Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Libertarians and Ballot Access

The Libertarian Party of PA is sounding a little progressive today. Not a lot, just a little. I think it’s sad that in PA we had all five third-party candidates for statewide office knocked off the ballot this year; truly a shame. In the report on WITF this morning, this statement caught my ear though:

State Libertarian Party Chairman Mik Robertson said what used to be an unlevel playing field has turned into a "vertical barricade." He says it prevents citizens "who have a modicum of support but do not have large financial resources from gaining access to the ballot," he says. "Today we are asking the General Assembly to tear down that wall."
Now, there are a couple points to make about this. He is absolutely right that state law makes it difficult for third-party candidates to get on the ballot and the law should be changed to increase access. This is a case of the two major parties protecting incumbents and the consolidation of power between Democrats and Republicans. It is wrong and it should change. Third-party candidates from across the political/ideological spectrum should have access to the ballot if they are able to gather the signatures necessary, and that necessary number should be the same for all parties, Democrat, Republican or other.

On the other hand, I can’t help but point out the un-libertarian language employed by Robertson. He is essentially arguing that government needs to act in order to help those with less financial resources to gain access to the ballot, where access is limited to only those with money and an established political infrastructure.

It seems to me a more libertarian attitude to take would be to say, “If the Libertarian Party had the popular support necessary for gaining access to the ballot this wouldn’t be a problem. If the general public truly wanted a strong Libertarian Party they would donate enough money to pay for those legal challenges, or there would be enough volunteers to gather more than the required number of signatures to make a legal challenge a moot point. The public has access to the Internet, giving the Libertarians a voice in the marketplace that is just the same as the voice of the two major parties. So if the public doesn’t really seem to want the Libertarian Party to play a more significant role in Pennsylvania politics, why should government take action to “level the playing field,” wasting our tax dollars and the legislature’s time pursuing something that is only of interest to a small minority of voters who support third parties?”

If I were a Libertarian I might say something like that. But I’m not a Libertarian, so I won’t.

No comments: