Tag: 2018 midterms

The Libertarian Party Must Shift from Federal to Local Races

Kevin D’Amato | United States

After a lackluster performance in the contentious 2018 midterms, the Libertarian Party is refocusing. Local races, not federal ones, seem to be the future for the third-largest party in American politics.

Besides winning ballot access for a few states, it seems like 2018 is another year in history libertarians would rather forget. Crushing defeats in all types of positions took place, including incumbent state legislators Laura Ebke and Brandon Phinney, who secured 43% and 10% in their races, respectively.

Problems Solved?

As founder of the Mises Caucus Michael Heise put it on Election Day: “We need to accept that federal office is not realistic right now. If we’re lucky we make the ballot, but even then we are kept out of the polls, excluded from the debates, and blacked out by the media.” Heise went on to say that the way to victory is through running “local initiatives” and by pursuing “winnable state-level races”.

Michael’s advice is sound and logical. In fact, looking at previous elections, localized candidates performed much better on average. The federal libertarian candidate who did the best by far was Gary Johnson in the New Mexico Senate race. Despite polling as high as 22%, which was second place, prior to the election, the former governor only managed to get 15%. This is even more disappointing after realizing how much money and time he poured into the run. Artie Buxton of South Carolina, on the other hand, won a bid for school board with 68% of the vote. Without a doubt, that victory was won with much less than the nearly $400,000 that Johnson used.

The New Libertarian Way to Victory

Local and state races are not only more successful historically, but also more strategic. Without endless supplies of money like the Republicans and Democrats, the Libertarians need to be inventive:

  • Low profile races add up over time, building a strong grassroots base.
  • Local races create experienced candidates who can work their way up the political ladder.
  • Proven records of victory provide a defense to arguments against the lack of “winnability”

The largest lesson for any Libertarian is that the real upcoming race is 2019, not 2020. Local races are the future of the Libertarian Party. The long game is the path to change.


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The Media’s Molestation of Mueller and Climate Science

Glenn Verasco | Thailand

I am embarrassed to say that my most recent post was back on September 24th of this year. To put that in perspective, this was in the midst of the Kavanaugh confirmation fiasco and more than a month before midterm elections.

I have some legit reasons for being less able to publish recently, but I’m not here to make excuses. Instead, in an attempt to reignite my creative flame, I will indulge in a stream-of-conscious-like list of opinions on happenings in current events, politics, and news.

Climate Change

Based on my own perception through the lens of social media, there seems to be an increase in climate-related articles and op-eds pouring out of the web. This is likely due to the Trump administration’s supposed disregarding of a federal climate report as well as recent revelations of the international community’s astounding failure to curb carbon emissions (they are once again on the rise).

As an avid snorkeler and explorer of the natural world, I have a special interest in the environment and the life that abounds within it. However, being a nature lover does not make me an environmentalist. I firmly believe that the well-being of the individuals who comprise mankind vastly outweighs environmental conservation and that those who wish to preserve the natural world ought to bear the burden of doing so, rather than using legislation and the brute force of the state to shift the cost onto others.

I am also a glutton for logic, or perhaps, something of a logic addict. I do not mean to say that I am the most logical person in the world (as the simulation of logic, being just as satisfying as the real thing, is bound to fool me more than once in a while), but that I depend on logic to feel content.

Being interested in nature without being an environmentalist and being a logic glutton or addict has resulted in my opinion on climate change and climate policy culminating as follows:

  • Climate Change will probably cause some problems in the future, but the solutions proposed in mainstream politics are impossible (in terms of political will [see France’s anti-gas tax riots]), ineffective (in terms of mitigating temperature rise), or worse than simply allowing Climate Change to take its toll (in terms of economics and quality of human life [this would not be a reason cited by an environmentalist, which I am not]).
  • The best way to deal with Climate Change is to have faith in supply-side economics (which is creating a vastly underappreciated utopia). As I laid out in a post about two years ago, maximizing economic growth and innovation via deregulation and decentralization of government is the best way to continue humanity’s miraculous rise from poverty and despair, which will, in turn, allow more people the luxury of being able to care for and nurture the environment in addition to providing abundant and reliable resources to alleviate the damage caused by Climate Change in the future (oddly enough, Jordan Peterson laid out my ideas quite eloquently during a recent appearance at Cambridge University… has he been reading my blog?).

The Mueller Probe

The three branches of the United States federal government are as follows: executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch mainly deals with government personnel and international relations, the legislative branch makes the laws, and the judicial branch settles disputes.

There is no FBI or Robert Mueller branch of government, and, regardless of how anti-Libertarian Trump’s policies are, I am growing sick and tired of unelected, extra-constitutional bureaucrats trying to run the show in Washington. The FBI and their special counsel are subordinate to the president whether you like the president or not.

I am undecided on how exactly to feel about Robert Mueller. Dan Bongino is in the midst of presenting a compelling case against the entire Russia-gate operation, essentially calling it a red herring being used to undermine Trump and, possibly more malevolently, cover up illegal intelligence activity directed against the Trump campaign during the Obama administration. I have not read Bongino’s book, so I am sticking with compelling for now.

#TheResistance (which includes the whole of the mainstream media as far as I can tell) has been telling me for about two years that Mueller and the gang are inches away from bringing the Trump presidency crashing to the ground. Watergate will look like jaywalking, by comparison, they say. But as so-called bombshell after so-called bombshell fades into oblivion, the little confidence I had in this stale fairy tale has completely evaporated.

Mueller needs to sign his book deal and find a new hobby.

Climate Change, Mueller, and Media

There’s a bit of a tie-in between the Mueller probe and Climate Change, which the media has brought about.

After the aforementioned federal climate report was made public, major media outlets pounced on the revelation that the US economy could shrink by 10% by the end of the century. Incredibly important information is, I suspect, intentionally (though maybe stupidly) left out of this claim. For starters, the 10% reduction is not in relation to the current economy. It’s 10% of the projected economy of 2100, which is expected to be 300% of today’s economy per capita. This means the economy of 2100 will be, as Bjorn Lomborg puts it, “a slightly smaller bonanza.” Furthermore, the report uses predictions of improbably high levels of warming. As Lomborg writes:

“[The 10% figure] assumes that temperatures will increase about 14 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. This is unlikely. The US climate assessment itself estimates that, with no significant climate action, American temperatures will increase by between 5 and 8.7 degrees. Using the high estimate of 8.7 degrees, the damage would be only half as big, at 5 percent.”

Mentioning these factors should reduce anxiety over climate change consequences and contradicts the likelihood that they will occur at all.

The main takeaway from all of this, even for those who disagree with me about climate and environmental policy, should be that it is the media, not the scientists, who are spreading hysteria about the future of the natural world.

The same is true of the Mueller probe.

Robert Mueller is not going on national television exclaiming that the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency is upon us. He is not trolling the president and his associates with hyperbolic headlines or spreading conspiracy theories on Twitter.

Mueller is, on occasion, releasing information about largely benign findings uncovered by his investigation and making no comment on what they mean in regard to the president’s future or past.

Anti-Trump media outlets like CNN and The New York Times, by politicizing issues like Climate Change and the special counsel, are tarnishing the reputations of experts in their fields, be they prosecutors or climatologists. They are replacing rational discourse with hackneyed talking points. And they are ruining any chance the public they claim to serve may have to engage with complex and important issues in an adult and civil manner.

Yemen

Spencer Neale at 71 Republic compiled a list of the 37 senators who recently voted to continue the War in Yemen. All 37 are Republicans, which illustrates why Libertarians must invade the GOP or vote third party, not succumb to the lesser-of-two-evils ultimatum. Political correctness and reckless welfare spending are not worse than endless war and the bill that comes with it, so the Democrats should not be avoided any more than the Republicans. Both are plagues upon the USA.

By the way, Americans are still dying in Afghanistan. What the hell are we doing over there?

***

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Bad Legal Precedent Used to Challenge Maine Election Result

Jack Shields | United States

According to NPR, the incumbent Representative for Maine’s Second Congressional District, Bruce Poliquin (R), is attempting to claim victory through the courts in an election he clearly lost. Maine uses ranked choice voting for their U.S. House of Representatives elections. This means that instead of picking just one candidate, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If the first round is completed and no candidate has above 50% of the vote, the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated and those who voted for him have their votes go to their next ranked, non-eliminated choice. When the first round results were tallied, Poliquin was in first place with 46.2% of the vote, while his Democratic challenger, Jared Golden, trailed with 45.5% of the vote, and two independents; Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar carried 5.8% and 2.4% respectively.

