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Libertarian Party Chair: 'The two old parties cheat with both hands. Always have, always will'

Nicholas Sarwark, who's also running for mayor of Phoenix, explains how Democrats and Republicans write their own rules when it comes to political competition.

Nick Sarwark and Libertarian at the Texas Tribune Festival ||| alfpac.comalfpac.comYesterday, Eric Boehm wrote about how the League of Women Voters and Philadelphia's ABC affiliate pulled the old Lucy-yanking-the-football trick over debate-inclusion criteria for Pennsylvania Libertarian Senate candidate Dale Kerns. You can find variations of that story literally every day in an October of an election year—"Gov Kim Reynolds excludes opponent from debate, Iowa media complicit," for example. Or, "Libertarian candidate to file complaints for exclusion from 16th District debate."

One key reason why the gales of competition haven't swept away our 19th-century political parties the way they have our 19th-century business empires is that Democrats and Republicans generally write the rules governing (and constricting) any and all would-be competitors. Or as Libertarian Party National Chair and Phoenix mayoral candidate Nicholas Sarwark told me at the Texas Tribune Festival on September 27, "The two old parties cheat with both hands. Always have, always will."

In Sarwark's Arizona, for example, Republicans rammed through a law requiring third parties to collect signatures not just from a given percentage of their own members, but from political independents as well. "The Republicans, to get their candidates on the ballot, would have to get about 10 percent more signatures than they used to," Sarwark explained. "The Libertarians, to get their candidates on the ballot, would have to get about like 20 times more signatures than we used to. They basically changed the denominator."

Not only that, but the law was changed in a way that comparatively hurt Libertarians while helping Greens. Richard Winger of Ballot Access News summed it up in a headline last month: "Arizona Releases Write-in Results from August 28 Primaries; Results Show Extreme Injustice Toward Libertarian Party."

L.P. Texas gubernatorial candidate Mark Tippetts, who was also on our Texas Tribune panel, said that his exclusion from televised debates came in part from allegedly failing to achieve enough media coverage. "'Wait a minute,'" Tippetts recounted of his conversation with a debate gatekeeper. "'I've received press coverage from…' and I started listing all the stations. And I said, 'And I've received press coverage from Univision and Telemundo!' And he said, 'Mark, I can stop you right there. The Spanish press coverage does not count." In Texas!

Also in our panel discussion was Indiana Senate candidate Lucy Brenton, who was on the debate stage this week (where it sounds like she did pretty well). Of the 17 L.P. candidates for U.S. Senate, Brenton has been polling the second-highest, and beating the point-spread between the two major-party candidates by the most. You can watch our whole conversation below:

Photo Credit: Matt Welch

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Who wants to risk at the debate a candidate stripping to his briefs?

  • Libertymike||

    Carlos Danger?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    That's way too honest for our parties.

  • Dillinger||

    Beto is so dreamy.

  • Uncle Adolf's Gas and Grill||

    Heh. You wanted a Libertarian Moment, you got a Libertarian Moment. What more could you ask for?

  • Hank Phillips||

    A leaner performer?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    You truly are a treasure, Hank.

    [hugs]

  • Just Say'n||

    The striptease was symbolic of how the state strips us of our dignity. What do you have against symbolism?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I thought it was about how the national debt is stripping our children of their financial future.

  • Winnie 67||

    The GOP and Dems are afraid that a Libertarian will speak common sense and "steal" votes. So much for having a real choice!

  • Hank Phillips||

    Spoiler votes are what change laws! Where the hell do you think forced unionization, prohibitionism, Comstock laws, blue laws, the income tax came from? Those Altrurian looters hardly ever got 2% of the vote and libertarians cast twice that already! Looter parties were growing before Hitler, Stalin, Kruschev, Pol Pot and Ceausescu. Now they're shrinking. Mystical christianofascism was also growing before Saudi fanatics flew planes into buildings and reminded us of the Salem Witchcraft trials, the Devils of Loudon, Inquisition tortures, Hitler, Franco, Mussolini and papal pederasty. All that has changed. Like communism before it, organized mysticism is today a sinking ship shedding rats. All we need do is NOT let the parasites leaving those corpses infect our party and we continue to win (that is, continue to repeal bad laws).

  • Brandybuck||

    I remember a campaign I was involved in years ago where the Democrat candidate for a non-partisan office wanted local tax moneys spent on one cronyist project while the Republican candidate for a non-partisan office wanted the local tax moneys spent on a different cronyist project. The Libertarian I was supported for that non-partisan office want to stop wasteful spending and cut taxes. The local media looked at him like he was a bug, and refused to talk to him.

    p.s. Okay, one report did talk to us. Her story was so heavily edited by her editor that it essentially said the exact opposite of what she wrote. In thirty years I see no evidence that this state of affairs has changed one inch.

