Ben Brandon Switches Parties

Bad news for Libertarians. It seems that one of the biggest LP success stories of the last few years, Ben Brandon, has returned to the Republican Party.

The details from tfpOnline...

Georgia’s only Libertarian to be elected in a contested partisan race, and the only one who is a top elected official in one of the state’s 159 counties, is no longer a Libertarian.

Dade County Executive Ben Brandon announced that he is switching back to the Republican Party — the Republican Liberty Caucus, to be exact, he said.

“It’s essentially the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party,” Mr. Brandon said. After unsuccessful bids as a Republican for county school board and then the Dade County Commission, Mr. Brandon switched to the Libertarian Party in 2002, he said. Then in 2004, he was elected to the newly created county executive/commission chairman position.

That post was designed to provide a leader who represented the entire county, after Dade County had switched from a sole commissioner to a panel of five commissioners elected by districts.

Once in office, Mr. Brandon said he found that the Libertarian Party label prevented him from contributing to some policy discussions, especially at the state and federal levels.

“This in no way indicates any ill will toward the Libertarian Party,” he said. “It’s just an admission that this is a twoparty system, and if you want to be effective and contribute something, you need to be one of those two parties.”

He announced his switch during a recent meeting of the Dade County Republican Party, and the local GOP group is happy to have him back, said Lee Riddle, party chairman in Dade County.

Both Mr. Riddle and Mr. Brandon said they doubted the party shift would result in much change at the local level. Even with the switch, Republicans are still a minority on the Dade County Commission. As for the Libertarians, Georgia Libertarian Party Chairman Jason Pye said Thursday that he understands Mr. Brandon’s decision to change.

“It’s sad, and it should tell how wrong our political system has become, that you have to be a Republican or Democrat to get things done for the people you represent,” Mr. Pye said.

“Party politics over people. That has become the message of the two major parties in Georgia,” he said.

36 Responses to “Ben Brandon Switches Parties”

  1. George Phillies Says:

    We see here the extent to which many Republicans can be trusted when they say they have switched parties to join us, and the extent to which they are loyal to the party that elected them.

    A local Libertarian Party with backbone will endeavor to ensure that Brandon faces honest Libertarian opposition in his next race.

  2. Jason Pye Says:

    We are too busy trying to get our statewide candidates names out to really worry about an election two years away.

  3. rj Says:

    Honest question: What’s to stop the Libertarian Party from joining en masse the Republican Party?

    Think about this:

    1.) Your organization still exists, but instead of having to worry about ballot-access to get on in November, you only worry about primaries and can trump up the Libertarian hardcore when a lot less people are at the ballotbox.

    2.) No more time wasting money on ballot-access.

    3.) Don’t have to worry about the wasted vote scenario. Most Republicans would never vote for a Democrat, so they’d vote for the Libertarian as the lesser of two evils.

    4.) One less person to run against in November if you win the primary.

    5.) Completely ignore non-Libertarian candidates that are Republican and put no money into them.

  4. rj Says:

    6.) Lower turnouts during primaries, when the majority of normal Republicans are not paying attention, increase your chances for victory.

  5. NewFederalist Says:

    Response to rj: I don’t necessarily disagree with you but I would think the Democratic Party is more open to new ideas (incorporating many Socialist Party planks into their own platform in the 30’s for example) and are the party out of power currently. I perceive them as being more “big tent” than the GOP.

  6. Chris Campbell Says:

    Kind of a sell out-wonder what the payoff is???

    Libertarina wing is still a part of GOP

  7. George Phillies Says:

    Why would we want to join the Republicans rather than the Democrats?

    The Republican Party and its President threw an American citizen in a military gulag without trial. The Republican Party through its spy agencies is listening to your phone calls as youread. The Republican Party staged a phony war campaign based entirely on lies and attacked a country that was not attacking us and not threatening us. The Republican Party took a Federal budget in balance and bloated it beyond belief, so we now increase the National Debt a half trillion dollars a year. The Republicans have launched a crusade of religious persecution inside America, in favor of the Christian sects whose favor they are currying and against the Christian sects that view, e.g., gay marriage and abortion as scripturally valid.