In the second round, Bond and Hoar were eliminated and their votes were transferred to the voters’ second choices. The second round concluded with Golden earning a razor-thin victory over Poliquin: 50.53% to 49.47%. However, Poliquin is arguing that ranked choice voting is an unconstitutional violation of the ‘one person, one vote’ doctrine established in Baker v. Carr (1962). Even with the Carr ruling as precedent, Poliquin has no real chance or logic behind his Hail Mary lawsuit. However, the real issue is Carr in and of itself is an unconstitutional overreach by an activist court into the legislative and political domain, and should be overturned.

The issue in Carr was a requirement in Tennessee’s constitution requiring the reapportionment of seats in their state senate and general assembly every ten years starting in 1871. But when Charles W. Baker brought his suit to court, it had been over five decades since 1901 yet the state was still using the 1901 reapportionment law, despite population increases, thus severely over-representing rural districts.  Baker argued this made some people’s vote count more than others and was therefore a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment. The Supreme Court agreed, declaring that the 14th amendment guarantees the ‘one person, one vote’ right where each vote should hold as much weight as any other vote. This precedent is unfortunately still in force today.

Even under the Carr precedent, Poliquin has no real case. The Court ruled that each vote ought to carry equal weight. The Court did not rule that votes cannot be transferred. Just because the vote was now for Golden rather than Bond or Hoar, doesn’t mean it was somehow magically more or less important. One vote equals one vote regardless of whom the vote was for. The only serious way he could argue the votes in the first round were weighed differently than votes in the second round is the fact that according to Ballotpedia, there were 284,455 votes in the first round and 275,557 votes in the second round. This may be because some people didn’t put a second choice when they voted, and therefore their vote was not transferred into the second round. While mathematically this means a vote in the second round held roughly 3.2% more weight of the total vote than in the first round, this is not actually evidence that it was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. No voter was prohibited from selecting a second choice, which would deny them equal protection under the law. Those who did not select a second choice candidate chose not to on their own accord. In some cases, not voting is just as much as a vote as actually voting in terms of the effects it has on the election. This does not mean that it unconstitutionally swings the election. There is no legitimate legal argument for Poliquin. Golden is the new representative for the people of Maine’s Second District.

When examining the actual Carr decision, it is clear the Court overstepped its boundaries. The lower courts determined that because this was an issue of a state constitution, a state reapportionment law, and a state legislature, this was not an issue which the federal courts had any jurisdiction. But because the Supreme Court determined there was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Federal Constitution, the federal courts had jurisdiction. This would be true if there was a violation of the Federal Constitution, but it is clear there is no violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The 14th amendment was ratified in 1868 and was specifically designed to protect the rights of newly freed slaves. The point of the Equal Protection Clause was so, for example, a state could not demand that a black man pay $100 in taxes while a white man only had to pay $50 in taxes. Laws now had to be equally applied without race-based, and later sex-based discrimination. However, this has nothing to do with elections and the weight of a vote. Both then and now, the President is elected through the Electoral College, which goes completely against the idea of ‘one man, one vote.’ As reported by the Huffington Post, in the 2016 election a vote in Wyoming held 3.6 times more weight than a vote in California. The 14th amendment did not repeal the Electoral College. In fact, it had so little to do with voting that the 15th amendment had to be passed in order to let the black men the 14th amendment was attempting to protect get to vote. The Equal Protection Clause had nothing to do with voting, meaning it is in no way an adequate excuse for federal overreach into a state issue; making this is an unconstitutional precedent that ought to be overturned at the next available opportunity.


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Cindy Hyde-Smith Moves on to Mississippi Senate Runoff

By James Sweet III | Mississippi

With 28% of precincts reporting, 71 Republic is calling the Mississippi Special Election for United States Senator in favor of Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and Mike Espy (D). As of 9:55 PM, Espy is leading the race with 44.5% of the vote. Hyde-Smith is in second place with 38.2%. The race required a majority to win without a runoff, which will be held on November 27th between the two candidates.

Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi State Senator, campaigned fiercely against Cindy Hyde-Smith, calling her an establishment candidate and labeling his campaign as anti-establishment. As tonight was a “jungle primary”, there was not a single candidate for each party. The competition between McDaniel and Hyde-Smith was expected to be the fiercest in the primary as they were the closest in a recent poll, but McDaniel only has 15.8%

Cindy Hyde-Smith is supported by the mainstream Republican Party, having garnered the endorsement of President Donald J. Trump. While Espy earned the first place for this election, due to the deep redness of the State of Mississippi, it is expected for Hyde-Smith to win the runoff election and to secure her seat as the Junior Senator from Mississippi.


