votes from Obama.

    Personally, I’m not sure which R or D I’d root for, but I’d probably vote L and root for the R. Or I’d not vote if the L takes too extreme positions and root for the R. In 08, I voted L and rooted for Obama, only because McCain seemed too unstable.

  49. Kleptocracy And You

    McCain “unstable” ??? Not in the milnes sort of way I hope !!!

    lol

    “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties.” – George Wallace – Governor of Alabama and 1968 American Independent Presidential candidate

    BTW RC “ringleader’d” now that’s a good one , I guess -lol…

  50. LP voter

    Yep… I reckon if the LP actually got “None of the Above” on the Presidential ballot in 50 states, the party would break its vote-total records.

  51. Paulie

    Yep… I reckon if the LP actually got “None of the Above” on the Presidential ballot in 50 states, the party would break its vote-total records.

    Probably, so and if None of the Above was actually someone’s name and they actually campaigned and sold libertarian issues, collected a list of supporters and shared that list with LPHQ, that would not be a bad plan at all. Without those other elements, it’s not a good plan, because achieving a vote total is only one of the goals of an LP campaign, and not necessarily the most important one.

  52. Tom Blanton

    Yep… I reckon if the LP actually got “None of the Above” on the Presidential ballot in 50 states, the party would break its vote-total records.

    Yep. I’d bet on it.

    So, how many potential LP nominees are going to change their names?

    If someone like Wrights did it, I’d bet they would get 2-3 days in the news cycle as a result – even before the nomination.

  53. Gene Berkman

    The idea of voting for NOTA at the convention is not to provide another means of a protest vote, by putting “NOTA” on 50 state ballots.

    The idea is to save the resources that are destroyed by the Presidential campaign, most importantly any kind of credibility that the Libertarian Party might want to build.

    Voting for NOTA would not even accomplish the goal of not running a candidate for President. If NOTA won at the convention, they would just have additional votes until a candidate was chosen.

    The convention would have to actually pass a resolution to not have a candidate in a particular year.

  54. LP voter

    The idea of voting for NOTA at the convention is not to provide another means of a protest vote, by putting “NOTA” on 50 state ballots.

    Yes, but a better idea than that idea would be to actually put NOTA on real ballots with those votes going to elect Libertarian electors.

  55. Paulie

    The idea is to save the resources that are destroyed by the Presidential campaign, most importantly any kind of credibility that the Libertarian Party might want to build.

    Running a candidate does not destroy as much credibility as not running a candidate does. As for resources, they belong to the donors and they are free to use them as they see fit. Some people see local, state or congressional campaigns as being more worthy of their money, others feel that their resources are best spent on LPHQ, some might prefer to send their money to a committee such as LNCC which will do the homework of deciding which candidates deserve the most support, and others still will decide they want to support a presidential candidate; if there is none, they may not want to give to any other LP candidates or committees.

    They should all be able to donate as they see fit. Taking away one avenue does not open or widen another.

  56. Jeremy C. Young

    If I were a Libertarian, I would think that Wrights, Harris, and Gary were all easily better candidates than NOTA. I do not think Person or the others are. Root is a difficult case — he’d probably expand the party’s following in the short term, but you’d have to decide whether you’re comfortable with the direction he’d take the party, or so uncomfortable with it you’d rather kill the party off (which is what NOTA would cause). Not being a libertarian, I can’t make that decision for you.

    If I were a Libertarian, I’d be focusing all my energies on recruiting two candidates who are substantially better than the ones in the field: John Jay Myers and John Monds. I’d also be enthusiastic about a Gary Johnson candidacy, but in that case recruiting him would just backfire — it wouldn’t increase the chances of him running, and would just make the party look desperate. If Johnson wants to run, the party should encourage him but otherwise treat him like any other candidate. I’d vote for him at a convention, though.

  57. Paulie

    If I were a Libertarian, I’d be focusing all my energies on recruiting two candidates who are substantially better than the ones in the field: John Jay Myers and John Monds.

    I already tried with Myers and he was not interested.