    As an equally rational position: The Libertarian Prrty could link up with the Revolutionary Socialists, with whom we have at least one issue in common, because they are the other party that supports the second amendment.

  8. Allen Hacker Says:

    So Ben felt isolated. What could any of us have done about that? Who went with him to those meetings, helped him prepare, coached him, debriefed him, counselled him through the desperation and despair? Anybody?

    Most elected and appointed liberarians flame out within one election cycle. The problem is systemic.

    There’s more to all this than just getting onto the ballot, more even than just getting elected. There’s also the necessity for a social/support structure. Is anybody listening to the metamessages of our times? Anybody ready to quit the ego-feeding yet?

    Live and learn.


  9. rj Says:

    Well then join the Democratic Party then. But ideally, all libertarians should join one party to maximize their vote percentage in one party.

  10. Trevor Southerland Says:

    Ben had been getting support from Libertarians across the nation. However; about three months ago he stopped responding to phone calls or e-mails from me… I guess when the GOP puts on its pressure it puts on its pressure.

  11. Richard Winger Says:

    When the Libertarian Party was young, “Libertarian” was a completely foreign word to most Americans. There were endless jokes about the “librarian party” or the “libertine party”. Today, “Libertarian” is just as mainstream a word as it has ever been in U.S. history.

    That’s part of what the Libertarian Party has done. It wouldn’t have been done if the people in the Libertarian Party had been part of an association inside the Republican Party. Having your own party is the way to say to the world, “We don’t approve of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party”. Being inside one of those parties does not carry that message.

  12. Aaron Says:

    Many former LP’ers, like myself, are flocking to the libertarian wing of the GOP. Learn more:

  13. Trevor Southerland Says:

    Yes, the “libertarian wing” of the Republican Party… it has been such a success hasn’t it.

    Someone tell me how much our taxes have been reduced and our liberities and freedoms preserved since 1994 when the GOP took control of Congress or the past several years that they’ve had control of the Congress and the White House.

    I’m sure there’s a legacy of libertarianism there isn’t there?

    Oh wait, no? So you’re telling me the GOP has done absolutely nothing but increase government and steal my liberities?

    Yeah… the Republican Liberty Caucus… fooling libertarians since 1990.

  14. Allen Hacker Says:

    The RLC isn’t new. The RP in Nevada was touting in 1980 that there was no need for an LP since 15% of the RC was libertarian[-leaning]. Meanwhile Ralph Reed took the RP over and turned it into a religious enforcer that hasn’t yet recovered.

    Not that the DP is any more enlightened—it’s rife with Secular Humanism, just another dogma that tries to tell people how to think and live.

    The LP is THE bastion for personal liberty and small-government advocates. With the CP itself 51% dominated by religion, there’s nowhere else to go. And no need to go anywhere else.

    Not that the LP doesn’t have a couple of religions competing within it. But that’s the difference: competing, not controlling, not as a matter of policy and Principle.

    Trevor, I was mainly referring to local support for Ben Brandon. He, like Michael, got our financial support from all over the country. But did he have a team at home (as Michael has)?


  15. Gary Odom Says:

    This kind of stuff is inevitable and there is nothing that can be done about human beings being mecurial andor ambitious. It happens in the CP as well. It’s part of the growing pains of building a new party. When and if our parties get to be substantially larger nobody will really notice or care about these types of things but they will still occur.

    Sometimes, these kind of sites remind me of sports talk radio. People make a big deal out of things that are hardly newsworthy just have something to talk about.

    Now, if you want to talk about something that pisses me off we can talk about the Angels losing two games in a row to the stinking Kansas City Royals. Oh well, there probably are no more sports fans here than there are women. Oh, well, I’m off to a comic book convention.

  16. Jackcjackson Says:

    The Libertarian wing of the GOP doesnt exist.

  17. Jackcjackson Says:

    For me the only alternative to the LP is not being a member of any political party at all ( unless another attractive “third party” exists). Certainly not joining the Dems or the Repubs. While most libertarians can’t stomach the socialism of the Dems, I see NO way a Libertarian could be a member of the Republican party.

  18. rj Says:

    Why not?

