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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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The Libertarian National Party has a new program, Liberty Decides ’08 designed “to promote our pre-nomination presidential candidates as they engage in a competitive process. To participate in the program, candidates must cross three thresholds: meet the LP bylaws requirements; file with the FEC; and raise at least $5,000 for the LP or LP state parties for ballot access.

Once qualified, candidates will be ranked by the funds they have raised for the program and promoted through the Internet, mail and LP publications.”

40% of all donations to this program will be set aside in a special fund to be used for expenditures coordinated with the candidate who does eventually win the LP nomination in convention. The remainder of the funds will be used to help the LP move forward with core issues such as media, ballot access and member recruitment.

One candidate has declined to participate, noting that the money does not go to help the candidates now, when they need help the most, and only 40% will go to the eventual nominee – whoever that may be – not necessarily the candidate that the donors click on to contribute in the name of.

Further controversy ensued when, in an early version of Liberty Decides, this candidate was included without his consent, and a silhouette of Ron Paul was used as a “Future/Unannounced Candidate.” The silhouette was removed, as was the objecting candidate, but in a controversial and widely talked about move, the LNC voted unanimously to invite Ron Paul to seek the LP nomination for President if he does not get the Republican nomination.

Some candidates are more positive about Liberty Decides.

Some other Libertarian activists have criticized Liberty Decides, notably Susan Hogarth, who wrote:

It would be a much more useful tool for Libertarian activists and likely convention delegates (you know, the folks who actually select the LP nominee) with two simple additions, which I mentioned yesterday:

1) some indication of how many individual donors each candidate has (and, ideally, how many of them are Party members).

2) some indication (other than a link to their websites) of positions.

Susan shares her thoughts about Liberty Decides here, here,
here, and
here.

Despite the criticism, the LNC expressed support for Executive Director Shane Cory and Liberty Decides at its recent meeting in Charleston.

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What follows is an excerpt from Jingozian’s extensive website.

Mike JingozianObservations on the Campaign Trail – Libertarians can be Environmentalists Too

The very first Libertarian event at which I spoke was at the Oregon State Convention in early March 2007. I spoke about the six areas of sustainability. Following my speech, a group of people formed around me, and through the crowd, a man approached. When he made his way to the front, I noticed that veins were pulsating in his forehead. He pointed right at me and said, “YOU SOUND LIKE A GREEN!”

I believe global warming is occurring. I know that this opinion is out of favor with some Libertarians. During the candidates’ forum at the Libertarian Party California Convention, held in April 2007, I was the only candidate (out of five) who publicly recognized that global warming exists. (Although to his defense, Steve Kubby did acknowledge that “something is going on with the environment.”)

However, far more Libertarians are concerned with Environmental Sustainability than those who are not. In fact, between 77 and 83% of Americans believe global warming poses a serious problem. The majority of Libertarians are no different. Certainly, there are some who question the data. If that is how you feel, so be it – we don’t harbor any hard feelings. We still live in a free country (that is, unless that Bush Administration gets its way).

Nevertheless, we find that most Libertarians embrace our principles. Regularly, I am approached at events, receive emails and phone calls from Libertarians who support our message. Even many “Purists” like our message as it reminds them of Harry Browns’ position on compromising to achieve political ends. These comments may not be from the more vocal segment of the party, but they are, nevertheless, the majority.

However – and I say this with the utmost respect and sincerity – I will not represent a party where the majority does not believe that global warming exists or who are not willing to compromise on this issue for the greater good.

Building the Libertarian and Green Parties Together

If we have any chance to even start addressing these issues, then we must destroy the 2-parties as quickly as possible. Viable solutions to solve these problems exist today. But, frightfully, these solutions will not be viable for much longer and these problems are growing in money and getting worse.

As a people, we must support only Independent and 3rd party candidates. We must band together during this next election and say: “Enough is enough!” We must elect an Independent Congress and an Independent President and we must do it in 2008! The two political parties that I support are the Libertarians and the Greens.

I am attracted to the Libertarians for its positions on personal accountability, small government, and maintaining and even bolstering freedom and democracy.

I am attracted to the Greens for its concern for the environment and our health and well-being.

The Libertarians and Greens are not in competition; rather, they complement each other in many areas.

Sharing Common Goals… What the 3rd parties have in Common

Each election brings forth Independent and 3rd party candidates. Many of these candidates promote their own agendas or those of their respective parties. The chart depicts our view on the areas of interest among the four major 3rd parties and Independent candidates.

As shown, the Libertarian Party generally addresses issues regarding the Economy, International Diplomacy, and Democracy & Freedom while the Green Party tends to focus more on Environmental, Health & Well-being, and Societal issues. The Reform Party, Working Families Party, and Independents vary in their focuses.

We admit this is a major simplification of the policy issues important to each party. Furthermore, we are not suggesting that Libertarians are not concerned with well-being or that the Green Party is not concerned with economic issues. The chart merely shows how the major 3rd parties relate to the six areas of Sustainability. (more…)

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