Libertarians to win huge on ballot initiatives

From OpinionJournal (via Instapundit):

We’ll all find out soon whether next week’s elections yield the “Democratic wave” so many political seers have predicted. There isn’t much doubt, however, about another kind of electoral wave that has been building across America and is set to crash on Tuesday.

That tsunami is the property-rights backlash, which is the direct result of last year’s misguided and deeply unpopular Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London. A narrow Court majority decided that the Constitution’s “takings” clause somehow allowed the government to seize private property not merely for “public use” but also on behalf of other private interests. . . . No fewer than 11 states (see nearby table) have ballot measures designed to limit government’s ability to pilfer private property for someone else’s private economic development. Eight initiatives would enshrine those restrictions in state constitutions, and polls show that most are headed for victories.

State Libertarian Parties should learn a thing or two about the time and effort that goes into these winnable single issue campaigns versus candidate races that keep losing (most times far outside the margin of victory). A noble strategy to follow would be to reposition our political efforts into putting initiatives on ballots at the state level and solidly building a roster of qualified candidates up from the local level for the next two election cycles.

Of course, this idea of actually playing the game of politics won’t fly with those libertarians who don’t care about winning in the first place and view our cause as an educational one.

Update: Brian Lewis at News Leader writes:

After meeting with a couple of Libertarian candidates this year, I’ve decided it’s not the party, it’s the people whom the party gets to run for office.

I know; running for office is a tough, thankless task. And the Libertarians start with a high hurdle to overcome. There just aren’t very many of them. It’s hard to campaign when you’re trying to hold down a full-time job and also get out and knock on doors and raise money.

Except the two Libertarian candidates I talked to expressed a disdain for raising money. Tom Martz, who is running for state representative in the 139th district, said he didn’t want someone to think that they could buy his vote on an issue just because they contributed to his campaign. It’s a holier-than-thou approach.

They’re the pure candidates, not tainted by money from their supporters. Essentially all other candidates are prostitutes, politicians of easy virtue.

This brings up two problems. One, if a politician isn’t going to raise money, then he isn’t serious about running for office. Two, a politician ought to have the integrity to vote the way either his heart or his constituents want him to vote. A financial supporter could have some small amount of influence but should take a back seat to more important factors.

The bottom line though is that the Libertarian candidates I met seemed much more passionate about Libertarian philosophy than government and winning campaigns.

This is the major divide in the Libertarian Party and we need to figure out how to come to terms with ourselves.

46 Comments
  1. Disappointingly, it’s looking like California’s anti-eminent domain abuse initiative, Proposition 90, is going to fail. It contains some extra language that goes beyond the subject of eminent domain, which has opened the initiative as a whole to attacks. None of the opponents have had to say a single word against reforming eminent domain.

    Oh, well. That’s just the polls. We’ll see how the actual vote turns out.

  2. It looks like the Oregon LP will be on the losing side of every statewide ballot measure this year. They even inexplicably decided to endorse a term-limit measure which luckily is losing handily in the polls. I guess the Oregon LP forgot that term limits actually takes freedom *away* from voters.

  3. “No, they take welfare away from political whores.”

    Tell that to someone like Ron Paul. With term limits in place, he wouldn’t still be in congress. We need to let the good ones get re-elected as many times as they can.

  4. Len: “Tell that to someone like Ron Paul. With term limits in place, he wouldn’t still be in congress.”

    And neither would Dennis Hastert, Nancy Pelosi, Rick Santorum, Trent Lott, Ted Kennedy, Ted Stevens, …

    There’s a lot more bad ones profiting from unlimited incumbency right now than there are good ones. And more importantly there’s a lot more bad policies being protected by the stifling status quo in Mordor-on-the-Potomac than there are good policies. The point of term limits is throw the bums out and prevent new entrants from accumulating and institutionalizing that kind of entrenched power.

  5. you could do the same internal to Congress by imposing term limits on committee chairs and “bottleneck positions” within the Congress itself.