    Monds, like Johnson, is unfortunately in favor of the Boortz-Linder trojan horse of a tax plan.

  58. Paulie

    FWIW:

    Just talked to another LNC member who will be supporting NOTA if the current field is all we have come May.

  59. JT

    Paulie: “Running a candidate does not destroy as much credibility as not running a candidate does.”

    Do you think it would be better for the LP to nominate Bob Milnes or nobody, if those were the only choices?

    Jeremy: “…or so uncomfortable with it you’d rather kill the party off (which is what NOTA would cause).”

    You say that as if it’s just self-evident, which it’s not.

  60. paulie Post author

    Do you think it would be better for the LP to nominate Bob Milnes or nobody, if those were the only choices?

    Sorry, I meant sane candidate.

  61. JT

    Paulie: “Sane and libertarian, I should say.”

    Okay. So it’s not necessarily true that running a candidate does not destroy as much credibility as not running a candidate does. It’s just that your exceptions are fewer than mine are.

  62. paulie Post author

    Okay. So it’s not necessarily true that running a candidate does not destroy as much credibility as not running a candidate does. It’s just that your exceptions are fewer than mine are.

    I thought we established that some time ago.

    I do think that the consequences of running no one will be very bad. Somebody insane or manifestly unlibertarian would be even worse, but NOTA would still be very bad nevertheless.

    I don’t think the current FEC-qualified candidates are insane or less libertarian than, say, Bob Barr.

    Therefore I prefer them over NOTA.

    I’ve also upped my assessment of Person and Gary somewhat based on new information I have learned about their travels (see updates on the other thread linked in article above). Plus another piece of info regarding Person that I can’t share, assuming it is true, would alleviate one of my other major concerns about him.

  63. Tom Blanton

    Sane? Anybody that wants to run for president is already riding the crazy train.

    However, it would be prudent to draw the line where the potential candidate can at least tell the difference between the hallucinations and reality. They should at least be able to ignore the voices that nobody else can hear.

  64. paulie Post author

    However, it would be prudent to draw the line where the potential candidate can at least tell the difference between the hallucinations and reality. They should at least be able to ignore the voices that nobody else can hear.

    That is what I meant by sane.

  65. Jeremy C. Young

    JT @69, I don’t say it as if it’s self-evident. I say it as if it’s my opinion, which it is. No national political party, third or otherwise, has ever stopped running presidential candidates and survived nationally. You might have a few chapters stay active a la the Kansas Reform Party or the various AIPs, but that’s it. It would be a shell of its former self.

  66. Thomas L. Knapp

    Paulie @68,

    “Just talked to another LNC member who will be supporting NOTA if the current field is all we have come May.”

    How many does that make altogether?

    And do they count Root as part of the current field?

    From outside the party, and from the perspective that it is probably an obstacle, and at the very least an embarrassment, to the libertarian movement, I think NOTA sounds pretty good.

    From inside the party, though … not running a presidential candidate would effectively amount to a public announcement that the LP no longer aspires to success as a national political party.

  67. paulie Post author

    How many does that make altogether?

    Only two, but that’s two for two, and I suspect that the sentiment is much more widespread than that.

    When you add in people like Chuck and JT, who are not part of that clique or “side” of the party, it seems to me that there could easily be a majority for NOTA if more candidates don’t join the race. I get the impression that may people have been trying to recruit other candidates without any luck.

    And do they count Root as part of the current field?

    At least one LNC member I talked to said he did not think Root could get the nomination either at this point. I think he still can, but the internal logic of his opinion pieces is that an second Obama term would be really, really bad for the country, much worse than a Republican victory. So why would he run and possibly cause Obama to win?

    I have also heard it (not from Wayne directly, but from people who talk to him more often than I do) that if he does run it would only be so Wrights or someone “like him” does not get the nomination.

    So I think Root may prefer to lead the NOTA campaign instead. Just a hunch.

  68. paulie Post author

    From inside the party, though … not running a presidential candidate would effectively amount to a public announcement that the LP no longer aspires to success as a national political party.

    Agreed.

