Since its inception in 1971, the Libertarian Party has pointed out serious flaws in the American political landscape. From criticizing endless war to condemning wasteful budget spending, the LP has certainly taken note of legitimate issues. But would the party of Chair Nick Sarwark come remotely close to solving them, if elected into office?
On the topic of war, it’s hard to say; supposedly antiwar candidates frequently back down on their promises. Barack Obama is an excellent example of this, for his policies led to the creation of several new wars and countless drone attacks against civilians. But he is no indication of the Libertarian Party, so it is unfair to say whether they would keep their antiwar promises. On fiscal issues, though, disturbing evidence seriously calls their ability to manage money into question.
Libertarian Party Budget Blunders
Following each year, the Libertarian Party releases a description of party revenue and expenses as part of their annual report. In 2017 and 2018, the LP brought in $1,459,157 and $1,771,997, respectively. But with their spending habits, they took a page out of the federal government’s book.
In 2017, the party budget was a whopping $1,626,313: over half went to “administrative costs” and “compensation”. The report does not go into significant additional detail as to how they distributed these funds. Instead, a large percent of the report was wasted talking about some temporary ballot access that might win the party 2% instead of 1% in a school board election several years down the line. But while they celebrate non-existent victories, they grow the party’s deficit. Note that $1,626,313 is considerably above the 2017 revenue of $1.46 million; in fact, it’s 10.3% short.
Continuing the Disaster
Unfortunately for Sarwark and whoever pays the bills for the Libertarian Party, 2018 only got worse. Expenses shot up to an astonishing $2,009,181. Some notable increases include an additional $84,000 for campaign outreaches and $275,000 in “direct costs”. The problem is, they didn’t know how to budget, and these costs slung them hard into the red. With a deficit of $237,183, considerably larger than the year before, the LP spent 11.8% more than it made. Though some previous years did yield surpluses of similar magnitudes, burning that extra cash for a bunch of abysmal election failures is hardly smart. It sure isn’t sustainable.
Despite the increase in spending and deficit, the number of dues-paying members has remained largely stagnant. In fact, the figure has been in the neighborhood of 15,000 for over a decade. The brief spike in 2016, which almost certainly was due to Gary Johnson’s modest but nonetheless unprecedented publicity, immediately faltered the following year. The 2018 midterms, on the other hand, did absolutely nothing to give it a boost, unless they cycled some new faces in as old ones decided to stop wasting their time.
As the country spirals further into debt, take note that the Libertarian Party has no recent record of fiscal responsibility. But remember, they’re succeeding. The flyer said so, and a bunch of Floridian Libertarians now represent a couple of soil and water conservation districts. But if you poke through the “successes” that Sarwark and his party desperately cling to, you’ll find them, post-Gary Johnson, in eerily similar fiscal shape to the government they claim to be so much different from.
Libertarian Party Responses – Update
The Libertarian Party has created a balanced budget for the 2019 fiscal year. Joe Bishop-Henchman of the LP also noted that other parties often run deficits in election years followed by surpluses in off years.
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