  6. State Libertarian Parties should learn a thing or two about the time and effort that goes into these winnable single issue campaigns versus candidate races that keep losing (most times far outside the margin of victory). A noble strategy to follow would be to reposition our political efforts into putting initiatives on ballots at the state level and solidly building a roster of qualified candidates up from the local level for the next two election cycles.

    I’m for doing initiatives.

    Keep a few things in mind.

    1) Many states do not have voter initiatives, just the legislature punting issues onto the ballot.

    http://www.iandrinstitute.org/statewide_i&r.htm

    2) The resources to effectively get an initiative on the ballot and wage a campaign to get it passed, in most initiative states, are a lot greater than those of the state LPs. If they are serious about passing initiatives, they have to build coalitions with folks who disagree with us on other issues.

  7. Re: term limits

    The longer a politician stays in office, on average, the more statist they become.

    Other good initiatives on the ballot this year limit state spending increases in several states (circulated in a lot of states, but kicked off the ballot in some through dirty tactics) and liberalize marijuana laws (medical in SD, adult personal use in NV and CO).

    Massachusetts almost passed an initiative to get rid of the income tax a few years ago. Unfortunately, so far that has not ben tried in any other state I know of. There was talk of taking it to other states but so far it hasn’t panned out.

    The drug warriors have been playing games on these too, using tax money to campaign against these initiatives, and in the case of SD they had to be sued from advertising against the initiative in its description that appears on te actual ballot.

  8. Except the two Libertarian candidates I talked to expressed a disdain for raising money. Tom Martz, who is running for state representative in the 139th district, said he didn’t want someone to think that they could buy his vote on an issue just because they contributed to his campaign. It’s a holier-than-thou approach.

    This is a “cheap and easy” way to claim to be better than your better financed opponents by claiming the moral high ground, when it doesn’t cost you much (i.e. you have no realistic chance of raising much anyway, so you might as well turn that negative into a positive).

    Unfortunately, it IS also true that some LP and other samller party candidates actually do believe they are better off not raising money, not learning to raise money, etc, which is of course a sure way to perpetually remain far in the back of the pack.

  9. Our Libertarian Party-backed initiative drive here in Alaska to overturn the Anchorage Smoking Ban in Bars, has just gone over the top for net number of signatures needed – 8,100.

    Unfortunately, we are desperately trying to raise $$$ to finish the drive off, and collect the other 4,000 to 5,000 signatures we feel would be needed gross. Our validity is running over 75%.

    We’ve got 3 weeks left to go.

    If anyone wishes to help us get over the top, please go to http://www.stomptheban.org or talk to Zach or Jason (LP State Chair)!

    We need your help!!!

  10. It’s good to see that the Libertarian Party folks are finally acknowledging our courageous ballot efforts for Property Rights/Against Eminent Domain nationwide.

    Since these efforts were backed by Mainstream libertarians like Paul Jacob, Howie Rich, and others with Americans for Limited Government in a coalition with Conservative Republicans, Libertarian Party people chose to mostly ignore these Intiative drives.

    At least, they are not being ignored now. And yes, if they pass, they will prove to be a huge victory for the libertarian movement for the 2006 election cycle.

  11. Our Libertarian Party-backed initiative drive here in Alaska to overturn the Anchorage Smoking Ban in Bars

    I did one of those in Tempe, AZ a few years back. Don’t remember how it turned out though.

  12. Libertarian Party people chose to mostly ignore these Intiative drives.

    I wouldn’t say we’ve ignored them, any more than we’ve ignored marijuana initiatives done by libertarians in conjunction with Independents, liberal Democrats and Greens.

    I’ve seen lots of talk about all these referenda on LP lists.

    Another good one to do would be for Bush/Cheney impeachment.

    States can actually force Congress to act.

    http://www.impeachbush.tv/impeach/bystate.html

  13. People actually read ballot initiatives or amendments? When I was a poll worker, I saw so many people just vote yes on every single one, because apparently if it’s good enough to be proposed, it’s good enough to pass. Don’t you just love direct democracies?