  69. paulie Post author

    No national political party, third or otherwise, has ever stopped running presidential candidates and survived nationally. You might have a few chapters stay active a la the Kansas Reform Party or the various AIPs, but that’s it. It would be a shell of its former self.

    I think this is where JT said the LP is not like any other party in our previous conversation.

    I agree with Jeremy that in this regard the LP is just like any other party.

  70. JT

    Paulie: “I don’t think the current FEC-qualified candidates are insane or less libertarian than, say, Bob Barr.”

    From what I know of them so far, I don’t think they are either. Thank god for small favors.

    But “sane and at least as libertarian as Bob Barr” is a pretty low standard for the Libertarian Party’s candidate for President, IMO. I’d hope that any Libertarian candidate for a town council seat could meet that criteria.

    Jeremy: “No national political party, third or otherwise, has ever stopped running presidential candidates and survived nationally. You might have a few chapters stay active a la the Kansas Reform Party or the various AIPs, but that’s it. It would be a shell of its former self.”

    Paulie: “I think this is where JT said the LP is not like any other party in our previous conversation.
    I agree with Jeremy that in this regard the LP is just like any other party.”

    I said you (and he) are just assuming a causal relationship. Maybe another party was already dying when it stopped running a candidate for President. Maybe another party was just a cult of personality and couldn’t survive without a particular candidate for President running. There are other reasonable explanations for a party not having run a candidate for President after having previously done so and that party being defunct.

    If there’s strong evidence that other parties similar to the LP didn’t run a candidate for President in a particular election and that CA– USED those parties to become defunct, then I’d have to consider that with an open mind.

    And just to be clear, I’m certainly not saying that the LP should never run candidates for President. If there’s a candidate available who meets my minimum threshold (which might be higher than that of most Libertarians but seems very generous to me), then I think it absolutely should. But below that bar? No. Same principle as Paulie and every other Libertarian, I suspect 🙂

  71. paulie Post author

    But “sane and at least as libertarian as Bob Barr” is a pretty low standard for the Libertarian Party’s candidate for President, IMO.

    Not if you think like me that NOTA would have major negative consequences for membership, donations, etc.

  72. Jeremy C. Young

    I definitely agree that there are some candidates you just shouldn’t run under any circumstances. To me, not running a candidate means downgrading the party from a national party to a few state parties. But that’s definitely preferable to running, say, a Green or a crazy person. Honorable death is better than dishonorable death.

    As to whether there’s a comparable example, I’d urge you to examine the history of the Prohibition Party, which survived for decades based on a series of energetic presidential campaigns waged by party stalwarts (think Badnarik-style candidates), or the Populist Party, which was on track to become a major political force when it torpedoed itself by failing to run its own presidential candidate in 1896.

  73. Thomas L. Knapp

    I think it’s worth exploring why not running a presidential candidate would ill-serve an LP that wants to become — or even, to the extent that it is, remain — an influential national political presence.

    The one-word explanation is “momentum.” But one word doesn’t suffice, because there are different kinds of momentum.

    I doubt that any of the likely 2012 nominees, if nominated, would generate extraordinary electoral momentum, e.g. breaking out of the 0.5% box. That’s not the momentum that a NOTA nomination would hurt.

    Here’s the different types of momentum that NOTA would harm:

    – National fundraising momentum. My suspicion is that most national LP donors above and beyond minimum dues are people who place importance on running a presidential campaign. The “we should concentrate on local candidates” types probably put their money into local candidates, not into the LNC. National fundraising would suffer. If it’s been growing, it would stop growing. If it’s been shrinking, it would continue to shrink.

    – Ballot access momentum, and not just retention. In states where the LP has to petition to get its candidates on the ballot every time, absence of a presidential candidate on the slate will make it harder to raise the money to get those petition signatures, especially given an LNC with less money to spend and without a presidential candidate that it’s obligated to support.

    – Local fundraising momentum. One way that LP congressional and other candidates raise money for their state parties and campaigns is to bring in the presidential or vice-presidential candidate to town. It gets them some media, it raises local party enthusiasm, and even if the fundraising on that occasion is strictly for the presidential campaign, there’s probably short-term enthusiasm carryover with people writing checks to the local party and local candidates.

