Thomas Knapp is a blogger and long-time political activist. He was with the Libertarian Party for a while, but left the party a few years ago. After the announcement of the winner of the Libertarian Party’s chairmanship, Nicholas Sarwark, Mr. Knapp left this comment on the Open Thread for Libertarian National Convention June 27 to 29 expressing a change of heart, and left this “teaser”:
Dammit, Nick, ya got me. Just re-joined the national LP as a sustaining member and sent an email to my county affiliate to find out what’s going on and how I can help
I think I’ve found a way to square my distrust of electoral politics with being an active LP member. Heck, it’s even something that’s close to YOUR heart at most national conventions. But more on that later.
The next day, he sent this press release to the IPR writers:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Thomas L. Knapp
If Not NOTA, Who? If Not 2016, When?
One Political Party Might Run an Empty Suit for President. Yes, Really.
PRLog (Press Release) – Jul. 1, 2014 – ORLANDO, Fla. — When most political parties get together for a national convention, they nominate a candidate for president. The Libertarian Party isn’t most political parties.
First, it has its national convention every two years rather than every four (the 2014 event, held in Columbus, Ohio, just wrapped up).
Secondly, “None Of The Above” is always on the ballot for both internal offices and the party’s presidential nomination.
A new “open source campaign,” launching two years ahead of the party’s presidential nominating convention, says NOTA is its candidate of choice.
“NOTA inherently enjoys broad support among Libertarians,” says Thomas L. Knapp, who launched the NOTA 2016 web site on July 1st. “Some Libertarians see electoral politics as a dead end and want the party to focus on some of the other purposes listed in its bylaws. Some Libertarians see the party as a sort of side effort, end up supporting the lesser of two major party evils, and don’t want a ‘spoiler’ in the mix. And many Libertarians are just plain unhappy with the candidate choices the party has made and continues to make.”
Unhappy enough, hopes Knapp, to turn the 2016 election cycle into a cooling-off period after twice nominating failed Republican politicians — former congressman Bob Barr of Georgia in 2008 and former governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico in 2012 — instead of ideological libertarians.
“The Libertarian Party has always taken flak as ‘GOP Lite,'” says Knapp, who refers to himself as the campaign’s “Instigator.” “It hasn’t always deserved that flak, but after two presidential elections in a row it’s become apparent that the only way to put an end to it and to keep Republican rejects from coming after our presidential nomination is to stop giving it to them.”
NOTA 2016’s goals include building grassroots state and local NOTA efforts within the Libertarian Party and gaining the support of a majority of delegates to the 2016 Libertarian National Convention in Orlando, Florida. The Libertarian Party, established in 1971, is America’s third largest political party.
NOTA 2016 Web Site:
Here is more conversation about his idea, posted again as a comment to the IPR convention thread. This offers some explanation as to why Mr Knapp thinks NOTA would be a good choice for 2016:
Here are some arguments in favor of NOTA for the LP’s presidential nomination in 2016. Some of them I subscribe to, some I don’t:
1) The only way we’re going to stop Republican rejects from sniffing around the LP’s presidential nomination is to STOP GIVING IT TO THEM. That will be the subject of NOTA 2016′s first op-ed, “A Declaration of Independence from Republican Rejects,” which I’m submitting to several publications that LP members read and which will be posted on the NOTA 2016 site on Friday (the 4th of July, hence the title). I’ve concluded, and I think that some other Libertarians will agree, that after two election cycles in a row, it comes down to “maybe if we want to get the squatters out, we need to burn the house down; we can rebuild it after that.”
2) Some Libertarians — I’m not one of them and don’t subscribe to this argument — see the LP as a sort of ideological sidestream that’s useful for “getting ideas out there,” but that needs to “get out of the way” when the voting starts. They see LP candidates and campaigns as wasted efforts at best and “spoilers” at worst and prefer to see Libertarians vote for “libertarian Republicans.” Examples would include Eric Dondero’s gang and Ron Paul and/or Rand Paul supporters. I don’t agree with their goals, but I’ll be more than happy to have their support for NOTA.
3) Some Libertarians — I’m one of them, and therefore subscribe to this argument — see electoral politics as a dead end. Whether or not one agrees with that, it’s certainly not illegitimate to suggest to a party which does have listed purposes other than electoral politics that it focus on those other purposes in preference to running e.g. yet another quixotic presidential campaign.
4) I don’t subscribe to the “spend ‘our’ money on local/state candidates instead of on a presidential campaign” argument, for several reasons. One of those reasons is that the money doesn’t map on a 1:1 scale between the two kinds of efforts. Just because Libertarians DON’T donate a million dollars to a presidential campaign, that doesn’t mean they WILL donate that same million dollars to other campaigns. Some of them will just keep their money in their pocket or go to the casino or whatever. Another reason is that the presidential campaign CAN support those lower-level campaigns with its ballot access work, party promotion work, etc. So it’s not an either/or thing.
This article will be updated if new information comes out regarding NOTA’s presential run in 2016.