Third Parties

Blue Man Coup


The Washington Post profiles Stan Jones, the Montana libertarian, more commonly known as "the blue guy."

For all the ridicule he's endured for his smurfish complexion, Jones very likely siphoned enough votes from Republican Conrad Burns to tilt the Montana senate race to Jon Tester, and the U.S. Senate to the Democrats (more importantly, he sent the insufferable Michael Medved into a fit of apoplexy).

It's heartening to see the GOP's neglect of its libertarian wing come back to bite the party in the ass. That the poster-boy for the LP's unfortuanate bent toward whack-jobbery did the deed makes it all the sweeter.

NEXT: The New York Times Talks to Libertine Librarians

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  1. “It’s heartening to see the GOP’s neglect of its libertarian wing come back to bite the party in the ass.”

    The problem is that it’s unlikely that it did. The LP siphons votes off the candidates of the top 2 parties regardless of whether those candidates are sympathetic to libertarians or not. The LP candidate got 26% of the vote against Jeff Flake who is about as libertarian friendly a GOPer as there comes.

    So there’s little the GOP could have done that would have drastically changed the Burns vs. Blue Man outcome.

  2. He is also a man who accidentally turned his skin blue by drinking a homemade antibiotic laced with silver.

    The LP sure knows how to pick a winner.

  3. Stan Jones, you may be an eccentric person who has given the LP a, um, colorful reputation, but you brought about divided government in the United States this year, and for that we owe you a debt of gratitude.

    For those about to dye, we salute you.

  4. This is all assuming that the repubs wouldn’t have lost more votes by catering to the libs than they would gain. I’m not convinced that’s the case at all.

  5. That the poster-boy for the LP’s unfortuanate bent toward whack-jobbery did the deed makes it all the sweeter.

    Amen to that. Another great post by Radley, it’s great having you around here now.

  6. To his credit, Jones doesn’t play the race card when people joke about his color.

  7. Awesome. Smurf the GOP.

  8. We libertarians have to affect political races before we start to win them. To me, this makes the Montana election good, not great, news.

  9. Remember what the Democrats said about the Greens in 2000?

    6 years later, have the Dems made efforts to capture that corner of their base that provided the (very high-profile) margin of defeat?

    I’d love to see the Republicans swing to the libertarian, but I seriously doubt it’ll happen.

  10. The Republicans will swing libertarian when the American people swing libertarian.

    That will be just as soon as hell starts to get a little chilly.

  11. I live in Montana, and I can tell you that Montana Republicans were fed up with (former) Sen. Conrad Burns and his pork-barrel piggery. Plus, the new Sen. Jon Tester is pro-gun, pro-choice, low-tax, and anti-Patriot Act, all of which are good sells in Montana. Tester’s famous quote is something like, “With things like the Patriot Act, we’d better be able to hold on to our guns.”

  12. I was happy with Montana results too. I had forgotten that this was the blue guy. It does suggest that the Montana LP is little desperate. Let’s see what happens with the GOP

  13. Once libertarians start winning elections, we’ll be part of the problem. Now even the most egregious nutbars among us pose no threat to anybody. Better to stay irrelevant and harmless.

  14. (1) there is no guarantee that Montana voters who voted for Stan Jounes would have voted for Conrad Burns if Stan Jones hadn’t run.

    (2) Libertarians lost this election, populists won. Every incoming freshman Democrat Senator campaigned on a populist economic message talking about economic fairness and campaigning heavily against free trade while the incumbent GOP Senator that was defeated had good records on trade.

    (3) Stan Jones is crazy. The fact that the Libertarian party nominated him shows that you guys are a joke.

  15. Check this out –Stan Jones in action. Could he be a libertarian Borat?

  16. I read “whack-jobbery” as jabberwocky the first time through and thought you’d a screw loose.

    Oh, on topic: Libertarians need to have parties and candidates in every significant election in order to become noticed by joe voter: here in NM it was R v D with not a single L on the ballot.


    I miss Gary Johnson: at least his R had a L-ish tinge

  17. The fact that the Libertarian party nominated him shows that you guys are a joke.

    Many people here are small “l” libertarians. Don’t get confused.

  18. “Libertarians need to have parties and candidates in every significant election in order to become noticed by joe voter…”


    Joe Voter owns guns. Think about it.

  19. omigod! he’s dead

    Big Smirk, that’s a great line.

  20. How to deal with Joe Voter when he notices libetarians.

    Joe Voter: You one of them anarchist libertarians that hate our president and want legalize smokin’ dope and homosexual activities?

    Me: No, Sir. Never heard of them. What did you say they were called? Anne Arland librarians? I never go to libraries.

    Jow Voter: Good thing sonny. We don’t cotton much to book learnin and evolooshun in these parts. You lookin’ at my crotch, boy?

    Me: No, Sir. I have to get to my Bible study group now. Bye, bye.

  21. small “l” libertarians like the journalists at Reason are fine, but big L ones nominate crazy people like Stan Jones.

  22. also, let’s remember this was a vote AGAINST repubs election, more than a vote FOR dems election.

    nowhere is that point made clearer than by the lincoln chafee defeat.

    1) lincoln chafee did not support the iraq war
    2) lincoln chafee publically announced that he did not vote for george bush

    you can’t get much more anti-buschco policy than chafee REGARDLESS of party. for example, the primary issue is supposedly the iraq war, yet hillary who has been a strong supporter won EASILY in liberal new york, and chafee lost

    certainly the suckitude of the iraq situation was a hyooge part of the impetus to purge repubs, but most of the voters looked more at the (D) vs. the (R) or at least the (not-R) as much as the iraq POLICY of the (D) or the (R)


    repubs deserve a third party spoiler. dems had to live with the michael-moore enhanced nader spoiler ™. this time, it was (among other things) a libertarian who did them in

    but at least my favorite candidate (R) Reichert is winning at this point (election still not over in WA state 8th district congressional race)

  23. I’ll wager that Republican strategists are not losing any sleep over the Libertarian factor. One or two wackos syphoning off a few votes do not a third party spoiler make. It’s hard to remain pure and realistic, but we should try, if only for our own dignity.

  24. Stan is the Man!

    Thanks for turning the US Senate blue.

    Truly pivotal leverage!

  25. Once again, I’ll be the skunk at the picnic and ask:

    How many of you have ever run for – let alone held – public office? If so, what office? Under what (if any) party?


  26. I’m still trying to think of a joke that involves “blue balls,” but alas, I’m not bright enough.

  27. JMJ, I posted this in an earlier thread. I ran for State House Seat 53 here in Colorado in 2000.

    cliff | November 7, 2006, 10:25am | #

    “I would just like to say, as a former and hopefully future candidate for a state and / or federal office, hats off to anyone who takes the initiative to do something about the situation our country is in by running for an office, any office.

    To those who choose not to vote or participate, I say, you can’t change anything by whining about the sucky choices. Get involved with a candidate or run yourself. Sure, it is hard on the ego, but it beats the hell out of sitting by and not trying. Who knows? You might just make a difference.

    We have a lot of smart articulate people in the Libertarian Party. Just on this blog alone, I am blown away by the intelligence of the people here. Why aren’t more of us running for office?”

    I was rebuffed by many commenters with gems like these;

    Ken Shultz:

    “I hope you appreciate the point that government doing something about the situation is the problem. Their solutions, almost always, are the problem.

    If government isn’t the answer, and you want to do something about the situation, something positive that is, why would you run for office?


    “Sitting around not trying is pretty underrated. Most of the problems we have can be attributed to people “Just trying to make a difference.”

    Besides, productive people don’t go into politics. If you really want to do something for your community, start a business and provide some work.”

    It is really hard fighting the 2 party system when those who you would expect to be supportive and appreciative are exactly the opposite. I ran a very fiscally conservative, socially liberal candidacy. I was admittedly a “line-holder”, but I made all the appearances I could and I was on the ballot as a Libertarian.

    2 of my campaign planks were ending road side sobriety check points and accountablility in the fiscal side of the state government. All I could offer the voters was a promise that I would vote for less government and more freedoms for everyone, everytime I got the chance. I only got 2%, but it was a great experience and I would encourage everyone, especially here, to get off your butt and do something. Just my 2 cents.

  28. What’s wrong with blue? Look at the Blue Falcon:

  29. BTW, I also wore a nice clothes, slacks and a polo shirt or suit with a turtleneck (I hate ties)to all my appearences. Something that Libertarians need to keep in mind that appearances are important to many people. It would help if our candidates would dress professionally, like we want the job. I saw many candidates looking like lumberjacks, and grunge rock stars and the Statue of Liberty, we need to look like contenders, not a sideshow.

  30. Stan Jones blue?…..he needed the money!

  31. If Stan Jones’ candidacy was responsible for the Demo win and Michael Medved’s apoplexy, then bully for him. Medved’s jihad against “losertarians” has earned him any pain he may be feeling at the GOP’s disgrace. In your face, Medved. “Losertarian” THIS, you jackass.

  32. JMJ, I ran for the California state senate as a Libertarian in 2004. I wouldn’t have considered running for a state office without spending several years building up a resume of community service, city council membership, etc. BUT my main goal was to prevent another Libertarian, as whacky as Stan Jones, from winning the primary unopposed. I did win the primary, which kept an embarassment to our local LP out of the public eye, but had no chance against the Democrat. I had fun debating the Democratic candidate, though.

    Since then I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to spend any more of my time and energy trying to influence the California LP to become more mainstream, moderate, practical — however you want to put it. I’m now registered independent.

  33. I ran for Colorado House 53 in 2006, which is the same office that Cliff ran for in 2000. While he received 2% of the vote, I received 4%. We’re making huge progress in areas where voters are being accustomed to seeing us on the ballot. The LP in Texas, Arizona, and California reported similar gains.

    I can foresee us getting 6% of the vote sometime in the 2008-2012 time frame. We will have become a major factor at that point, and Republicans will be forced to adopt some of our ideas to marginalize us. We’re on the verge of major progress, even though we’re many years away from being elected to office!

  34. Cliff, Mike and Mark:

    You’ve actually done something – good for you! Given your posts come after mine in this thread, you weren’t really the intended audience.

    It has been my experience that the (small-l) libertarian movement is populated principally by a flock of paper assholes. For a movement consisting of something like thirteen percent of the population, the best many can manage is to run their mouths – typically pseudonymously – in forums like this one.

    Cliff and Mark: You’re lucky. I had to endure the races I ran – the precinct-walking, doors slammed in face, laughing housewives; sitting for debates, both live and televised; interviews with sometimes snide and hostile press; recruiting volunteers; printing and distributing literature; putting up signs; … – only to introduce myself to voters at the polls and get, in response, “Who?” Then again, this Connecticut, land of the comfortably insular and preconceived.

    Running for office is painful and costly, so it is no wonder it’s difficult to get candidates, at least those who aren’t a little, um, eccentric. And, when it’s over – in the minors – you have little chance of (electoral) success. In the majors, you may win your seat, but will find yourself owned by the very machine that put you there.

    Mike: one thing – be careful you don’t confuse tactical success with victory. At the end of the day, it isn’t electoral victory per se we’re after, but a change in what they call “policy.”


    P.S. Reason staff: the squirrels are back. I had to post this twice, after the preview mechanism ate it.

  35. JMJ,

    Thank you for the reasoned and articulate response, and for your efforts as well. I am so frustrated by those who complain and then do nothing. Obviously you walked the same path Mark, Mike and myself have. Good for you and good for us.

  36. It would help if our candidates would dress professionally, like we want the job. I saw many candidates looking like lumberjacks, and grunge rock stars and the Statue of Liberty, we need to look like contenders, not a sideshow.

    I’ve heard this said before. Which candidates are dressing up like the Statue of Liberty, or is this just hyperbole?

  37. JMJ, it wasn’t lack of electoral success that made me stop putting my energy into the LP. Hell, I’d been voting Libertarian since I was old enough to vote and had long ago come to terms emotionally with nearly always being on the losing side of the vote.

    What it was, for example, was going to my county LP meeting and finding out that one of the other officers had written a ballot argument opposing a local library tax in completely uncivil language insulting to the folks on the library board, and by extension all the voters out there who think that public libraries are a good thing. When I’d suggest that we tone it down the language bit, I’d get a speech about taxation is theft and how these library board members are no better than the mafia. And how dare I defend them.

    Then I read the archived history of early party documents, and realized that it really is the anarchists’ party. They staged a coup way back in the 1970s, before I had even joined. And, finally, the last straw was when I witnessed a bunch of immature, dishonorable backbiting and infighting among the California officers.

    Maybe I can come back to the fold someday. But, there would have to be really huge changes in the culture of the Libertarian Party.

  38. The net result of Stan Jones’s election showing is that mainline Montana Republicans will now be super pissed off and quite suspicious of libertarians throughout the state.

    It will make the job of the Montana Republican Liberty Caucus tougher to get booth space at MT GOP Conventions, or participate in MT GOP activities.

    I just spent 6 months in MT and I hung out with some of these mainliner GOPers. They’re already suspicious of us. When they think “Libertarian” they think, “oh, those are the guys who steal votes away from us, and want us to lose.”

    We need to work extra hard in Montana and other states to convince fellow Republicans that we are indeed team players.

    Stan Jones has only made our job all the tougher.