    – Local enthusiasm momentum. Every four years, some new people come into the LP because they’re excited by the presidential campaign. Yes, most of them drop off the radar within a year or two, but those who don’t are the ones who build the party’s activist base or, worst case, replenish the party’s activist base losses.

    If the LP doesn’t run a presidential candidate in 2012, the 99.x% of voters who don’t vote LP for president probably won’t notice much. A few stories on a slow news day, maybe, but if the LP ran NOTA in 2012 and then ran an energetic campaign with a great candidate in 2016, it wouldn’t be a big thing.

    BUT … if the LP runs NOTA in 2012, it will have less money, fewer and less motivated activists, and a worse ballot access situation in 2016. Which means it will be less attractive to great candidates and less well-equipped to run an energetic campaign.

    Maybe it would recover from that. Maybe it wouldn’t.

  74. Robert Capozzi

    94 tk, you make good points. Momentum is hard to prove, but it seems to be a real enough phenomenon. Nominating a very weak or very divisive candidate could also deflate any momentum, too.

    I noticed that Ventura has called for RP to run with him as a L ticket. (He later said small-L, so I’m not sure what he has in mind.) That could be very interesting if mildly divisive. I’d say that might lead to a momentum boost, though I’d still prefer GJ to Ventura, who has become too identified with conspiracy theories.

  75. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@95,

    “Nominating a very weak or very divisive candidate could also deflate any momentum, too.”

    Well, yes — whom the LP nominates certainly affects how willing donors are to donate, activists are to agitate, etc.

    And it does so election cycle to election cycle, sometimes with a net gain to show in this area or that, sometimes with a net loss to show in some other area.

    But given that the LP has pretty much run the gamut of candidate types, from philosophy professors to former state legislators, from complete unknowns to somewhat well-knowns, etc., it seems like those shifts have pretty much been covered and shaken out over time.

    NOTA would be a significant change from that whole range of activity, and would likely have significant effects.

  76. Robert Capozzi

    96 tk, agreed. I’d amend, whom and HOW the candidate handles him or herself can make a difference, all else equal. Barr, for ex., was not “weak” by LP standards, but he was divisive. Not only did he sometimes use a car service from the airport, but he handled the baton handoff from Paul with D level grace. He didn’t think through some of his views sufficiently, like DOMA. He edged out Ruwart under somewhat tainted circumstances (i.e., the Corey misfire on Ruwart’s novel/bracing ideas about when a child should be considered an adult).

    Had BB and his handlers and supporters handled those more gracefully, the LP MIGHT be in a somewhat different position today.

    Of course, momentum is largely subjective and is often based on exogenous factors. Say Romney’d and Clinton’d gotten the nomination, the world might be a different place than it is today.

    So, we’re left with all else equal experiments. NOTA might cause the LP to transition to a pure protest vehicle/debating society, with no designs on supplanting/becoming a major party. That’d be my best guess at this moment, at least.

  77. paulie Post author

    Not necessarily. It can be a completely logical career move, for someone making a living giving speeches, writing books, guesting and hosting talk shows and the like.

  78. Gene Berkman

    Jeremy Young @ 82 – “No national political party, third or otherwise, has ever stopped running presidential candidates and survived nationally.”

    Plenty of alternative parties have run candidates for President every 4 years until they petered out. They all thought running a candidate for President would keep them alive and in the public eye. Who even remembers Eric Hass or Henning Blomen, perenial candidates on the national ticket of the Socialist Labor Party.

    Some third parties collapsed into a shadow of themselves after one or two presidential campaigns – The American Independent Party got almost 10 million votes for George Wallace, over 1 million for John Schmitz, and then has remained as a barely noticeable little party since then, but it continues to run or support candidates for President.

  79. Gene Berkman

    Jeremy Young @ 91 – “…the Populist Party, which was on track to become a major political force when it torpedoed itself by failing to run its own presidential candidate in 1896.”

