Monday, October 25, 2010

My Libertarian Activist Checklist for Fall 2010

You might recall that I wrote about my Libertarian activist “To Do List” for the Spring of this year. Guess what? I also have a “To Do List”, to actively support the Libertarian Party in this busy time between now and Election Day. Please join me in as many of these activities as possible. I plan to:

1. Put as much time and energy into my campaign for State Board of Education as possible. I’ll be busy answering questionnaires, updating content on my website and responding to media interview and candidate forum requests. If you aren’t running for office, then see who is. Eighty-three Libertarian Party candidates would appreciate your help with their campaigns!

2. Attend my local LPM affiliate meetings to find out how I can help my local party this fall. Go to our calendar to find out when your local affiliate meets. If you don’t have a local affiliate, then form one. Go to this webpage to find out how.

3. Contribute funds to at least one active local Libertarian campaign. Local campaigns have the best prospects to garner votes and affect election outcomes. With a local race, you get more “bang for your buck”. If a local candidate is willing to spend his or her valuable time campaigning, the least I can do is provide financial support.

4. Contribute funds to at least one active statewide Libertarian campaign. Statewide campaigns have the best prospects to receive media attention. Often, they are the ones that get the Libertarian name and philosophy out there, and bring in new activists.

5. Put a Libertarian bumper sticker on my car. Ken Proctor, our candidate for Governor, is printing and distributing bumper stickers, as are other candidates. Use them!

6. Invite my Facebook friends to “like” the Libertarian candidates I like. Many Libertarian candidates have created “public figure” pages. It’s very easy to help support them by asking your Facebook friends to “like” them too.

7. Put one or more Libertarian campaign signs in my yard. Each LPM affiliate has been given a supply of “Vote Libertarian” signs with the LPM logo. Several Libertarian candidates are also printing and placing yard signs. Use them!

8. Attend my local Libertarian election night party on November 2. Election night is a time to relax, get together with your freedom-loving friends, and have fun. Don’t miss out!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Libertarian Vision for Michigan

How should we as Libertarians craft our campaign theme for 2010? Here are my thoughts on the subject. I would certainly appreciate yours, too. As a political party we must articulate a positive, persuasive, simple and appealing campaign theme for our candidates in 2010.

We need to ask ourselves what voters of a libertarian bent see as being wrong with our government in general at the federal, state and local level. What's wrong with government in particular, here in Michigan. And offer our solution.

Many issues come to mind. People are livid at the "too big to fail" benefits and taxpayer bail outs for those who screwed up. Many businesses, and ordinary people, took financial risks common sense should have told them they never should have taken. Big banks. Fannie Mae. Freddie Mac. AIG. The Big 3 auto makers. The guy on your street who bought a home he couldn't afford, with no money down and no prospect of ever repaying his government-guaranteed loan.

Our representatives cut special deals to preserve the jobs and fringe benefits of politically-powerful unions like the UAW and MEA. The "stimulus" is a joke. In Michigan it's been diverted to preserve the jobs of government employees at all levels, not create new, productive, private-sector jobs. And union lobbyists are now working overtime to make sure special exceptions are carved out of Obama's national health care tax and subsidy plan in order to preserve their health benefits. Benefits that are already vastly superior to those of ordinary mortals who labor in everyday service and manufacturing jobs.

Bail outs aren't the only special preferences. Here in Michigan, our bipartisan Statehouse is enacting one special "incentive" (State legislative-speak for "hand out") after another to attract and shore up preferred businesses in the politically-preferred "green energy", "high-tech", automotive and film-making industries. Businesses that are incapable of making a profit in an over-taxed and over-regulated Michigan without those incentives. And any entrepreneur or business that's not in a "cool" industry, which doesn't employ or can't afford legions of lobbyists and lawyers to get their "fair share" of taxpayer money, is expected to suck it up and pay a confiscatory Michigan Business Tax. Sadly, many have closed up shop and left the State, followed by hundreds of thousands of their employees looking for jobs.

And then there's the City of Detroit. Michigan's very own Third World government. Where incompetence and corruption are King. And consequently, grinding poverty is the norm.  A vision of where Jennifer Granholm and Mike Bishop are swiftly leading our entire State.

Whether in Congress or the State legislature, Democrats and Republicans are exploiting the misery of jobless voters and the willingness of politically-powerful special interests to do what it takes to get their way, to put their parties and candidates in the best position to preserve and expand their political power. Actually solving our problems through fair, open and honest government is the farthest thing from their minds.

