Drew Miller, former candidate for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, spoke with 71Republic in this exclusive post-election interview. Drew Miller received 1,378 votes – more than the margin Conor Lamb won by. The GOP is pushing for a recount and many are criticizing Drew Miller for “handing the election” to Conor Lamb. This is simply not the case.
Keller: What encouraged you to run for public office?
Miller: I decided to run for public office because I was tired of going into a voting booth only have to choose between 1 — or at the most — 2 options. I knew that if I wanted to see real change, maybe it could start with me. I really decided after the Libertarian Parties of Allegheny and Washington Counties came to me and said they wanted me to be their candidate.
Keller: You are running for Congress as a libertarian. In your own words, what is libertarianism?
Miller: Libertarianism is the idea of taking power away from the government and putting individual freedom and responsibility back into the hands of the people. It’s also about being fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. Essentially, “live and let live”.
Keller: With a majority of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, how would having a libertarian in Congress change the dynamic of the national government?
Miller: Being a Libertarian in Congress would allow me to be a truly independent thinker and could allow me to bridge the divide between the two major parties, since I consider myself to be a mix of the best qualities of each party.
Keller: Gun control has come to dominate the national conversation with the recent tragic events in Florida. Where do you stand on gun control?
Miller: I don’t think banning guns or putting in more restrictions will help the root cause of gun violence and mass shootings: mental illness. People can always find different ways to obtain a gun or different ways to kill and creating some sort of a “mental illness database” would only stigmatize those deemed to be mentally ill. I think the best way to address it would be to address the mental illness problem we have in our country. If we do that, we won’t just solve gun violence, but a plethora of societal issues.
Keller: Pennsylvania is a battleground state and arguably decided the 2016 presidential election. What is your message to on the fence voters?
Miller: My message to on the fence voters is that the 2 party system has failed you. 221 years ago Washington gave his farewell address to Congress and he warned us that if we allowed the parties to get too strong, they would undermine everything we worked so hard to create as a country. Now we are at the threshold of Washington’s premonition. We have the ability to send a REAL message to Washington, D.C. by rejecting the duopoly and authoritarianism and giving the power back to the people. Republicans and Democrats tell you how government can make your life better. I’m here to tell you how your life will be better without the government interfering.
Keller: Do you have any final remarks for the readers?
Miller: My entire campaign relied upon unpaid volunteers and talking to high school and college aged students. I believe we are going to see a youth-lead revolution of libertarian ideas very shortly. This will be the first time since 1996 that voters in the 18th District will have the ability to choose a 3rd option for a congressional candidate. It has been an honor to be that 3rd option.
Drew Miller formally conceded the election at 8:05 am on the 14th of March, 2018, after receiving 0.6% of the vote, triple the 0.2% margin of victory. Conor Lamb was able to secure an upset victory in Pennsylvania’s 18th District against Republican Rick Saccone, not because of Drew Miller but simply by gaining enough support.
Many are trying to look into the “tea leaves” to see what the future holds for November elections. Trump won this district by twenty points in 2016, and a democrat was able to win the seat in 2018 election. While many are saying this is a voter mandate rejecting the policies of the Trump Administration, it is hard to speculate due to the democrat that one being a moderate, pro-life and pro-gun veteran. Only time will tell what this means for 2018.
I would like to thank Drew Miller for his time. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.
The Libertarian Party has a serious problem. Namely, we keep getting our asses handed to us.
Image Source: New York Times
This week, in Pennsylvania’s District 18 special election, Libertarian candidate Drew Miller barely scraped together 1,379 votes out of more than 225,000 cast.I bolded that last part because it deserves to be emphasized. The gap between winning and losing doesn’t just feel an ocean apart – it is one.
What’s worse, far too often we pat our candidates on the back, make excuses about how the race was unwinnable to begin with and then start sending out emails begging the membership to donate for the next circus campaign. And nothing changes. Nothing ever changes.
