Libertarian Party

Colorado Libertarian Barred From Senatorial Debate After Falling 0.023% Short of Arbitrary Requirement

Your daily reminder that the default setting among the powerful is to give third parties zero margin for error


Lily Tang Williams. ||| Lily Tang Williams
Lily Tang Williams

Remember back at the beginning of this month, when Libertarians and other third-party supporters briefly got their hopes up after Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair (and co-founder) Frank Fahrenkopf told CNBC that "If someone came in and let's say he was [polling] at 14.5 percent and the margin of error in five polls was 3 points, we are going to have to sit down and look at it"? Well, that's because the optimists failed to fully digest Fahrenkopf's next sentence, which was: "But right now that person would not be included." Because when it comes to fighting for a seat at the table of power, there are no margins of error for the comparatively powerless, as Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Lily Tang Williams has just learned the hard way.

Williams, like L.P. presidential nominee Gary Johnson, had based her campaign strategy around getting into September's televised debates. The gatekeeper in question here was not the CPD, but a nonprofit Western Colorado booster group called Club 20. The rules for entry into the debate are that qualifying candidates have to come from political parties whose registration represent at least 1 percent of Colorado's registered voters. As Club 20 Director Christian Reece wrote in an email to Williams,

CLUB 20 bi-laws state that any 3rd party candidates must have at least 1% of their party represented as registered voters for the specific district that the candidate is running for. According to the Secretary of State's office, there are currently 3,678,915 registered voters in the State through the end of August and 35,967 of those are registered as Libertarian voters. The Libertarian Party represents .977% of registered voters in Colorado which falls short of the 1% threshold needed to be included in our candidate debates. We understand that this may be frustrating, but we adhere strongly to these requirements to ensure our debates are truly representative of Western Colorado. I apologize for any inconvenience and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Yes, Lily Tang Williams fell 0.023 percent short. Sorry for the inconvenience, kid!

Gary Johnson in Colorado is consistently polling in the mid-teens. Dallas Brooks at the Libertarian Republic points out that Johnson and other Libertarians tend to poll disproportionately well among voters who don't belong to any party. But no matter: As I wrote in 2013 in the context of some forgotten Rand Paul micro-scandal, those who come at politics from an unusual angle face a Weird Man's Burden, and will be subject to heightened, not lessened, levels of scrutiny, with zero margin for error. Paul himself indicated in private conversations at FreedomFest in mid-July that Gary Johnson would likely be shut out of the presidential debates even if he averaged 14.99 percent of the vote. The powerful are like hawks, and as Ernest Hemingway memorably observed, hawks don't share.

I wrote yesterday about the growing media critique that the presidential debates are rigged.

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  1. Lily Tang Williams

    I have to say, there can’t be anything scarier for the political establishment than an Asian female libertarian. Especially with a name like that. Wow.

    1. At least, unlike Johnson, her name can’t be turned into a dirty joke.

        1. Lily Wang Poon Tang. Or something like that.

          1. Lil’ Willy.


        1. Her campaign slogan can be ‘Wang Dang Lily Wong Poon Tang say fuck off slaver, cut spending!’

    2. And that picture is awesome. Let’s have her for president.

      1. I’ll donate. I wonder what leftists will call her. Just another Aunt Wang Li?

    3. I came here to say that. That name is like an 11 on the badass scale.

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  2. So my wife isn’t the only Asian female libertarian. She’ll be so excited.

    1. BTW, this is the setup for HM to post the pic of that hot chick laying naked on the Gadsden flag. I forget her name. She was just a bit thick, but I mean, I’d still do her.

      Not too thick for John, though.

    2. Surely there are 1 or 2 more in Hong Kong.

      1. +1 Kowloon Walled City

  3. Bi-laws can swing both ways.

  4. Based on that picture, I’d pass on that Tang too.

    1. But would you say that to her face? 🙂

      1. If she promised not to shoot me, sure I’d say it to the snow shovel on the front of her head.


  6. It doesn’t matter. Regardless of how many people are registered libertarian in the state, they’d find Section 16, clause b, paragraph ii, subparagraph y, or make it up, and exclude her that way. The duopoly must stand.

    1. This. Wouldn’t matter if she did meet all of their piddly pansy-arsed petty little rules. The answer is no, now we’re going to find a way to make that sound reasonable.

      1. Seriously, fuck the commissions, Club 20s. If you put up a candidate that can’t pass the 50% barrier of “we don’t hate you” poll, then that candidate should be off the stage. As stupid as that sounds, it makes more practical sense than the Kabuki they have set up.

        1. You will respect the goddamned dog-and-pony show in all it’s majestic majesty! It’s what your forefathers died for! Okay, they probably died anyway and the dog-and-pony show had very little to do with it except in isolated cases, BUT. Nomsayin? I think you do.

          1. I won’t respect it.

            *Pulls down pants does a twirly*

          2. I’ve never seen an actual dog and pony show 🙁

            1. How about a horse and kitty show?

    2. These entities shouldn’t have financial support of any sort from the government.

      Then as a private enterprise, they can really just do whatever they want.

