by Mark Sanborn, 2016 State Representative candidate (Dist. 51)
Too many of the younger set don’t understand that many seniors are not computer literate to this day, and many of these are just the voters we want! I think it’s great to have the website, and the Facebook page- both of these are essential going forward, but not at the expense of losing the Michigan Libertarian. Ideally we don’t want to target just specific readers. We want to get to them all!
We need to become better organized internally. But the organization needed goes far beyond growing affiliates. Although these are extremely important, we need to make our outreach have more “appeal” to voters- not just members. We need a full spectrum ENTIRE STRATEGIC PLAN to grow the party here in Michigan. And…unfortunately, I don’t see that.
Going into 2017, I hope Michigan Libertarians will be stepping forward with a strategic plan that will make us more successful.
by Scotty Boman
As originally published at boman08.wordpress.com November 15, 2015
November 8th was the greatest election in my lifetime. Finally we libertarians have statist politicians right where we want them. If we play our cards right politicians will be supporting more policies that respect individual liberty, while distancing themselves from those that don’t.
At first glance this may appear to be a celebration of Donald Trump’s victory. It isn’t. Rather, it is a celebration of libertarians attaining the balance of power at the Federal and state level. Here the phrase “balance of power” refers to the attainment of a greater number of votes by an alternative party candidate, then the margin of victory between the two establishment party candidates. For people trapped in the bipartisan paradigm, this is a situation to be avoided. For those who have broken free, it is cause for celebration.In the days leading up to the election, Donald Trump supporters kept pushing the idea that a vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson was a vote for Hilary Clinton, while Clinton supporters kept pushing the idea that a vote for Johnson was a vote for Trump. Taken literally, either one of these statements is blatant nonsense, and is an outright contradiction when taken together. But at their core, these remarks were a symptom of fear by devotees of both establishment parties that the Libertarian Party’s nominee would attain a balance of power in the election, and they thought libertarians would be afraid of this as well. To some extent they were right; many people who thought Gary Johnson was the best choice chickened out in the voting booth, and voted for one establishment party candidate out of fear of the other. I addressed the folly of this mindset in my previous Blog post, “Voting Your Hopes And Not Your Fears In 2016” where I wrote:
"If your vote (and the votes of others for the same candidate) is more than the margin of victory for either establishment party candidate, then your vote is more powerful than ever! Now you and your comrades have done much more than send a message that you want change in a direction that is consistent with the platform of your candidate and his or her party. You have become a voting block that the winning party must prevent the opposition from recruiting in the next cycle. The winner must appease you by incorporating some of your policies. At the same time the loser will actively seek out those who are of like mind to secure future victories, and this can only be accomplished by adopting some of the policy positions that your favorite candidate and party advocate. A win-win for you."
Well now the selection of the electors is over and Clinton supporters are blaming those who voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party Candidate Jill Stein for Trump’s victory. If the results had been reversed, Trump supporters would be placing the blame on us instead. Unfortunately, many Johnson voters are feeling guilty, or dodging culpability by arguing that Libertarian votes affected both establishment parties equally. Whether or not the numbers support this last claim, the mindset that views citing such numbers as necessary is ultimately defeatist and condemns alternative parties to indefinite irrelevancy.
If all libertarian leaning voters held their ground and voted for the Libertarian nominee, I have no idea who the current President elect would be, but I do know that we would be a much greater force to be reckoned with. I do know that Libertarians would have earned Federal recognition as a minor party, and more states would recognize us a major party. Most importantly, for the point I’m making here, supporters of the losing establishment party would still blame us.
In 2000 Ralph Nader and the Green Party finished with only 2.75% of the vote, but were blamed for the defeat of Al Gore by George W. Bush because of the narrow margin of victory in some states, especially Florida. Neither Ralph Nader nor the other Green Party Presidential candidates have done nearly so well since. Though the claim that their participation in the election tipped the outcome in Bushes favor has been largely disputed, I think it is a good bet that many left-leaning voters have coward away from alternatives to the Democrat because they fear the so-called Nader effect. By contrast, Johnson won 3.28% of the national popular vote while Trump and Clinton’s votes differed by less than a percent. In Michigan Gary Johnson’s vote total was thirteen times as great as the difference between Trump and Clinton! So if attempting to deflect blame didn’t work for Nader, how can it possibly work for us? In my humble opinion it won’t and it shouldn’t.
We are at a crossroads. We can either move full speed ahead and become players on the national stage, or retreat back to obscurity, cautiously avoiding the risk of tipping the scales in favor of the worst candidate. If we are to move forward, we must be willing to be blamed for every electoral outcome until we finally win. We must convince others that this course is a righteous one, and that our mission is more important than which of the establishment party candidates, wins a particular election.
No matter how bad the winner is, that winner will need to draw from the libertarian voting block to win. This time that appears to be Donald Trump. As long as the Libertarian Party sticks to principal and doesn’t coddle the “lesser-of-two-evils” game he will need to go out of his way to win over libertarians if he doesn’t want the Libertarian Party to receive their votes in 2020. The Democrats will be doing the same if they expect to defeat Trump. It remains to be seen if they will be courting Green voters or Libertarians, or both on certain issues where Greens and Libertarians agree like marijuana, privacy, militarism and civil liberties … The more we refuse to chicken out, the harder they will try.Down-ticket, a strong libertarian party can have leverage even in races it is unlikely to win. If there is a critical piece of legislation we need passed, or rejected, we can make a deal. We can strategically chose to run or not run a candidate in a given contest. What about libertarian-Republicans or libertarian-Democrats? If they are really all that libertarian (and some are) they will have no problem attracting libertarian votes and will have no reason to fear the participation of a Libertarian Party opponent. Libertarian participation might even help them stick to principle; when establishment insiders try to lead them astray, libertarian-Republicans and libertarian-Democrats can pragmatically point to the participation of the Libertarian Party “spoiler” as a reason they can’t make an exception and vote for the tax increase or regulation that the establishment insider is trying to push.
