NPR admits game is rigged against third parties

First time I’ve seen the Catch-22 issue raised by a large media organization (albeit a publicly-funded one), damn shame the free market major media aren’t as honest:

Little is said about the Libertarians, the Greens, the ideological alternatives, the folks who have diminished or no faith in Democrats and Republicans. These candidates, and their supporters, express over and over again their frustration with the lack of coverage from the media, including NPR. And their complaints are valid.

The answer they usually hear is that why cover these candidates, when they are not raising much money or performing well in the polls. Yet how can they ever be a factor, their supporters argue, when the media are not covering them? It’s the ultimate Catch 22.

I should also note again that it’s not only a Catch-22, this marginalization of third parties by major media organizations is a slap in the face of journalism ethics.

Of course, as a free market advocate who sees this an entry for competing with the media on the Internet, I’m more than happy that they are losing their audience to blogs and online publications.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. The answer is IRV “instant runoff voting” also known as ranked voting or prefered voting. The technology is recently advanced enough to allow this. It will do MORE than make it logistically possible for people to vote for a third party. It will change the MENTALITY of voting. It will make us just another party, to a large extent, and it will start to change the mentality of politics in this country.

    IRV allows you to not waste your vote and gets you away from thinking about this as a two party system and voting for the lesser of two evils. Instead it lets you vote for who you want to win instead of trying to prevent the bad guy from winning.

    If the Libertarians and Greens were smart, they would put all effort into supporting IRV at the state level, all across the country.

  2. how ironic that a government/corporate supported network would dare speak the truth before any of these wonderful private media conglomerates.

  3. Dave: we’re on an identical wave-length. I want to see IRV ballot initiatives in every state in 2008 (or those where we can get them on in 2007). I’ve deferred from bringing it up because I’m trying to help keep things focused on 2006 at the moment.

    This is a huge win-win campaign for the LP because we can spearhead the effort and the other third parties will lend their support to the petitioning leg-work. And we’ll win as the media covers the ballot effort itself and credits it to us.

    Here in Ohio I’d like to put IRV and a return to paper ballots as two separate constitutional amendments, but since we need like 100K sigs, we may only end up with the IRV.

  4. The answer is NOT Instant Runoff Voting. IRV will not help minor parties and will only maintain the current two major party system, as historically shown. Just because the misguided Greens and progressives are pushing it is no reason to follow blindly.

    The answer is Range Voting, also known as score or grade them all. RV has been shown experimentally to lead to significantly HIGHER vote totals for minor parties since it does away with “wasted vote,” “spoiler” candidate, and “candidate cloning” problems. RV is already endorsed by Badnarik and Campagna.

  5. In the meantime, by supporting Smither, Badnarik, Maymin and others (even though we aren’t in their districts), we are, in effect, practicing proportional representation.

  6. “how ironic that a government/corporate supported network would dare speak the truth before any of these wonderful private media conglomerates.”

    The so called “private” media conglomerates are not really private. A large chuch of their stock is owned by the government. Also, a lot of their news comes straight from the government.

  7. You guys try whatever voting method you want in your state, and we’ll try IRV here in Ohio.

    Jeez… Let’s at least give things a fucking a try before we start pissing on something that may help!

  8. No, the answer is quite simple actually. Follow the leads of the New Hampshire and Vermont Libertarian Parties and start running more LP members on the Republican line.

    If it’s a no fusion state, simply run the LPer in the primary, get the backing of the Republican Liberty Caucus, and win!

    Once in office follow Ron Paul’s lead and say you’re proud of your Libertarian Party membership and pledge to adhere to Libertarian beliefs, yet you run for office as a Libertarian AND Republican.

    What’s wrong with coalition politics?

  9. SVD: it’s called mathematics.. 2+2 always equals 4. The flaws in IRV are systemic, mathematically modelable, and will fail in Ohio, or anyplace else. Go read the lit, then stop pushing a system that will harm LP candidates.

  10. ericdondero: We’ve gotten burned by a few of these coalition candidates, and I think the goal should be to break down the two-party system rather than endorse it (I have no doubt fusion campaigns will be the post-script of the LP as a party if they go down that road).

  11. We’re running as Democrats and Republicans here in NH, no fusion (due to no ballot access – will change with the NH Supreme Court decision due soon) and just last Saturday, a Reformer was elected as the new LP chair.

  12. Seth Cohn: My goal is to remove hurdles (namely the “wasted vote” issue that can now be conflated to “wasted media”). IRV can solve this and has tons of public support, period.

    I never said it’s perfect, and I absolutely encourage states to try different methods so we can see what works and what doesn’t.

