Libertarians Should Work with Other Parties
by Nate Gorman, February 11, 2003 (posted)
I re-registered as a Republican during last year's campaign season. I am now running (unopposed) for Denver County Republican Secretary. It is a position that votes at the Colorado Republican Central Committee meetings that approve party planks, party chairman, etc.
I understand the concepts being discussed in your debate over the best way to advance libertarian goals. I look forward to working with like-minded libertarian Republicans and Libertarian-Republicans, as well as those Libertarian-Democrats who truly believe in the principals of limited government in ALL areas of our lives.
Denver Republicans are the minority major party in our city. Limited government is a winning issue instinctively to most people statewide. But the realities of living in a dense population area are difficult to overcome with strict libertarian principals. As a result, Libertarians will not be able to convert a majority of Americans/Coloradoans/Denverites to become the majority party in my lifetime to be sure, if ever.
As long as purists will say "compromise" is a bad word it will be impossible for members of the Libertarian party to advance the agenda of limited government. I enjoy Colorado having an active and vibrant Libertarian party. In our system of government, however, third parties are only effective if they can garnish a large enough bloc of voters to force the major parties to co-opt their ideas which then are watered down to become public policy.
Members of the Libertarian party have made a brave and principaled choice to stand for something different than the Republican or Democrat party. Whether one becomes a Libertarian strictly as a protest, or because they want to advance the principal of limited government in a way not found in either major party, members must ask themselves what political strategy or tactic will result in the changes to our government we desire.
I have chosen to work from within the Republican party. Having spent the last five years lobbying at the Colorado State Capitol and seeing and participating in the process more closely than most all other libertarian/Libertarians in Colorado, I have come to believe that being on the inside of the Republican party will prove to be the best investment of my time as an activist to actually change public policy.
But I also believe very strongly that the Libertarian party should continue to grow and maintain it's own identity and beliefs. There is tremendous value in a strong, uncompromised voice for limited government.
I suggest we look overseas to governments with strong multi-party systems for some direction on this issue. The US system is clearly designed to encourage only a two-party system of governing, but it is possible to develop coalitions, similar to the practices abroad. While Libertarians do not have power in the form of elected officials to legislative bodies, they do have power at the polls. Think of how many elections were decided by less than the Libertarian vote in the district over the past few cycles.
I would suggest that instead of putting a candidate in every district statewide, Libertarians find a way to work WITH Republican or Democrat candidates when appropriate in closely contested districts. By appropriate, I mean those candidates who have a record of more closely supporting libertarian ideals. As a newly registered Republican (and soon to be officer of the party) of course I believe the vast majority of those candidates will be in the Republican party, but there are occassional exceptions in the Democrat party, as well.
By delivering a voting bloc to a candidate on election day that helps him/her over the top, Libertarians will then be able to call in the favor when legislation and proposals that are detrimental to the cause are up for a vote. Case and point: the opposition to Rep. Crane's third-party bill is virtually non-existent in the legislature.
I look forward to working with Libertarians in Denver. As a libertarian Republican, I will be using my post (within the rules) to help our leaders return to the guiding principal of limited government I share with my Libertarian friends. I hope we are able to develop a coalition working together in Denver, instead of the opposition I've witnessed. Only big government proponents win when we are divided.