  14. You know what’s odd about this report by Stephen Van Dyke? There’s no mention of the very individuals and organizations who were behind these initiatives.

    While it’s nice that the Libertarian movement is claiming credit already for these initiatives passing. More accurately, it was virtually ONLY the Mainstream libertarian movement that was responsible for these victories; Members of the Republican Liberty Caucus (MOST ASSUREDLY, the FL RLC), Paul Jacob, Howie Rich and Americans for Limited Government, and a few Libertarian Party members like Jake Whittmer.

    Not opposed to the entire movement claiming credit for these initiatives, but have some honesty here and thank those libertarians specifically who did all the work.

    And above and beyond any other single individual, the person who needs to be thanked the most is Paul Jacob.

  15. “Of course, this idea of actually playing the game of politics won’t fly with those libertarians who don’t care about winning in the first place and view our cause as an educational one.”

    The game of politics is rigged. Why play?

  16. “While it’s nice that the Libertarian movement is claiming credit already for these initiatives passing. More accurately, it was virtually ONLY the Mainstream libertarian movement that was responsible for these victories; Members of the Republican Liberty Caucus (MOST ASSUREDLY, the FL RLC), Paul Jacob, Howie Rich and Americans for Limited Government, and a few Libertarian Party members like Jake Whittmer.”

    I worked on some of these Spending Limits and Stop Eminent Domain Abuse petition drives in addition to the Marijuana initiatives.

    I’m totally in favor of Libertarians working in coalitions to put initiatives on the ballot.

  17. Well Paulie, we appreciated you working on our initiatives. But honestly, these were Mainstream libertarian efforts. Very few “radical libertarians” were involved. Just you, and Al Anders, is all I can think of.

    Radical Libertarians love to bash us Mainstreamers. But it looks like one of the greatest victories of our movement this year will come from the Mainstream arm of the libertarians.

  18. Don’t mind Eric. He also likes to pretend that the RLC’s $500 donation to Ron Paul’s million dollar campaign gives the RLC the right to claim that they elected him.

  19. “Well Paulie, we appreciated you working on our initiatives. But honestly, these were Mainstream libertarian efforts. Very few “radical libertarians” were involved. Just you, and Al Anders, is all I can think of.”

    You forgot to mention me. I worked on Spending Limits in two states and Stop Eminent Domain Abuse in one. I know at least 3 other “radical” libertarians who worked on these initiatives.

  20. “Radical Libertarians love to bash us Mainstreamers.”

    It depends on how you define “Mainstreamer” and what the “Mainstreamer(s)” in question did. I take things on a case by case basis.

    I applaud everyone who was involved in the Spending Limits and Stop Eminent Domain Abuse initiatives.

    Is Ron Paul considered to be a “mainstreamer?” You don’t see me bashing him.

  21. I just noticed that my comments in post 19 I mentioned post 17. This is probably why Eric neglected to mention me. I meant “Ditto the comments in post 18.”

  22. “speaking of libertarian issues, lets not forget about the marijuana initiatives in Nevada and Colorado.

    http://www.crcm.org & http://www.safercolorado.org

    Don’t forget about the Medical Marijuana initiative in South Dakota.

    http://www.sodaksafeaccess.org/petition.htm

    There’s another good libertarian initiative on the ballot in South Dakota this year and that’s the Judicial Accountablity Initiative Law (aka-Jail For Judges).

    http://www.sd-jail4judges.org/

  23. People actually read ballot initiatives or amendments? When I was a poll worker, I saw so many people just vote yes on every single one, because apparently if it’s good enough to be proposed, it’s good enough to pass. Don’t you just love direct democracies?

    No, but I love indirect democracies (AKA politician cartels) even less.

    The game of politics is rigged. Why play?

    You can choose to ignore the regime, but they might nevertheless choose not to ignore you.

    Well Paulie, we appreciated you working on our initiatives. But honestly, these were Mainstream libertarian efforts. Very few “radical libertarians” were involved. Just you, and Al Anders, is all I can think of.

