November Rain

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The Gray Davis recall campaign says it has enough signatures to put the question, and a simultaneous election, on the November ballot. Hilarity is bound to ensue. Will Arnold run? How about the two failed GOP candidates of 2002, Bill Simon and Dick Riordan? Will Davis block the vote with a lawsuit? Which Democrat will twist the knife into his back? What will Latinos do? Which darkhorse candidates will jump over the low bar to ballot entry? Who will the Libertarians—the first party in California to back the recall—endorse? These and more questions will continue to be addressed by Sacramento Bee reporter Daniel Weintraub, on his valuable California Insider weblog.

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  1. Matt, you’ve got a total of 5 (count’em) links in this article — none of which mention anything about any Libertarians running.

    I was under the impression that Reason is a libertarian site. If we’re not going to toot our own political horn in some form or fashion, then what’s the point of constantly showing us what the statists are doing out there?

    Who cares what the collectivists do or don’t do in California (or anywhere else for that matter) if it doesn’t show how it moves libertarian ideas forward?

    I can read this kind of “news” in a zillion common papers or egazines. Please! Let’s get out of these depressing discussions and shine some light on some positive libertarian “movement” (as in forward motion.)

    Thanks.

  2. Does Reason have any links with the Libertarian Party, other than a shared philosophy?

  3. Getting Impatient — Ask and ye shall receive…. This time!

    Joe — Not that I’m aware of, though I’m not aware of much.

  4. getting impatient – The recall of any collectivist/statist – particularly an uber-collectivist such as Gray Davis – would have to be viewed as a good thing from a Libertarian point of view.

  5. https://reason.com/faq.shtml

    At least formally Reason is not affliated with the Libertarians. See the FAQ link above.

  6. I’d love to see some folks annoyed with the recall play the current Chicago election game and get as many people named Darrell Issa, or something close to it, on the ballot.

    Hell, I’d love to see a ballot with three Darrell Issas, seven Austrian guys named Arnold, a few “Gary” Davises, and fourteen people named Riordan.

  7. so if davis brings a lawsuit who is he going to sue? the people that signed the petition? now that would be funny?

  8. Davis would not be the first governor to be recalled:

    http://bismarcktribune.com/articles/2003/07/07/news/state/sta03.txt

  9. Brad S., what makes Gray Davis more of a collectivist than any other Californian politician? Even Arnold Schwartzenegger, who professes admiration for Milton Friedman, is just another big-government Republican.

    Here’s the problem with California voters: they think they’re better than everyone else, and they think the best way to prove that is to spend their neighbors’ money on anything that sounds good. Golden State politicians win office by pandering to that moral vanity; they engage in graft and patronage while soothing the electorate with feel-good rhetoric. No decent politician (if such a thing exists) stands a chance in a California election.

    getting impatient: after 30 years of failure, it should be evident that Libertarian Party politics doesn’t work. If you’re interested in actually making a difference, you’d better start investigating other ways of promoting liberty.

  10. I’m of the opinion that California voters had a choice in 2002, and that they should be forced to deal with the consequences (good or ill) of that choice until 2006.

    One of the reasons why California has such a messy budget problem is because so much of the budget is controlled by ballot initiatives. This is direct democracy at work – and its a disaster.

  11. Russell,

    I agree with you; the LP is largely a reserve for fools and small-minded ideologues.

  12. ERRATUM

    I was in a hurry when I misspoke, “If we’re not going to toot our own political horn in some form or fashion, then what’s the point of constantly showing us what the statists are doing out there?”

    (Notice the “in some form or fashion” which meant to convey the idea I was after)

    What I was actually thinking when I wrote that sentence was, “If we’re not going to toot The Horn of Freedom as it relates to what is going on in California, then what’s the point of showing us what the statists are doing out there?”

  13. stupid sumerian statist/collectivists!

  14. Takes one to know one

  15. Thanks for the FAQ link, Citizen. Just got through reading it. (BTW, Reason Webmaster, the FAQ link isn’t apparent on your home page.)