  • Idle Hands||

    If the libertarian party doesn't ride and die with McAffee for 2020, I will be severely disappointed in something that usually is just disappointing.

  • SIV||

    They're going with Weld unless they can get a bigger name or somebody else just buys the nomination.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    They should probably focus on more grassroots efforts anyway. It's both more consistent with the ideals of the party, and a more likely outcome than having a meaningful impact on national politics quite yet.

    Problem is, that everything has become so fucking national nowadays. Unless you're in California.

  • Just Say'n||

    They're going to nominate Weld and then pretend like they aren't the conservative party in our politics now

  • Uncle Adolf's Gas and Grill||

    I think these days they're mostly after white yuppies who realize they're no longer welcome in the Democratic Party. Add to that the RINOs, neocons and cucks being forced out of the Republican Party, and you a get close to having an actual political party. You could think of them as the Coalition of the Useless and the Treacherous.

  • Just Say'n||

    White yuppies are the base of the Democratic Party. They'd have a much better opportunity to draw African Americans and other minorities away from the Democratic Party as they are less dogmatic than white liberals

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And much of the policy of the Democratic Party has been incredibly damaging to minorities as well. If you talk to many minorities they have little trust for Democrats as well, but the Republicans are viewed as particularly hostile to them, and that there is only one or the other.

    I wish Reason focused more on that one Philadelphia guy who was touring around arguing for minorities to exercise their second amendment rights. I wish I could recall his name.

  • Just Say'n||

    School choice, conceal and carry, and licensing reform are all issues that appeal to minorities. African Americans, in particular, are not as wedded to the SJW mentality that has captivated the Democratic Party. And Republicans are going to remain an unlikely choice for these voters, because Republicans don't even campaign where they live. If the LP wanted to get serious they'd fill the gap left by Republicans abandoning Cities and run against Democrats on the local level. I think the message is a winner.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I agree. I do not like this websites obsession with national politics. I agree that there has been too much consolidation of power in the federal government, and part of the way to fight that is through grassroots movements and explicitly taking the power back.

    I think it's both more practical and more philosophically consistent to fight for more local offices. Problem is, local politics are shockingly unsexy. When really they should matter the most.

  • Just Say'n||

    It's like no one in the LP reads Karl Hess anymore.

  • ||

    If you talk to many minorities they have little trust for Democrats as well, but the Republicans are viewed as particularly hostile to them, and that there is only one or the other.

    ^ This. The naked hypocrisy of the Democrat Party is very apparent to most minorities. They just don't even see the Republicans as an option at all.

    The worst thing that has happened to libertarianism over the last 50 years is its having been successfully positioned by the Democrats as "farther to the Right than Republicans, even" along with having successfully defined "the Right" for a lot of people as being synonymous with "Racist."

  • vek||

    Minorities aren't going to be pouring into the Libertarian party. Except maybe Asians.

    All of the "downtrodden" minorities are too sold on socialism, and big government. They also tend to disproportionately benefit from all those programs. So it's kind of like asking them to slit their own throats. Unfortunately well fed slaves will often support their slave master.

  • Brandybuck||

    Going to sleep for four years then waking up with the hope that some rock start candidate will make headway for them is one reason why Libertarians continue to lose. Whether or not you think McAffee is a good candidate or a nutter is beside the point, he could be the Pope and it wouldn't register with Catholic voters.

    You need a farm team before you can even think about making it to the world series.

  • 2VNews||

    Nicholas Sarwark uses both hands for his constant political correctness and virtue signaling.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Everyone virtue signals, homey. In fact, you just did.

  • creech||

    Idea: show up and get in the debate audience. When the candidates are announced, all the Libertarians stand up in the audience and unveil "Where's Dale?" (or whomever) signs. Stand quietly until escorted out.

  • Hank Phillips||

    This idea needs only one person to be effective. The Solomon Asch experiment proved humans are wired to obey the herd, but once a single dissenter breaks loose of the thrall, the error (self-deception) rate falls by 25%. Having our candidates respond to the questions on non-christianofascist-dominated media is also a great counter, and can be translated into the languages of all refugees from communist, fascist, prohibitionist and econazi coercive policies.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    .

  • Just Say'n||

    Cat's got your tongue, Sarwark?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm just really busy today, but I always need to post if my main man, Sarwark the virile, biggest dicked motherfucker in the whole of Maricopa, destroyer of that fuck stain Tom Woods, is mentioned.

  • Just Say'n||

    Damn you Sarwark!

    *shakes fist*

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Cat's got his foreskin. Both of them.

  • Just Say'n||

    So we've gone from Harry Browne rejected federal matching dollars out of principle to the Johnson campaign filing a lawsuit against a private organization for not inviting them to a debate.

    At least, this is consistent with the illiberal position of "bake the cake".