  13. I think I’ve changed my mind on the LRC, maybe it is a good idea. Just show me some results, and I will know for sure.

  14. Here in Ohio I’d like to put IRV and a return to paper ballots as two separate constitutional amendments, but since we need like 100K sigs, we may only end up with the IRV.

    OK, I would definitely work on that – but where would enough money to do it come from? Third parties don’t have the resources. Who else cares?

  15. Daniel,

    I am aware that Range Voting is better than IRV. We need to consider if people will turn down Range Voting in the legislature though. I am worried that if we try to suggest ANY new advanced democratic style voting they will claim it is either.
    1. Too complex for the voters
    2. Too expensive or we don’t have the equipment.
    So we need to keep that in mind and keep it to a minimal if possible. Maybe Range Voting is the right way to go. But if it is we need to make sure it also has a shot of getting accepted into law. Maybe it does, but giving each person a graded number might be harder to pitch to the legislatures than IRV. Maybe not. I can’t say. I too want the best method in there. Thanks for pointing that out Daniel.

  16. Timothy West – They’re all government sponsored.

    they dont call it PBS without a reason. I bet the funding difference would be pretty big.

  17. I find it hilarious when libertarians have to give credit to PBS and NPR. Maybe they’re more objective because they’re not corporate-funded? Hmmm…. Maybe we’re on to something here.

  18. The corporate media is “government sponsored” too… Since the corporate backers and advertisers are heavily subsidized by the government via corporate welfare, liability protection, contracting, etc.

  19. Having been a journalist, I don’t have that much faith in media organizations. The larger they are the less faith I have.

    Being a cynic, I think NPR was just looking for a legitimate excuse to start covering the ultra left i.e. Green Party.


  20. And Seth, I’m sure the Republican Party has gotten burned by fusion candidates on some occasions, as well. It’s a two way street. There’s always risk in politics.

    But you cannot argue with cold hard facts.

    Every single successful Libertarian elected official in the past 15 years or so was essentially a fusion candidate.
    Whether you’re talking New Hampshire, Vermont of even Alaska.

    If Libertarians were getting elected to state houses on just the LP ticket as they didn in the early 1980s with Dick Randolph and Ken Fanning in Alaska, I’d agree with you.

    But not since Randolph and Fanning have ANY Libertarians won election without some sort of Republican backing, including Andre Marrou in Alaska in 1984.

    (There’s a story behind the Marrou fluke election which hardly anyone is aware of. The GOP was behind him getting elected 100%. Would be happy to fill you in.)

  21. contra Eric, I think that Fusion is to only thing that can make republican-libertarian interaction a 2-way street. As it stands now, he comes in here and stumps for certain republicans. With fusion, we as libertarians could take over the Republican party by winning primarys. Do you see the difference? Fusion could make primaries important again and (possibly) infuse the two major parties with principled people. And by principled people, I mean people from the party of principle. And by that I mean people who can get down with the NAP/ZAP.

  22. With fusion, we as libertarians could take over the Republican party by winning primarys

    Right after you walk on to your favorite NFL team as a starter.

  23. Geez, Paulie.. Didn’t you see INVINCIBLE or RUDY? It could happen! MAN OF THE YEAR!

  24. The real problem (well, one of them) is that journalists and others equate “lots of dollars raised” with “serious candidate”. Makes you wonder what the contributors are buying with their money.

    A Libertarian candidate will always be at a disadvantage in fundraising, because he or she isn’t promising to give out government funds to contributors.

  25. With fusion, we as libertarians could take over the Republican party by winning primarys

    Right after you walk on to your favorite NFL team as a starter.
    It’s not that farfetched. Primary turnout is around 15%. Assume that’s split 10-5 between the dominant party and the second fiddle in a district, and it only takes 5% of the registered voters (one-half of the ten percent) to install a very libertarian Republican or Democrat as the dominant party’s candidate. Since most Americans just vote the party label, libertarians could get elected on the apathy vote.

  26. A Libertarian candidate will always be at a disadvantage in fundraising, because he or she isn’t promising to give out government funds to contributors.

    We can’t promise to give government funds to contributors, but we can promise to return the contributors’ own money to them. If a company is being hurt by high taxes, a contribution to a Libertarian campaign could result in lower taxes, which will pay off for years to come. Is there anything unprincipled about that?

  27. Steven Van Dyke,

    You said: “I want to see IRV ballot initiatives in every state in 2008”

    I think you demonstrated a common immature problem: “I’ve got a great idea and have decided I want everyone to try it my way now because everything old is bad and every new hair-brained idea is good!”

    Texans are doing some things, Hoosiers others, West Virginians whining (my least favorite), and others nothing (better than whining about others).

