An Independence Party candidate has criticized Libertarian proposals that market-based organizations can perform the regulatory function more reliably than government, highlighting how Libertarian stances differ from those of all other parties. However, his statement also promoted false and misleading claims about Libertarians, prompting a call for integrity in politics.
In a recent interview with political journalist Cyndy Brucato of MinnPost, LPMN Vice Chair S.L. Malleck offered an overview of the state party’s activism, discussed positions on issues, and differentiated Libertarians from Republicans. The feature also included a question about how the Libertarian Party differs from the Independence Party.
That drew a response from Dave Sullivan-Nightengale, a candidate for St Paul City Council in Ward 5, in a statement published to the IP’s website: ‘The latest Libertarian Party of Minnesota line on the Independence Party is deceptive at best’, as well as to his campaign Facebook page. It was then picked up by the Independent Political Report, a nationwide news outlet that focuses on alternative parties.
In his statement, Dave Sullivan-Nightengale called Libertarians “deceptive” for promoting entrepreneurial alternatives to government regulation. He cited problems with some vehicle models, labeling them a failure of “third party approval agencies” even as the automotive industry is regulated by the NHTSA, a government agency. He proposed that “government and industry work together to develop consensus”, although many will realize this is precisely the system we have today, where Democrats and Republicans supported the TARP bailouts of the big banks and approved the still-controversial Vikings stadium deal using taxpayer funds.
The candidate was clearly unfamiliar with the LPMN’s stances before making his criticism. The proposal for market-based regulation to replace government regulation is well-supported with specific examples of how this method has already been proven to work, as discussed in a recent article by the LPMN: ‘Regulation in a free society’.
Reacting to the IP candidate’s statement, S.L. Malleck remarked, “We welcome a constructive debate on this issue. Hopefully this will encourage more people to explore our liberty-oriented solutions to important issues, including the popular desire that industry have some type of oversight. Many candidates criticize their opponents while having no answers of their own, but we in the LPMN have been busy offering new solutions to the public, many of which have never been heard before.”
However, Dave Sullivan-Nightengale went beyond disagreement over an issue. His article promoted false and misleading claims to the public about Libertarians. His claim that Libertarians support “an unregulated environment [with no oversight at all]” is simply untrue. He also made a shocking assertion: “You don’t need to go far to see how misguided an unregulated environment would be if the Libertarian Party had its way. The bottom line, is we’ve done it the Libertarian way before and got a lot of people killed and raised taxes and our national debt the Libertarian way.”
As a component of our rising activism in recent years, the LPMN has contrasted its positions with both of the major parties to provoke conversations about issues. In 2014, it did so with the IP as well: ‘Libertarian Party or Independence Party, what’s the difference’. In that article, the LPMN attempted to portray the IP accurately and in good faith, even asking for corrections. (One such correction was indeed received from an IP supporter, with the edit made immediately.)
Fortunately, Libertarians haven’t been the only ones standing up for integrity in politics. In 2013, Green Party candidate Kristina Gronquist protested the fact that Libertarian candidate Michael Katch was about to be excluded from a debate for Minneapolis City Council, by threatening to withdraw herself unless he was included. Her gambit worked, and all candidates were able to participate. That strong and unusual gesture of integrity from a political opponent prompted an honorable mention in our annual LPMN Voter’s Guide to our supporters that year, even though Greens and Libertarians disagree on several issues and even though she had not been endorsed by the LPMN.
S.L. Malleck added, “Candidates often try to say anything, do anything, to get publicity in their scramble to win. In our organization we spend a lot of time discussing principles, positions, and solutions. But there’s something that may be even more important than all of those. And that’s integrity. Either Mr Sullivan-Nightengale is intentionally misrepresenting us to the public, or he did not even bother to investigate our stances before making his statement. Many people want an alternative to the usual gamesmanship of two-party politics, but does this candidate have the integrity to represent his neighbors when he’s already misrepresenting the views of others? I’ll leave that to the voters of his ward to decide.”
“In our party, we thoroughly vet our candidates. Our process includes a face meeting, where we ask them questions about their stances but also get a sense of their character. I am proud to be an officer of a party that runs solid candidates who stand for our principles and who also seek to conduct an honest public debate. As far as I’m concerned that’s going to continue, no matter how we’re treated by our opponents. I call upon Minnesota’s other parties to step up and adopt the same high standard.”