    Off the top of my head, Andy, Mark P., and Gary (Liberty Crusader).

    But of course hundreds if not thousands of people worked on these issues, so how would any of us know how many were radicals? Truth be told most were apolitical cash money hustlers, at least on the gathering end.

  24. Radical Libertarians love to bash us Mainstreamers. But it looks like one of the greatest victories of our movement this year will come from the Mainstream arm of the libertarians.

    I don’t bash anyone when they work to advance freedom, Eric – and that includes you. I only bash you when you promote statists like:

    Bill O’Reilly
    Zell Miller
    Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Jeb Bush
    George W. Bush
    Katherine Harris
    Rudolf Giuliani
    Joe Lieberman
    Neal Boortz

    And claim they are allies of liberty, to add insult to injury.

    I don’t know what you’re in the main stream of when you make such outlandish statements, but it should be flushed before the stinks becomes overwhelming.

    BTW don’t count your victories before they hatch.

    As far as I know the voting is tomorrow so we don’t know what will pass yet.

    Or do you know something we don’t?

    Perhaps your NSGOP connections allow you to know the exact vote totals in tomorrow’s elections before they happen?

  25. “speaking of libertarian issues, lets not forget about the marijuana initiatives in Nevada and Colorado.

    http://www.crcm.org & http://www.safercolorado.org

    Don’t forget about the Medical Marijuana initiative in South Dakota.

    http://www.sodaksafeaccess.org/petition.htm

    Yes, Andy, Mark, Gary and I worked on all these too, except Gary wasn’t with us in Nevada.

    These are being promoted by a radical and mainstream liberal-libertarian coalition, contrary to Eric’s assertion that our only alliance can be with conservatives.

    BTW I don’t know how radical Paul Jacob is anymore, but he certainly used to be, for example when he publically resisted the military draft and became a fugitive over it.

    I would call that radical (and righteous, dude)!

  26. Don’t mind Eric. He also likes to pretend that the RLC’s $500 donation to Ron Paul’s million dollar campaign gives the RLC the right to claim that they elected him.

    I don’t mind at all.

    I find it highly entertaining!

    For example, when he claims that the 9/11 truth movement is
    “fringe” (even though it’s anywhere from well into double digit percentage to an actual majority of the public at large, depending on who’s polling and how, growing fast, and able to get 1,300 people to a convention)

    while

    the Republican “Liberty” Caucus is “mainstream” because it can get 80 people (mostly Floridians) to its “national” convention to kick it with NSGOP election fraud henchwoman Katherine Harris.

    LOLOLOL….

  27. Really Tom Bryant? $500 for Ron Paul? And where exactly did you get that figure from? Probably from some RLC-basher who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.

    Ever hear of bundling? Just check those FEC reports for contribs from RLCers: Dr. Jeff Singer, Michael McCroskey, Mike Holmes, and Clifford Thies, to name but a few.

    And fyi, I am the Founder of the RLC. I was also first hired staffer for Ron Paul for Congress in 1995. Third and fourth staffers? Tom Lizardo and Norm Singleton. Both longtime RLCers. Ron’s campaign staff, and congressional staff was and still is, flooded with RLCers.

    Oh, and did I mention this little fact. Ron has 5 certificates hanging on his Cong. office in Lake Jackson that he cherishes. One of them is from the RLC.

  28. Okay Andy, you’re right. I did hear you did some work in Nebraska or something. But my understanding is that about 90% of your petitioning is for marijuana stuff. I’ve got this from an excellent source by the way.

    You want credit for helping out with economic libertarian efforts. Sure. Even if it was a scant few weeks, I’ll still give you a hearty slap on the back.

    Bottom line though, is that Mainstream libertarians are by far the ones responsible for the libertarian initiatives, with a very tiny effort by extremist Libertarians such as yourself helping out.

  29. “Okay Andy, you’re right. I did hear you did some work in Nebraska or something. But my understanding is that about 90% of your petitioning is for marijuana stuff. I’ve got this from an excellent source by the way.”