    How about sharing your ideas now but achieving some results before demanding everyone chase your latest silver bullet?

    Furthermore, I hope you don’t start some movement to demand the National LP demand IRV initiatives in all states and I equally hope no one demands the National LP forbid IRV initiatives.

    Your #14 post is right on target. Dyke growth.

    I am not posting this on behalf of Wes Benedict. I have a secret name now, Executive Detractor, which is more appropriate for this Jerry Springer blog.

  28. Wes,

    I did work for the Bill Wood 10th CD in VA campaign as much as my health would allow. Made a zero budget campaign video for them.

    I got much more whining for you post election.

  29. I got much more whining for you post election.

    Yea! So take that Executive Detractor! Especially from a non-Libertarian Party member…

    Besides, is it possible for him to whine more?

  30. dude, didnt you read the other thread. I’m still a member.

    yes, the level of whining is only beginning. I can do better as long as my health holds out.

  31. dude, didnt you read the other thread. I’m still a member.

    Damnit!! What happened to this dramatic letter you were going to send the LP chair or whoever? You have been threatening to quit for years… what is the hold-up?

    yes, the level of whining is only beginning.

    Why not just join the party the truely reflects your values and beliefs: the dem/rep party? Or even the socialist party, hell Bernie Sanders is more libertarian than the dem/rep clowns.

  32. I havent been “treatening to quit” for years. I actually did quit in 2000 until 2003…but I didnt know about the renounce the oath thing, so I was just inactive according the HQ.

  33. “Dramatic letter”. Sheesh.

    You gotta send a snailmail letter to HQ if you really wanna quit the LP, and it has to specifically renounce the oath in it. So anyone that wants to quit has to send a letter.

  34. Speaking of HQ… About a month ago I joined the LP as a zero-dues member. I did so online.

    The only thing which resulted from that was a snarky form email from Shane Cory, pushing me to donate so that he could finish processing my membership (or something to that effect.) Other than that, there was no followup. Even though I checked the option for both, I’ve received no information package or e-mail updates.

    I’m not complaining for my own sake. Rather, I’m worried that new member contacts are not being followed up on.

    I realize that mailing info packages costs precious money. But, the checkbox shouldn’t be offered if a package is not going to be mailed.

    And, what about the email mailing list? Shouldn’t new zero dues members be added to that, as a bare minimum? Especially when they check the box?

    It seems to me that every single contact that comes in should be followed up on as much as possible.

  35. Derrick: If taxes vs. corporate welfare were equal propositions, we wouldn’t have huge deficiets and national debt. The welfare outweighs any “tax relief” we could promise, and therefore, no one would contribute to the LP. MAYBE if our grandchildren could come from the future, they would support the LP, but the problem is that they wouldn’t have any money to contribute, since they will be taxed at marginal rates approaching 100%.

  36. Eric: I’m in favor of fusion.

    SVD: IRV has been used in a number of places, and they _stopped_ using it… it’s clear it doesn’t work, even in real life.

  37. Actually what I see as more of a problem is that almost all of our elections are winner take all. What we need more of especially in state legislatures and the house in larger states is expanded areas where instead of just the top person getting in maybe it is the top five to ten people getting in. This way if say R’s make up about 50% they will likely get half of the positions, maybe D’s make up 40% and they get another four out of ten, and then possibly the last position is filled by a libertarian. Voters will be far better represented this way as even the minority can get represented. As time goes by third parties will likely make up an even bigger share of the slots as people will finally get to vote for someone who can win that they believe in not just the lesser of two evils. I believe this is similar to how it is done in Costa Rica and a big reason why the Libertarians are doing well in getting elected there.

  38. Wow, so in range voting, a candidate with just one 99 vote can win the election if everyone else checks off that they are ignorant about that candidate.

    I also believe that voters are only going to use two values for the ranges, 99 or 0. If I don’t like a candidate, I want him to lose, so I will never give him a 25 or a 30 when I could give him a 0 instead. If I like a candidate, I want him to win, so I will never give him a 90 or 75.

    In practice, you’ll just end up with yes votes of 99 and no votes of 0.

  39. Geez, Paulie.. Didn’t you see INVINCIBLE or RUDY? It could happen! MAN OF THE YEAR!

    On rare occassions. But the NFL isn’t going to be taken over by walk-ons, and the NSGOP won’t be taken over by libertarians running in the primaries.

    And, Lex, sorry, you’re going to have a lot of work to get 5% of the registered voters show up and vote for you. The LP can’t do it in most cases, and there is at least a label there. Each (allegedly) libertarian candidate in the primaries will have to build their own name and issue identification. The RLC is so tiny it makes the LP look functional, and spends most of its time trying to get LP members to switch to the RLC. The Democratic Freedom Caucus is even smaller. If you run in the primaries they won’t be of much help.

