On Furthering the Interests of the Libertarian Party
by Ralph Shnelvar, September 4, 2003
Doug Bruce, Republican. Jeep Campbell, Democrat.
What do they have in common? They are both supported enthusiastically by me and they both have a good chance of capturing political office.
Although neither is a pure Libertarian, both would be comfortable in the Libertarian Party. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen until hell freezes over or the Libertarian Party becomes a "serious contender."
Would I be happier if they joined us? Hell, yes. But it isn't going to happen any time soon.
For the several years that I have been active in this Party I have recognized that the two paths promoted by most Libertarians are not optimal paths to further the interest or growth of this Party.
Those two paths are:
There is a better middle path.
For about fifteen years of my life I did the programming for several econometricians. My specialty was doing "non-linear numerical optimizations." Let's say that I learned a thing or two about optimizing (economic) systems.
The two typical paths listed above can be described as "edge conditions."
By constraining the Libertarian Party and its members to these extremes, the Party and its members lose flexibility. This lack of flexibility is suboptimal when it comes to political and economic efficiency.
So what is this middle ground? It is simple: create strategic alliances when the (long term) benefits outweigh the costs. Do so without giving up principle.
What are the benefits to this strategy?
1) Our interests are promoted.
For several years I have been criticized by some in this Party for my overt support of Doug Bruce. I was criticized for my (ill fated) support of Republican Rich Wyatt who was attempting to get on the ballot to run for Sheriff in Jefferson County.
The national LP's myopic view that endorsement of non-LP candidates is strictly forbidden is anti-libertarian. Worse, it is counterproductive and continues to leave this Party with inflexible responses to difficult political choices.
Do we run a candidate against Ron Paul, Doug Bruce, or Penn Pfiffner? Our current policy (if not our strategy) is to do so. This demonstrates to the politically connected that the LP is a bunch of uncooperative and politically unsophisticated bozos.
I will continue to support libertarian-leaning candidates who have a good chance of being elected. I will support LP candidates where our candidate has at least 1 in 10 chance of winning an election. I will support our LP candidate if that candidate can effectively represent our views and when that candidacy does not seriously harm our friends. Note that as I write this, no Libertarian candidate for any state office (much less state-wide office) has that chance. None have a 1 in 100 chance.
It is a new world out there. This Party is being squeezed by laws that make it nearly impossible to raise money. We are squeezed by laws that make it nearly impossible to comply with all the political regulations. Soon we may be squeezed by laws that make it difficult for us to even say bad things about our political opponents.
To further squeeze our members (and the Party, itself) into the binary decision of leaving the Party or not cooperating with our adversaries is a recipe for further political irrelevance and outright hostility by those who know a little about us.
I will continue to work with our good friends. They often have a lot to offer us -- just as we have a lot to offer them.