Salon Mostly Agrees With LP Leader Nicholas Sarwark That 3rd Parties Are Necessary and Poorly Treated

Interviewer finds it offensive that Sarwark compares treatment to that of pre-Civil Rights blacks and women, but...


Here's an interesting interview of Libertarian Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark by Matthew Rozsa of Salon. Sarwark steps in it out of the gate by likening the treatment of Libertarians (and other third-party candidates) to the dismissive attitude toward women before they got the vote and toward blacks before they gained equal civil rights. "I find it offensive to compare the ordeal of a libertarian candidate to the plight endured by victims of racial or gender-based oppression," writes Rozsa. "No, they are not the same thing."

That's a fair point, though I'd argue that Sarwark is not directly equating the treatment of the different groups. Rather, he's emphasizing the need for people outside a system to work harder to be taken seriously: "We have to try harder because we are judged more harshly."

But that's actually splitting hairs. What's interesting about the conversation and Rozsa's writeup of it is how much a progressive at Salon actually agrees with the points being made by Sarwark. In truth, writes Rozsa,

third parties do suffer from major structural disadvantages in the American system, as Sarwark pointed out…

Sarwark spoke for a lot of people when he described the election between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as a choice between "terrible and terribler." He isn't wrong in pointing out that "if you don't vote your conscience . . . for what you want, you're going to get what they shove down your throat. And that's going to be them fearmongering you."

I believe that our essentially two-party system, which has kept America alternating between Democratic and Republican presidents since the 1850s, stifles independent voices, fosters corruption and keeps out-of-touch elites in power. Creating a multitude of viable parties won't solve all our problems, but a long-term solution might begin with that step.

More here.

Systemic change takes forever to arrive and it almost always depends on a new consensus being reached. Despite the dismissive headline ("Chair of Libertarian Party compares its treatment to experiences of African-Americans before the '60s and women before suffrage), this exchange shows an increase in common ground among Libertarians and progressives.

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  1. The reason the 2 party system was considered by reformers an advance in the 19th C. was that incumbents were thought to have such an advantage that if someone running for re-election (or even re-nomination) had more than 1 opponent, the opposition would split the vote so badly as to give them no chance of unseating the incumbent. They tried to cut down the number of candidates in primaries too, same reason.

    1. Link?

      We’ve had a 2 party system almost continuously since George Washington left office and Adams and Jefferson went at it, so that’s kind of hard to believe. FPTP voting systems tend to do that (as in the UK) and we’ve had those since the founding.

    2. “”the opposition would split the vote so badly..””

      This is the reason I kept hearing when people would talk about getting Sanders to run as an independent against Clinton and Trump.

      I heard a lot of talk about supporting third parties before the primaries. Then the talk shifted to you can’t vote third party because it would split the D vote and the evil Trump would win. There will always be an “evil” candiate on the opposite side. If you can’t support 3rd party when it matters (general election), then you’re not really support 3rd parties at all.

  2. an increase in common ground among Libertarians and progressives.

    Robbie could teach Nick a thing or two about how to troll the (mostly ex-) commentariat .

    1. Oh, hell, it looks like I troll them unintentionally, at least those at Glibertarians. That’s the only way I can figure they kicked me off, & so fast, just today. Maybe they’re just not used to seeing sincerity.

      1. A lot of those people are just a clique of assholes who indulge in the smell of their own farts. The website gives just gives them more power to enforce that.

        1. Elias Fakaname|5.29.17 @ 9:21PM|#
          “A lot of those people are just a clique of assholes who indulge in the smell of their own farts.”

          So, you’re a sock for whom? And did you get tossed within a minute or so?

        2. Hey now. We, as libertarians, should strive not to judge a group of people based on some collective trait or the actions of some members of the group. We should strive to judge individuals for individual actions. Yes, I know it’s hard. But we should try.

          1. It’s perfectly consistent with libertarianism to judge a group by its actions as a group. That doesn’t mean you’re judging each and every individual who is part of it. Sometimes good people are members of bad groups.

            1. What the hell is a group action? When they all hold hands and skip through a meadow?

              1. Is this a sophistry tactic, or are you really incapable of seeing groups acting as groups? You couldn’t possibly have made it this far in life without being able to see it.