    You’ll either, in most cases, be up against an incumbent, or against whichever party stooge(s) the established party clubs recommend to their party loyalists, who are the 15% voting in those elections. Sure loss.

  40. I am not posting this on behalf of Wes Benedict. I have a secret name now, Executive Detractor, which is more appropriate for this Jerry Springer blog.

    Dude, don’t diss Jerry or we’ll have officer Steve head-butt you with his shiny bald head!

  41. NPR did this sweet little segment on TX-CD22 about a week or so ago. It was mostly advertising for the Democrat, and spent some time addressing hyphen-lady’s problems teaching people to spell her name. But they didn’t even mention Bob Smither! I was P.O.’d! So I wrote them an email and the reporter responded saying that they had contacted Smither’s campaign but he declined to interview. So then I contacted Smither’s campaign and the manager responded saying that that was all BS…nobody from NPR ever contacted them, and he would know.

    Et tu, NPR?

  42. Oh, and then yesterday, they did a segment on interesting races in Indiana. They spoke about several State House races around the state. But no mention of that Libertarian guy who’s polling so high! I think he’s got around 33% in a three-way race?!

    At some point they can no longer use the excuse that the Libertarian candidate is not campaigning/polling significantly. It’s media black out! It is irresponsible reporting!

    I’m not sure who the rep/dems are, so I can’t be positive that they mentioned his race.

  43. CARL – The sad thing is that I wouldn’t be surprised if Smither DID decline the interview. After all, that is the typical LP M.O.

  44. Yes, the Republican Liberty Caucus is “small” in comparison to the Libetarian Party, but it is no longer “tiny”.

    The recent RLC National Convention had over 80 attendees. An RLC hospitality suite in Dallas last year at the GOP convention, had over 5,000 people show up to hear RLC State Chairman Jerry Patterson.

    RLC membership now hovers around 2,000. (LP membership is about 20,000).

    Still, the RLC is better organized than the LP in many states, most certainly in Maine and Conn. where the LP doesn’t even hardly exist, any more.

    There’s a record number of RLC-backed candidates running for office at all levels nationwide this year.

    The Dem. Freedom Caucus is a virtually non-existent organization. To mention them in the same breath as the LP or the RLC is an extreme insult.

  45. Seth, see my web site this morning I’ve got a plug for your New Hampshire “fusion” Libertarian-Republican candidates.

    Could HoT give us an update on their progress?

    Last I heard Gorman was a shoe-in. How about Dave Muncie in Manchester? Others?

    Any word on the Vermont 5?

    And how is State Representative Ken Lindell (former Libertarian National Committee member), doing in his Maine State House race?

  46. Um, so 2,000 nationwide isn’t tiny?

    Give me a break.

    Is that even dues paying members? What did they kick in?

    80 attendees at a “national” convention, most of whom were from the state it was held in, and the keynote guest was the NSGOP henchwoman who helped steal Florida for the Bush War Crime Family in 2000?

    And here I thought Portland 2006 was a bad joke.

  47. Here is an example of some of the media coverage, some of our candidates aren’t getting. The following story never mentions the Libertarian candidate, only the Democrat and the write-in candidate. I put the first sentce in as a tease.

    Race for DeLay seat turns into tight Texas contest By Matt Daily
    Fri Nov 3, 9:07 AM ET

    HOUSTON (Reuters) – A few weeks ago, Democrats thought they had the dream race in suburban Houston — no opponent’s name on the ballot …


  48. That’s maddening.

    I *really* would like to hear the candid perspective of a few journalists on this. It seems that there is a need for some sort of conference or task force, to figure out what the hell the media’s problem is and how to deal with it.

    I realize that we don’t deserve lots of free coverage just for being on the ballot. But, we sure as hell do deserve to be reported as being on the ballot.

  49. as long as you have the R’s n D’s spending campaign video welfare money every 2 yrs, they will run the show. The media know who pays the bills, and it’s not us.

  50. Eric: NH is not fusion; the DR won’t let us run as L. It’s subversion instead with L’s joining whichever party is in the majority in the local district.

    Tim: May you keep trying to help us for another 50 years, no amtter how gloomy the prognosis now appears.

    Seth/Steve: My Faculty uses IRV in elections. It works very differently than you might have expected.

    For the LP, IRV means that we will need a majority, not a plurality, to elect people, which is a bad thing in my opinion.

  51. Dave and SVD, sorry if I was terse. You seem more open-minded than other supporters of IRV I have traded comments with elsewhere.

