Yes, that is a question many a card carrying Libertarian Party member hears, when they attempt to promote their Presidential nominee; and I honestly believe that is just the way the powers that be like it. It is no big secret, or maybe I should say that it kind of is a secret, that the Libertarian Party fails to get the smallest fraction of the press that the big two political parties receive, and in some regard this lack of press coverage is perhaps warranted.
When you look at the numbers, the Libertarian Party had roughly 280,000 people who were registered as members of the Libertarian Party in 2010. Compare that with the 55 million people who are registered as Republicans, 72 million registered Democrats, and 45 million registered independents, and the Libertarian Party is decidedly out manned. So, if you were trying to sell newspapers and television commercials on your 24 hour news network, you are going to obviously cater to the tens of millions over the hundreds of thousands, I mean it just makes sense, doesn’t it?
However there is a problem with the press simply chasing eyeballs and the advertising dollars those eyeballs bring, and that is the 45 million or so registered voters who don’t owe their political allegiance to either the Democrats or the Republicans; the “independents” as they are called, and coveted by both sides of our current political coin. I was once one of these voters floating in political purgatory. There were parts of the Republican platform <cough, rhetoric> that I agreed with – small, un-intrusive government, fiscal responsibility, a fair and unencumbered tax code, the 2nd amendment. There were also things that I identified with from the Democratic platform <cough, rhetoric> too – Gay and Lesbian marriage (or “civil unions” if you prefer) equality, and the protection of individual civil liberties, and their talk of equal treatment for all.
Unfortunately, due to both parties rigid adherence to their respective rhetorical platforms, this weeds out candidates who might cross, or blur the (rhetorical) lines that separate the Democrat and Republican Parties. If you, as a candidate don’t meet your party’s “purity test” then you are unlikely to win that party’s nomination, let alone endorsement. Just look at the chameleon like transformation and Play-Doh™ like molding Mitt Romney had to do to appease the Republican Party during that party’s primary race. Even the unofficial/official mouth-piece of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, railed against Mitt as a progressive wearing conservative clothes. So, if you are an independent you are essentially left with the proverbial “lesser of two evils” choice when you step into the voting booth, due in no small part of the press’ lack of covering any candidate outside of the “Red,” or “Blue” color spectrums. Then there is the fact that two of the three 24 hour media outlets are in the bag for one or the other party’s candidate, and the third 24 hour network is flailing about like a fish out of water, literally suffocating in their lack of viewers and lack of identity. It is no surprise then as an independent you are truly stuck in a political desert, thirsting for a candidate who meets more of what you want.
It doesn’t stop there with the media’s willful blindness towards the desires for more, by those 45 million independent voters, it carries on with the states and their various and sundry requirements for candidates to gain ballot access. Gov. Gary Johnson had to drop everything and fly to Tennessee yesterday to sign every nominating petition the Libertarian Party submitted for the Gov. to get his name on that state’s ballot. Rules are rules, and that is Tennessee’s rule. However, Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party had to do some eleventh hour leg work and get hundreds more signatures because that state’s election officials had ruled that roughly half of the original signatures weren’t valid; leading the vice chairman of the Tenn. Libertarian Party, Mike Novak to say, “We do believe they’ve been a little more thorough than they have been [in the past].” Who do you think supervises not just Tennessee’s, but every state’s elections? Why, none other than elected officials from either the Republican or Democratic Parties, that’s who; and in this case, Tennessee’s is headed by Republican, Tre Hargett. The point here is not so much to pick on Mr. Hargett, or the Republican Party for that matter, maybe half of those petition signatures weren’t valid; I don’t know, I wasn’t there. Instead the point I am trying to make is that we have a system in place that is run by and favors one party or another, which makes it all but impossible for any other viable voice to be heard, and that still leaves 45 million American’s wondering like the Israelites in the desert, looking for a political home. What if for the past 40 years it has always been here and you just never knew about it? Welcome to the Libertarian Party, and welcome home.
Sometimes it’s necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly. (Edward Albee)