Columnist Blasts “Libertarian Whining”

A fairly harsh piece on “Libertarian whining” by columnist Matthew Tulley of the Indianapolis Star...

You can always tell when election season has arrived in Indiana.

Campaign yard signs sprout. Candidate commercials play. Political mailings arrive.

But for me, nothing says election season like a complaining Libertarian. If Election Day is approaching, Libertarians are griping and moaning and whining about being ignored, mistreated, forgotten and generally shunned by the media.

The Libertarian Whine is one of the true campaign constants. It is to elections what potholes are to spring, or what mosquitoes are to summer.

That is, an annoying and guaranteed event.

So with Tuesday’s primary approaching, it was no surprise the other day when an e-mail from Mike Kole, the Libertarian candidate for secretary of state, landed in my inbox.

Kole, who has held various top posts in the Libertarian Party, wrote to tell me what Libertarians strive for most.

No, not a more limited government. But, rather, more press for their campaigns.

“I try not to be too critical of reporters,” Kole wrote in his e-mail. “But I have to say, I am rather frustrated with the lack of inclusion Libertarians get, and that I get, in The Star.”

You see, every election year Libertarians run with huge dreams for offices big and small. Generally, they grab somewhere around 2 or 3 percent of the vote.

“I’m relegated to the sidelines,” Kole complained.

That’s what happens, Mike, when you get only 2 or 3 percent of the vote.

But Kole is promising to do better than the Libertarians who have played the role of ballot caboose in past elections. He hopes to win a whopping 10 percent of the vote in this fall’s race for secretary of state.

“If I earn 10 percent,” Kole wrote, “the Libertarian Party will become a major party, on par with the Democrats and Republicans.”

This was when I started wondering just what they spike the water with down on Libertarian Avenue. Major parties don’t earn 10 percent. They win elections—with, say, 51 percent—every so often. With the exception of a rare head-scratcher, Libertarians don’t win elections.

I’m sorry. It’s true.

But I must admit a strange fondness for Libertarians. Despite their sometimes-whiny ways, they’re a generally pleasant group of true believers. And, in many debates, the Libertarian candidates actually provide the straightest answers.

There’s a reason. Without having to worry about actually holding the office they are seeking, Libertarians can say whatever they want.

Anyway, after reading Kole’s e-mail, I left a message on his cell phone. He quickly called back—because Libertarians really want more press.

As we talked, I asked Kole why I should write about a party that got 1.3 percent of the vote in the last governor’s race.

“Because we are on the ballot,” he said, “And anything can happen.”


I’ll believe that when a Libertarian candidate actually wins a statewide office in Indiana.

Or, at least when one hits that elusive goal of 10 percent.

11 Responses to “Columnist Blasts “Libertarian Whining””

  1. Citizens For A Better Veterans Home Says:

    Need additional proof that the ‘battling, bickersons’ the two sections of the shaddowy, but still viable ‘Establishment Party’ the Democans and their near twin Republicrats, are in political ‘kahoots’?
    Ten percent? In a more perfect FAIR world it would be more like ONE PERCENT! And if the Libs started reaching 10% percent on a regular basis the bench mark would be raised by the Establishment to 12% or 15%!

  2. rolf Says:


    The press in Wisconsin is not biased aganst Libertarians.

    We do not have the money to get our message out to the general public, but we do have the resources to reach the members of the media.

    We have leveled with them, expressing a moderate, logical, principled message.

    Hence, we are treated fairly in news reports.

  3. Allen Hacker Says:

    I’m with the press on this one.

    First you accomplish something. THEN you crow and watch the curious come a-runnin’.


  4. Tim West Says:

    Yep. Mike’s a good guy, but you do something woth reporting on and they will come.

  5. Jim 101 Says:

    But Allen, in order for the curious to come runnin, they have to know your out there. I’m willing to bet if the press gave the same full court coverage to the Libertarian candidate that it does to the two major parties, then we would see the numbers change rather dramatically.

    It’s a Catch 22 if I ever saw one…

  6. Brian Grant Says:

    Wasn’t this country founded by men who were “whining” about taxes without representation ?

  7. Mark Rutherford Says:

    We have money in Indiana for media. We spend it on the media in Indiana (we are running radio commercials in Indianapolis before the R’s and D’s primary this Tuesday).

    We are treated fairly by most media, including many at the Indianapolis Star. However, this one reporter tends to be a (insert your choice of derogatory word). Quite frankly, the sitting Secretary of State was treated far worse than Kole by this reporter in a previous column.

    Our activists regularly appear on local talk radio, including in Indianapolis, and many of their op/eds are printed in newspapers across the state of Indiana.

    By the way, we are winning local partisan offices in Indiana and growing the party at every election. Many partisan elections we have lost on the local level we lost with vote percentages over 40%. We have several Libertarian activists on various government boards. Thus we have accomplished something.

    Remember how the establishment operates - first they ignore you, then they attack you, then you win.

    I’m pleased to see the Libertarian Party of Indiana is pleasantly entwined in the establishment’s attack phase and is looking to quickly move to the win phase at state level positions. It’s much better than being ignored.

    Mark W. Rutherford, Chairman, Libertarian Party of Indiana

  8. Rolf Says:


    I agree with you. From what I’ve seen, the LP of Indiana in the 2000s could be what Indiana was to high school basketball in the 1920s.

    I’d bet that about 1/3 of the people who read the biased column had a reaction opposite that of the intention of the writer.

    A lot of people like to root for the underdog.

    Rolf Lindgren

  9. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    There are two sides to every story, of course.

    I’ve done a few campaign media analyses, and to be honest, most LP candidates get LESS pro rata media coverage than their electoral performance would seem to merit—even in the 1% bracket, the candidates I’ve looked at got something like one TENTH of one percent of the newspaper word count in the election.

    On the other hand, a lot of Libertarians don’t understand how to get the media’s attention. The media doesn’t care what Libertarian candidates think. They already KNOW what Libertarian candidates think, and have known it for years. What Libertarian candidates think is old news, and old news is not news.

    Journalists are, however, often interested in what Libertarian candidates DO. If a press release concerns an EVENT or something that has HAPPENED or about to happen, it’s ten times (and that’s a lowball estimate) as likely to get covered as a press release about what someone thinks. Position papers—even position papers disguised as press releases—don’t generate media.

    Tom Knapp

  10. Tim West Says:

    Yep. Tom speaketh the truth. it has to be NEWSWORTHY, and we dont get to judge what that is anymore than anyone else who does not own one of the 5 media corps that control 99% of the news reporting.

  11. Mark Rutherford Says:

    Thanks for the compliment Rolf!

    Based on anecdotal evidence so far, it seems a lot of people have reacted sympathetically to the LPIN based on the article. It probably got a lot of people to look at us that would not have done so otherwise

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