Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Libertarian Party Added to National Dialogue in Election 2012

The Libertarian Party, and in particular, the Libertarian Party of Indiana, has worked really hard this election to add to the national dialogue and be a part of the discussion even if they aren't included in most debates and most polls.

Privately, I've shared my concerns with Libertarian folks throughout the year that part of the reason I've never become a dues-paying member of the Libertarian Party is because the national party has nominated and supported some real nutcases as nominees and as influential members of the party. Wayne Alan Root, the 2008 Vice Presidential nominee, has completely fallen for the birther conspiracy stuff surrounding President Barack Obama that it seems to be all he talks about nowadays. Bob Barr, the former Republican Congressman turned Libertarian 2008 POTUS nominee, now rolled back over to the Republicans this go-around. I could go on, but the intent of this post isn't to complain.

That is also why I had my initial reservations about former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson. Johnson had ran in the 2012 Republican primary for President and performed poorly. He was in two of the debates, but never gained any traction. I personally worried a repeat of Barr, that this was some guy just using the Libertarian Party to keep his name around. But Johnson has worked with the Libertarian Party to earn the nomination, and has campaigned aggressively around the country for a job he isn't likely to win.

His tag-line of "fiscal responsibility and social tolerance" sums up the Libertarian Party's beliefs quite well and his full embrace of LGBT equality seems to have significantly moved the Libertarian Party to embracing it as well over the tired line of "The government should have no role in marriage!". Oftentimes, the most vocal Libertarians seem to be ex-Republicans, and so the conversation often becomes little more than Republican-bashing. But Johnson and vice VP nominee, Jim Gray, have held Obama's feet to the fire on issues such as the use of drones and undeclared wars, and on civil liberty issues such as NDAA and the Patriot Act.

He isn't the perfect candidate by any means, but he is by far the most polished and qualified candidate the Libertarian Party has run for President. I do hope he continues to play an active role in the political process for years to come.

This post wouldn't be complete without some words for Indiana's own Libertarian Party. We're one of the few (only?) with a full-time, paid Executive Director. His job is to grow the party and promote the message, every day. And because of that one resource, the Libertarian Party in this state is better organized than in many others across the nation. Being organized, funded, and connected also leads to attracting high quality candidates, which leads me to my next subject, Rupert Boneham.

Boneham, like Johnson at the national level, didn't think he could job waltz into the LPIN nominating convention on his star power and expect to be nominated. He went out and worked with the organization. But he didn't just talk to party elders, he went out and campaigned as a candidate for Governor as well. He showed that his star-power, combined with his real-world experience in the world of not-for-profits, could make for a dynamic candidate that'd have the power to reach people in ways previous Libertarian nominees haven't been able to.

Boneham has staked out a claim that differentiates him between the two major party candidates, being in full favor of marriage equality (even saying he'd repeal the state-level Defense of Marriage Act) and having a small-government reason for repealing the anti-union Right-To-Work law.

As I said earlier, part of being a candidate for political office is personality, the way you carry yourself, the perception as much as the politics. And Rupert has that down. He knows how to look good on camera, can speak off-the-cuff, and did reasonably well in the debates. Sure he put on a suit when he needed to, but he didn't pretend to be someone he isn't.

Nominating high-quality, disciplined candidates like Johnson and Boneham is a pathway to becoming a more recognized, legitimate party in their own right rather than being the party people throw their "anti" vote to.

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