    Well you’re excellent source has got this wrong. I’ve only worked on Marijuana petitions on 4 occassions in the 6 1/3 years that I’ve been involved in petitions.

    I’ve worked on Spending Limits petitions 4 times. I worked on the Repeal The State Income Tax petition in Massachusetts. I worked on Recall Grey Davis in California. I worked on Lower Vehicle Tabs (Registration Fees) in Washington. I worked on Gambling issues in Colorado, California (2 of them), Washington DC, and Nebraska. I worked on Workman’s Comp Reform in California. I worked on a referendum to repeal a socialist healthcare bill in California.

    I’ve worked on 104 campaigns, only a tiny percentage of them were for marijuana.

  30. Anyone know of any initiatives that are on the ballots, or being considered to establish non partisan redistricting commissions such as the one that Iowa uses and thus taking redistricting out of the legislators hands?
    The idea being to get rid of the gerrymandering and put some competition back in campaigns.
    M.H.W.

  31. Anyone know of any initiatives that are on the ballots, or being considered to establish non partisan redistricting commissions such as the one that Iowa uses and thus taking redistricting out of the legislators hands?
    The idea being to get rid of the gerrymandering and put some competition back in campaigns.

    Florida has one, I believe.

    We worked on it at the end of last year and the very beginning of this year.

    We also did one in California in 2005 but it lost.

    As we discussed on Ground Up Libs, perhaps Schwarzenegger spread himself too thin.

    In Florida, it was the Democrats who favored independent redistricting; in California, the Republicans.

  32. Mike thanks for that link and I’ll keep them in mind and paulie thanks for the info. Do you know if the florida LP is active with this one, or has been?
    M.H.W.

  33. “Do you know if the florida LP is active with this one, or has been?”

    The Florida LP endorsed the Redistricting initiative but I don’t know if they’ve done anything beyond that.

  34. It was the Florida Republican Liberty Caucus that was active with the Property Rights Initiative.

    I know that’s an uncomfortable fact for you, but it’s the truth.

    Oh, and btw, a libertarian Republican friend of the RLC may win a Congressional seat today; Joe Negron for the Foley seat.

    And Jeff Kottkemp, another RLC friend in Florida, will win the Lt. Governors spot.

    Both are diehard Property Rights Initiative supporters in the Legislature. And surprise, suprise, both are Republicans.

    How about a nice “attaboy” from you to these Republicans Andy? That would be nice.

  35. And just for the record, the Libertarian Party in Florida is currently in shambles. It’s broken down into 3 splintering factions. An absolute mess.

    Karl Dickey is THEIR ONLY GOOD CANDIDATE THIS YEAR.

    Meanwhile, the Florida RLC is kicking ass and taking names. Over 1,000 members now and climbing.

  36. “Of course, this idea of actually playing the game of politics won’t fly with those libertarians who don’t care about winning in the first place and view our cause as an educational one.”

    “The bottom line though is that the Libertarian candidates I met seemed much more passionate about Libertarian philosophy than government and winning campaigns.”

    “This is the major divide in the Libertarian Party and we need to figure out how to come to terms with ourselves.”

    Sigh. I see NO conflcit amongst education, winning, philosophy, principle, & practical politics. It’s all good.

    http://mail.libertarian-party-nm.org/pipermail/lpnm-forum_libertarian-party-nm.org/2006q4/000638.html

  37. Eric,

    Please pay attention before commenting.

    We were talking about the redisctring initiative (anti-gerrymandering), not property rights.

    Where does the Florida RLC stand on Amendment 5, which is aimed at taking resistricting out of the hands of the incumbents who run unopposed in 75% of legislative races, behind only Arkansas in unipartisan one-candidate coronations?

  38. BTW at least some comments on the LPF forum claim that the Florida eminent domain amendment actually makes it easier, not harder, for government to steal people’s property.

    I don’t know whether that’s actually true.

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