Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Yeah. I know. Who cares about fusion? It doesn't make sense. I don't know what it is. My party says it's bad. Let's fix that.


What is Fusion?
Fusion is the idea that more than one party can support the same candidate.

Will the Democratic Party ever support the Republican candidate? Doubt it.

Will the Republican Party ever support the Democratic candidate? Unlikely.

There's an entire industry built around fighting elections. If the two sides of the war declared peace, there'd be no money in selling guns anymore. Most average voters dream of an end to partisanship and the opportunity to have conversations with strangers where political discussions don't become fistfights.

That's why "Independent" or "Unaffiliated" is the fastest growing political affiliation in the country. I don't make these things up.

Why do Libertarians Care?
Among those not registered with the Democratic or Republican Party are those registered with the Libertarian Party. Traditionally, we've nominated our own candidates. From time to time, we nominate a Republican or a Democrat, but usually we put up our own guy.

I'm the Kent County Chair for the Libertarian Party now. I want to change that. This may come as a total surprise to you, but we lose elections. The best we did in a 3-way race was 6.1%. That was me. I could have done better, but I don't think a whole lot. We can't win. That's okay. We can still be important and still participate in the process.

We did spoil two elections.

In the Kent County Recorder of Deeds election and the 2nd Levy Court District election, the votes for the Libertarian candidate could have made the margin of victory for the Republican candidate. We really weren't trying. Our campaigns were leaning Republican, but we didn't have any specific issues to attack any of the opposing candidates on. Imagine if we had decided to fuse with the Democratic or Republican candidates. Majority.

We don't get off on being annoying. We don't get off on drawing attention to ourselves for the sake of drawing attention to ourselves. We want smaller government and more freedom and we really don't care how it happens.

If a Democratic or Republican candidate comes to us and lives up to the principles we espouse, why fight a losing campaign? Why shouldn't we be able to team up with the incumbent party candidates and offer our endorsement, support, and nomination? Do we HAVE to mess with the process? Why can't we contribute to it? We won't always pick Democrats. We won't always pick Republicans. We'll try to always pick the right candidate. Isn't that what every party is trying to do? Sometimes we may really think that none of the candidates are acceptable and nominate nobody. We do that all the time too.

So What's HB11?
HB11 has two sections. The first section prevents anyone who's not registered with a "major political party" to file in the primary elections for that party. It means that Democratic Party members and Republican Party members will be prohibited by Delaware State Law from voting for anyone not in their own political party during primary elections. I think that's a bad idea, but Democrats and Republicans are the ones passing HB11 and at some point, you all have to stand up for yourselves.

The real problem is with the second section. This section requires all political parties nominating candidates through a convention to choose their candidates from their own party also. Every "minor political party" chooses ALL of its candidates through convention. Sometimes we like people who aren't in our own party and we're not so set on promoting our own organizational interests over our principles that we won't work together with good people. Apparently we're whackos though, so don't take my word for it.

HB11 doesn't just tell primary voters who they can vote for, it tells entire political parties who they can and can't nominate for elected office. Everything else is a sideshow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Open Letter to State Legislators about HB11

Dear State Legislators,

We could have been such good friends. We could have had a beautiful future together. I was done running quixotic election campaigns with some desperate Libertarian. I was done pretending we were going to win anything and then bragging about carrying away more than 6% of the vote. The Kent County Libertarian Party was going to be in the fusion business. We were going to be giving them away left and right to any legislator or candidate who would deign to listen to us.

Maybe we'd be your margin of victory. Maybe we'd be your safety net if your party abandoned you and came at you with everything in the primary. Maybe we'd help you get the "Independent Seal of Approval" and burnish your credentials as a reasonable person that listens to all sides of the argument instead of only listening to your party. Maybe we'd fuse with a primary candidate in the other party and just make such a mess over there as to protect you and your base. The possibilities were endless.

HB11 puts all that at risk. Not only will it make me very sad and motivate me to find Libertarians, Republicans, or Democrats SOMEWHERE to harass anyone who votes in favor of it, but it will legally prohibit me from offering the benefits of fusion to those who vote against it. Trust me, I'll still find a way to make a mess. That's what I do. You just won't be able to benefit from it as much.