    Actually, the 1896 election was a wild success for the People’s Party. They held onto a Senate seat in Kansas, picked up a Senate seat in Idaho, and elected or re-elected 22 members of the House of Representatives – twice as many as in their second best year

    Supporting William Jennings Bryan in 1896 did not destroy the People’s Party. Higher grain prices brought on the Spanish American war undercut Populist support in the mid-west, and the failure to re-monetize silver caused supporters of the party to decide it was going nowhere.

    The People’s Party was never in a position to elect a President, and they failed to highlight the initiatives of their congressional bloc in a way that could maintain and expand their support.

  80. Gene Berkman

    When everyone talks about the need to run a campaign for President to build a national party, they ignore the fact that since the return of the Bull Moose Progressives to the Republican Party in 1916, there has not been a national third party with any success to point to.

    The third parties that have elected people to office have all been state-wide parties. Attempts at a national Farmer-Labor Party have never been as successful as the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party. The Minnesota FLP was founded in 1922 by people who had all ignored the national Farmer-Labor campaign of Parley P Christensen in 1920 – he was not even on the Minnesota ballot.

    The Wisconsin Progressive Party suffered a major defeat in the 1938 elections, after Gov. Phil LaFollette tried to start a national party – National Progressives of America.

    The Henry Wallace campaign in 1948 was the last hurrah of New York’s American Labor Party, which had been a force in New York from 1937 through the 1946 elections.

    Like the many utopian Communists who attack American capitalism because they promise free healthcare and free housing the the socialist utopia, supporters of a national third party are holding up an image of something that has just not worked in American politics, and using it to criticize the historically most successful approach to alternative politics.

  81. paulie Post author

    @102

    Reform Party elected a governor.

    Green Party has elected a couple of legislators, several mayors, had majorities on city councils.

    LP has had mayors, state legislators, etc.

    There are different ways that parties have impacts on politics besides electing people to office: putting ideas into the public debate or making them better known, exerting political pressure by swinging races and challenging otherwise unchallenged incumbents, and so on.

    A good chunk of the non-LP libertarian movement organizations have been started by people who first came into the movement through the LP and its campaigns – frequently, through presidential campaigns.

    Successes of alt parties furthering their ideas by participating in campaigns that did not win in terms of electing the candidates have been many.

  82. Gene Berkman

    ” good chunk of the non-LP libertarian movement organizations have been started by people who first came into the movement through the LP…”

    And there were libertarians before The Libertarian Party was founded, and such people founded Institute for Humane Studies, Society for Individual Liberty, etc.

    Cato Institute and Mises Institute were founded by people who had been involved in The Libertarian Party, but they had all been libertarians before the LP was founded.

    A constant sticking point for people who were libertarians before the Denver convention (which I attended) is the tendency of people involved in The Libertarian Party to give the party credit for libertarian initiatives that it had nothing to do with, or was not responsible for.

    If the LP campaigns for President have been a success, why are there so many people who have been through the Libertarian Party, and given up because it is not successful in the electoral arena.

    When the LP takes credit for changes in the philosophical climate – which in many cases owe more to Cato and other think tanks, or Reason – it is an attempt to make up for a lack of electoral success. And truly, a political party is to be judged by its electoral success.

    Whole Foods Market is a success not because it publicizes the idea of natural and healthy food, but because it sells natural and healthy food.

  83. paulie Post author

    And there were libertarians before The Libertarian Party was founded

    Far fewer.

    If the LP campaigns for President have been a success, why are there so many people who have been through the Libertarian Party, and given up because it is not successful in the electoral arena.

    Many reasons.

    One is setting unrealistic expectations and then being disappointed when they are not achieved (or not achieved fast enough).

    Another is frustration over various ways in which the party is not implementing the ideas and strategies that various people would like it to, or (relatively minor from a non-libertarian perspective) ideological differences.

    Yet another is all the bitter infighting and factionalism.

  84. JT

    Those are all good points, Paulie. I think all of them have contributed to many Libertarians dropping out of the LP.

  85. Gene Berkman

    Paulie @ 103 – “Reform Party elected a governor.”