In the middle of the vote count Tuesday night, Miller shared the David Axelrod tweet above. I would like to point out that celebrating a 0.6% showing by retweeting an Obama era stooge is possibly the clearest symbol of what the Libertarian Party has been reduced to – a running joke. After getting stomped on in similar fashion in Virginia and Florida over the past few months, is there any question that our candidates, our ideas, and our leadership are sub-par?
Miller further championed his efforts in classic libertarian style by promoting his campaign as the #spoiler of the election. Spoiler? The only thing spoiled about the election was Miller’s performance. The idea that 0.6% is in any way relevant to these races is something that has become a consistent fallback for LP candidates across the nation as they look to save face on undeniable failure. By crowning yourself an important feature of an election, the LP attempts to put a positive spin on campaigns and candidates that have more likely tarnished the reputation and future goals of our organization. While the LP leadership lectures the party membership on Ron Paul and Tom Woods, the pragmatic gee whiz brand of libertarianism remains the real issue at the heart of modern-day libertarianism.
Supporters might have expected an apology or a speech explaining why his numbers were so incredibly low. Instead, on Facebook and Twitter, Miller was congratulated by followers. He posted about how excited he was that Wolf Blitzer had asked for his photo (what an honor) and called his voters “courageous” for essentially throwing the race into Lamb’s favor. Today, he was practically glowing as he linked an article to the Huffington Post that touted his role, again, as the #spoiler.
Supporters were quick to lament poor press coverage in the lead up to the event and suggested that if outlets like the Huffington Post had covered him throughout the race, then Miller may have actually won. This is the sort of asinine thinking and rah rah cheerleading that dots failed campaign after failed campaign across the nation in the Libertarian Party. As a member of the press, let me point out something about media organizations – if it bleeds it leads and there wasn’t a drop of blood in Miller’s clunky, plodding tank of a campaign.
I don’t mean to pile onto Miller. I am only interested in the truth. I can’t comprehend how one gets only 1,400 votes out of 225,000. Perhaps I grew up watching too many triumphant underdog movies that colored my belief in the will to win. Watching these elections, it feels like our party isn’t even in the script.
As I mulled over the results the next morning, I couldn’t help but think of the worst soda on the shelf – RC Cola. After all, to use a crude analogy, RC Cola is competing against the two soda duopoly of sugar water much in the same way that the LP is stacked against the two giants political heads of the DNC and RNC. I wondered, “Do we pity RC Cola? Do we congratulate their company for the courageous production of low-grade soda in the face of such sugar water tyranny”?
No! We reject it by market standards and it only exists to fill a niche demographic. It will never be a top cola because it aims only to be a shady knockoff of the real thing. To the voting public, that’s exactly what The Libertarian Party has become (or maybe always been) – a shitty knockoff of no-good RC Cola.
Besides their libertarian orient, many of these campaigns share one thing in common – they easily become show fodder for late night and corporate media. In the run-up to the election, the media doesn’t pay us any attention. Or so, that’s the line of thinking. You have to make them pay attention. Our candidates have to get better at utilizing the elements in our platform that are distinct to directly engage with the disenfranchised public. When an election ends, the media only care about one thing in regards to the LP – was the candidate a spoiler? We should not embrace this label and we should not be beaming on the corporate news as if it’s some sort of prize to be won.
Where is the real courage necessary to compete in a race? Where is the real courage to stand out and offer something completely different that blows the doors off of allowable political thought? Our candidates seem not to possess the fight or moxie to speak with the sort of active voice necessary to cut through the flatness of wall to wall media. There is a huge group of Americans who feel disowned and betrayed by our government, our laws and our media. Even though our ideas are strong in principle, we seem innately incapable of making a dent in the political spectrum. There is no reason why we can’t be the ideas platform that connects to those masses.
We can learn a lot from the past two major election cycles. If Donald Trump and Barack Obama have taught us any lesson then it is about the new slant of politics in the 21st century. It is only about a cult of personality. To win, your campaign has to connect on a cultural level that sits far outside the narrow confines of ideological pandering. And it must be fearless.
That is not fearless. That is gutless pandering to virtue signaling leftists and it produces gut-wrenching results.
