July 18th, 2005


Help the Politically Homeless

I’m unhappy with both political parties. I was clear on my vote in November but that was mostly a case of "the other guy will be worse." abovenyquist once commented "You only like Bush on defense" and my response was "No, I have a lot of gripes about Homeland Security. I only like Bush on offense." But whenever I start to feel a tiny bit comfortable with one of the parties it does something to make me want to run screaming away. I’m not a "moderate" as it’s typically defined. If you draw a line from a cut-all-taxes-mandate-prayer-in-schools conservative to an outlaw-SUVs-teach-condom-use-in-fourth-grade liberal the "moderates" are the guys in the middle of the line. I’m way off to the side, wanting the government to minimize its meddling in every aspect of our lives, social and economic.

The Libertarian Party was created for that point of view, but a 50%+1 election system is rough on third parties. Unless they get a big boost up front they’ll be perpetual losers. If I lived in a country with a proportional representation system, say Germany or Israel, I could cast a vote for the Free Democrats or Shinui and get someone elected. Here a vote for the LP is just symbolic. Not that it stopped me—the LP was my "none of the above" vote in 1996 and 2000. That ended in 2001. The world is too small a place for isolationism, and freedom should not be a privilege reserved for Americans. This made me a lousy fit with people who consider death from a terrorist bomb a small price to pay for avoiding a more intrusive state.

"None of the above" was fine for the lazy days of interns and stock options but now things are too serious for me to throw votes away. (I’d keep voting none of the above if it meant "both of you go back to the primaries and come up with better candidates than these two, and we’ll do this again in a few months" but that’s not happening here any time soon) Unfortunately the Libertarian Party isn’t serious either. So I’ve been stuck with voting for the less bad of the two major parties. That lets me have influence on the issue I care the most about, but every other issue is getting ignored.

I’m not alone in my opinions. "Libertarian Hawk" is a label several of us came up with independently. Another like-minded group is pushing the term Neolibertarian which sounds awful to me but I’d accept worse. They’ve got a blog and a newsletter, but a group blog does not a political party make. Nice logo, though—that’s the icon for this post.

One approach I’ve seen discussed is organizing as a caucus within the Reps or Dems. That lets you compete in the primaries so you’ve got a much smaller group of people to convince. In my area you’d want to be part of the Republicans, since the Democrats are marginalized to the point where no one competent enough to hold office is foolish enough to accept their nomination. There’s a group called the "Republican Liberty Caucus" which advocates libertarian thinking within the Republican Party. Sounded like what I was looking for, so I checked out the local chapter. Guys—free hint. "Impeach Bush" is not a winning slogan in a Texas Republican primary. They seem to be having the same problems as the Libertarian Party, just with a different registration.

So I’m not sure what the heck to do now. It’s an off year, which means mayors and city council members are up for election. After the eminent domain decision those are people who libertarians should care about. But unless a likely candidate shows up I’m not sure I’ll have anybody I’ll want to vote for. Possibly something will start coming together for the 2006 elections. In the meantime I’ll be keeping an eye on the Neolibertarians and other "moderate" groups. For example, new group blog just popped up called Donklephant, which you should check out just for the picture of their mascot.

Anybody have suggestions?

EDIT: Follow-up on suggestions is here.