  7. These libertarian moments are becoming too much to bear.

    1. IN this case, the libertarian moment is being UNFAIRLY HELD BACK!

  8. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

    Why do you think they are going to relax their rules for you?

  9. Not an anarchist, but she’s awesome. In case you guys missed this. Coming from communist China, call he Ayn Land if you want to pun on her name.

    1. She said the words “constitutional republic” instead of “democracy”.

      She would get my vote.

      1. Better than 99% of politicians out there.

        1. Agreed!

  10. We understand that this may be frustrating, but we adhere strongly to these requirements to ensure our debates are truly representative of Western Colorado. I apologize for any inconvenience

    Yeah… riiiiiight…

    1. +1 Sorry not sorry

  11. Because I hate to see the country I love becoming more like the country I left

    GREAT campaign slogan.

    1. Damn right!

      That pic plus that slogan = 100% pure awesomeness.

  12. All organized structures run by chief and code exist primarily as citadel.

    I will never grasp the suspension of examination and introspection by those who favor certain citadels. Organized humanity is unwilling to self-contemplate and crucify the rot and macabre within. Crowd structures casually justify even gruesome tactics when the citadel is purified from internal alarm.

    1. That’s deep, Agile.

  13. Get 1,000 more registered voters in the LP.

    1. Shhh. That what’s I thought, too. But, Shhh.

      1. Or contest that the calculation of Coloardo’s population is incorrect.

        It is only an estimate based on survey/sampling

        1. And it’s registered LPers. Plenty of small l are not official LP.

  14. I wanna have her baby!

  15. About Club 20

    Founded in 1953 by Western Slope business leaders, CLUB 20 was originally organized for the purpose of getting rural roads paved. At the time, the State of Colorado had been spending only 10 percent of its highway funds west of the Continental Divide, even though more than half the roads were there. With each community lobbying for its own roads, small towns were simply drowning each other out. It finally became clear that only by agreeing on a single priority list could all the counties be heard. The process worked. Within a few years, the State was spending 37 percent of its highway funds west of the divide and by the end of the 1950s finally had paved most of the major highways on the Western Slope.

    The club probably doesn’t want to get on the bad side of the pols. All those sweet, sweet highway dollars might start drying up.

    1. So this is really about ROADZ ?

    2. Western Slope business leaders excluding a Chinese woman from a debate? One would think they’d be all about letting her in.

      1. Slope. Har.

      2. What you did there….too far

      3. They usually hit the slopes.

      4. LACIST!!11!!!!!!!

      5. It’s not just a western things –

  16. Free Association isn’t just a way for Christians to ostracize gay people, you know.

    This sort of thing, the majority using it’s influence to control the conversation and marginalize folks who lack the political or monetary power to fight back, is precisely why some folks don’t put as much importance on it as libertarians do.

    To be clear, I don’t expect anyone to change their mind or principles. But libertarians who were a bit more understanding, and not so quick to accuse folks of being thought-policing Nazis, would probably be more persuasive.

    Or to put it in other words: Find a way to explain the majority excluding Libertarian candidates as a good feature (as opposed to a malicious bug), and you’ll be a step closer to explaining to folks that have been kicked out of diners and hotels that they haven’t suffered an injustice.

    1. you’ll be a step closer to explaining to folks that have been kicked out of diners and hotels that they haven’t suffered an injustice

      All 5 of them?

    2. So you’re equating government exclusion from the process that elects the people’s representatives with private individuals exercising their right to freely associate?

      1. The CPD is a private organization.

        1. Barely. You could say the same thing about the CPD but in reality it is a media and government approved monopoly designed to exclude third parties.

          1. but in reality it is a media and government approved monopoly designed to exclude third parties

            In what way is the CPD “government approved”. There is nothing preventing you from forming the Commission on Open Debates and setting the criteria in any way you choose, buy a prime time slot and make it happen. Maybe start taking donations ASAP. I hear there’s some money in the Reason organizaion

            1. I’ll rephrase. It’s DNC/GOP approved and acts essentially as a cartel.

              1. Yes. So what?

        2. As is CLUB 20

      2. Look, the federal reserve is private. It’s dumb to think congress should have oversight.

    3. Shhhhh, you are messing up the acoustics in the echo chamber.

    4. Who’s calling for any legal response?

      1. Not relevant to my point, which was how to make a persuasive argument.

  17. Historically, many hackers and security firms either contact companies to alert them to vulnerabilities, or try to sell the not-yet-public vulnerabilities to corporate espionage and security firms or government agencies, who then happily exploit any impacted, unpatched systems (in this case, with potentially fatal results). But MedSec did something notably different. It reached out to the Muddy Waters Capital LLC investment firm, suggesting a partnership to short sell St. Jude stock before reporting the vulnerabilities to the FDA. Under the deal, MedSec makes more money the further shares fall.

    There are ethics debates.

    1. Nothing unethical at all.

      They did research and traded accordingly based on the results of that research.

