Quality over Quantity - Why Not Both
In this editorial, first published by Think Liberty, Ohio's very own Matthew McGowan refutes an editorial that "The Libertarian Party Should Run Fewer, Better Candidates And Put Quality Over Quantity."
So the problem isn’t that we don’t run enough candidates, it’s that we run too many.
Or at least that’s the case according to an editorial from The Jack News, a self-billed “alternative voice” helmed by several of the big players from the National Campaign Team for the 2016 Libertarian Presidential ticket of Gov. Gary Johnson and Gov. Bill Weld, most notably Ron Nielson, it’s National Campaign Manager.
It is “The Jack’s” view (the editorial was not signed by any individual) that the focus of the Libertarian Party when it comes to candidates should be of “quality”, not “quantity” and that the Libertarian Party’s “lack of vetting for prospective candidates” compared to Republicans and Democrats is actually hurting the party’s overall chances through the “the wasted effort, time, money and resources” spent on “candidates with no name identification, that are underemployed, underfunded, and with little to no experience in campaign politics.”
Instead, they argue, the party should reserve those resources for “individuals who are active in their community, who have certain career backgrounds with an appeal to voters, and who can convey a sense of competence and professionalism.”
In short, The Jack News is as pompous and arrogant as they are wrong.
The Libertarian Party has, since it’s humble beginnings in 1971, risen to become America’s largest third party. By the authors own admission it places more candidates on American ballots than all other third-parties combined, and has just experienced its largest vote total in a Presidential election in its history, thanks in part (credit where its due) to many on the staff at “The Jack.”
But it has taken a lot more than Gary Johnson and Bill Weld to get us there. It’s taken decades of gathering petitions, walking neighborhoods, handing out pamphlets, and yes, having regular, everyday people running for office to get us to where we are today. To suggest otherwise, or that we have done anything other than finding “the most qualified potential candidate” available to us in every single race we run is insulting to everyone who was working to grow the Libertarian Party back when Gary Johnson was still headlining GOP fundraisers. (I’d include Bill Weld, but he actually has one of those on his schedule for this week.)
This party has been built on the backs of “no name candidates” who were underfunded and “with little to no experience in campaign politics” running when and where they can at every level of government. I know this because I am one of them, having served on City Council in my hometown of Cheviot, Ohio as a registered Libertarian, despite the fact that I had “no campaign manager or staffers”, other than the “friends and family members” the authors so condescendingly refer to helping with every aspect of my campaign.
For more than four decades, people like me have been building a party by running as or helping with candidates for every office where we could find anyone willing, the only qualification being the only one that truly matters; that they loved liberty enough to do whatever they were available to do to provide voters an alternative to the authoritarian duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats on Election Day. It is precisely that passion and commitment of those who run and the volunteers who help them that have grown this party from a small group of like-minded men and women in Colorado Springs to the party that just received nearly 4.5 million votes last November.
While Johnson and Weld (and their campaign staff for that matter) are responsible for a great deal of that success, the foundation for this house was built long before they arrived on the scene. And while most Libertarians rightfully thank them for their service to our shared cause, there are still some who legitimately question if they were truly the best and most credible candidates we could offer. (I personally love Gary, but we should all be able to agree his repeated gaffes did the cause more harm than good.) Proposing a strategy of actually running fewer candidates for office based on some arbitrary standard of viability has me questioning at least a few members of that campaign’s staff, as well.
Apart from whether or not it’s a winning strategy, discouraging people from taking their freedom and liberty into their own hands by running for office is the least libertarian thing I have ever heard of. All of our efforts should go towards building, not reducing, the footprint of liberty.