    Still in all, I wish a Reason ?Statement of Purpose? would?ve been part of that FAQ, since I hadn?t kept up. I simply assumed it would maintain its integrity of purpose since 1968.

    Now I know better.

    ?Reason is a nonpartisan magazine whose staff represents a range of political affiliations.?

  16. OK, since I live in California and can’t walk down the street without being solicited by recallers and anti-recallers, I get the issue. What I don’t understand is why the Libertarian party, to which I’m a recent convertee, is interested in perpetuating this kind of mess.

    The problem with California politics (which has nothing to do with Russell Hanneken’s vapid generalization above) is our white-out mentality to politics. Don’t like Prop 13? Wait until next year when we counter that with Prop 14. Next year we’ll white that out with Prop 15? And on and on. It’s tedious, not least of which is because it makes our voting sessions last about an hour just to wade through all the literature and check all those boxes (circles, whatever).

    The recall strikes me as just frivolous litigation by any other name. Another poster said it — we voted for Gray Davis even though we don’t much like him. I want that majority vote honored, not annulled because of some loophole in the state constitution.

    I’m disappointed — and stunned, frankly — that the Libertarian Party endorses this recall, and for no solid reason I can articulate. The CaLP has no viable candidate to replace Davis. That’s issue one. Issue 2 is that I thought we were supposed to be, at our root, against ridiculous government machinations. This politically and financially motivated recall strikes me as the equivalent of a law suit against McDonalds — hey, Davis is fat, we’re all fat, we’re eating too much and spending too much, so let’s boot the Governor (based on real lesiglation) and appoint some other fool who does not have California’s interests at heart. And let’s make sure we have a Nutrition label on our new Governor so we know how much of him or her we can eat before we turn into, oh, I don’t know, Fatty Arbuckle?

    I’m not as articulate about the fine points of law as many of you are, but I am frustrated by the whole situation. We have cycles for voting and replacing politicians with whom we’re unhappy. Why do we need another layer of voting/replacing/annointing? Am I missing something?

  17. Watch it, Andrew. Your vapid group mentality is, shall I say, “being observed” by California’s libertarians.

  18. Russell said, “after 30 years of failure, it should be evident that Libertarian Party politics doesn’t work. If you’re interested in actually making a difference, you’d better start investigating other ways of promoting liberty”

    In agreement, Croesus said, “the LP is largely a reserve for fools and small-minded ideologues”

    The website of the California LP (http://www.ca.lp.org/) says “More than 50 Libertarians hold public office in California.”

    The list they maintain (http://www.ca.lp.org/lpc-office-holders.html) shows office titles such as, “County Supervisor,” “City Council Member,” “Superior Court Judge,” “District Attorney,” “District Commissioner,” “School Board Trustee,” and others.

    These are real people, engaging in significant, realpolitik in real places in California. Is it reasonable to think these people are not making a difference in their communities, or that some of them, after numerous re-elections, won’t go on to higher office? The list doesn’t even begin to speak to the successful ballot and court challenges that California Libertarians have made to oppressive laws or higher taxes over the years.

    The pace of progress has been very slow and unsatisfactory for many who want more immediate and splashy results — including, apparently, many who post to this board. I hasten to point out, however, that the list of office holders was MUCH shorter just ten years ago. So progress is being made: in getting people to run in the first place, and, once they are elected, in getting them re-elected despite identification with the LP and libertarianism (not to mention frequent, savage opposition, based solely or primarily on the candidate’s libertarianism), so that people realize that the sky DOESN’T fall and that things often actually get BETTER, when libertarians are in office.

    That being said, I am also wondering who the LP will put forth, if and when the recall gets onto the ballot. The website I cited above says nothing obvious. Perhaps things will become clearer once the recall is qualified.

    Who would you LIKE the Libertarians to offer as their candidate? I was impressed with Art Olivier, former city councilman in Bellflower and LP write-in candidate against Gray Davis last time. Olivier ran as a write-in because he was apparently prevented from running in the primary by a quirk of election law, which allowed another fellow to get the ballot-place nomination. Olivier has run for US VP and is no stranger to the kind of campaign that needs to be waged. On the other hand, he is not a “name,” so those reading this who want bigger splashes and more immediate results may not be enthused by the prospect of an Olivier candidacy. Who else, then? Name me some “names.”

  19. Merrit,

    Wouldn’t “realpolitik” be the opposite of acting in politics in accordance with libertarian ideals? Wouldn’t it actually just be compromising in order to achieve pragmatic and useful ends?

  20. James Merritt,

    The LP showed its merit in the 2000 election, when one of its major campaign activities was sending out videotapes of their “glorious leader” to LP members, instead of, let’s say, buying space in the NYT, or a TV commercial. Sorry, but that’s the nuttiest political manuevre I’ve ever seen.

  21. Fetchet says, “Merritt: Wouldn’t ‘realpolitik’ be the opposite of acting in politics in accordance with libertarian ideals? Wouldn’t it actually just be compromising in order to achieve pragmatic and useful ends?”

    Merritt says,

    Hey Stephen, call me James. After all, we’re one big happy family of contributors, aren’t we?

    What you may not appreciate is that liberty is the “pragmatic and useful end” that libertarians seek. For them, successful “realpolitik” produces the net increase of liberty in whatever “pragmatic and useful” context their political opportunities present. So, compromises sometimes have to be made: you lower a tax instead of repealing it outright, for example. Or, if you can’t pass a law to legalize marijuana/skateboarding/fireworks/hair-braiding in your town, you maneuver to make enforcement of laws against those things the lowest priorities. And so on. Society benefits in a real and tangible way, and net liberty is increased.

    I think that such legitimately libertarian activity is consistent with at least the etymology of “realpolitik,” if not the way that word has been used by certain big-government types over the years.

    Now, back to the topic of the thread: the recall and the list of potential contenders. Who do YOU want or expect to see as an LP candidate in November?

  22. Croesus says, “The LP showed its merit in the 2000 election, when one of its major campaign activities was sending out videotapes of their ‘glorious leader’ to LP members, instead of, let’s say, buying space in the NYT, or a TV commercial. Sorry, but that’s the nuttiest political manuevre I’ve ever seen.”

    I wonder how Croesus came to think that this was one of the “major” campaign activites (to the exclusion of other important approaches, at least)? I remember that this tape was produced and distributed (for more about that, read on), and it was an important activity, but many other activities seemed far more important to libertarians I knew, not to mention in party literature that I read.

    As far as sending videotapes to party members, bear in mind that party members — especially NEW members — are generally also energetic activists. The videotapes were as much informational pieces about the Libertarian Party and libertarianism, which did double-duty in the election year because they happened to feature that year’s candidate, who did a pretty good job of making the general case and not just pumping himself up, if you ask me. The point was for those activists to show the tape to friends, associates, or other potential voters, at rallies, and on local TV (e.g., public access cable). The anecdotal evidence I received indicates that those kinds of things did happen, often, so the strategy probably wasn’t as boneheaded as Croesus seems to say it was, although obviously not the stunningly successful move that Croesus seems to criticize it for not being.

    The LP did indeed buy television commercials — many of them, primarily on cable news channels and local television, which were the only television media outlets that were affordable. Did anyone reading this see any of them?

    As far as buying newspaper ads, I wonder if Croesus saw the LP’s (fairly-)recent full-page ad against Drug Czar John Walters in USA today? If not, what makes him think that a presidential campaign ad in a national newspaper, even (or especially) the NYT, would be any more effective? Neither television nor print in 2000 proved to be — or, realistically, could have been — stunningly successful for the LP. The party ran a $2M campaign, against the tens- or hundreds- of millions that were spent by the major party candidates for President alone. On the other hand, given the marked improvement in (respectful) “free media” coverage that the LP and its candidates got in 2000 over previous years (and I have been paying close attention since at least 1988), I think they got a pretty good bang for their campaign buck. I have noticed that the more attention the LP gets in one cycle, the more it seems to get in the next, as long as we just hang in there and keep pushing.