    Things such as platforms are completely outdated. You can say they’re principles and all this. A person’s principles don’t need to be on a piece of paper. How many voters for G.W. Bush in 2004 bothered to read his platform? As long as a person has his principles and holds to them by himself, you don’t need a piece of paper to pass it off.

    Does Brandon switching parties make him any less libertarian (notice the small “l”?

    All I am saying is that the Libertarian Party should become a wing of one of the major parties. Not to be assimilated by it, but to partially hijack it. If every libertarian voter voted in the Republican (or Democratic) primaries for President, the resulting candidate would be more libertarian (and hence maybe the resulting President) than a Libertarian candidate that gets 0.4% in the general election, because the major party candidate actually has a chance at winning and has a chance at implementing libertarian ideas, while the latter has none.

    We live in a society where the only place that matters is first. That needs to be changed cause it disenfranchises too many, but until that day comes, you have to accept the political landscape for what it is, and use it to your party’s political advantage.

  19. Eric Dondero Says:

    So much to respond to here… My first comment is to the gentleman who suggested that the Libertarians join the GOP “en masse” and form a distinct wing within the Party. As the guy who founded the Republican Liberty Caucus in 1990, let me assure you, that WE’VE ALREADY JOINED THE GOP EN MASSE.

    At the 1989 Libertarian Party National Convention in Philadelphia, there was a purge of sorts. All the “Ron Paul wing” Realists in the LP were basically thrown out by the Bergland/Emerling faction. We wanted to move the Party into the Mainstream, concentrate on elections and campaigns, and not just fundraising gimmicks.

    Over the next couple of years, slowly but surely, most of us moved to the GOP. I was the first to leave. In fact, I publicly declared that I was “turning Republican,” right after Michael Emerling “Cloud” purged me.

    LP Natcommers Cliff Thies, and Mike Holmes soon followed. Then followed other LP stalwarts like Alan Turin, and scores of others.

    I started the RLC, and all the disgruntled ex-LPers rallied around the group.

    What’s happened since?

    Over 20 libertarians, most formerly associated with the Libertarian Party have won elections to State Legislatures around the Nation. Folks like Greg Kaza (former Ed Clark for President Campaigner) and Leon Drolet (friend of the MI LP) in Michigan. Duncan Scott (fmr. Libertarian Party official) in New Mexico. Penn Pfiffner in Colorado (fmr. LP State Chair). Ken Lindell (fmr. 2-year ME LP member) in Maine. Toby Nixon in Washington State (fmr. 20-year GA LP member). Vic Kohring in Alaska (friend of the AK LP). And scores of others.

    What else?

    The RLC was largely influential in getting the former Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Ron Paul, first to switch back to the GOP, then to win a seat in the US Congress. The RLC also helped to elect scores of other Congressmen.

    The bottom line; The Republican Liberty Caucus is simply proven itself to be the very most effective organization ever for libertarians in the political world. You could argue Cato has proven to be far more effective overall than the RLC, particularly in the Policy area. But in the world of libertarian politics, the RLC is King.

    Glad to see our new member in Georgia has recognized that.

  20. Eric Dondero Says:

    To those like George Phillies who advocate libertarian activism within the Democrat Party, one simple question.

    Name for us, one single libertarian EVER who has been elected to public office as a Democrat?

    Steve Villaincourt does not count, for he is now a Republican. (For those not familiar, Villaincourt once won election to the NH Legislature in a fluke election. He had lost a Dem primary in Manchester. Then decided to be listed on the Libertarian line. He won the seat as a Libertarian, but soon after switched to Republican. But this made him “technically” a Libertarian-Democrat for a few months. As far as is known he is the ONLY elected Libertarian Democrat in history.)

    Now, besides Villaincourt, Mr. Phillies, can you name a single State Legislator in the entire United States who is a former LP member-turned Democrat, who has been elected? How about a Congressman?

    You can’t.

    I can name over 20 libertarian Republicans, who currently serve in State Legislatures around the Nation, and about just as many former LPers who have won Legislative seats in the past few years as GOPers.

    Plus, I can name a sitting US Congressman who is the former Libertarian Party Presidential candidate as a Republican.

