We’ve all heard it. And heard it. And heard it!
“This is the most important election of our lifetimes!”
If we don’t vote out the incumbent, we’ll have fascism, and rigged elections – or even no elections – and children will be begging for their food in workhouses, like in Oliver Twist. Or, if we don’t re-elect the incumbent, we’ll have socialism, and unchecked rioting, and storefront abortion on demand.
As a dedicated observer of the political scene, I have to tell you that I believe about 90% of what the Republicans and Democrats say – about each other. But seriously, whichever of the legacy party candidates gets elected in two weeks (barring a miracle that the country suddenly comes to its senses and elects Jo Jorgensen), we know what we’re going to get: more debt, more taxes of one kind or another, more body bags coming home from foreign wars, and more lies about how it’s all the other team’s fault. There are no real policy differences at stake, no principles. It’s just a gigantic football game, “Yea! My team won!”
But you know what? They might not be lying about one thing. This really might be the most important election of our lifetimes. But not because it will make any real difference which of the legacy party candidates gets elected. Not for any of the reasons they say it is.
It might be the most important election of our lifetimes as Libertarians, because it may well be a watershed election for our Libertarian Party. Let’s take a quick look around the country before we come back to the situation here in Ohio.
Our national ticket, Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen, is polling relatively well, in the few polls that can be bothered to include them. As we all know, Jo and Spike are both principled and articulate representatives of Libertarian beliefs, but unlike our tickets of the last two Presidential election, neither are “names,” experienced politicians who will draw immediate recognition from the mainstream media. Despite this, there is reasonable hope that the ticket will draw at least as many votes as Johnson/Weld did last time, and might even touch that magic five percent figure, which would smooth the way for ballot access in many states and give us access to Federal matching campaign funds if we desire to accept them.i
There are at least two statewide races that could change the political map of this country. In Arkansas, Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr., is the only opponent for incumbent Republican Senator Tom Cotton. The race is rated by experts as “solid Republican,” not surprisingly. But on October 14, PBS Arkansas scheduled a debate between Harrington and Cotton. Cotton refused to debate Harrington. But Harrington showed up, and PBS Arkansas devoted the entire hour allotted for the debate to a question-and-answer with him, broadcast statewide. Harrington has been earning a ton of media coverage, and may very well break established records for Libertarian statewide candidates.
Then there’s our neighboring state of Indiana. Donald Rainwater, the Libertarian candidate for governor, is running extremely well. His polling numbers are very strong, he’s receiving serious media attention and debate inclusion, and he has the Republican incumbent scared. He stands a very real chance of being the first Libertarian governor in US history, and the first non-legacy party governor in many decades to be elected without previous experience in high office or celebrity status a la Jesse Ventura. This will be game changing for our party, and might well be even if he doesn’t quite win.
In Ohio, this really is a very important election for the Libertarian Party, because our ballot access – that is to say, our future as a functioning political party – depends on it. If we fail to get at least three percent of the Presidential vote in this election, it’s back to square one. Reestablishing party status will require tens of thousands of signatures statewide. As no petitioning effort of this magnitude has ever been completed in the state of Ohio without significant reliance on paid petitioners, it means raising literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s the dark side.
The light side is that if we get at least three percent of the Presidential vote in this election, we secure ballot access for our party through 2024. Libertarian candidates will have easy access to every partisan race in the state, up to and including governor, and our 2024 national ticket will automatically appear on the ballot.
Now tie this happy scenario to the positive factors of a strong showing by our ‘non-celebrity’ national ticket and by candidates around the country like Harrington and Rainwater. I’m not going to begin to predict what our national ticket will be in 2024. But many of us can think of some names that will be interested, names that national political reporters and editors already know and respect, names that also have serious, strong Libertarian credentials. If we retain ballot access, we could be well-positioned to capitalize on increasing dissatisfaction with the offering of the legacy parties.
And there’s yet another reason to not vote for the legacy party candidates. The incumbent President does have his share of fanatical supporters, for reasons that surpass all understanding. But I’ll venture a guess that most people voting for him – and almost everyone voting for his legacy party opponent – are voting against the opponent much more than they’re voting for the names on the box they’re checking. So yes, once again, the Republicans and the Democrats are offering us crappy candidates. And a vote for either one of them is a vote for more crappy candidates in the future, because the two legacy parties will continue to offer us crappy candidates until we refuse to vote for them.
And now, it’s all on us. We have to vote for our Libertarian ticket of Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen. We have to talk them up, to family, to friends, on social media, everywhere and every chance we get. We have to secure our party’s future and tell the legacy parties that we won’t accept their table scraps any more. Early voting is open now. My family and I are still planning on voting together on election day, just as we traditionally have.
So get up off your butts! Because this really could be …
i. Accepting Federal matching funds is a controversial concept among Libertarians. Many of us make a principled argument that since the money comes from theft (taxes), it’s immoral to accept it. My personal fantasy is that we qualify for the money, accept it, and then donate it to one or more worthy charities – with the full benefit of publicity. Can you imagine our 2024 Presidential candidate standing on a dais with officials of some worthy organization like Doctors Without Borders, explaining why we can’t keep the money but want to see it go to good use? Can you imagine the media coverage that would generate?