Libertarians: Success is Good!

As a part of our series this week on the Libertarian Party and current efforts to reform it, we present this little bit of history.

Below is a paragraph taken from the Vermont Libertarian Party’s newsletter from back in 1998. At the time, one of their state-wide candidates had come very close to capturing 5% of the vote and ensuring the VTLP “major party status” for future elections.

Instead of saying “we came so close, let’s try harder next time” or something to that effect… the party said this:

Although major party status would have given us a psychological and public-relations boost, it would have brought a number of negative consequences as well. We would have been required to hold open primaries, and to have our candidates get petition signatures. It would have permitted people who do not have Libertarian views to organize a raid on our party and force us to name candidates who would not have been of our choosing, much as when a Democrat or Republican forces an opposing party to nominate him, as often happens in Vermont. This sort of possibility can destroy a small party, so “major party status” would not necessarily have been a boon to us.

Essentially that’s like saying: “We think being a major party would be too difficult and could risk bringing other people into our clubhouse. Perhaps people who aren’t so pure as we. We prefer to continue getting 2% of the vote and ignoring the outside world.”

8 Responses to “Libertarians: Success is Good!”

  1. Centrist Chris Says:

    I have updated the Election Results section of the Personal Choice Party page in the Encyclopedia.

  2. Centrist Chris Says:

    Sorry, It’s the Electoral History Section, not the Election Results Section. I will also get to work on starting the Green Party Page sometime soon.

  3. Douglas E. Says:

    Yeah, it’s always a good thing for parties when they don’t get many votes. I mean, what do they want to win elections or something? Sheesh. That would be difficult!

  4. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Chris: Looks great! I’ve been working on some other articles here and there. Once I finally get the message board of the ground I think it will make it easier to organize who’s working on what, etc.

    Douglas: Exactly. ;)

  5. Otto Kerner Says:

    No, I don’t think that’s a very accurate paraphrase of the what they said. If they need to “have our candidates get petition signatures”, that implies that becoming a major party will make it more difficult for them to appear on the ballot. That’s not true in most states, but if it is, in fact, true in Vermont, then you can see why they might not want to be a major party. Obviously, they would rather have 10% of the vote than 1%, but 4.9% is better than 5.1% if crossing that 5% threshold will hurt the party. When they refer to raids, they clearly mean that someone who is not interested in the Libertarian Party at all, perhaps the candidate of another party, might get himself nominated via the primary. It’s hard to see why you think this is not a problem, since it would mean that the Libertarian Party itself would not have a candidate in the race at all.

  6. George Phillies Says:

    In Massachusetts, becoming a major party does make it much harder to put your candidates on the ballot, and the state party pushed for major party status anyhow. As a result, it became much harder to put people on the ballot, and the number of candidates fell. We now have in Massachusetts a parallel libertarian organization Liberty for Massachusetts http://www.LibertyForMassachusetts.Org with somewhat different plans and objectives.

  7. Douglas E. Says:

    Fewer candidates is probably a good thing. I have always thought the LP needs to focus on a few key races in any state rather than run a dozen or more clowns for office randomly.

  8. Timothy West Says:

    Yes. Paper candidates are death. I would rather run 1 good qualified candidate than 10 paper candidates.