    I can name 3 to 4 others who have had some affiliations with the Libertarian Party to varying degrees who are now in the US Congress, as Republicans.

    Next time you hear some schmuck like Phillies saying that “we ought to try our luck in the Democrat Party,” ask them, “Oh yeah, then why is it that 99.9% of all ex-Libertarians who have ever won political office in the US won as Republicans. (The sole exception being Steve Villaincourt of NH).

  21. Eric Dondero Says:

    Response to Trevor:

    Trevor sardonically chimed in, “yeah, the RLC has been such a success…” look at how our taxes have gone up, budget deficit, ect…

    Trevor, your mistake is that you look at the RLC as the Republican Party. We are not. We are a Wing of the GOP. Our purpose is to help elect libertarians, mostly ex-LPers to office under the GOP banner.

    Do you not see how having Ron Paul in Congress is beneficial to our cause? You don’t think Ron at times influences his colleagues to take a more libertarian position?

    Would you rather a world withouth Leon Drolet in the Michigan Legislature? Would you rather the Alaska House of Reps, without Vic Kohring? Would you be happier if Tom McClintock was not a California Assemblyman?

    No, the RLC has not been a smashing success at scaling back the government. That’s a long-term goal that’s going to be very, very difficult to achieve.

    And need I remind you that one of the reasons that we can’t achieve it, is cause so many of our libertarian colleagues are in the LP and not actively engaging in GOP politics, at our side, moving the GOP towards more support for libertarian ideals.

    However, the RLC has been a smashing success at electing former Libertarian Party members to public office under the GOP banner. That’s the short-term goal of the RLC. And it’s a shame you don’t choose to recognize that as helpful to our cause.

  22. Eric Dondero Says:

    Response to Richard Winger:

    Richard says that having the LP is a way of saying to the world “we don’t approve of what the Republicans and Democrats are doing…”

    Really Richard. Need I remind you that Ron Paul is a Republican. Are you saying that you don’t approve of what he’s doing? Jeff Flake, Tom Feeney, Butch Otter, and Dana Rohrabacher are also Republican Congressmen. You don’t approve of their voting records or their issue stances either?

    How about Leon Drolet in Michigan? He’s a Republican. He’s also a great friend of the Libertarian Party there. Oh, and did I mention Leon introduced and got passed a Bill to greatly reduce ballot access restrictions in the State for Third Parties. How did the LP thank him? By not lifting a finger to help him in his reelection battles. Did you not approve of Leon either?

    How about Vic Kohring in Alaska who is also a Republican, though he’s a close friend of the AK LP? Vic recently single handidly fought against the re-legalization of marijuana in the State. But then again, he’s a Republican, so I guess you don’t “approve” of what he’s doing.

    Ditto for Senator Bob Hedlund in Mass. another marijuana legalization advocate. Oh, but Bob’s a Republican. So, I guess you don’t approve of Bob’s efforts either.

    Tom McClintock in CA, Ken Lindell in Maine, Toby Nixon in WA, all close friends of the Libertarian Party (Lindell and Nixon former LP members), and all feveroously work for libertarian causes in their respective legislatures. But since their label says “Republican” I guess you don’t approve of them, right?

    Tell ya what Richard. Next time some “evil Republican” offers to assist you LPers with your ballot access difficulties, I’ll remind them that you “don’t approve of them cause they’re Republicans.” And we’ll see how much help they give you after that.

  23. Eric Dondero Says:

    Response to New Federalist:

    “Democrats are more open to libertarian ideas than Republicans…”

    Really? Then why is it just about every single ex-Libertarian Party member who has ever run for office has run as a Republican?

    Why is it that every single Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, except one (Harry Browne who was a politically unaffiliated drop-out), has been or currently is a Republican?