Alternative Parties don't get off on standing outside the system throwing rocks. I'd really like to us work with the state legislature and other elected officials to promote less government, accountable government, and cheaper government instead of always working against them. I work very closely with the Independent Party of Delaware and we've agreed to collaborate on the 2012 election...I know they like it when parties can work together too. I could put in a good word for you. Why don't we all just Vote "NO" on HB11, forget this ever happened, and think about our future together. It will all be okay.

Will McVay
Kent County Chair,
Libertarian Party of Delaware.

HB11: The End of Fusion?

I was at Legislative Hall today watching the House session. HB11 was introduced, sponsored by Rep. Jaques. This bill will prohibit fusion candidacies by preventing any political party from nominating any candidate not registered with that party. This means the Libertarian Party can't nominate a Republican, and Independent, an Unaffiliated candidate, or anyone else not registered as a Libertarian. The same goes for the Independent Party, the Working Families Party, The Blue Enigma Party, and the incumbent parties.

This bill would entrench partisan divisions by forcing parties to select nominees from their own membership. This leads to groupthink and increasing isolation from anyone who doesn't "think right". This is a bad, bad bill.

State Legislature, HB11

This bill is on the House Administration Committee Agenda for tomorrow at 2:30pm.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Parties vs. The People (tl;dr warning)

It's come to my attention that some people don't like me very much. Seriously, I cry myself to sleep over this. I think I might just be able to get over it with time and years of professional counseling, but more important is to make sure that the RIGHT people dislike me for the RIGHT reasons.

I talk a lot of smack on the Democratic and Republican Parties. Seems there are a few people who have taken that personally. I apologize for that. I never intend to insult anyone personally. It is possible, desirable, and necessary to disagree without being disagreeable.

I think it's important that I clarify my meaning. There are liberals and Democrats. There are conservatives and Republicans. Then there are the Democratic and Republican Parties. There are also libertarians, Libertarian Party members, and the Libertarian Party. I am all three. Each of these parties, as well as the Independent Party of Delaware, the Constitution Party, the Working Families Party, and The Blue Enigma Party have different cadres. There are ideological sympathizers, who may be members of any party or none at all. There are members of the party who are registered to vote with the Delaware Commissioner of Elections listed as such.

Then there are the organizations which represent the party members. These organizations are defined in Chapter 1, Title 15 of the Delaware State Code. The definition requires the election of a state committee at a state convention. This state committee raises money on behalf of the party (in accordance with Chapter 80, Title 15 of the Delaware State Code) and files the necessary paperwork with the Commissioner of Elections to list candidates on the ballot in general elections (in accordance with Chapters 31 and 33, Title 15 of the Delaware State Code). Chapter 1 further defines a "State Committee" and a "County Committee". As the Kent County Chair for the Libertarian Party of Delaware, I am part of this statutory establishment. So is Tom Ross, John Daniello, Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Commissioner Jody Sweeney, Hans Reigle, Wolfgang von Baumgart, Pell Sherman, Earl Lofland, Jeffrey Brown, Jim Rash, George Barnett, Wendy Jones, Ron Sams, and a number of others.

If you are registered as a member of a political party, some of these people represent you. They were selected at a state convention, typically held in non-election years (odd years, like 2011). The Sussex County GOP is experiencing a much discussed schism between its members and its organized representation. To a degree, a schism has developed in general between the conservatives on one side, the Delaware Republican Party on the other, with Republicans split between the two. This was on open display in the US Senate primary, but was also a factor in the US House primary. I should note they managed it well during the recent New Castle County Council President elections, but the divide is more dramatic in the southern counties.

According to Delaware State law, there are "major political parties", like the Democrats and Republicans (which I refer to as incumbent parties for my own nefarious purposes). There are also "minor political parties", like the Libertarian Party of Delaware and some other ones that are also cool but not as awesome as we are (which I call "alternative parties" for the same nefarious purposes...awesome parties and better parties would also be acceptable).

So "major political parties" have state conventions just like "minor political parties" do. The Delaware Republican Party held their 2010 state convention down in Rehoboth. I'm terrible at remembering these things, so if someone corrects me I'll correct this, but I think it was in May. The Libertarian Party of Delaware held their convention at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover at the beginning of March. Both state conventions selected candidates for the general election ballot. What was the difference?

The Libertarian Party convention's selection was legally binding on the Commissioner of Elections. The Republican Party's was not. According to Title 15, Chapters 31 and 33, each classification of political party has a different process for choosing its nominees. The Republican Party is a "major political party", so its state convention only exists (by law) for the purpose of selecting the State Committee (and County Committees if County Conventions are not also held for this purpose...the law's a little fuzzy (to me anyway, and I know this a double parenthesis, I do math, not English, shut up...commas)).