                1. That depends on what you mean by ‘groups.’ Organizations of course do ‘group actions’, as at least anyone who doesn’t tacitly assent to the action can leave. But otherwise, no, ‘group action’ doesn’t usually make sense. Perhaps what you’re getting at is the idea that members of a group may disproportionately do some particular thing. But that’s not the same as ‘group action.’ That’s just a generality which, inasmuch as it’s valid, is a rhetorical convenience, much like when talking about foreign relations, we say, ‘the Russians want this treaty to pass, the Chinese made a deal with so and so.’ It’s assumed that everyone knows that not all Russians necessarily want the treaty to pass or all Chinese made the deal, or that they all share responsibility for it. It’s meant as a metonymy.

                  1. Guilt by association is all the rage these days.

        3. Hate the direction the Reason mothership is going, but Elias is correct about the glibby site. I really wanted to like that site but mein Gott, they went off the rails almost immediately.

          1. That’s the vexing thing. It seemed from the pitch that I was just the kind of audience & participant they wanted, but once I got there I found it only passably interesting & they didn’t want me at all, it seems. My attempts to see what they were about only made them self-conscious & defensive.

            I get that they don’t have paid writers generating articles to comment on like here, but they do have a few volunteers who write from their accrued knowledge very well, and considering that the action here has become mostly commentary about commentary, and that the articles have become very repetitive and seemingly disingenuous, I didn’t think Glibertarians would suffer from the absence of HyR staff. But one thing they do suffer from, obviously, is moderation, which is wielded very differently there from what I’d’ve expected.

      2. Pretty sure SIV was referring to Robbie “Fruit Sushi” “Rico Suave?” Soave, not you, Robert.

        1. I know that. I was just relating how easy it is for ex-commentariat to feel like they’re being trolled.

          I got the invitation from them mos. ago, but waited until recently to check them out, figured they’d take that long to develop interesting traffic. I was disappointed, but saw promise, seemed we were there for the same reason, but not doing the same thing. Most seemed to be chasing their own tails, aimless chit-chat one might get anywhere, but among people who are capable of much more. A few very good articles, but mostly reliance on links, even more so than HyR. I got thrown out today in short order w no explanation, just a characteriz’n of my inquiries as “self-serving”.

          1. That sucks, Robert. I liked some of those guys and never really understood why they left. But let them have their safe space and let’s celebrate diversity here together. Just please don’t ever tell me I am capable of much more, or I will burst into tears.

            1. Some of us don’t see it as a Binary Choice.

              It’s like Bourbon and Scotch.

              I like them both, some can’t stand either or both.

              ‘Sides, sometimes I need a break from DanO.

            2. I liked some of those guys and never really understood why they left.

              Reason didn’t Republican hard enough this last election.

    2. I think he’s just doing some proactive sucking up to his future employers.

    3. Libertarians and Progressives are almost polar opposites. Libertarians have more in common with communists than with progressives. Progressives have more in common with Nazis than libertarians.

      1. I never thought of it quite that way, but you’re right.

  3. The title they chose makes it sound like a hit piece to me.

  4. The GOP was a ‘3rd party’, but it rode a hugely popular sentiment onto stage as the second of two. Again.
    While it’s an illustration of how the government is a trailing indicator, it’s also an illustration of the need for a cause which arouses a large and growing sympathy.
    Right now, that cause is ‘more free shit’, so until the population gets educated as to (lefties/Venezuela), the 3rd party is gonna be the ‘greenies’ or the ‘bernies’.
    I’m pretty sure Trump doesn’t portend a bias toward libertarian sentiments. And I’m not sure a third party of ‘greenies’ or ‘bernies’ is anything libertarians should celebrate.

    1. It is misleading to call the Republicans a third party because they were created by old Whigs who left the party. There is little to distinguish them in terms of ideology. What we should celebrate from this article is the willingness to be more open. Two-party politics is inherently repressive, and as we get more people to realize that we will be closer to increasing the viability of the Libertarian, and other minor parties. Beside that, we will also have a Democratic and Republican Party with greater incentive to be accountable. Nothing good will come from maintaining a monopoly that has no reason to provide a good product because of the lack in competition.

      1. Blargrifth|5.29.17 @ 11:18PM|#
        “It is misleading to call the Republicans a third party because they were created by old Whigs who left the party.”

