Getting “small-L libertarians” to Vote Libertarian Nov. 7
By Beth Cody, Writers’ Group member
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In three weeks, we will head to the polls again to cast our votes, and the winning candidates will make many decisions that will affect us directly.

This election, I will vote for the two available Libertarian candidates. One is a write-in candidate for Treasurer, Debra Curry. The other is candidate for Governor of Iowa, Kevin Litten. Kevin is a pharmacist who lives in Cedar Rapids, and is a man who will stick to his principles no matter which way the wind is blowing.

And what are those principles? Libertarians believe in small government, lower taxes, free markets and peace. We believe that it is wrong for us to try to live at others’ expense, so lobbying the government for other people’s money is simply theft. We believe that we should rely on ourselves, our families and friends, and the free market to solve our problems, and not turn to big government to manage our lives. We also believe that our government should not involve us in pointless and endless wars against terrorism, drugs and imagined “enemies.”

It is estimated that about 20% of Americans (skewed younger and Western) would be classified as libertarians based upon their political views (so-called “Small L libertarians”). However, most of these people don’t call themselves libertarians, or even know what the word means – they just know that they want government to leave them alone.

Far fewer are members of the Libertarian Party (“Big-L Libertarians”). But there are over 600 Libertarian candidates running for offices nationwide, and polls indicate that they are running about 6 percentage points ahead of previous years, due to widespread voter dissatisfaction with the two big parties.

The Iowa branch of the Libertarian Party is very small – fewer than 100 members. Kevin Litten’s budget is too limited for yard signs, brochures or buttons. Built-in disadvantages in our two-party political system mean that third-party candidates cannot receive any funding from voluntary “check-off” funds and are excluded from most debates. And here in Iowa, people can’t even register as third-party voters, so third parties can’t access voter lists to mobilize them the way Republicans and Democrats do.

We are fortunate that Kevin is willing to run for office despite such barriers. Libertarians, by definition, distrust government and its employees, so fielding candidates is always a problem. But reluctant politicians are the best kind.

So do I think that he has a chance of actually winning the race for Governor? Not a snowflake’s chance in hell. Will I vote for him anyway? Yes.

Smaller government results in economic growth and individual freedom. But both Jim Nussle and Chet Culver have promised to vote for new programs, new handouts to special interest groups, more state employees and more growth-crippling regulations.

There is only one way to tell Nussle and Culver, in a way that they will pay attention to, that we do not agree with what they propose. That way is to vote for someone else – someone who unambiguously stands for smaller government, lower taxes and freedom for us to live our lives as we wish.

Some argue that a vote for a Libertarian is just a vote for Democrats, since most libertarians lean toward being Republican. Similarly, in the last Presidential election, Democrats said that a vote for Ralph Nader was a vote for President Bush. (The so-called Democrats actually tried to keep Nader off the ballot in Iowa by using the courts, to many people’s disgust.)

However, the main point of voting for a third party candidate is not to win this election, but to pressure the main parties to change. Republicans could become more libertarian-leaning after a loss of voters to a libertarian candidate. And if Democrats want Nader’s votes, they must move to the left. As in free markets, competition begets change.

Anyway, I believe in voting my conscience: in the end, if you settle for voting for “the lesser of two evils,” you are still voting for “evil,” and you deserve what you get.

So I invite you to join me in voting for our candidate from “the party of principle” – the Libertarian Party. Vote for Kevin Litten, Libertarian for Governor, on November 7.