  39. jf;

    My criticism of those who would chose to appear as the Statue of Liberty to political debates and / or forums is meant in the most constructive of ways and no offense is intended on any level. It is actually a good idea for outreach drives and parades etc. It is novel and I can see it as breaking the ice for a lot of situations. Like the friendly mascot at a sporting event can represent a team in a fun way.

    When the game is over or a big game is coming up, most people want a coach like person answering questions about game strategy etc., not Bucky Bronco and his furry costume doing the Q/A.

    That being said and please don’t hate me Mark because I love you like a brother. Mark Brophy appeared in his Statue of Liberty garb to several events and it was part of his theme to show how America has forgotten what this important symbol is all about. We have lost our way because the opportunities the statue represented have been forgotten and we may soon experience a wave of emmigration from this country to other places of opportunity.

    It was covered in Hammer of Truth and the comments were mixed, some in favor and some against, so my comment is not really news, just my opinion.

  40. “We need to work extra hard in Montana and other states to convince fellow Republicans that we are indeed team players.”

    Maybe I’ve missed it, but has the present-day Republican party done ANYTHING recently that suggests that they’re “team players”? Mostly, I hear pro-war rhetoric fueled by defense contractors, the Israel lobby, and all the worst representatives of christianity. As a libertarian, I’d prefer to stay off that team, and I doubt they’d have me anyway.

  41. cliff,

    Thanks for the info. I do have to admit that after googling that information I’ve still got tears streaming down my face, but at the same time I greatly admire his courage and convictions.

  42. Here in NY, I ran for assembly in 1988 and state comptroller in 1998, each time as Libertarian. Then in 2002 I ran for state senate as Conservative-Republican. Even though I had less time to campaign in 2002, I felt I had much greater impact. I not only got an order of magnitude (plus some) more votes, I also improved markedly on the previous Republican nominee’s votes and got more meaningful att’n. The Libertarian Party is a dead end.

  43. Matt, firstly many of us libertarians ARE Pro-War on Islamo-Fascism. It’s not just the Conservatives who are scared sh*tless of Islamo-Fascists taking over our country. As a libertarian who supports sexual freedom, marijuana legalization, and legalized prostitution and gambling, I’m even more horrified at the thought of Sharia Law ruling over the United States of America than my conservative friends.

    Secondly, it’s not like we libertarians have much choice in the political world today.

    I’d agree with you that we wouldn’t have to play good team players if we libertarians had another team to play on, but we most certainly don’t!

    The Republican Liberty Caucus had mostly an off-year. But the Libertarian Party, had an absolutely horrible year. Once again, the LP failed to elect and state legislators or congressmen. What’s that 35 years now and counting?

    The Republican Party is the ONLY hope for the future of the libertarian movement.

  44. LP is an unfortunate product of, and producer of, path dependence. Had its founding managed to have been delayed by just a few years, it would likely never gotten off the ground, because those who’d otherwise have supported it would’ve seen more hope that was developing during the 1970s in more fruitful channels. As dark as times seem now for some hopeful observers of the GOP, then it looked much worse, because the GOP looked as if it was sinking into a Nixonian abyss very rapidly from which it might never recover. It was the rapidity of decline which scared so many into LP. It was feared that the USA would soon become the superpower equivalent to a hyperinflationary banana republic dictatorship.

    At any time during the first few years of LP, had its leaders been able to see 5-10 years into the future, few of them would have gone into LP. Not only did LP not have the meteoric rise many of them thought was both likely and necessary, but also both the country as a whole and the Republicans rebounded quickly. There were hopeful signs as early as 1973, with Nixon still in office: the draft legislated out of existence, establishment of deregulatory commissions which would soon bear fruit, gold on its way to being legalized. Henry Manne did much of that work. Many states decriminalized marijuana possession or were about to soon.

    But once LP got started and had attracted enough activists, it became self-perpetuating. It came to dominate political organizing among self-consciously libertarian activists. The Religious Right then came to be a force within the GOP which libertarians might have been serious competitors to, had they not been distracted by LP. Of course the Religious Right had the advantage of being pre-organized thru churches, which SIL, say, would not have counterbalanced effectively; but still libertarians could’ve been a more attractive pole within the GOP around a quarter century ago than they actually were.

  45. I suspect the key to promoting libertarianism may be to put more energy into growing the apolitical world. We could gain more ground by promoting civil society, charitable institutions, social organizations, mutual aid societies, affinity groups that cross national borders, free immigration, international trade and travel, libertarian news sources, business, innovation and entrepreneurship, etc. etc.

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