    John Hospers (formerly and currently Republican)

    Roger MacBride (formerly and was a Republican before he died)

    Ed Clark (formerly Republican)

    David Bergland (formerly Republican)

    Ron Paul (formerly and currently Republican)

    Andre Marrou (formerly Republican, was a “Republican Caucus Member” when he served in the Alaska House as a Libertarian, and now rumored to be back in the GOP)

    Michael Badnarik (formerly Republican)

    Oh, and a few VP candidates and also rans for the Nomination, as well:

    Russell Means (now Republican Liberty Caucus South Dakota Coordinator)

    Nancy Lord (formerly Republican, switched back to the GOP recently)

  24. Otto Kerner Says:

    Eric Dondero: Flake, Feeney, Otter, Rohrabacher. These are our libertarian Congressmen? All four of these men supported the invasion of Iraq. There were only three Republicans who voted against USA PATRIOT; Ron Paul and Otter were two of them, but Flake, Feeney, and Rohrabacher voted in favour of it. These guys should be exhibit A against thinking that the Republican Party has a significant libertarian movement.

    Anyway, it’s odd that you take Richard Winger to task for saying, “we don’t approve of what the Republicans and Democrats are doing…” moments after you wrote to Trevor, “your mistake is that you look at the RLC as the Republican Party. We are not. We are a Wing of the GOP.” Surely, Mr. Winger didn’t mean that we disapprove of what every single Republican Party member is doing all the time.

  25. George Phillies Says:

    Mr. Dondero proves my point. The people who joined our party, and then discovered that they belonged back at home, because they disagreed with us, were members of The Party of the Authoritarian Right. They returned there. The people who joined us, and discovered that they did not disagree with us that much, so they could stay with us, were Goldwater Conservatives and Democrats.

  26. Eric Dondero Says:

    Response to Phillies & Kerner,

    Since when is “Opposition to the War in Iraq” a libertarian stance??? Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the complete opposite is correct. Opposition to the War in Iraq, firmly implies support for Islamo-Fascism; the polar opposite of libertarianism.

    Perhaps you are completely ignorant of libertarian movement history.

    Perhaps you’ve been brainwashed by the Radical Caucus/Justin Raimondo Leftist America-hater posing as libertarians crowd.

    The Modern libertarian movement was founded in the 1960’s by Dana Rohrabacher, then Chairman of the Libertarian Caucus of Young Americans for Freedom. Dana was then, and is now a staunch Pro-Freedom Around the World advocate. He detests tyranny in all its forms.

    Others influential in the founding of the libertarian movement included, Pro-War/Anti-Communist advocates Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Frank Meyers and Barry Goldwater.

    The Radical Caucus Lefties came around much later.

    I note with glee, that Libertarian Party delegates apparently agree with me on this, having just scrapped the Radical Caucus-inspired Anti-War plank of the LP Platform. But then again, one shouldn’t be surprised. An informal poll of the LP conducted by Bill Winter 3 years ago, as Editor of LP News, found that “full 40% of LPers were in favor of the War in Iraq.”

    Simply put, if you favor Pacifism in the face of Islamo-sponsored Terrorism you favor Fascism and Authoritarianism, the exact opposite of libertairanism.

    Eric Dondero

  27. Eric Dondero Says:

    Response to Phillies,

    And just which one of my following positions could be categorized as “Authoritarian?”

    Legalization of Drugs, Prostitution, Sexual Freedom for all consenting adults, Pro-Choice, Pro-Free Speech/Against Political Correctness, Against Affirmative Action, Pro-Free Enterprise, Pro-Tax Cuts, Pro-Spending Cuts, Pro-Deregulation, Pro-Privatization, Anti-Military Draft, Anti-Foreign Aid, Pro-Freedom for all Peoples of the World.

    You on the other hand, give tacit support to Islamo-Fascists, the very people who are harrassing Gays and Lesbians in the Netherlands, the very people who are seeking to outlaw Marijuana in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, the very people who condemn and protest against Topless Beaches in France and Israel, the very people who stone “Adultress” women in Northern Africa to death, the very people who rampage against Freedom of the Press and satyrical cartoons in newspapers, the very people who murder 8 Americans with sniper rifles on American Interstates in Maryland and Alabama, the very people who plot to kill hundreds by blowing up the Sears Tower in Chicago.

    Simply put, if you’re Pro-Islamo-Fascist, you’re the enemy of libertarians.

  28. Eric Dondero Says:

    George Phillies evades question!