The point?

The "major political parties" select their nominees through a "direct primary election".

While the Republican State Convention(tm) may have chosen Michelle Rollins, the primary election chose Glen Urquhart. The candidate(tm)? Glen Urquhart.

While the Republican State Convention(tm) may have chosen Mike Castle, the primary election chose Christine O'Donnell. The candidate(tm)? Christine O'Donnell.

(Yes. I think I'm hilarious.)

Why is the convention choosing candidates if it has no legal ramifications and the primary voters can choose someone entirely different?

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(Again. Hilarious.)

Lest anyone think I'm picking on the Republicans, the Democrats did the same thing with the Treasurer race and any other ones where a primary was involved. I wasn't paying as much attention to them and I don't feel like looking things up right now so I can't name names. Deal with it and do your own research. I also believe they have every right to do this as private institutions. Whether you want them to represent you or not is another matter.

This process means that before the primary, the candidate(tm) is the one chosen by the State Convention(tm). Any candidate that wants to get funding from the bank accounts the party organizations have spent the past two years begging and scraping to fill will toe the party line. All members of the State Committee(tm) will voice full throated support for the candidate(tm). All candidates(tm) will support other candidates(tm).


Why did I bother writing this article? Wasn't this supposed to be some sort of apology? Is there a POINT?


The point is that my criticisms were, are, and will always be intended for the State Committee and the State Convention, and the process and participants that shape them. I have no problem with Republicans or Democrats. I have no problem with liberals or conservatives. We disagree on some things but not on others. Let's work on that. I don't even bear a personal animosity towards the members of the statutory establishment I criticize. I know they are acting in what they perceive to be the best interests of their organizations and doing the jobs they were asked to do.

I just think they're doing it wrong, they're serving their fundraisers and donors instead of their voters, and I think the country's the worse for it. I think the Libertarian Party offers a way to incentivize positive change. I think the Libertarian Party acts more transparently and more responsively to the desires of its members. That doesn't mean we don't have our weaknesses. Believe me. We do. I could write a whole new article on that and my attitude may well be one of them, but this is getting long enough as it is.

Again, I have nothing against anyone personally, and I don't even have a beef with conservatives, liberals, Republicans, or Democrats. I just think the organizations formed and granted the statutory authority to represent them at the local, state, and national level are distorting the incentives of our elected leaders in a way that hurts the country and the American people. I think the Libertarian Party and other alternative parties can help.

I hope we'll get the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity. I hope we can have our discussions in good faith without taking things personally. The state's too small for all that. To anyone who's taken anything I've said personally, sorry.

Now get over it. This isn't girls' curling.

Friday, January 14, 2011

An Independent Voice on the Levy Court Redistricting Commission

Every 10 years, the US Constitution requires the Federal Government to conduct a census, and then various federal, state, and local laws dictate the manner in which the various district boundaries for our elected officials are drawn. The Kent County government, the Levy Court, draws its borders following the recommendations of a “Redistricting Commission”. The Redistricting Commission, its composition, and its mandate are found in Chapter 41, Title 9 of the Delaware Code, Subchapter I. The gist of it is that there are seven members, one to correspond to each of the Levy Court commissioners, and no more than four of them may be from the same political party.

In the two-party system that dominates the US, these members have historically been Democrats or Republicans, with the party holding more seats on the Levy Court claiming the 4-3 majority.

In the modern political era, the fastest growing political affiliation is “independent”. More and more American voters are choosing not to identify with either of the major political parties. In recognition of this trend, the Kent County Libertarian Party is urging the commissioners of the Levy Court to select at least one member for the Redistricting Commission who is not affiliated with either the Democrats or the Republicans.

This is not simply a matter of fairness. Although I have no reason to believe that the commissioners of the Levy Court would consider selecting such people, it is not uncommon for many of these redistricting processes to degenerate into “gerrymandering”, where both of the political parties in power trade “safe districts” for “safe districts”.

This ensures that candidates from both parties will face easy reelections, will have little incentive to consider alternative viewpoints, and little fear of being driven from office for ethics violations or outright crimes. While this may not be a concern in Kent County, the presence of a neutral member, with no allegiance to either party, can ensure a transparent and honest process that can serve as an example to communities less inclined to follow the better angels of their nature.

More Info: