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The Libertarian Party has started a new fundraising campaign called “Liberty Decides ‘08“. Basically, all Libertarian presidential candidates who have met certain guidelines (age-qualified, member of the LP, filed with the FEC, and raise at least $5000 for ballot access) are listed for competition (with one exception, since Dr. George Phillies chose to decline participation). People then “vote” for those candidates by making a donation in that candidate’s name. Each vote equals $1, so the more you contribute, the more votes you get to cast.There is no requirement that the donations/votes come from a registered member of the LP, or even that the voters claim to be a libertarian (many libertarians are not registered with the Libertarian Party, since that would remove their right to vote in many state primaries). The Libertarian Party will keep 60% of the money collected, while the eventual presidential nominee will get the remaining 40%, to be used in promoting the Libertarian Party.

There are a number of glaringly obvious problems with this competition.

Right off the bat, I can tell you that there are candidates listed there who have not raised $5000, period. However, if they left out candidates who hadn’t accomplished that yet, there would only be three candidates listed. I’ll get to those candidates in a moment.

There is no indication how many individual contributions each candidate received, and the competition is not set up to gauge support in that manner. This is important for several reasons, not the least of which is that there is no way to tell if the candidates received contributions from others, or if all their funds came from them. While at first glance it would seem unethical for the candidates to contribute to themselves in a competition, since that normally would be viewed as rigging the results, there is in fact nothing stopping the candidates from using their own funds. The rules quite specifically state, “Donations from the candidates will be counted towards funds raised”.

Given that three of the candidates have a great deal of money (specifically the ones sitting in the top three right now) there is absolutely no way for anyone to tell if those candidates simply contributed to themselves, though it definitely appears that they have done exactly that. Furthermore, allowing candidates to contribute to themselves places the wealthy candidates at an unfair advantage, and explains the current results.

The current frontrunners are Wayne Allyn Root, Mike Jingozian, and Daniel Imperato. However, I have seen no indication whatsoever that those three have any significant following. Quite the contrary, since all three have been subjected to a great deal of negative opinion from libertarians.

Imperato in particular is a candidate who has no discernible support, and his “press releases” are met with a great deal of laughter and derision, including from Yours Truly. Many others across the blogosphere have voiced their concern that Imperato may not be completely sane, though he does have enough money to rig the competition with ease. He is now in third place, undoubtedly due to contributing to himself.

Root is new to the LP, and even still has a website called “Millionaire Republican”; as a result he is viewed with suspicion, and is considered to be a Republican by most. Furthermore, Root is running on what is primarily a pro-gambling platform, since he is a Vegas oddsmaker. While libertarians believe gambling should not be illegal, one cannot run a presidential campaign on that stance alone, and some of his other ideas are hardly libertarian. For example, he is pro-war (and as a matter of fact, regularly uses his initials, which spell “WAR”, in place of his name), whereas libertarians adopt a strict non-interventionist policy. Root is currently in first place, also undoubtedly due to contributing to himself.

Jingozian is simply not very well known. I recall reading his site back when his candidacy first came to my attention, and I got the distinct impression that his views are a cross between the Greens and the Libertarians. Few libertarians will support a fusion candidate. By necessity Green goals require governmental intrusion upon our property rights, whereas libertarians believe the government’s only proper activity is to protect our rights. A successful businessman, Jingozian is in second place, also undoubtedly because he contributed to himself.

That the three wealthiest candidates – who have no chance of actually gaining widespread support among LP members – would appear to be winning was a completely foreseeable situation, given how the competition is designed; and it is inevitable that those candidates will contribute to themselves, then use that poll to falsely state they are a “frontrunner” in the race for the LP nomination. It is equally strange that, based on my own estimate of those candidates’ personal wealth, they are in exactly the order I would expect.

That’s a very serious problem, not only because misrepresentations about their own support among LP members might mislead people who are not already familiar with the candidates, but also because as discussed, those candidates who are winning have some decidedly un-libertarian ideas which will undoubtedly reflect very poorly on the LP as a whole.

This poll may also have a very strange effect on the Libertarian Convention. If delegates vote pursuant to what their constituents want, they cannot in good conscience ignore an official LP poll, especially since they may not realize that the wealthy candidates are contributing to themselves, as that information is not available on the same page as the competition. The actual rules are contained in a PDF file.

As much as I disapprove of the LP keeping the majority of the contributions for itself, and stipulating that the other 40% must be used to the LP’s advantage, that does explain why they are allowing candidates to contribute to themselves since there are three wealthy candidates who would get little if any support otherwise.

Another matter of concern is that, according to the rules, the poll counts funds raised since each candidate announced their campaign, including any funds raised by an exploratory committee. That gives an advantage to candidates who announced early, though as it is that early advantage is canceled out by the wealthier candidates who contribute to themselves. Again, it is impossible to ascertain the amount of actual support each candidate has during the course of the competition, which negates any possible usefulness the competition might otherwise have.

Last but not least, even in a poll where actual money is involved, “None Of The Above” rated fourth (for those of you not familiar with the Libertarian Party, delegates can actually vote for NOTA rather than to nominate a candidate). Quite honestly, I think it’s a very popular choice in this presidential election, and if not for the three wealthy candidates contributing to themselves, it would be ranked firmly in first place. NOTA is almost $2000 ahead of the next most popular candidate, which is “Future candidate”; in other words, those contributing to this competition (not counting the first three who are obviously contributing to themselves) by far prefer none of the candidates. NOTA and FC, if placed into one category as it should be, would be roughly equivalent to the current third-place competitor who contributed to himself, and firmly in first place if the three wealthy candidates were discounted due to contributing to themselves.

That says a lot.

Can the serious LP candidates overcome this negativity, based in a lack of excitement about the announced candidates, and a great deal of excitement about Ron Paul, who is running as a Republican? I honestly don’t know, but I somehow doubt it. The LP may end up not nominating a presidential candidate for 2008.

_______________________

Sources:
Last Free Voice
Libertarian Party
Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

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Christine Smith put out a
somewhat controversial
essay which said that, unlike some other libertarians, she would not compromise principle.

The first time I saw it was on the LP Radicals yahoo group, and given that I have recently volunteered to help the caucus members make more informed decisions about the various LP Presidential candidates, I thought of a few questions to ask.

They have been up for several days, and I also since posted them on several other yahoo groups on which Christine Smith posted the same message. I am hoping that the candidate sees the questions and responds to them. Several people have said that she is not very good about getting back to people, but this is the first time I have personally tried to get a hold of her, so for now I will keep an open mind.

I’m guessing she’s just been busy, so I hope maybe posting them here will help bring these questions to her attention.

OK, here they are:

I have gathered there are no issues on which you think the 2004
platform was too extreme. Is my understanding correct? If not, what do
you think may have been too extreme?

Are there any issues on which you think the 2004 platform was not
libertarian enough? If so, what issues, and what was inadequate about
them?

Do you think the platform should be about the length of the 2004
platform or that of the 2006 platform? Somewhere in between? Longer
than both? Shorter than both?

What issues, if any, do you think are the most glaring omissions?

When did you join the Libertarian Party?

Prior to running for President, in what ways were you involved in the
Libertarian Party or libertarian movement? What other libertarian
movement groups have you been involved with, and what was the extent
of your involvement?

In what ways do you plan to be involved if you do not get the
Presidential nomination?

If you lose the Presidential nomination and are offered the VP
nomination, would you consider it?

Have you ever run for office with another party or as an independent
candidate? If so, where and when, and for what office?

Have your views changed during this campaign? If so, on what issues
and why?

Do you plan to share all contacts your campaign generates with the
national party? Would you characterize your present working
relationship with LPHQ and/or LNC to be friendly or somewhat adversarial?

Do you have any significant involvement in issue organizations or
political coalitions which intersect with libertarianism but also
include significant numbers of non-libertarians? (for instance, Steve
Kubby has been active in medical marijuana legalization and the drug
policy reform movement; George Phillies is active with his local ACLU
chapter; Wayne Root claims he can reach out to internet gamblers on a
large scale).

Steve Gordon has criticized your position on the middle east wars,
claiming that you said that you would evacuate the troops and leave
their equipment behind. Is that an accurate description of your position?

Do you believe the national party platform (past or present) would be
adequate to serve as your campaign platform, or do you plan to have a
separate campaign platform if you are nominated?

Are there any innovative ways in which you hope your campaign will
work to surpass all previous LP Presidential results, and what do you
think your chances are of doing that?

How much of an emphasis do you plan to put on working with local
candidates and building state and local LPs? Ballot access? Youth and
college outreach?

Have you spoken to large crowds not just of
libertarians? (For example, Steve Kubby spoke at Hempfest, estimated
attendance 50,000, and I believe George Phillies said he spoke at
MassCann, which is also a large legalization event).

Also: have you played a significant role in passing any legislation
that actually made people more free? (Steve Kubby helped write and
pass prop 215, California’s medical marijuana law).

UPDATE:

As I mentioned, Steve Gordon also has
some questions
for Ms. Smith which he has been trying to get her to answer through several phone and email attempts for several days.

Steve Kubby has some concerns, too.

Hopefully we’ll hear back!

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Greetings.Christine Smith

I am Christine Smith, Libertarian candidate for president. Truth is my highest priority.

If elected, I would take the oath of office, swearing to uphold the Constitution, but unlike past presidents I would not only swear to it I would always do it. I will diligently use the executive powers granted me to restore the democratic republic we were established to be.

I will focus on individual liberty because I believe social and economic progress occurs only through liberty. Regardless of your political party affiliation, I invite you to my campaign website LibertarianforPresident.com to read about the only presidential candidate truly dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, fiscal conservatism, and social progress. I am superior to all other presidential candidates regardless of their political party because my priority is the American people. Our peace. Our freedom. Our prosperity. Our equality. Read my platform.

But since this is a debate between Libertarian candidates seeking the presidential candidate nomination, I ask you this question…What do you really want your Libertarian presidential candidate to accomplish? Think about it for a moment. What do you really want them to do?

I’ve asked that question of many Libertarians nationwide. I’ve already attended the San Diego Libertarian Convention, the Oregon LP Convention, the New Mexico LP Convention and the Indiana Libertarian Convention where I asked this question…I also asked many Libertarians nationwide on the phone this question…and without exception everyone tells me they want their Libertarian presidential candidate to reach out to more American people.

This is the most essential quality we must look for in choosing a candidate–the ability to effectively communicate the LP message to millions of non-Libertarians. Of course, that statement coincides with everything else Libertarians tell me…that their spokesperson (which is what our presidential candidate is–a spokesperson for the Libertarian Party) must be knowledgeable, willing to travel the country and address Americans at every opportunity they can, and said candidate must be a true Libertarian. (more…)

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