    Notice how Phillies refused to answer my very simple question; Name for us George, a single ex-Libertarian (besides Steve Villaincourt in NH), who has been elected to a State Legislature or Congress on the Democrat ticket.

    I can name tons of ex-LPers who were elected as Republicans.

    Oh, but I guess in Mr. Phillies’ world people like Ron Paul are “Authoritarians” since they went back to the GOP.

    Wonder, just who it was that Phillies voted for for President in 1988. My guess, Ron Paul.

  29. Chris Campbell Says:

    rj Says:

    July 24th, 2006 at 8:27 am
    Why not?

    Things such as platforms are completely outdated. You can say they’re principles and all this.


    In that case-you have anarchy and definately, sinking sand.

  30. rj Says:

    ^ Wouldn’t anarchy be welcomed by a wing of the Libertarian Party?

    My point on platforms being outdated was that a person should announce his principles based on what he(s), alone by him(er)self, believes. He shouldn’t rely on some party document that is quasi-fictional to start with as the basis for his morals.

  31. Otto Kerner Says:

    Yes, being against invading places is a part of any kind of libertarianism that is of any interest to me. Mr. Dondero and I seem to be talking about different things when we say “libertarian”, so we probably don’t have much else to say to each other. Good luck with these Republicans that you think are promoting freedom.

  32. Chris Moore Says:

    Mr. Dondero, you point a gun to my face and demand that I pay to “liberate” Iraq. To me, that is authoritarian.

    And just in case you have forgotten, Ron Paul did not and does not support the war in Iraq, and he did not vote for the Patriot Act. I would gladly vote for him for whatever he runs for no matter the party, whether its as a Libertarian, as a Republican, as a Democrat or even as a Socialist so long as he maintains the same principles. I’d assume Dr. Phillies would do the same. The label doesn’t matter to me.

    But your support for the war in Iraq and “nation destroying/rebuilding” strategy for world “libertation” would keep me from checking the box next to your name for any office, any party. If you were the Libertarian presidential candidate in 2008, I would not vote. I’d pick Russ Feingold over any current Republican running for the GOP nomination.

    If your views on foreign policy represent the RLC, then no thanks.

  33. Tom Bryant Says:

    If anyone is curious, go look up the RLC’s financial reporting.

    The organization raises less than $3000 per year. If you look up the candidates that it “endorses”, you’ll find that the RLC contributes nothing to their campaigns. While Ron Paul raised well over a million dollars, the RLC contributed $500 and still takes credit for his victory.

    Isn’t it amazing that so many people can be fooled into thinking that the RLC can elect multiple congressmen and state legislatures with only $3000?

    The outlook for liberty is not good in the GOP. The RLC is financially broke. And without money, you’re nothing in politics.

  34. Philip Blumel Says:

    The key point is not what party he is in. It is whether or not he will consistently support while in office lower taxes, limited government and expanded personal liberty and responsibility. If he is a good libertarian, why should we care whether he is a GOPer, LPer or even a Democrat? I feel very strongly that our allegiance should be to libertarian principles, not political parties. Partisanship can be viewed as a sort of statist religion that is destructive to our ends.

    I (and you) will have the opportunity to meet Brandon at the national meeting of the Republican Liberty Caucus Sept. 15-17 in Orlando. For more info, see Libertarians of all parties are welcome to attend.
    —Philip Blumel, 561-254-8458

  35. Philip Blumel Says:

    I had the opportunity to meet Ben Brandon at the convention of the Republican Liberty Caucus in Orlando Sept. 15-17. He is a sharp and principled guy who clearly made his decision to switch parties reluctantly. He was not disgruntled nor coopted, but simply felt that even after election he felt as if he were operating with one hand tied behind his back, just because of his party label. Partisanship clearly ranks a lot lower in his book than principle and efficacy, so he made the jump. He said in his small county, where everyone knows each other, the move didn’t send the same ‘message’ that it might in a larger locale, as everyone knows him and knows he is a libertarian and continues to be one. I’d vote for him under any or no party label.
    —Philip Blumel,

  36. Azzurra Says:

    Buon luogo, congratulazioni, il mio amico!

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