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm less certain about this, as the issue of political debates and political parties is a very weird example of private/public collusion. The real answer is probably the deny any special legal status to political parties, but sadly that's not likely to happen any time soon.

  • Just Say'n||

    That's an interesting take. Maybe you're right.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    The political parties themselves have a lot of influence over how these debates happen, or as in the article, the computation is changed in such a way as nearly explicitly fuck with small party activities. The sponsor of the bill is even quoted in the linked article as saying, "(people) manipulate the outcome of elections by putting third-party candidates on the ballot."

    This is definitely a difficult situation, since it seems reasonable to me at least that how elections are handled are a matter of law. This is a problem though, because this leads to the obvious issue of those in power using the law to benefit themselves. So, I don't quite know a solution other than getting people worked up enough to get back at those in power, or for a dramatic rearrangement of how our elections work.

  • Just Say'n||

    I just think that if it is OK for private social media companies to collaborate with one major party to the disadvantage of another, which is obviously allowable from a private property point of view, then a private group can collaborate with the two major parties to the disadvantage of minor parties.

    It doesn't make it right, but I don't know how you can oppose lawsuits or legislation against one form of collaboration and not the other. Seems the consistent position would be to think that these collaborations, while unseemly, are fine in a free society.

    But, you're right that laws that protect the two major parties from competition is a different matter.

  • Ron||

    the libertarians should have a debate and invite the Dem's and Repub's instead of crying about not being invited to the popular kids parties. And when the opposition doesn't show up run campaign adds claiming they were to scared to interact.

  • SRoach||

    If the questions themselves aren't copyrighted, hold a mock-debate, with stand-ins to give the establishment answers to the questions, and post it on, well, everywhere.
    Not ideal, but we've had this thing called the internet for awhile now.

    If the questions ARE copyrighted, rig a program to play a section of the official video, in a window, off the official Youtube channel, or wherever, intercut with the answers the Libertarian Party member wasn't allowed to present on stage.
    That will work until someone notices and pulls down the official video. (Or pads it with five extra seconds of commentary to throw off the sync, but that can be planned for, and adjusted on the fly.)

    Watch the debate, and tweet every one of your answers to your twitter channel. Invite people to echo your channel to their feeds. Do this during the debate. If the debate is time-delayed, who cares? You're still doing it while it airs. Get your answers to show up in as many feeds as possible. Make a stink so people tune in to see what the noise is about.

  • SRoach||

    Oh, and get a real stenographer to take dictation on your twitter feed. You want your answers to appear as quickly as the candidates on air can say theirs.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    And then get banned from twitter for "trying to subvert the electoral process", or some garbage like that.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Sarwark speaks truly. American politics hasn't changed since "Plunkitt of Tammany Hall" showed the boys the path to jobs, pelf and boodle. Plunkitt started out with 2, then 4 votes to bargain with, and was soon a millionaire (in gold dollars), thanks to the leveraged clout of spoiler votes and the corruption of a partly-socialist economy. With more votes than all of Virginia, the LP (here and in Canada) is causing looters to reassess the value of shooting kids over plant leaves and waving loaded guns at pregnant girls. When was the last time you heard a looter calling for military conscription? Altrurian Spoiler votes got us in a pretty pickle, and libertarian spoiler votes can get us out.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "Libertarian votes are never wasted [even if Libertarians always are]"

    Boom. I'm here all week.

  • Ron||

    It is true that the two parties in power cheat every way they can but that does not mean that if a third party was in power they also wouldn't cheat in every way possible. Being a part of a third party does not necessarily make it virtuous

  • Brandybuck||

    This comment section proves that libertarians are a Libertarian candidate's worst enemy.

  • Robert||

    So run in a major party. Or even as a Green.

  • Uncle Jay||

    Voter fraud is what made the republicans and democrats what they are today:
    Assholes.

  • Gus diZerega||

    The Libertarian Party will mostly be a waste of time or a spoiler UNTIL we end plurality elections. Many cities and the state of Maine have passed ranked choice elections as an alternative to plurality elections. They do so through the initiative process. Third parties have not been leaders here even though they would be the major beneficiaries, because many people would support them if they knew their vote would not basically support spoilers.

    I will take the LP seriously when they emphasize ranked choice elections as one of their major issues, and support state initiatives to create them at the state level. Until then? Meh...

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen||

    The LP here in Arizona didn't help its cause by running lousy candidates (the candidate for Governor wanted to create new taxes to fund government schools, and he's the state LP chair!) and by outsourcing petition-gathering to a crummy firm which came back with so many invalid signatures. that it was way too easy for the R's to challenge the petitions and get Libertarians thrown off the primary ballot. Then, the LP AZ added insult to injury by attempting to mount last-minute write-in campaigns with nutball Adam Kokesh (a land mine waiting to explode) and old retread Barry Hess, who's run in every election since statehood.

    Let this be a lesson to the state party.

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