      1. That there was a question of ethics raised at all is a sad commentary in and of itself. Personally, I thought it was fabulous. May their troll be profitable.

    2. Didn’t I already tell you HN is MY BEAT!

      BTW are they getting more crazy liberal or am I just noticing it more. The Apple tax article comments were very disheartening.

  18. Lily is a friend of mine and a hell of a candidate. He story is stupid compelling. She sends out email newsletters once a month or so and adds a picture and story of her time in Communist China. She is pretty freakin’ amazing. Not only am I voting for her but I am donating as well. And if anyone here takes me even remotely seriously I strongly suggest you donate as well.

    As for Club 20, we got into their debates (through simple polite poltiking) back in 2008, Our gubernatorial candidate destroyed the two major party ones in that debate and one of our State House reps was a huge hit. Ever since then they have restricted the LP participation.

    1. Anything to make sure the “two” parties don’t look as retarded in voter’s eyes as they actually are.

    2. I listened to her speak at the LP convention (watched online) and she was awesome.

    3. Link for her donate site?

        1. Thanks cliche banditched.

    4. Tell her to run for president next time.

      1. Her husband would murder me.

    5. It was 2006 BTW not 2008

  19. Although I have considered changing my voter affiliation from Libertarian to Unaffiliated, this is one of the reasons I keep it with the LP. I have numerous issues with the LP, but still do what I can to support busting the 2 party lock.

    1. Well said, and thank you.

  20. I know that picture is a ‘win” for a good portion of this commentariat, but it’s silly shit like that that ultimately makes libertarians a joke to majority of voters.
    Normal people (left and right) see that, and think “libertarian = unhinged lunatic”. Which I’ll admit is correct for some…but some of us are trying to convince our friends and family to vote Johnson. Personally, I’m glad she’s not in the debate…Johnson has chance to pull good numbers in Colorado, but this lady will ruin that.

    1. That’s actually a really good point. For better or worse, most people today have been brainwashed into thinking that only a lunatic would have a big, scary-looking gun like that. It’s the same kind of deal as Gary Johnson doing himself no favors when he dresses like a college frat boy.

      Saul Alinsky understood that to infiltrate institutions and successfully execute a hostile takeover of a country, it’s absolutely vital to come off as normal at all times. It was the essence of his core message to his fellow revolutionaries in his books.

      1. “For better or worse, most people today have been brainwashed into thinking that only a lunatic would have a big, scary-looking gun like that.”

        I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think that most people are OK with knowing that a person owns an AR-15 and keeps it secured in a safe. However, most people (myself included) are not impressed with someone carrying it in public at low-ready. Not saying this lady does that, but the pic creates that kind of impression. And when you don’t know someone personally, impressions are really what count the most.

    2. Was she going to stand on the debate stage with an AR-15?

      1. She doesn’t need to. This is the picture every news organization will choose to print next to her name. Right or wrong, it will be “who she is”.

        1. This is Colorado chief. The state where a state legislator pushed an anit-gun bill and she and her co-conspirator were both recalled. Not voted out in a general but proactively recalled…successfully. In a beat down.

          One thing Colorado does pretty OK is 2A. Denver being the exception. (Ironically Boulder is better, not by much, on guns than Denver)

          Our Democrats would be labeled racist, gun toting Republicans in New Jersey.

          1. When I picked up my concealed carry permit from Boulder county I was amazed at how smooth it went. Really expected much more red tape/harassment. Would like to see somone with more money/time than me push the Denver AR ban back into the court system.

    3. Really? A woman holding a gun while standing in front of the American flag? I think that would be a big hit with the generally pro-patriotism conservatives.

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  22. 1% of the electorate was too much?

    One percent?

    If you can’t get one percent of the population to even join your party, what makes you think you’re viable at all?

    1. On the one hand, the organization hosting the debate should be free to set whatever rules it wants.

      On the other hand, the notion of “viability” should be seen as suspect. No one should be bolstered or suppressed by sole virtue of how much support they already do or don’t enjoy. The end result will be decided on election day; it doesn’t need to be enforced before then.

    2. Clearly our ideas have no merit at 0.977% of the electorate, but all that will change once we hit 1%.

      1. Nicholas, do you have a link to your AMA ?
        I saw you were holding one.

        1. It’s currently the top post in

  23. Just to be a pedantic dickbag, she fell short of the requirement by 2.23%, not 0.023%.

    1. Not a lot of people appreciate the difference between “percent” and “percentage points”, but regardless “%” is an abbreviation for both.

      1. It’s still an ambiguity which could seem to a cynical person as deliberately misleading, except that all reasonable people know journalists don’t understand math and statistics.

    2. equality

  24. I guess club 20 exposed the chink in the LPs armor.

  25. I guess club 20 exposed the chink in the LPs armor.

  26. I enjoy that the explanation could easily be interpreted to give access to any party that is made up of 1 percent Coloradoans due to their crappy phrasing of “at least 1% of their party registered” instead of something like “at least 1% of registered voters belonging to their party”.

  27. R and D are the same exact communist party

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