So we win even if we lose, the establishment parties can decimate the Libertarian Party by championing a libertarian agenda, or they can ignore us at their peril and watch us grow until we become a major party nationally, but either way libertarians win. Because we will have more liberty. More importantly, America wins, because everyone will either have more freedom in a two party system that bent to the wishes of libertarians, the way they once did to the socialists, or Americans will have a three party system where candidates will no longer be able to win elections by simply making us fear the other candidate. Instead they will need to give people a reason to vote for them, not against an opponent.
So take pride in your Libertarian vote. Take the blame! Embrace it! Own it! You have the power to demand more liberty, and don’t be shamed into doing otherwise!Back to Contents
by Scott A. Mund, Michigan for Gary Johnson volunteer
A big “thank you” is in order to all the Libertarian candidates who ran for office in the State of Michigan on November 8, 2016. Both nationwide and in our state, the Libertarian Party made continued, significant gains in vote totals and recognition among voters. In the coming years, starting with the 2018 election, the LPM will be increasingly recognizable in the eyes and minds of voters with achievement of “major party status,” as it is commonly referred to. On equal footing with the Republicans and Democrats, both LPM and Working Class Party candidates will appear in the August primaries. This achievement was brought about by the hard work and dedication of all LPM members statewide who got out the vote for Libertarian candidates. A job well done!.It is indeed an exciting time to be a Libertarian! Personally, I “officially” became one in late September of 2016 as I began working with the Johnson/Weld 2016 campaign under the leadership of our Political Director Scotty Boman. “Congratulations” to Boman from Mund, as we referred to each other to avoid confusion sharing that first name Scott, for achieving the highest vote tally of all Libertarian candidates in our state. Don’t forget to visit Boman’s GoFundMe page to assist in his appeal of his illegal arrest on the Wayne Community College campus.
For the six-plus weeks leading up to Election Day, I had the honor of working closely with Boman and his team, including a shout out to Angela Lowry with whom I worked closely. I was one of the trainers of volunteers for phone banking and canvassing, and also provided my research on social media networking for political campaigns to the LPM and National. Like many Libertarians, I had worked before with the major parties, including on a Republican’s US Senate campaign in 1984 and for a Democrat in State House and State Senate campaigns here in West Michigan in the late 2000s. Insights I gained in these “major” party campaigns proved valuable in my efforts to get out the vote for Governors Johnson and Weld. Volunteers statewide should be congratulated for helping Gov. Johnson receive 172,726 votes (3.9% of all votes cast). Gov. Johnson’s vote total was 5.6% of all votes cast for Secretary of State in the 2014 election, surpassing the 5% threshold for achieving “major party” status. This has necessitated changes in the party bylaws; for further details, check out the blog “Seeking a Pleasant Peninsula” by Greg Stempfle, the LPM Special Bylaws Committee Chair. Onwards and upwards for all Libertarian candidates starting in 2018!New to being an “official” Libertarian, I did not know what to write about for this piece when Boman asked me to do so a couple of days ago. Besides the election recap above, I decided to put a personal slant to this piece. While I have belonged and work for the other two major parties, I have preternaturally been a Libertarian. In high school I wrote letters to the editor defending free speech, including opposing an evangelical preacher’s attempt to shut down the local porn movie theater where I grew up in Muskegon, which ironically, I wasn’t old enough yet to enter. I did my undergraduate degree in economics and international relations at MSU (Go Green!), a field in which in the 1980s had a heavily free market emphasis, more Friedman than Keynes. I studied private international law, with a focus on trade law emphasizing mechanisms to promote fair and efficient commercial transactions. Later, I lived and worked in Japan for five years, and at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) engaged in the study of Japanese politics, economics, and law at a time of substantial trade friction between the U.S. and Japan. My education and experiences tended to reinforce my innate Libertarian views.
I am in the process of developing, writing, and directing a documentary on the 2016 Presidential Election. I was exceedingly fortunate to have attended rallies, and videotaped footage, of the four major candidates in this election cycle: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump (in Grand Rapids), and our candidate Gary Johnson in Detroit. I had the great honor of interviewing Gov. Johnson one-on-one, who both in intelligence and wit showed he was truly the “sane candidate” in the race. I personally handed him my research materials and report on the use of social media networking in political campaigns. I am now conducting further research, conducting interviews with politicians and citizens, and writing the script for the documentary. I would appreciate any of your anecdotes, stories, opinions, and so on for my film. Please email me – email@example.com . With Trump’s victory – surely Gov. Johnson’s Michigan vote total was slightly lower due to Libertarians crossing over to defeat Clinton—I would like to focus my film on the Libertarian challenge in 2016, and how the Party will move forward as it attempts to influence politics at both the state and national level. Ways in which the Trump Administration will be held accountable for making sane policy choices in line with Libertarian values.
The next two years leading up to the 2018 primaries is an exciting time to be a Libertarian. There is much work to do. We are fortunate to have a hard-working and loyal base of volunteers statewide. Let’s help make our political system function more in line with Libertarian principles and practices.