By Jesse M. Fullington | TENNESSEE
If you’re reading this article, you have niche interests. You don’t simply engage with politics at the national level, you seek information and opinions regarding state and local politics, too. It isn’t as sexy or as flashy as The Liberty Act, but you understand meaningful, positive change is made in one’s own community. Perhaps you’re familiar with the decidedly unsexy and unflashy groundwork of political campaigning; you’ve spent hours walking door-to-door in the heat or you’ve developed a peculiar familiarity with hollow legislation to name roads. For those of you who possess such an intimate acquaintance with the labor of political campaigning, the bulk of this article will simply send every empathetic nerve in your body ablaze with frustration. Or, I suppose if you’re a member of the Republican or Democratic parties of Tennessee, you might grin with villainous glee at the snares and foils other political parties face.
You see, before the victory parades, speeches, or handshakes, every candidate must collect some amount (typically twenty-five) of signatures from the voting public within their district. Those who support such requirements argue the signature standard prevents “fly-by-night candidates” from saturating the candidate market; that such a simple regulation is so easy to obtain, anyone with ambitions of leadership ought to complete the task within a day. This argument makes some sense, but only if one examines the issue through the lens of state-sanctioned parties.
In Tennessee, any candidate running for state office for either the Republican or Democratic parties must gather those twenty-five signatures. This rule holds consistent for Independents, too. However, if one’s principles guide them towards another private political collective, even nationally recognized ones such as the Libertarian Party (of which I am a member in good standing and candidate for state representative), Green Party, or Constitutionalist Party, one must acquire 33,844 signatures to simply run for office.
The state and the duopoly exert their control by creating the illusion of debate. I’m reminded of what Noam Chomsky said when criticizing the American two-party system: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum…”
Both old parties are terrified of the changes occurring in politics. The spectrum has expanded beyond their arbitrary limits as we explore new territories of technology and human connection. As society becomes more comfortable questioning tradition and convention, more committed to the ideals of individualism and liberty, those who hold power lose their grip on control.
I encourage you, dear reader with niche interests, consider this nonsense regulation the next time a politician in Tennessee, or anywhere else, tells you they stand for freedom of choice. Ask them if they support intellectual diversity and the marketplace of ideas. And when they say yes, because they will always say yes, ask them why they’re afraid of competition. It can only be fear driving them to support this restriction. We should aim to put a little more shake in their boots.
For more information on Jesse’s campaign for State Representative of the 79th District call (731) 215-3929 or visit https://www.facebook.com/Fullington4Liberty.