So often on the campaign trail, voters sympathize with my message and agree with the policies I would advocate from the state legislature if I am elected, but they insist that a Libertarian candidate cannot win and alternative party candidates merely act as "spoilers" for the D/R incumbent party politicians.
The premise is that there are only two sides to any one issue, that there is a fixed number of people who will vote, and this election is the only election that matters.
I'm very tired of hearing this. I'm very tired of voters in a free country giving up and voting for a candidate they don't fully support because they don't think the candidate they do support can win. Let me tell you why.
Most importantly, Libertarians are not Ross Perot. We are not Ralph Nader.
Libertarians are most simplistically described as fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. This means that Libertarian politicians can appeal to both Republicans AND Democrats. We are against big government. We are against increased taxes. We are against heavy-handed regulations. We are ALSO anti-war, anti-discrimination, against corporate welfare, and against subsidizing the tyranny of the many foreign governments the US Government props up with your tax dollars. We have a genuine "bipartisan" appeal.
Here's the other big difference. We MEAN it. Republicans campaign on smaller government and lower taxes. Some taxes are reduced, many of which benefit the super-rich more than the average taxpayer. Government, however, is ALWAYS expanded. Even Ronald Reagan, the exemplar of conservative values, grew government and the federal deficit while he was president. A Republican president, George W. Bush, passed TARP and began the auto bailouts. A Republican congress passed Medicare Part D. Republicans say one thing...and do another.
The same is true of Democrats. They campaign on ending the war, ending discrimination against homosexuals and immigrants, and protecting the environment. Once elected, the wars continue, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not repealed, civil unions are not encouraged, and immigration issues are left to fester. The environment becomes an excuse for a massive subsidy to financial institutions through opaque and ridiculous schemes like "Cap 'n' Trade" which do very little to address the very real environmental concerns citizens face.
Libertarians have an instinctual abhorrence of government. George Washington said, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." SOME Libertarians will take that to the extreme and demand privatization of police and roads. Most just aim to stop digging the big-government, big-spending hole we've dug for ourselves and begin moving the country in the opposite direction towards more freedom and smaller government. Not only will we reduce taxes, we will spread the burden equitably to ensure that every voter is also a taxpayer with a stake in the size and influence of government. We won't just campaign on eliminating wasteful government programs. We will vote, alone if necessary, to eliminate these programs and others not in conformance with the US or state constitutions. We won't just campaign on ending discrimination, we will vote, alone if necessary, to end it in a responsible way. We don't just campaign on ending the wars. We VOTE for ending the wars.
The point of all this is that many voters are so disgusted with the grandstanding, exaggerations, and outright lies of the incumbent parties that they have given up on the political process. Rather than voting for the lesser of two evils, they turn their back on evil all together and don't encourage either of them with their vote. This means that by offering a principled alternative to the D/R monopoly, we can mobilize voters that would otherwise stay home. I am a perfect example of this. I did not vote in the general election of 2008 for president. I did not believe Obama was genuine in his campaign for a "post-partisan" future. I don't think he really understood why "small government" was important. I voted for him in the Democratic primary because Hillary Clinton didn't even go through the motions, but I did not follow through in the general election. I tried to defend John McCain as a small-government conservative because he refused to jump headfirst into the culture wars of the Republican Party. I gave up when he expressed his support for TARP and the Federal government's actions to artificially prop up the housing bubble. His support for unconstitutional restrictions on free speech through the McCain-Feingold Act were another sore spot.
If Libertarian candidate Brent Wangen were not running for the US House of Representatives, I would not vote in that election either. The Democratic and Republican candidates for that position are both big-government, unprincipled party hacks that I have no interest in encouraging. The Libertarian Party has the ability to bring the 60-70% of Americans who don't bother to vote out to the polls, because we offer a clear alternative to the failed policies of the "left" and the "right", and we don't have an elaborate party machine that we REALLY have to answer to once the campaign is over. We only have our conscience, and our constituents.
Finally, even if we don't win, many of the debate venues adhere to an arbitrary standard that any candidate whose party did not receive at least 10% of the vote cannot participate. This is a self-perpetuating cycle whereby no one votes for Libertarians because they've never heard of us, and they've never heard of us because no one votes for us. Voting for a Libertarian, even if the candidate loses, has the potential push our candidates past that 10% threshold. Once that happens, there aren't any more excuses for excluding our legitimate candidates from the debate and the D/R incumbents will have to answer for their intrusive, big-government agendas. These votes also demonstrate a constituency concerned with protecting liberty that will influence the incumbent parties to reshape their message and their organization so they can mobilize those votes for themselves.
Vote Libertarian. It is not a wasted vote, and we are not spoilers. We can appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. We mobilize voters too disgusted with either incumbent party to encourage them. Even a losing Libertarian campaign can shape future elections. Vote Libertarian, and make a difference.