Can the Libertarian Party Actually Make a Difference?

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Can the Libertarian Party Actually Make a Difference?
By Edward Hudgins

May 31, 2016 -- The Democratic and Republican Parties are in disarray and poised to nominate their most unpopular presidential candidates in decades. The Libertarian Party could become a true political force, but only if it transforms itself from a debating society seeking protest votes to a party that builds coalitions seeking to actually elect candidates.

The Republican Party is dead

The context, of course, is the collapse of the GOP. It has always been an uneasy coalition of factions. Still, it had been a vehicle, albeit an imperfect one, for limited government policies. Establishment Republicans merely wanted to tweak the welfare state. Extreme social conservatives often gave priority to limiting liberty, for example, banning same-sex marriages. And libertarians and constitutionalists have actually wanted to roll back the welfare state and limit federal power.

The civil war within the GOP left it impotent to stop President Obama’s government-growth agenda. Add to that his attacks on America’s achievement culture and you can see how, in disgust, voters turned to Donald Trump. Even though Trump is hardly a social conservative or limited-government advocate, and thus not really a Republican Reagan that would recognize, he is a self-styled strong man who promises to “Make America great again.”

Whether or not Trump wins in November, the GOP of the past is gone. Enter the Libertarian Party.


Failures and opportunities for Libertarians

Libertarian ideas have gained political currency in recent decades. But since its founding in 1971, the LP has not been able to boast much success. Its members too often have spent their time arguing over who represents the “true” libertarian position. And they’ve never built local party organizations like Democrats and Republicans have done. While some of its presidential candidates, notably the late Harry Browne, have been articulate spokesmen for liberty, still, in four and a half decades only a dozen local candidates have succeeded at the polls under the party’s banner.

This year the LP nominated as its presidential candidate its 2012 standard-bearer, former New Mexico GOP governor Gary Johnson. Former Massachusetts GOP governor Bill Weld received the LP VP nod.... (Continue reading here.)


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If no one gets the 270 electoral votes needed to win, the election is thrown into the House of Representatives. I'm vague of the details, but I think each state, regardless of size, would get one vote. If a third party candidate could get one state he might prevent someone from getting 270 votes.

In 1972 one man, Roger MacBride (d. 1995),  switched his vote to Hospers contra what he was supposed to do and it stuck, so you don't even need a third party candidate. If a few electoral votes aren't there to give someone--any one--those 270 votes, into the House it goes. Such a switch may violate some state laws, but those laws can only penalize the elector, not change the vote.


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6 hours ago, Ed Hudgins said:

I think the House can only vote for candidates that have carried at least one state. If that's  the case, Johnson would have o bag New Mexico to be in the running. But I need to check details.

Not true. The top three candidates Electorially counted is all it takes. Each state then gets one--and only one--vote to decide which of the three will be President. As a practical matter the third party candidate would have to carry one state. I think Sasse in Nebraska could do it, not Johnson in New Mexico. This is a possible way for the Republicans to dump Trump and Hillary. (I got this from another site and I'm just repeating all this.)


12th Amendment

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