Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Libertarian Effect?

The so-called Nader spoiler effect may actually come from the Libertarian Party this year. Read the following piece from
The GOP's own Nader nightmare.
-- Jeff Horwitz
In a final pre-election push, Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik may have a shot at derailing Bush the way Nader did Gore in 2000.

Badnarik is spending $500,000 on advertising in select swing states, and by his campaign's own admission, he's targeting conservatives with commercials on Fox News Channel. One TV spot begins with a man at his kitchen table throwing down a newspaper in disgust and telling his wife "That's it! There's no way I'm voting for Bush again. He claimed to be a compassionate conservative, but what kind of conservative runs half-trillion dollar-a-year deficits, or gets us into an unwinnable war?"

The campaign's communications director, Stephen Gordon, expects Badnarik to siphon a substantial number of Republican votes. "There's a lot of disconnect between true conservatives and the Bush government over deficit spending and the war," Gordon told War Room. "Bush's support is very weak, and I think the Libertarian factor is going to be pretty significant this year. People are dying, and our supporters are very, very, opposed to the war in Iraq."

Of course, it's not that the libertarians are fond of Kerry. "We hate 'em both," Gordon says, speaking for himself and his wife. Badnarik's platform opposes welfare, most taxation and virtually any infringement on individual liberties; his official position on gun control is, "Don't even THINK about taking my guns!"

But Republicans have more reason than Democrats to be worried. Badnarik is on the ballot in nearly every state, while Nader has only qualified for 35. And while polls show that Nader's support has declined since the last election, Badnarik is likely to do better than the Libertarians did in 2000: In the few voter surveys that bother to include him as a candidate, some have shown him pulling in one percent support nationally. A Rasmussen poll commissioned by the Badnarik campaign showed him with 2 percent of the vote in Wisconsin, 1 percent in Colorado, 3 percent in Nevada, and as much as 5 percent in New Mexico. And that was before the Libertarians started their advertising blitz. The expectation that Badnarik will nab more votes from Bush than Kerry has led to some alliances with Democrats, such as "Operation Wisconsin Blue" -- an effort to raise Democratic money for ads targeting Wisconsin conservatives.

"In as many swing states as possible," Gordon says, "we'd like to have our vote total be greater than the margin of difference between Bush and Kerry." Playing the role of Bush spoiler would finally get the Libertarians some big press coverage, Gordon says -- and if the election is as close as the polls are showing, they may get their chance.

I've been arguing for consideration of third party candidates for a long time now. The more votes third party candidates get in each election, maybe we can finally get over this idea that they are stealing votes from major candidates. Every vote is simply a vote for a specific candidate. Each candidate is trying to "steal" other candidates votes, it is what we call campaigning. Bush is trying to steal Kerry votes and Kerry is trying to steal Bush votes. Bush is trying to steal Badnarik votes and Kerry is trying to steal David Cobb (Green Party candidate) votes. That is the whole point of an election, to garner the most possible votes.

There is no such thing as a spoiler candidate. Nader did not spoil the election in 2000 anymore than Gore spoiled it. If Badnarik gains votes that might have gone to Bush, it is not spoiling an election. Blame Bush if some conservatives would prefer Badnarik because Bush is losing conservative appeal. The Democrats and Republicans would obviously want to limit the party choices to just their two, afterall less competition is always a desire of trying to consolidate power. So they call the third parties spoilers and stealers of votes as if they are criminals or something undesirable.

What they really are afraid of is the marketplace. The two major parties are scared of allowing the marketplace of political ideas to expand. As any old corporation fears some upcoming company with new ideas, the Dems and Reps fear that their long term status would be endangered if they actually promoted democracy and didn't try to block ballot access to other parties. Just as in almost every industry in this country where corporations have minimized the competition, the Democrats and Republicans have long done the same to other parties.

Will the Libertarians or Ralph Nader be spoilers this year? Nonsense, they are only trying to point out that they have new and different ideas. Hopefully they will garner enough votes to get noticed for their ideas rather than the vote stealing fallacy we will hear. Whomever wins the election will be the best vote stealer, if you must call it that.



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