So my particular vision of our Libertarian Party of Michigan 2010 campaign theme looks like this. A vision of a Michigan that is a good place to live, work and raise our families. A place where our children will want to stay and build a future after they finish college.

My vision for Michigan is a "Libertarian Common Sense Plan" where government should be:

Fair. No bail outs. No hand outs. No special deals for businesses, unions or individuals. Instead, cut spending now by eliminating all incentives, benefits, and programs that don't benefit the average voter or business. Cut government costs by eliminating all agencies and regulations that impede the creation of jobs and businesses, competition and personal freedom. Eliminate tax abatements, exemptions and discounts for the few preferred businesses, unions and individuals, and cut the tax rates paid by all.

Open. Promote transparency by promptly posting budgets, finances, proceedings, legislation and documents for all levels of government on line. Encourage participation in government by permitting registration and voting by mail, replacing onerous ballot access requirements with simple and fair ones, and eliminating campaign finance requirements that are exploited by experienced professional politicians to screen out challengers.

Honest. Recognize that the cause of the tidal wave of political corruption washing over our nation and government is the broad scope and power of government itself. Only by restricting the scope and power of government to grant special benefits to a few can we minimize the incentive for power-hungry individuals to seek public office and special interests seeking favors to corrupt our representatives. Cutting government spending, regulations and agencies, returning to part-time legislatures and demanding ethical behavior of our representatives are key to creating a good place to live, work and raise our families.

Let's dispense some Libertarian common sense for the 2010 elections.  Join me in promoting fair, open and honest government for Michigan.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

LP of Michigan November Election Highlights

Libertarian Party of Michigan general election candidates ran their strongest races in many years. We contested all statewide races (Supreme Court, educational boards, US Senate) and Congressional races (15), plus about one third of the state representative races (32) and many county-level races, for a total of 85 candidates. Here are the highlights (unofficial vote totals):

Barr/Root received 23,740 votes, 0.4% and slightly more than would have been needed to preserve ballot access if Barr were the only statewide candidate, and third best historically, behind Clark (1980) and Browne (1996), with no state advertising and only one state visit.

Nonpartisan Supreme Court candidate (nominated in convention by the LPM) Bob Roddis received 421,091 votes, 11% and greater than the difference between the winning Democrat and defeated (a surprise!) Republican Chief Justice (never before has a Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice been defeated in a re-election bid).

US Senate candidate Scotty Boman received 76,379 votes, 1.6% and the best showing since Jon Coon's race in 1994, and many more votes than the other 3 third party candidates. He focused considerable effort to draw the votes of Ron Paul supporters.

Our Congressional candidates drew from 0.8% to 4.4% of the vote, eclipsing the previous high water mark in 1996.
Statewide educational board races (8) ranged from a high of 147,736 votes received (Nicole Michalak – Wayne State Univ. Bd. Of Governors) to a low of 91,765 votes received, comparable to the last high water mark, in 1996.

Candidates in the 32 State Representative races drew percentages 50% to 100% higher than in recent elections, ranging from 1.3% to 4.5% in three-way races. On average, they did slightly better on a percentage basis than the most recent high water mark in 1996, if you don’t count Jon Coon’s 1996 State Representative showing of 15%.

Two candidates in County level two-way races took between 20% and 30% of the vote, while three took between 10% and 20% of the vote. John Stedman took the highest percentage, with 24.7% and 55,628 votes in a two-way race for Kent County Sheriff. Macomb County Commission candidate Erin Stahl drew 10.4% in a three-way race.

Two candidates (Tom Bagwell and Larry Johnson) were elected Ypsilanti Township Park Commissioners in uncontested races (except by write-in challengers).
Congratulations to all our candidates for a job well done!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Michigan Libertarian Presidential Straw Poll

Yesterday, March 8, 45 candidates and activists packed a meeting room at the Best Western in Livonia for the Libertarian Party of Michigan's 2008 Campaign Training Conference. The program included a Libertarian Presidential straw poll. None of the Presidential candidates attended (all were invited, but many begged off to attend one or more of four state LP conventions across the country). However, the Wayne Allyn Root and Bob Jackson campaigns recognized the importance of the Michigan LP's block of 34 delegates, and sent campaign personnel to speak on behalf of their candidates. Mark Schreiber of Indiana spoke and fielded questions for Wayne Allyn Root, as did David Yardley of Michigan for Bob Jackson.

