It's important to learn the right lessons from elections. In 2008, the Democrats thought they learned the American people wanted Liberalism at any cost. They delivered, and then took massive losses in 2010. Though some Democrats have learned the lesson of 2010, they are poised to elect Nancy Pelosi as their leader in the house. This suggests the majority of the caucus has not learned.
In 2008, some Republicans thought they learned the American people wanted more Conservative candidates. They went out and found them. Some of them were trounced for various reasons, depending on who you ask. If you ask the GOP establishment, it was most certainly not their fault. Naturally. It was the "tea party" and their support of candidates in the primaries "too conservative" for the general election. The "tea party", on the other hand, blames the GOP establishment for not supporting the candidates who had been chosen by the primaries.
The GOP needs to learn both lessons. The "tea parties" should involve themselves in the organizations of a party. Any party. Or form their own party and offer fusion nominations. Just get into a party somewhere. It's all well and good sitting around complaining, but the decisions are made and the money starts flowing well before the primary election is fought. The parties. Check them out. BECOME the establishment. (I especially recommend checking out the Libertarian Party) You may also consider looking into candidates that don't make it easy for the other party to stereotype you and mobilize their voters against you. The conservative/liberal dichotomy is becoming so familiar that no one is listening anymore. You're only talking to yourselves.
The establishment needs to stop taking their base for granted. You have to either tell them the truth, or stick your neck out and accomplish something. Talking out of both sides of your mouth isn't going to cut it anymore. Also, if you're going to have primaries, paid for by tax dollars, you should probably not stick your foot in your mouth and talk a bunch of trash about the candidates. One of them might end up being your nominee.
Ok, that's my unsolicited advice for the incumbent parties. Now, what are the lessons to be taken from the Alternative Parties' performance in the 2010 Delaware General Elections?
First of all, it helps to have the word "Independent" in the name of your party. There's a party called the "Independent Party of Delaware", which is usually referred to as the "IPoD". This is a political party. A party of "Independents". Since most Americans understand politics to consist of "Left", "Right", and "Independent", this party makes total sense and its size and election performance come as no surprise. Nevertheless, I would be surprised to find most members of the IPoD are even aware they're in a party. I'm even more certain that most of the people who voted for an IPoD candidate would be very surprised to learn that they were voting for the nominee of a political party and not an "Unaffiliated" candidate.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Branding of a party label is an important part of politics, unfortunately, so a working relationship with a well recognized and overall positive brand is a good thing. Fortunately, the Libertarian Party in Delaware and the IPoD have a developing relationship and we look forward to extensive cooperation in future elections. It is more important to accustom people to voting for alternative parties than it is to stand on minor differences between platforms.
I was privileged to have been offered a fusion nomination by the IPoD in this election cycle, and I look forward to further collaboration with the IPoD in the future. Thank you for your support!
Unfortunately, I also learned that any effort to develop the organization, brand, and ultimately vote counts of Alternative Parties will be a long and challenging road. Despite my campaign, I only received 6.1% of the vote. This was not even enough to claim credit for "spoiling" the election. First and foremost, I believe the Libertarian Party must take as a lesson from this result that the organizational apparatus of the party MUST be a priority. We must find a way to maintain the participation, interest, and support of our members even when they cannot attend meetings. We must find a way to engage the communities we endeavor to serve and create a solid base for future elections.
I believe a key strategy in achieving this goal will be a focus on particular neighborhoods to essentially conduct our own census of voters, discussing libertarian issues and how the Libertarian Party works and benefits the community. By targeting specific neighborhoods, the success rate can be directly measured in election results and achieve milestones by moving even a single election district into the "win" column.
Also, controversially, I believe we must adopt more flexibility in our strategies for contesting elections. As a party much smaller, less well funded, and less organized than the incumbent parties, we must not confine ourselves to contesting elections on their terms using strategies that they have perfected. We must be willing to divide and conquer. We must be willing to interfere in their primaries by fusing with one of the candidates. We must be willing to divide their loyalties by nominating members of their party with notoriety to run on our ballot line. We must be willing to mobilize their own membership to revolt against them. We must be willing to send our own candidates into the lion's den of incumbent party primaries and support them in every way possible from without and within. We can do this to them because they are large and unwieldy, with many independents and libertarians registered to participate in a closed primary. We must be unconventional, unpredictable, and unimpeachable.
The election is only a small part of the game, and winning isn't everything.
The growth and maintenance of the Libertarian Party and other alternative parties will not be neglected. The incumbent parties may become a vehicle for libertarian ideas, but as they establish credibility and the Libertarian Party grows in stature for supporting these developments, we can develop into a political party worthy of the principles that animate us.
Go to the Kent County Libertarian Party website.
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