    Range Voting can be used with existing equipment, while IRV would probably require new equipment.

    Range Voting seems simple enough–who hasn’t been asked to rate something on a scale from 1 to 10, for example? Hopefully one state will try it, perhaps with a limited granularity range of 0 to 9 (single digit) to start. It should reduce the occurrence of spoiled ballots if structured properly (allowing X-don’t care or no opinion, and using the full digit range 0-9 for each significant digit used).

    LRC has already been using it to rate essays (range of 1-5).

    I agree with SVD’s sentiments in #14, but believe Range Voting deals with “wasted votes” much better than IRV.

  52. Regarding Proportional Representation:

    Changing the Voting System (method of selecting district representatives) could probably be done with only statutory or rule changes in most states, depending on the election (general or primary).

    Formal Proportional Representation (PR) is a much more radical change in structure of government and would require constitutional changes, possibly upsetting the constitutional balance of power, in addition to requiring changes in the way the representatives are chosen.

    Proportional Representation is not conclusively an improvement, although Range Voting is.

    Sandra’s point in 5. is noted, however–help those candidates you can, even if you don’t live in their district.

  53. 46.A. Tom Bryant:

    A threshold has been added by proponents of Range Voting to require a certain average score in order to win. But unknown candidates have been shown experimentally to receive a disproportionately high number of zero scores anyway, lowering their overall average score significantly and killing this win scenario. So candidates still have to become positively well-known to the electorate in order to win using RV.

  54. 46.B. Tom Bryant:

    Range Voting does indeed degenerate to Approval Voting (or even Plurality Voting, if only one 99 is given), for those voters voting purely strategically. But this only affects the votes for candidates voted maximum and minumum; it does not affect relative scores for other candidates. Experimentally, many (most) voters like the extra expression allowed and vote midrange scores, especially for known candidates not considered front-runners i.e. third-party candidates.

    The choice is yours under Range Voting, unlike in Plurality or Approval Voting. You are under no obligation to give more than one candidate more than zero. But if you provide more information (and many/most voters honestly will, fully or partially), Range Voting will maximize overall utility and select the best candidate overall.

  55. thank you George. :) My last MRI was good news – the tumor is shrinking a wee bit. And I have some hair on my head again!

  56. Liberty Crusader:

    Be glad to fill you in. It’s highly confidential info. Please call me on my cell 979-799-7077. And please promise not to share this with the general public on the blogosphere. Thanx.

  57. Phillies:

    Why do you mean “New Hampshire won’t let you run as Libertarians…”

    You should say, “We Libertarians won’t let ourselves run on the Libertarian Party ticket, cause we screwed up our ballot drive a couple years ago…”

    My God!! Are you that much of a whiner that you have to blame EVERYTHING on the major parties, even your own screw-ups? And are you telling me, that in NH candidates for public office can’t run as Independents?

    You’re just trying to deflect. Your own buddy, Don Gorman, is about to be elected to the NH State House AS A REPUBLICAN!!! And this is driving you friggin’ crazy.

    Sorry Georgie Porgie, you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.

  58. Minor correction:

    You should say, “We Libertarians won’t let ourselves run on the Libertarian Party ticket, cause we screwed up our ballot drive a couple years ago”¦”and again this year

    BTW Eric,

    Sorry Georgie Porgie, you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.

    Hey, you finally admitted you’re a bullshitter!

    Nicely done :-)

  59. Hey (Eric), you finally admitted you’re a bullshitter!

    Of course, it’s not news to the rest of us. LOL.

    BTW, the NH LP chair who told Liberty Crusader, Christie and other petitioners to stop collecting signatures in 2004 hosted a fundraiser for Republicans that year (2004) and is running as a Democrat this year.

    They only need 3,000 valid and they fail twice?


  60. Paulie, they got more than 3,000 valid but here in NH, it’s far more complicated than it looks, including -local- validation of sigs, which are not returned from town clerks in a timely manner (gee, wonder why?), etc. You really don’t understand that it’s not just bout signature collecting…

    Eric, the more you open your mouth about things you don’t know much about (like NH politics), the less credible you are.

    The NH Supreme Court is due any day to issue a ruling expected to strike down the ballot access laws here, because the LP (and others) took the time to fight it. Why be successful (and risk being told “see, that wasn’t hard, keep doing it”) when the chance to remove it all together is better in the long run.

    Babariz lost in the primary, but others didn’t. Nov 7th, we’ll be celebrating a bunch of victories here in NH

  61. “Sorry Georgie Porgie, you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.”

    So Eric finally admits that he’s full of bullshit. The honesty is refreshing.