That is not fearless either. That is one of the dumbest things the Libertarian Party has ever done and it is suggestive of the mentality that exists at the highest levels of what has become a corporate-minded LP headquarters.
Do you need more evidence of the incompetence running the Libertarian Party?
After seeing the latest post from the LP, Michael Heise, head of the break-off LP Mises Caucus, urged supporters to rally around two of the many challengers for the LP’s top leadership roles. The immense ideological difference between current LP leadership and its growing membership appears to be at an all-time pitch.
The LP does occasionally get one of these fearless candidates – McAfee, Petersen, Kokesh, Dunn, Paschal, and Istvan are some modern examples of outside thinkers that possess the ideological merit and social skills necessary to compete. But these campaigns are too few and far between to make a cohesive impact on any grand scale and out of the five people I mentioned, the two strongest have left the party unceremoniously after rising to its height in mere months.
The National Party leadership deserve as much blame as anyone involved in the numerous poorly thought out campaigns across the country. If the Libertarian Party were run like a successful company then they would be forced by market standards to clean house in Pennsylvania. Or they’d be fired.
That may very well happen this summer at the Libertarian National Committee where challengers to leadership brass have been met with renewed interest and support. The campaign’s of Joshua Smith and Alex Merced seemed early favorites but the race is opening up with latecomer Alicia Dearn and western wildcard Joe Paschal standing out amongst the competitors.
But more than changing the leadership of the Libertarian Party, we must change the culture surrounding the LP that allows for such losses to continue. We dance around causes instead of activating them. Whether it’s gun rights, the NSA, cryptocurrency, immigration, or the endless wars, the Libertarian Party has watered down every single expression of their founding message with a modern pitch to the membership that if we let the firebrands run the party, we will never win. This is a lie.
When I think of a great libertarian campaign, I think of Hunter S. Thompson’s insane bid for Sheriff of Aspen in 1970. He wasn’t a libertarian. He couldn’t be. He came within a handful of votes from winning. His candidacy, a year before the LP even existed, saw Thompson run as a Freak Power candidate on a simple counter-culture message that was completely energized around his cult of personality. He advocated for free speech, the environment, the legalization of drugs, and a direct rebuttal to the cumbersome Nixon administration and the fallout generation that had made Aspen home in the decades before Gozno arrived.
His campaign did not plead to be heard, it demanded to be heard.
He was a complete affront to the system of illegitimate governance and he refused to apologize for it. When the media asked him how he would refute being called a “freak,” he unapologetically raised his voice and suggested that being a freak was a good thing. That to be a freak really only meant that you stood in direct opposition to the political, cultural and technological hegemony that America has wrapped itself in. If Thompson showed up at an LP meeting today, there is little doubt in my mind that he’d be met with the sort of skeptical glances and vocal outbursts against his minor ideological differences that characterize the boneless leadership.
He didn’t ask forgiveness for his rebel ways and that is precisely what we are missing in the Libertarian Party.
The bearish result in Pennsylvania’s 18th is just another notch on the current administration’s belt who seem to spend every day littering our email boxes with pronouncements of surging membership while actual polls show the direct opposite:
The reality is that Miller should never have been in the race to begin with. Much like the ill-gotten campaigns of Foxhall in Florida and Hyra in Virginia, none of these candidates stood a snowball’s chance in hell and their inclusion in these races served only as money pits for each state party’s treasury. While staffers and candidates champion themselves as ‘rebels’ and inevitably move up party rank as payment for their meager showings, the real optics for the party and membership are made worse by these miserable performances.
While the libertarian ideology espouses free market idealism, we seem to suffer from a severe case of market amnesia. While the National Party spent the run-up to election day touting party membership numbers as ‘surging,’ it’s apparent to any layperson that the electorate doesn’t like us or our candidates.
We are clean when we should be dirty. We ask permission when we should break down the wall. We claim ideological higher ground when we have never governed. We wear suits and smell like $10,000 when we should have dreadlocks down to our muddy knees. We have sold our membership a distilled version of libertarian pragmatism with the hope that it would appeal to the mainstream voter and it has been a consistently losing strategy.
