Leave the Party, take the Cannoli

Originally published on Third Party Watch on Friday October 13, 2023

A word of advice to anyone trying to write in the modern world: don’t ever take a weekend vacation where they don’t let you talk politics or religion.  It throws you off pace.

But while I was on this weekend retreat at the end of June, I did manage to sneak in a few minutes on my iPad catching the news.  I quickly switched back to baseball when someone came into the living room.  It was one of the countless Saturday morning political commentary shows. The hosts all have unpronounceable names, so while I channel surf a lot, I tend to listen to the one with the Philadelphia accent. It brings back memories.

On this particular Saturday morning, there  was a story about a “secret” meeting between Washington insiders in the Democratic and Republican parties having met earlier that week to discuss ways to stop “no labels” from running a candidate and somehow allowing Trump to be re-elected.  The discussion centered around whether this was the election cycle where a strong, third-party or independent candidate could finally have impact.  The guest vehemently denied this possibility.

More recent events, some covered on Independent Political Report, center around fears of the Green Party’s candidate, as well as this group they call “no labels“. Interestingly, there was no mention of fear of Libertarians or other “third-parties”.  Why not?

Unfortunately, we all know the answer to that question. Agree or disagree with the current state of their party, no one disputes the fact that regardless of the candidate, the LP never seems to get anywhere.  Neither do the Greens, although one could argue that both parties have had candidates in recent cycles that helped tip the scale one way or the other between donkeys and elephants.  But is tipping the scale the goal?

We never talk about the squeaky voiced, short guy with the funny ears, who ran twice in the 90s.  What made him different — besides money of course?  He had a message.  Something about a conspiracy by the then current president to mess up his daughter’s wedding or something crazy like that.  A precursor of the craziness the country went through the last two election cycles when someone even nuttier actually managed to get elected.

So does this mean that for a “third-party” to make a difference it has to run a complete whack job?  I hope not.

Of course “insiders“ will tell you that the presidential campaign is meaningless. That all it does is get you ballot access in certain states. That the really important races are at the local level. Of course, that is true. But eventually presidential elections will mean something if a smaller party begins to succeed.  Until then, parties just have to continue running politically credible candidates, who all “die on the sword” to try to advance their message.  To their credit, all the presidential candidates I have worked with believed their mission was extending ballot access and helping downstream candidates.  Most of the others I interacted with had similar goals.

That is why antics at the national level, such as candidates for president wearing masks, Civil War uniforms, or boots on their head, only do damage to whatever that party is trying to accomplish.  Flamboyant party leaders also distract from a credible appearance.  All of this adds to a continuing decrease in coverage of parties and their candidates by the media.

When I joined the libertarian party in 2005, I started going to national conventions.  At the 2006 convention, I met several people who stated they were running in 2008, including Dr Phillies.  They were all respectable looking, with rational issues.  My recollection is that almost everyone at the 2008 convention made solid presentations.

By 2020, the tables were turned.  There were several credible candidates, but the whack jobs were in abundance. Those of us around the country who believe that local elections are what you win first would’ve been embarrassed, and lost credibility at the local level, by several of the potential national candidates.

As we all know, a lot of the good dedicated leadership of the LP has either left, is being forced out, or in some cases is plotting taking the party back over from the usurpers.  Look at what the Libertarian Party of Colorado recently did. I have no idea about election laws in their state, but if a party did that in South Carolina, state law enforcement would probably be raiding their meetings, and making arrests due to violation of state law regarding parties colluding together.  Usurpers acting completely mad.

But regardless of whether it is legal or not, openly colluding – or suggesting collusion – with another party is disgusting.  At some point you have to decide whether the ethical infrastructure of the organization has crossed the line of corruption to a point where it is no longer salvageable.

So where am I going with this? And why, after pretty much “retiring“ and just sitting back, and observing for the past nearly 3 years, am I making noise again?  I have watched two parties fail that I have been involved in. First, the Republican Party in the 1990s. And now the Libertarian Party.  Both abandoned their mission. Both abandoned their ethics.  Not everyone. But enough of the leadership to cause the direction to change.

So I decided to get back in the game. There is a lot of work to do.  Fortunately, I found a group of ethical and dedicated people, and there will be a new national classical liberal party.  From what I have heard rumors of, there may actually be several groups that end up launching. And the next week, I was even told by someone that she had heard on a podcast that I and the editor of 3PW were working together to create a national party. That one shocked me so much that I almost fell over laughing.  Are they that scared?  Would a secret cabal led by Dr Phillies and myself be their undoing?

Well the cabal is not a cabal, nor is it really a secret.  And I am only one cog in the wheel.  I left the Party, and I took the Cannoli.  You can too.

Note: about the time I finished this in the beginning of July I started getting busy with the many many tasks needed to start a political organization. I also got sick for a little while. Then we got into summer, with all the distractions of baseball (go Phillies!) and work. The result is that this article is being submitted three months after it was written.  It is still relevant.  The Cannoli is still fresh.


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