The results of the balloting were: Wayne Allyn Root 11 (37%); Bob Jackson 8 (27%); Ron Paul 2 (7%); Steve Kubby 2 (7%); Christine Smith 2 (7%); Mary Ruwart 1 (3%); Walter Williams 1 (3%); George Phillies 1 (3%); Daniel Imperato 1 (3%); None of the Above 1 (3%). As noted, 45 people attended, but only 30 cast votes in the straw poll. Some attendees looked at the long ballot, decided they had no idea who to vote for, and chose not to vote.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Redistricting the Right Way

Recently there's been a lot of press about changing the way Michigan redraws legislative districts every 10 years. Currently, they are gerrymandered by the (Republican or Democratic) party in power, in an effort to skew the votes in their favor and disenfranchise as many voters as possible. The latest proposal is to create a committee of 4 Democratic Party leaders/legislators, 4 Republican leaders/legislators and a 9th person appointed by a majority of the other 8.

Excuse me, but are Libertarians the only ones who see electoral fraud in the making?

The redistricting process should be fair. However, turning the keys to the process over to incumbent Republican and Democratic legislators and their cronies is a recipe for unfairness. Currently, due to Republican gerrymandering, only a handful of legislative districts are competitive, and only a handful of Michigan voters can cast votes that potentially could decide an election. Given the opportunity, the old party incumbents in Lansing will gerrymander districts to guaranatee their re-eelction. Instead, I propose a solution that won't favor the incumbents. Create a re-districting commission that includes one representative from each of the 6 ballot-qualified political parties -- Libertarian, Green, US Taxpayers, Natural Law, Democratic and Republican. And give the many independent Michigan voters a voice by requiring the 6 party representatives to appoint 3 more members to the commission who aren't affiliated with any political party. Now that's fair!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bringing "libertarians" to the Libertarian Party

In their intriguing study, The Libertarian Vote, David Boaz and David Kirby use existing polling data to demonstrate something no self-respecting mainstream political journalist would ever admit -- that there is more to politics than liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, blue state and red state. They conclude that in the 2004 election approximately 13 percent of the electorate could only be characterized as small "l" libertarian, i.e., socially tolerant and economically conservative. Interestingly, they found that these libertarians are true "swing" voters, with very little loyalty to the older parties, and thus exercised a disproportionate effect on elections because they might switch their votes from one old party to the other.

What does this mean for the Libertarian Party? That our candidates can target not only single issue Libertarian voters, like gun rights activists, medical marijuana proponents and supporters of family rights, but also this large group of libertarians who support not just one, but a variety of Libertarian positions on the issues. In future posts, I plan to address ideas for identifying, approaching, welcoming, and involving these libertarian idealogues into the Libertarian Party.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Building Libertarian Constituencies - Family Rights

Several strategies are necessary to a successful campaign for public office. One of the most important is to identify one or more Libertarian constituencies who are ignored by the major party candidates, and then use your campaign as a vehicle to advance their thoughts and concerns. IMHO, while you can motivate some voters to cast a vote for you due to your generalized commitment to libertarian principle (e.g., freedom, personal responsibility, social tolerance and fiscal responsibility), that number is very small. In my recent campaign for Michigan Attorney General, I attempted to articulate the thoughts and concerns of a number of groups with little support from major party candidates. One of those was the family rights activists concerned about the unfair treatment (read "violation of individual rights") they and their children are receiving from a Michigan divorce, child support and child protective services system run amok. This is a Libertarian issue -- a perfect example of Big Government and a bloated bureacracy that routinely violates individual rights, and hurts families and children. It does so in the name of the public welfare, and because of that, the major party candidates, Republican and Democrat alike, publicly jump on board in support of the system, because they think it is in their political interest to be seen as supporting the welfare of families and children. Unfortunately, the system DOES NOT help individuals, families or children. It has morphed into a bureaucratic monster single-mindedly devoted to perpetuating and expanding its own size and power. Witness the many recent revelations that state-approved foster parents and agencies have tortured, abused and killed children that the state's child protective services had taken from their natural parents "for the children's safety." Unfortunately, we can already see the system's response to these abuses. A campaign to blame this torture, abuse and neglect not on the incompetence and criminal neglect of child protective services personnel, but instead on a lack of sufficient funds to staff and oversee the system. The state family "services" bureaucracy will use its own wrong-doing to justify an expansion of the system and its own power. This presents an opportunity for the Libertarian Party, its candidates and family rights activists to work together in their mutual self-interest to fight the system. IMHO, this should be an important focus of Libertarian activism, and an opportunity for Libertarian electoral success, in the next few years.