    Yes, when Jesse Ventura was elected, the Minnesota Reform Party was affiliated with a barely functioning national party. The national Reform Party gave no help to Jesse’s campaign, and Ross Perot ridiculed Jesse Ventura.

    In 2000 the Minnesota Reform Party disaffiliated from the national party, and changed its name to Independence Party. It remains stronger than any state affiliate of The Libertarian Party.

  86. George Phillies

    @92

    If the LNC majority blocks nominating a candidate, for example because of their long-time disagreement with Lee Wrights, it is a reasonably safe bet that there will promptly be an alternative libertarian party under some name to be identified, with the guilty parties excluded from membership.

    It is an even better bet — note the current state of national Green Party fundraising — that a NOTA nomination from people who spent large amounts on ballot access will lead to a collapse of LNC fundraising.

    Wes Benedict, who is widely praised in a wide range of LP circles, will be seen to have advanced away in time.

  87. Andy

    “it is a reasonably safe bet that there will promptly be an alternative libertarian party under some name to be identified, with the guilty parties excluded from membership.”

    It would be too late at that point to get this alternative libertarian party on the ballot in very many states.

  88. LNC Views Its Bylaws As Joke

    @109 True, but not really important, since no one expected the contrary.

    On the other hand, Massachusetts petitioning could not start until after the National, and is apparently expected to succeed, so in at least one state there would be an opportunity.

  89. Carl Person

    I’m amazed that there has been no discussion about the opportunity for the LP to obtain millions of votes by pushing job creation (without using taxpayer money). Obama has no sustainable jobs program, and the major Republican candidates during the debates have nothing but platitudes (or in the case of Ron Paul was not given time to develop his job-creation ideas) . My campaign has been pushing how millions of jobs can be created by reducing or ending regulation in 3 specific areas, which is a more credible and attainable jobs creation program than advocating generally an end to government regulation and a reduction of government spending. My press releases are available on my website, carlperson.org I continue to seek and accept appearances anywhere in the U.S., and a list of my past appearances is set forth at the end of this post, and my future appearances are listed in my website. I invite you to invite me to explain to your group how jobs can be created without government money. I also invite you to market the LP as the nation’s only “Jobs Party” in this coming election which is going to be all about Jobs, and I (as the LP nominee) plan to campaign across the nation raising these issues.

    Here are details about my campaign outside of NYS:

    (a) I spoke at the Pennsylvania Libertarian Party annual convention in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2011, and attended a Libertarian party at the home of Libertarian Jim Babb later in the day.

    (b) I attended a Libertarian function in Dina’s Restaurant, Wilton, Connecticut on July 15, 2011.

    (c) During August, I sent out an email request to all Libertarian state parties to be invited to speak before any Libertarian groups anywhere in the United States.

    (d) I spoke before the LP in Rhode Island (Warwick Public Library) on August 13, 2011, and about a week before that event I was a guest on LPRI Treasurer Tony Jone’s radio show.

    (e) I attended (for all 3 days) the Columbus, Ohio Libertarian State Leadership Alliance on August 19, 2011 (Columbus Hyatt) and the two following days for the Libertarian National Committee meetings on the 20th and 21st.

    (f) I was a featured guest speaker before a Libertarian Party (Hillsborough County) gathering in Tampa, Florida (Dunderbak’s Restaurant) on August 24, 2011.

    (g) On September 9, 2011, I did a mailing of individually typed letters (about 900 in all) to everyone who attended the Libertarian Party convention during 2008 or 2010 (except where I had an email address).

    (h) I was a featured guest speaker before a Libertarian Party/Patriot group gathering in Texarkana, Arkansas (Big Jake’s BBQ) on September 20, 2011.
    My out-of-state activities during next 8 days:

    (i) I am a featured speaker before the Wisconsin LP this coming Saturday, October 1, 2011 (Dalles Restaurant – French Room) together with Wes Benedict.

    (j) I am attending the debate conducted by the Massachusetts LP at its annual convention on Saturday, October 8, 2011.

    (k) I am scheduled to appear live on Tony Jones’ radio show on Saturday, October 8, 2011, in Providence, Rhode Island.
    [end]

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