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10 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote in Elections

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

As the midterm season comes to a climax, candidates continue to argue their positions, back and forth. From New York to California and every place in between, Democrats and Republicans fight with tooth and claw in order to secure their positions of power. They get these positions, of course, by the power of the vote. However, it does not have to be this way. A cultural shift is possible, and can finally lead society away from the battling for control, under the brilliant guise of democratic freedom. I now will present a list of 10 reasons not to vote this November.

The Impracticality of Voting

1) Mathematically, an individual’s vote does not count. In the 2016 election, over 137 million people voted. This gives each voter about 0.0000007% of the total vote. In any other mathematical sense, one would recognize this lack of significance. To put it in context, the ratio is the same as 0.41 square miles of the entire planet’s land surface area. This is not a statistically relevant percentage.

2) Also, most states do not offer much a choice anyway. Almost without fail, California will run Democrat, and Alabama Republican. So, if your state is solidly leaning towards one candidate on election day, your vote makes no noticeable difference. A vote for Donald Trump in Texas, for example, makes no difference, as he won the state by nine points.

3) Frankly, it is a waste of time and money. Polling places often have long lines, and many may be miles away from voters’ homes. Why spend the time or money on gas standing to pull a lever that does not make a statistical difference? There are better, more productive things to do with free time on a Tuesday.

A Lack of True Representation

4) When selecting a preferred candidate, you will inevitably have to sacrifice some of your beliefs. There are too many important issues out there for the candidates to cover every combination of beliefs possible. One candidate, for example, may share your belief on taxation, but not war. Why should you have to sacrifice one of those? By staying home, you do not abandon any principles.

5) Only a very narrow set of beliefs are actually represented on the list of viable options. Of course, most ballots only have Republicans and Democrats listed. If there are more choices, though, they are generally third parties without a prayer of winning. When the viable options are on such a narrow spectrum (Democrats and Republicans, ideologically, are not far apart) most people will not see true representation.

6) A politician has no real reason not to break a campaign promise. Now, throughout the election season, different candidates make statements that they often do not keep in office. By voting, you are not voting for those statements, but for the person. More often than not, you will not be getting what you asked for, as politicians often go back on your word. Don’t want to get conned? Don’t participate.

Political Reasons Not to Vote

7) When it comes down to it, a vote is an expression, however small, of political power. But, it is not morally right to use power over another person, especially when that person has not done anything to you in the first place. By voting, you are saying that it is okay for this preferred politician to use force against my neighbor. Rather than selecting who should use force against your neighbor, stay home and declare that nobody should use force against you, your neighbor, or anyone else.

8) A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil. Even when voting against one candidate, you are voting for another one. Regardless of the circumstances, it is wrong to personally endorse a candidate that will do wrong. In the modern day especially, the vast majority of elections come down to this idea, which leads to a number of people unknowingly voting for evil themselves. In complacency, the worst evils of mankind can arise.

Moral Opposition

9) When someone votes, they are accepting the will of the majority. Basically, a voter claims to support the right thing, but if more people support the wrong thing, then that’s okay because it was a democratic decision. In issues as important as war, we cannot let a voting body decide this. No amount of people, majority or otherwise, should get legal protection of inhumane acts like war. But by voting, you accept the eventual outcome of the election. Thus, contrary to popular opinion, if you do vote, then you shouldn’t be complaining. You consented to the system and agreed to a majority outcome. Only by refusing to participate can you truly say that resulting poor actions are not, in any way, your fault.

10) Lastly, voting for the right is doing nothing for it. If you truly do oppose something inhumane, like war, you should oppose it absolutely, rather than conditionally. A vote is a conditional opposition because when the majority wins, the right principles do not succeed. Instead, it is better to persuade people of your principles in a tangible way, rather than hoping that someone else will use coercion to enforce them. If you oppose wars, you are not ending them by voting for someone who may or may not do so. However, you could help to actually end the atrocities by persuading civilians not to become soldiers, starting a charity that donates to victims, or any number of other methods. Clearly, an action for the right is infinitely stronger than a vote for it.


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