Monday, January 21, 2013

Blame The Libertarians!

[Satire button: ON]

As this nation begins the second term of the Obama Administration with much less enthusiasm than the first, with half of America hating the other half, with our Congress incapable of making a prudent budget decision, and everybody pointing fingers in all imaginable directions away from themselves, let me kindly join the scapegoating bash. I know exactly who to blame for this mess. Let's chuck it all on the Libertarian Party.

Some background is necessary. The Libertarian Party established itself on December 11, 1971 -- just a few days before the birth of your humble servant. In 41 years, they have successfully elected hundreds of people to local and state offices, but they have yet to crack Congress.

A few years ago, when some of my colleagues were covering political debates, they found themselves surprised and a little refreshed by the comments coming from Libertarian candidates. Indeed, they support principles many people believe in: limited government, free markets, social equality, and marijuana legalization. That last one gets plenty of attention, but you wouldn't know it. In fact, many voters don't know anything about them. They don't play to win: they don't run television ads and they largely campaign silently.

"It's just because they're a bunch of anarchists," a friend of mine says. Not exactly. In fact, the LP has been fighting that stereotype for years. But it it's pretty hard to fight from outside the political ring.

Up to now, I've avoided mentioning Ron Paul, that Republican presidential candidate who still claims he's a Libertarian for life. He knows the LP doesn't win national elections. As an undisputed Republican In Name Only, he still runs like a Libertarian, mostly on the cheap, even though millions of Internet users gladly hand over their hard-earned money as donations to his doomed campaign.

The irony is millions of Americans are clamoring for an alternative to the Republicans and Democrats. Moderates are tired of being thrown under the bus and then dragged out and dusted off whenever somebody needs to build a coalition. Third parties have come and shriveled, including Ross Perot's Reform Party and the Modern Whig Party. The Green Party is hanging in there. The Americans Elect Party got onto ballots in the last election but is not getting much traction. And then there's the Libertarians. With four decades and regional successes under its belt, why can't the party capitalize on its name recognition and experience? They don't have to, they don't want to, they're the LP, which is also short for "Losing Perennially."

The Tea Party has been around for only a fraction of the Libertarians' existence, and already they've launched people into Congress. Of course, piggybacking on the Republican Party helps. Please don't tell me, "The Tea Party is not a party; it's a caucus." Well then they should call themselves the Tea Caucus. Or maybe the Republicans can tell them to go form their own cottonpickin' party like everybody else -- just don't take any campaign advice from the LP.

Of course, you won't see the GOP doing that. The Tea Party could actually become a viable third party, and the Republicans still remember what Ross Perot did to them in 1992. And besides, the elephants are fractured enough as it is. Or maybe the Tea Party would wither as it struggled to replace the GOP's long-established funding and organizational structure with one of its own. Don't ask me to guess: we have Political Science professors who spend a lot of years studying this stuff and they're still wrong.

But let's blame the Libertarians for the mess in Washington. They continue to convince us this nation can't support a third party by their half-hearted efforts. There's a difference between playing to win and just playing around.

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