Why Good Libertarians Should Run for Office
We are a political party. Political Parties run candidates for office. Debating clubs discuss issues.
Lobbying groups attempt to influence the incumbent office holder to take a particular course of action. Political Parties seek to put their party members in office.
Would the voters of Massachusetts vote Libertarian? In most districts they rarely get a chance to vote Libertarian because there is no Libertarian candidate on the ballot. One can speak eloquently in a discussion promoting libertarian ideas, write theories, etc., but will not put a Libertarian Candidate on the ballot. We cannot expect others to think of us a party until we act like one. Only you can put a Libertarian on the ballot.
When Libertarians run for office they help to dispel the notion that we are a fly by night party. They also generate name recognition. They promote their platform. They give the voters in their district the opportunity to vote Libertarian. In many cases they give many voters to opportunity to learn that there are more than two parties in Massachusetts. According to Tip O’Neil the Democrats did not win in Massachusetts until they started running people for every elected office.
Presidential races get much publicity, and everyone wants to get involved in them. But every grammar school student is taught that the thing that made the United States different from most countries was that we do not have one man rule. Authority is vested in legislative bodies at local, state and federal levels. State Legislatures make up most of the laws which affect us.
When you run for the legislature you get to talk about Libertarian issues, such as the war on drugs, police authority, gay marriage, and a host of other issues from a public forum. Just by running for the state legislature you will get some amount of publicity and a copy of the voting list. Local elections can be used a prelude to running for the legislature. Usually there are interviews by local or neighborhood newspapers, possible radio talk shows, possibly some television coverage.
What do you need to do to run:
You need to get the required number of signatures on a nomination form. 150 for State Representative, 300 for State Senator, and towns can vary depending on the office. This does not cost anything and can be reasonably done by even one person. If only 10 people did it, it would generate a lot of publicity. You will have to make out a report, usually on-line. You will want to get in touch with local issues. You will have to get the signatures certified by the city. In the case of a State office ( legislature ) after getting the signatures back you need to turn them into the Secretary of the Commonwealth. That is all there is to it. Yet most incumbents run un-apposed.
What if you lose?
You most likely will lose at least the first time you try to run for office. You will probably have a pittance to spend on your campaign compared to the duopoly member. You will no have the name recognition of the incumbent. The local media will be on the side of the incumbent. Local businesses which require licenses and favors from local government will be on the side of the incumbent. Even organizations like Gun Owner’s Action League, the NRA, MassCann, and MassEquality will not help you. But that is ok, in a small district you do not need them. And if they ask for favors, you can remind them that they contributed nothing to help you, and you in turn owe them nothing. Remember one thing, you are right, and you are the only one trying to do anything about it.
If you address local issues and pose solutions to them you may do better than you think. But you will not win.
What to do if you do not win?
Come back swinging the next time. It costs nothing to run. Your opponent who won screwed up and made mess of things and your proposals would have worked. You may find that while you still may not win, you will get more votes than you did the last time.
Now you may get other unexpected results. Before you were Joe Jerk citizen at city hall, who does not do anything anyway. No one is worried then they are running unopposed. No incumbent worries about a one time candidate who will lose and disappear with his tail between his legs, and that has been a real problem with the Libertarian Party
But now things are a bit different. This guy keeps coming back, and he is going door to door promoting his agenda. What is even worse more people seem to be listening to him each time he runs. Maybe we better listen to him. How many votes will he get if he keeps on running? They do not really know. The incumbent’s patronage buddies may even pull a double cross if he appears to be weakening.
You do not have to win 100% to win. But if we could cover every district everyone would generate publicity for everyone else. If we do this consistently in every legislative election the voting public will see us as a permanent fixture and a realistic choice.
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