        It is pedantic and/or misleading to make this claim.
        And the rest of your post is pretty much arm-waving; why should I be pleased that socialists broke the monopoly of near-socialist parties?
        You have been called on your bullshit.

        1. Also, the Whigs themselves hadn’t been in existence for as long as the Libertarian Party has been.

        2. Learn to extrapolate. If the Greens/Socialists/whatever you want to call them are becoming a viable party, so will the Libertarians. We’ll either have both or neither, and it all depends on how much people want to remove the archaic two-party institutions that govern the country. Remember, it is the Libertarians who are number three, not the Greens.

          1. The first past the post, winner take all election format per geographical district guarantees the US will always have a two party system. The labels of the top two parties may change, or the combination of interest groups in each, or both.

      2. Who else is going to form new parties, but people who leave existing ones?

        1. “Who else is going to form new parties, but people who leave existing ones?”

          Yeah, that was pretty much a laugher: ‘Well they used to belong to another party, see?’
          What’s more is that some had blue eyes and some had brown ones, therefore, uh….

          1. There’s always the hope that the non-political will be aroused to get into politics to form the base of a new organiz’n; it just never works that way AFAIK to form a powerful one. I remember in 1979 when in Chicago we formed the Coalition Against Registration & the Draft, & I was new to activism, I thought maybe we’d get a lot of people like me, & a bunch who’d’ve had no ideology to speak of, but the overwhelming majority turned out to be veteran leftists.

      3. Dear Blargrifth, just so you know, your username make me think of this.

      4. It is misleading to call the Republicans a third party because they were created by old Whigs who left the party. There is little to distinguish them in terms of ideology.

        Umm, the Whig Party was divided on slavery, and a lot of the early GOP came from the Free Soil Party. Kind of a huge missed fact there, considering the context.

        1. That doesn’t change the fact that much of the Whig infrastructure shifted to the Republican Party.

          1. It doesn’t change that fact, but what is the significance of that fact? “Infrastructure” in politics consisting of persons, it just says they had a lot of political veterans, which is how these things typically work.

            1. The significance was that there was no ideological difference between the Whigs and Republicans. Calling the Republicans “a third party” ignores how they were really just Whigs under a new name.

              1. You’re missing the fact that the Whig party didn’t evolve into the Republicans, it split and a number of Whigs became Republicans (like Lincoln), but a number of Whigs went to other parties as well. In fact, a former Whig President (Millard Fillmore) ran for president under the banner of the American Party shortly after the Whig party divided, and under this banner his party received 21% of the vote to the Republicans 33%. The reason the Republicans became the successor party to the Whigs instead of the American party was because the issue of slavery caused people to pick sides, and the Republicans were the strongest anti-slavery force while the Democrats were the strongest pro-slavery force, so people naturally gravitated to these parties.

  5. The “dismissive headline” serves a purpose – to deter people from reading the piece. And seldom does the writer craft his/her own headline.

  6. At least he didn’t use the phrase “wage slavery.”

    I mean, come on: have some respect for black people.

  7. On the contrary, the GOP and Dems treated the LP extremely well by running the two weakest major party presidential candidates in decades. The LP ticket was getting real media attention FFS!

    It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but Johnson and Weld (and by extension the dolts who nominated them) fumbled it. Most disgusting of all, they made the LP look like a bunch of unserious pothead moderate Democrats who support gun bans and coercive cake baking. Failing to get into the debates may well have been a blessing for the LP, given how badly GJ and WW performed in their media appearances.

    1. That’s sadly true. To quote Junior Soprano, we can’t blame it all on the Feds (or in this case, the major national parties that own them).

    2. And your proposed alternatives were?
      Please show your work.

        1. Yeah, and an accused murderer would have been given better press treatment than Johnson, I’m sure.
          Well, maybe not…
          My argument is not that, had he been elected, he would have been worse than Johnson. It’s that he stood an even worse chance of being elected.
          Much as I find Trump to be a blow-hard, I’m finding him to be about as good as we could have hoped given the election of either Johnson or MacAfee (see below)
          (and to repeat an old joke, if we got MacAfee, could we ever get rid of him?)

          1. Yeah, and an accused murderer would have been given better press treatment than Johnson, I’m sure.

            Yeah, they might have asked him to name a world leader. Or asked a question about a place where a huge battle with major foreign policy implications was happening. Tough, tough questions. Unfair.

