Reviewing the election results from the recent November Libertarian Party efforts around the country, it is not obvious that progress is being made. The evaluation depends entirely upon your relative perspective. In the San Francisco race for mayor, Ray Cunningham received slightly over 1,000 votes (about one half of one percent) for Mayor and Lloyd Taylor received almost 11,000 votes (about five percent of the voters included him among their six options). In Poughkeepsie, New York, Carole Cohen received under 500 votes (approximately five percent) and Ellen Davis received about 150 votes (approximately six percent). The basic response of conservatives, Republicans, and drop-outs would be, "Ha Ha, see how useless the whole effort is; you didn't win; you didn't even come close."
According to Eric Garris, who has been very much praised by the San Francisco candidates for his management talent in their behalf, the biggest problem the campaign faced was the fact that "fiscal conservative" incumbent politician John Barbagelata looked like he had a chance to win the mayor's race. A large number of voters who told campaign workers face to face that they supported Cunningham also told the workers that they would not vote for him because "he hasn't got a chance." Barbagelata came in second and subsequently lost the run-off election on Dec. 11 to George Moscone, the candidate of the public employee unions and other sucklings of the public sow. In retrospect, we might ask whether Barbagelata ever really had a chance to win. According to Lloyd Taylor, whose own campaign for the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco heavily emphasized civil liberties and tax cuts, Moscone received the support of liberals because of his social issues and Barbagelata threw away this issue because of his conservative, as opposed to libertarian, perspective. If the Libertarian Party has a future it is because it presents a new "package deal" with the best issues of the liberals and the conservatives, and rids itself of the historical baggage which both former positions carry around like red badges of courage.
On the other hand, the San Francisco campaign did make an impact in a more fundamental way. Every electoral effort has both a purpose and a meta-purpose: the purpose is to "win," of course—and most people can't see beyond this short-range goal; the meta-purpose is to make contact with voters, with opinion makers, and to lay the ground work for a permanent political challenge to the government and to the ideal of collectivism. In San Francisco, Libertarian Party registration has more than tripled and a large number of additional activists has been recruited for future electoral campaigns. The number of "hard core" workers required to take over a political structure (whether it be a union, a neighborhood club, or a city government) is amazingly small compared to the number of voters involved.
In New York, Carole Cohen received enough votes to make the difference between the man who won and the man whom the pollsters thought would win. Ellen Davis came within 15 votes of achieving a similar "spoil." This sort of marginal effect has a much larger impact than the absolute number of votes would suggest, because politics is a "winner take all" zero-sum game. The next time around, the major party candidates will define their issues in terms of this marginal bloc of votes—and issues, not personalities, is what the Libertarian Party is all about. To some extent this phenomenon is already occurring. Marco Caviglia was elected to the Duchess County, NY, legislature as a Republican with the endorsement of the Free Libertarian Party. His campaign slogan was "Join the Tax Revolt." Caviglia's campaign was an excellent example of what libertarians can accomplish within the rotten-shell structure of the Big Two. The Libertarian Republican Alliance, 1811 East 34th St., Brooklyn, NY 11234 is very active in identifying Republicans who are strong philosophically and yet not convinced that the Libertarian Party is the way to go.
REAGAN VS. MAC BRIDE
The developments in San Francisco suggest that the MacBride Campaign, 1516 P Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20005 might be in real trouble. The effect of Ronald Reagan's campaign for the GOP nomination will be to hypnotize libertarian Republicans, because "he has a chance" and MacBride doesn't. Just as with Ray Cunningham, many voters will move in the old circles in the hope that finally a victory may result. The attempt in San Francisco following the Cunningham campaign to persuade silent supporters to change their registrations from Republican to Libertarian, to meet a minimum statutory Party registration quota with the chance to obtain ballot status in 1976 via court action, has met with the response, "But I want to vote for Reagan against Ford in the Republican primary." If this tactic is to be pursued, the smart libertarian voter should vote for Ford, not Reagan, because if Reagan loses the GOP nomination this would alienate all of those closet libertarians from the Republican Party, and the Libertarian Party would be on its way to major party status if they could be recruited. An insider from the Reagan campaign has advised this writer that the Reagan people are all fiercely ideological (i.e. pro-capitalist), and fierce activists never forgive a betrayal. Already many libertarian kids who have been screwed by the political machinations of groups such as YAF are among the most active and resourceful libertarian partisans. Prior to the August convention in Kansas City, however, fierce pro-capitalists might want to contact Citizens for Reagan, 2021 L Street, N.W., Suite 340, Washington, DC 20036.
INTERNATIONAL LIBERTARIAN CONSPIRACY
In Australia, the new libertarian Workers Party has made an impressive showing in its first electoral contest, a by-election in the State of Western Australia. Geoff McNiel of Perth achieved 13 percent of the vote, compared to 45 percent for the Liberals, 27 percent for the conservative Country Party, and 14 percent for the Labour Party. This by-election should be a good indication of what to expect from the general elections (which we regret are not known as of this column's deadline). For continuing news about developments down under, contact the Workers Party, Box 685, Darlinghurst, Sydney, N.S.W. By the time you read this, general elections in Australia will have occurred.
POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES
The decision by the Federal Election Commission in November that Sun Oil Company could legally set up a committee to collect money from employees and stockholders to support candidates and issues, just as the AFL-CIO's COPE has done for years, represents a major new important development for libertarian candidates. The key provision is that corporate funds may be used to cover administrative expenses—and this would include office space, phones, Xerox, etc. The number of corporate political action committees which might be formed, and the reasonable possibility that management might be disposed in favor of libertarian candidates, could put the Libertarian Party into major contention in every State in 1976. Copies of the SUNPAC Proposal (AOR 1975-23) and the FEC's favorable opinion can be obtained by writing the Federal Election Commission, Washington, DC 20463. Instructions for setting up a corporate PAC are available from the National Association of Manufacturers, 1776 F Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20006. Under the new election law, a political committee may give no more than $5,000 to a candidate per primary or general election, and candidate spending is restricted as well. Even if the Supreme Court declares the Federal Election Commission and its statute unconstitutional, the momentum generated and the precedent set by the FEC decision can only be helpful to the Libertarian Party.
THE FIRST LIBERTARIAN REVOLUTION
The bicentennial itself could be one of the best vehicles for promoting libertarian ideas, and the Libertarian Bicentennial Center, 2216 40th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20007 can be useful in that direction. It will be an information center and provide assistance in coordination of libertarian efforts around the bicentennial. Students and faculty should request that their college's bicentennial program or lecture series include a libertarian historian who will speak on the American Revolution, et al., highlighting the libertarian nature of the struggle.