Michael Badnarik, Gary Nolan, and latecomer Aaron Russo are vying for the Libertarian Party’s Presidential nomination. Who gets chosen will be important, I guess, because it puts a public face on the Party.
But I think the LP can go in a different direction. I don’t think it will ever thrive or replace one of the two existing parties. It’s greatest reason for existence is education about what liberty is and how we’ve lost it.
Besides, an honest evaluation of the LP’s party platform indicates that it is not a party of “good” government or “responsible” government or “democratic ideals” or anything else. Instead, it is the party of practically no government.
Since this is the case, and since the Party has been embarrassed by kooks, cranks, and oddballs getting on local ballots, I think the LP should go in a very different direction.
The Libertarian Party draws some protest votes. Maybe it should really attract the protest vote and give up any pretense of winning office. In its own convention rules, “None Of The Above” is always an option in every election of Party officers. The Party should make that its motto: instead of “The Party of Principle,” just, simply, “None of the Above.” And then it should nominate Martha Stewart for President and Janet Jackson as her running mate.
The campaign slogan? “More ethical than Kerry and Bush.”
Would this turn the Party into a joke? Unfortunately, it already is to most people. Would it demoralize grassroots petitioners seeking ballot access? Perhaps, but then they’ve misunderstood their role as libertarian activists, which is to educate the public about freedom. This ticket would provoke curiosity among potential signers. Would this garner more media attention? Initially, it will, and this is where the Party must be well-prepared.
Martha Stewart and Janet Jackson are the two people who now symbolize the two supposedly worst things about America, greed and cultural decadence. Even so, their record in the free enterprise system, while not to everyone’s liking or personal taste, indicate similar characteristics:
They used their talents to the best of their ability;
Many people liked, and voluntarily paid for, their products;
Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl breast-baring “crime” and Martha Stewart’s taking advice from her stockbroker “crime” hurt nobody, nobody at all. No, not even Stewart. (By the way, Stewart gets the nod over Jackson for Pres only because she was actually convicted of her phony crime.)
Now contrast that with John Kerry and George W. Bush. Kerry, as a Senator, voted for President Bush’s Homeland Security Department, PATRIOTIC Act, and invasion of Iraq. Hundreds of American soldiers killed, thousands of Iraqi’s killed, billions of dollars in property destroyed, American citizens jailed as “enemy combatants” without Constitutional rights.
Not only that, but Bush signed that prized piece of legislation prized by “liberals” and “public interest groups” for years, the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act which makes it illegal to criticize Presidents and Senators in television commercials during election season.
President Bush and John Kerry both, willfully and deliberately, destroyed virtually every remaining provision of the Bill of Rights. Stewart’s conviction says one thing: government doesn’t serve the wealthy - it is actually hostile to those who earned wealth in the free market (Stewart, tobacco companies, gun manufacturers). It only serves the wealthy who earned, and continue to earn, their wealth through government contracts. Politicians like Bush and Kerry seek nothing but absolute power, and then a generous pension and hopefully the praise of history. They have no regard as to who is impoverished, imprisoned, or killed. They are glad to get Martha Stewart in order to dupe the people into thinking the “system works.” No matter how many racial and religious minorities lose out in the Wars on Drugs and Terror, the System “works.” That’s the message to the people.
Janet Jackson, who bared her breast, provoked a frenzy of political grandstanding leading to increased power over broadcast content and the increase of fines by the unconstitutional police-judge-jury Federal Communications Commission. As if Congressman who are complicit in the killing of defenseless Iraqi’s and the jailing of Jose Padilla are the moral exemplars of our age, whereas Janet is the scum of the earth.
The Libertarian Party should nominate Martha Stewart and Janet Jackson because they are symbols of our age, not really of greed and decadence, but rather of government over-regulation, hysteria, and hypocrisy. The science fiction novelist L. Neil Smith writes that the focus should be to weaken the stature of the next President by voting for third-party candidates - hopefully pro-peace and anti-draft candidates - but any third-party candidate. His contention that if the newly-elected President got only forty million votes when the last one got nearly fifty million, he would be politically weakened from the start. Twenty percent of the voting public showing their dissatisfaction with the current system could be a wake-up call to Washington.
What would get those who feel they don’t have a voice, who think the system is a sham, or who have principled objections to voting, to come out and vote? I think a Martha-Janet ticket would do the trick. The message to the powerful would be: “We think these two who you condemn are actually more competent and ethical than yourselves.”
It is precisely because Martha and Janet can’t win, that the Libertarian Party can’t lose by running them. No more hope in finding the right candidate who could build the movement immediately and over the long haul. The None of the Above option, the Martha-Janet option, would tell both Bush and Kerry that, as Peter Finch proclaimed in the movie Network, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
I respect the efforts and patriotism of the Libertarian presidential candidates. I don’t want this to come across as ridicule for the Libertarian Party. But libertarians don’t want power, we want a free, or at least increasingly freer, society And maybe putting Martha and Janet on the ballot would be a more effective educational tool for the freer society than putting some unknown, obscure guy on the ballot.
If nothing else, it would better gauge the level of voter disgust in our country. Libertarians really have nothing left to lose. Maybe the outraged Christian conservative could register a protest vote for Martha Stewart, whereas he wouldn’t for someone less famous. There is no “None Of The Above” option on our federal ballots. I think the Libertarian Party’s purpose should be to make room for one.