            My argument is not that, had he been elected, he would have been worse than Johnson. It’s that he stood an even worse chance of being elected.

            Can’t get worse than zero.

      1. Petersen would have been better. Hell, even nominating nobody would have been better. They managed to take a golden opportunity for the LP and turn it into a negative.

        If Sarawak’s excuse is that the LP just doesn’t have any better candidate material than a burnout sexagenarian and a Hillary supporter, that’s an indictment of the party in itself. Funny how the LP, like the DNC, is desperate to blame everybody else for their fuckups. Except the DNC has real power to protect, while the LP is just a race to be the big fish in the small pond.

        1. Petersen would have been ignored and had no credibility. Johnson was a two term governor who squandered his credibility by not being fully prepared.

      2. Jeez, pointing out that Johnson screwed up shouldn’t evoke this kind of defensiveness.

        Even picking Johnson wouldn’t have been so bad if they had picked someone other than Weld and if he (Johnson) had taken his own campaign seriously and occasionally done some preparation.

        And pointing out that there weren’t better alternatives only shows what a shameless lack of a bullpen the LP has. It should be more troubling that a worldview that has produced so many Nobel Prize winning economists and several of the most prolific policy institutes in the country can’t seems to churn out a candidate that isn’t an air-headed stoner or an eccentric nutcase. If nothing else, that’s a problem.

        1. That’s politics. A shame Mary Ruwart never got to be the prez nominee, though she was nominated for other high offices. She was a rising star in the early 1980s, but got squeezed out of the 1984 prez nomination at the 1983 convention by opposing forces who each thought they needed to save the LP after the clear front runner (radio talker Gene Burns) dropped out late.

          In retrospect it was a mistake for radical libertarians in the USA to form their own national political party?a mistake some saw from the beginning, & many others long before I did?but LP used to have some very decent prez & VP nominees, & even contenders who didn’t make it, like Mary Ruwart. Jim Lewis was very good, Andre Marrou was excellent, Roger MacBride was too, as of course was Ron Paul. Harry Browne turned out surprisingly good. Sometimes I wonder how Russell Means & Richard Boddie would’ve been?probably inferior to the actual nominees, but maybe better than I thought.

    3. No, it was weak-kneed pro-freedom voters who abandoned Johnson because he wasn’t conservative enough for their tastes.

  8. OT
    Trump and the Euros:
    The POTUS can propose a budget and jaw-bone for it, but s/he can’t make it stick. So all the noise about Trump’s budget is so much ‘borrowed’ grief or pleasure.
    The POTUS can appoint cabinet members, and it seems Trump has done well there. S/he can also appoint judges and it looks like a SCOTUS vacancy was kept from being a disaster.
    Screw whoever it was who approved the electrification of the SF commuter train: Trump should fire him/her.
    The POTUS can affect trade policy, and it looks like Trump is a true bleever in mercantilism; if they get something, we must be losing it; pathetic.

    1. (cont’d)
      But most importantly the POTUS gets to define foreign policy and it looks like he might be doing a good job there:
      “How a single sentence from Angela Merkel showed what Trump means to the world”
      “”The times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over,” Merkel said at a beer hall(!) rally to support her campaign.
      While Merkel made no mention of Trump specifically, she made clear that her realization had come “in the last few days” — a time period which overlapped with a G7 meeting in which Trump blasted America’s traditional European allies over NATO obligations and made clear that he was more than willing to go it alone on climate change and trade.”…..index.html

      Merkle is probably the best of the Euro-lot, but that’s not saying much. Properly ignoring the fantasy regarding any “Paris Accords” results, she seems to have taken it to heart that the US taxpayers are tired of paying for Euro 4-qweek vacations, 30 hour work weeks and retirement at age 55.
      The Euros have been ‘completely relied’ on the US taxpayer for 70+ years; don’t you think it’s time they grew up?

      1. First off, you’re taking Merkel’s (translated) quote out of context. She clearly meant that they could not rely on us to uphold agreements, which is a serious dig, not a pout that daddy won’t buy you candy, which is how Trump lovers seem to be interpreting it. European countries helped pay for the bases on their soil and provide us with crucial capabilities for projecting our power into the region.

        Plus, a tamed and friendly Europe served US interests. Letting them off the leash to cozy up with Vlad and Xi is not a good strategy.

