TROTTER FOR SENATOR
The Utah Libertarian Party seems to be one of the most competently managed in the United States. Albeit, the Utah ballot requirement is not the most severe in the nation, the libertarians took advantage of their early official status to launch an aggressive and well-publicized campaign against Sen. Frank Moss—one of the worst men in the Senate.
Steve Trotter has been instrumental in building up a real campaign organization in Utah. Both Trotter and George Chapman, Chairman of the Utah L.P., are independent businessmen who know how to plan a project, organize a labor force, and cultivate a market. According to Trotter, the campaign expects to have as many as 1,000 workers in the field by election day. Most of these people are individuals who have discovered the Libertarian Party only since the campaign began, although last year at tax time over a thousand people indicated on their Utah tax returns that they wanted a dollar to be distributed to the Libertarian Party (the L.P. gained some publicity by offering to return the dollar to those who asked—a clever way to encourage the donors to contact the headquarters, providing them with an address).
The campaign in Utah is being run, not merely as an educational adventure, and not merely as a local adjunct of the national MacBride/Bergland campaign, but as a serious fight to unseat the incumbent Democratic Senator and gain the office for a Libertarian. Whether this is "possible" or not is really irrelevant. It is the focus of the campaign which is important. If a candidate were only running to "educate" the voters, or for the ego-trip of being on the ballot and having some campaign buttons made, the planning and organization of the campaign would be very different.
The Trotter for Senator Committee, Box 9164, South Ogden, UT 84403 is deliberately putting together a broad-based coalition. Not every supporter is a pure libertarian, but they all see in the Libertarian Party an institution which supports something which they support. Trotter reports that his coalition has attracted both gays and Mormons, both liberals and conservatives. One approach which has been highly successful, and is used frequently by serious candidates, is the preparation and distribution of special leaflets and brochures for special interest groups. Most people are "single issue" voters; whether they support you or hate you often depends upon whether they first identify you with an issue they support or one they oppose. If a favorable first impression has been made, subsequent knowledge that you support something they also oppose will often not destroy their support.
Trotter has been endorsed by J. Bracken Lee, the former Mayor of Salt Lake City and well publicized foe of the I.R.S. This support, and the overall credibility of the campaign, will seriously hurt the Republican candidate, especially in fund-raising. One thing the L.P. is after, of course, is precisely the defeat of the existing minority party in as many local jurisdictions as possible, so that the Libertarian Party can assume its position in local politics.
NATHAN FOR CONGRESS
In the 4th Congressional District of Oregon, which encompasses the corner of the State southwest from Eugene to the Pacific Ocean and the California line, Tonie Nathan is running as an independent for the House of Representatives. The district is very independent in sentiments and Nathan enjoys widespread name-recognition. The Oregon Libertarian Party is working actively in her campaign, but it is not likely to be on the ballot itself. According to Bob Baures, Campaign Coordinator, the press is taking the campaign very seriously. Nathan is able to "make news" at the expense of the incumbent's public inconsistency. As in the Trotter campaign, public response is very favorable—among audiences ranging from housewives to college students, to Chamber of Commerce types, to farmers, etc.
The percentage of voters in the 4th District who have changed their registrations from one of the Big Two to "independent" increased from 8 percent to 34 percent earlier this year. In addition to this hopeful sign, Nathan enjoys a wide range of media contacts, from her career as a columnist and radio-TV producer and host. The campaign has organized subsidiary committees, "Republicans for Nathan" and "Democrats for Nathan." The major problem of course seems to be raising adequate money to mount a campaign of visibility at least equal to the Republican, who is very well financed. The name of the game is visibility. Nathan Congressional Campaign Committee, Box 1235, Springfield, OR 97477.
In an interview by Ernie Ross of KUGN radio in Eugene, Oregon, last May, Oregon Senator Bob Packwood responded to the question, "What impact, if any, do you see the Libertarian Party having in Washington?" Packwood said the L.P.'s image of consistency in opposition to government is drawing a growing interest in Washington. He thinks that over the next 10 years the L.P. may be a "force to reckon with" because the general public is dissatisfied with the lack of standards in the Big Two. He said, "Conservatives like the party's stand on less government regulation and liberals like its stand on individual rights." Increasingly, the candidates seeking public office who "have a chance" are being questioned by audiences and reporters regarding inconsistent positions, and the libertarian vs. authoritarian perspective is becoming the paradigm within which political judgments are formulated.
Campaign material has been received from dozens of States in the past months. This column cannot spotlight everyone who is making significant headway—but we want to be able to report on achievements which point the way to ultimate success. We urge you to send us any libertarian news or literature you may come across. November 2nd should prove to be a very interesting day.
A libertarian political committee which ought to be very popular next month is the "Nobody for President! " CounterCampaign '76, Box 4190, Malibu, CA 90265 which has buttons, bumperstickers, and mini-stickers (ideal for guerrilla tactics). The idea is cute. The 60 second radio spot, for which CounterCampaign '76 is seeking funds to purchase air time, says in part "Last year, Nobody lowered your taxes…Nobody stopped inflation…Nobody should run your business and your life.…Vote for Nobody!" Certainly, apathy and the perception that there is no big difference between politicians should be cultivated by the libertarian movement, since this is the fertile soil from which a new political force will grow. The odd thing about the libertarian movement, however, is that there is an element of bitterness among those who have different ideas about the best strategy. The voters whom the CounterCampaign '76 promoters most want to drop out are the ones who support MacBride/Bergland.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Frontlines".