That is why I suggest we swim in the opposite direction. To do that, we first need to look at the map.
It’s obvious that Libertarians can’t win in the East. Whether it’s the sunshine state of Florida or the chilly green mountains of Vermont, it is high time we abandon running Congressional and National candidates in the East. Take the 2016 election. If Bill Weld’s northeastern block had shown up on election day, the LP would have had easily achieved that stated goal of Johnson’s campaign, to grab 5% in the national election. As it stood, Weld’s bread and butter demographic barely mustered 2% in most states. For that ghastly performance, he’s been awarded serious consideration for the presidential nominee of the party.
If you look a bit deeper at the 2016 election results, the Western states of America represented the largest vote-getting territories for The Libertarian Party. In New York, Johnson/Weld got 2.2% of the vote while in Montana they received 5.5%. In Florida, Johnson/Weld got 2.1% of the vote while in Colorado they received 5.8%. In Pennsylvania, Johnson/Weld got 2.3% while in Oklahoma they received 5.7%. On and on it goes.
We are wasting our time if we believe we can make an impact on the east coast. Until we can win somewhere (anywhere) we should consider making it a priority to run well-financed campaigns in states that lie West of the Mississippi River. Hell, at this point, I’d be legitimately interested to see what it might look like if we took all of our manpower and money to Alaska and solely ran state race in the homeland of Seward’s Folly.
I know we can win. Our ideas are timeless, principled and noble in their intent. We have always stood to protect the decency of the individual and our poor results do not sway my belief that what we fight for is right and true. When candidates run as a Libertarian, many are proud that someone is willing to stand up for liberty principles in their district. It’s a rarity. But it’s not enough to just stand up. We have been standing up for nearly 50 years. We must begin walking onto the path of victory and it must be done quickly. Nobility does not engender success and until we begin placing candidates into office, we must criticize our party, its campaigns and its message until we begin to see real results.
Despite a close race that has captivated the viewing audience in Pennsylvania and across the nation, Lamb appears to have secured his victory by outperforming Clinton across the board.
Supporters held out late into the night as all eyes fell on Westmoreland county. The all important county of the night fell in slight favor of Lamb. By the time all the votes are counted, Lamb will have won with a margin of victory from 0.5% to 0.8%
In the final overture of what has become the most hyped race of the early 2018 election season, Democrat Conor Lamb has claimed victory against Republican challenger Rick Saconne in the race for Congressional District 18 of Pennsylvania. If Lamb has indeed won, in the heart of Trump country, it will send a strong message to Washington that confirms a growing tide of public opinion against President Trump and the Republican Party.
Heading into the final day, polling showed Conor Lamb with a significant lead. Lamb, a 33 year old military vet and former prosecutor, is not your typical modern progressive. In one of his first campaign ads, Lamb could be seen shooting a semi-automatic weapon and his throwback unionist populism proved a serious challenge to Saconne and modern conservatism.
Saconne had been the early odds on favorite but Lamb charmed Pennsylvanians and convinced labor unions to support his campaign in the final weeks. His conservative leanings on gun rights helped sway the minds of moderate Republicans and could possibly provide a strategy for modern Democrats to win in similar red demographics.
The race had become a referendum on the policies of Donald Trump as Saconne was a vocal advocate of the president’s policies on the campaign trail. With the tax cut message not providing much support, republicans amped up attacks as they lobbed criticism of national figured like Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters. Lamb’s win is evidence that this strategy will not work come November.
Should Lamb’s win be confirmed, he will replace Republican Tim Murphy who had held the position for nearly 15 years. Murphy was ousted in unceremonious fashion after it was revealed he had an extramarital affair and that his work office had become abusive. At 33, Lamb would become one of the youngest representatives in the country and potentially a name to remember in the coming years.
With the vote totals so close, we fully anticipate for Rick Saccone to demand a recount in the coming days and weeks. We will continue to cover this race and the results as they come in.