    From the evidence of my own eyes in the past several decades, there simply seems to be no way that any third party can play the same money-and-exposure game as the entrenched major parties and come out on top. So they have to find ways around the system, effectively changing the rules of the game to mitigate the extreme advantage that the major players have. Sometimes, the “plan Bs” pan out, and other times not. Oh well. We move on to the next election cycle and try to retain the expensive wisdom gained in the current one.

    The cool thing about the recall election, especially for libertarians and other third parties, is the relative swiftness (and unexpected timing) of the campaign season, and the relatively liberal requirements for getting on the ballot. In the campaign environment created by the recall situation, the rules of the game are changed to eliminate the advantages of incumbency on the one hand, while constraining the ability of the major parties to amass the unbelievably large warchests and pursue the long-term media “saturation bombing,” which are now routine during the normal election season. The odds are still heavily against independent and third-party challengers, of course, but that’s no reason not to put up a fight, or to vote for the “lesser of two evils.” As I heard a libertarian candidate say on CSPAN the other day (I paraphrase from memory), if you’re on death row and an escape plan has a 1% chance of success, but if you don’t attempt escape you have a 51% chance of electrocution or a 48% chance of lethal injection, are you REALLY going to pass up the escape plan and ask the warden for the lethal injection because it is the less objectionable of the “realistic outcomes”?

    People have to understand that, as bad as our state’s situation has become under the “electrocution” approach of Davis and the Democrats, it was done with the pragmatic collusion and (in the case of the faux-deregulation of electric power, the enthusiastic co-operation!) of the Republicans and their “lethal injection” approach. What we need is to escape from the green room. Croesus and others gleefully mis-characterize the Libertarians as “crazy,” “way out.” But people who really think about where society is, how we got here, and what we need to do about it, will realize that Libertarians offer escape: a “way out.”

  23. God! I live in Sacramento. Kill me.

  24. I think Tim Cavanaugh should run for Governor.

  25. James Merritt writes, “the relatively liberal requirements for getting on the ballot.”

    Jimmy, buddy, you’ve been living in bureacrat’s offices too long. Unless you’re a lawyer, how about simple-speak, like, “jumping over the low ballot bar”? (Low barriers to entry have long been a California hallmark.)

  26. Fetchet says, “Merritt: Wouldn’t ‘realpolitik’ be the opposite of acting in politics in accordance with libertarian ideals? Wouldn’t it actually just be compromising in order to achieve pragmatic and useful ends?”

    Oh, I see, Fetchet — Libertarians should live and remain in ivory towers for ever and ever, yes?

    Like you?

  27. Is recall really a loophole? I think of a loophole as an accidental consequence that is exploited in a way not intended in the larger bill. Kind of like how the “gun show loophole” is not really a loophole.

  28. Getting impatient:

    It’s sheer joy just to see a political system imploding. I guess it’s too much to hope for an Argentina where you get a new chief executive every week. But the total paralysis of central power may be what it takes for the functions of the centralized corporate state to be taken over by small enterprise, neighborhood associations, co-ops, homeschools, community technology, etc.

    I hope something similar happens at the federal level, now that the impeachment genie is out of the bottle. God willing, every sitting president from now on will face a serious impeachment attempt.

  29. “… small enterprise, neighborhood associations, co-ops, homeschools, community technology, etc.”

    Hmm, good idea, Kevin!

    Let’s get to work on it.

  30. “Am I missing something?”

    Hmm, let’s see …

    “… we voted for Gray Davis even though we don’t much like him.”

    You think?

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  32. Dear sir,
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