        1. Liberty 5.30.17 @ 12:52AM|#
          “First off, you’re taking Merkel’s (translated) quote out of context. She clearly meant that they could not rely on us to uphold agreements, which is a serious dig, not a pout that daddy won’t buy you candy, which is how Trump lovers seem to be interpreting it.”
          Which is how Trump haters are spinning it. Got proof? Let’s see it.

          1. The squirrels ate the rest of it, so here’s a re-try:
            “Plus, a tamed and friendly Europe served US interests. Letting them off the leash to cozy up with Vlad and Xi is not a good strategy.”

            Your fantasy is fine; YOU pay for it, sucker.

          2. Got proof? Let’s see it.

            You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.

            1. Liberty =>|

            2. Ooop
              LE, you win the bullshitter award.

          3. Well, historically speaking, he’s definitely pretty much right: the US didn’t support European security out of the goodness of its heart, or even merely to ‘protect’ Europe from the Russians; it was largely to keep the Europeans out of the Russians arms. They didn’t want them to ally the the Soviets or establish themselves as neutral in the Cold War, neither of which they could do with American bases on their soil.

            1. First of all, during the cold war it was not Russia but the USSR. Big difference.

              Second, by 1946 the USSR had already seized the Baltic states, parts of of Finland, Poland, Prussia, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Eastern Germany. Stalin was doing everything he could to seize territory before the USA pushed back. The western European countries were exhausted by WWII and no way to counter the USSR.

              The USA established bases to keep the USSR from conquering western European countries. NATO trained for 40 years for that exact scenario. It was not concern for keeping western Europe out of Russia’s arms. Russia and western Europe have more differences than things in common.

              Trump’s push for NATO countries to pick up their full military tab is going to cost them and they don’t like that. Any treaty withdrawal that the USA has with Europe would need to follow protocol, which usually entails simple notice.

              1. It was common to refer to the Soviets metonymically as Russian because it was dominated by the Russians.

                Having things in common isn’t what politics is mainly about. Our (ostensible) biggest ally, Israel, waffled over siding with the soviets before finally ending up aligned with the west for pragmatic rather than ideological reasons.

                By the 60s Soviet ambitions for advancing into Western Europe had waned; they thought of themselves as on the defensive against the west. And it was mainly the US that wanted to win the global war against communism. Europeans, being as you mention exhausted from the war, were more interested in not having their homes be the battleground for the next (possibly nuclear) conflagration.

                More over, several major European countries had large parties sympathetic to the Soviets (Italy being a notable example) and there was real concern that some erstwhile allies turning eastward. The US was, imo, more interested in keeping Europe ‘on our side’ than protecting our pals.

                Also, per domino theory, US elites believed it worthwhile to invest in Europe because they thought it would keep the conflict away from us, out of the Western Hemisphere.

            2. That’s true, but no longer desirable. There’s no reason for a cold war now. I see no reason the USA & Russia can’t be as friendly to each other as they were before 1918, when the USA among others invaded them. If Russia & Germany, or even Russia & the UK, want to resume their historic enmity, whoopee. It’s time the State Dept. stopped taking direction from the British Foreign Office.

              1. Seems to me that UK and Russia were on pretty friendly terms for Napoleonic Wars and WWI weren’t they?

                1. Yes (except in 1918), but not for the 7 Years’, Crimean, or American Civil War.

                  1. Nor when they sold Alaska to the US to keep it out of British hands.

            3. MarkLastname|5.30.17 @ 5:29AM|#
              “Well, historically speaking, he’s definitely pretty much right…”

              Right about what?

              1. That the US’s military investment was motivated more by (what they believed to be) our strategic self interest than benificence for Europeans.

    1. “Amanda Marcotte”
      Not reading that. I forget who it was that called Marcotte the David Duke of feminism. That’s probably unfair to David Duke.

  9. It should not be a surprise that a lefty understands the plight of the Green Party.

  10. Any election will eventually come down between two people, and then one person will win. The fact that we have only two viable parties in most elections in the country may be a problem, but it’s in the triple digits down the list of problems we face. And anyone who thinks Trump and Hillary would have been more or less equally bad as president needs to have his head examined.

    1. Well, you’re an expert on having your head examined, so I’ll take your word for it.

  11. Even France wasn’t afraid of letting 3rd and 4th parties in their presidential debates, and they’re afraid of everything.

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