When I was on college radio, we had no FM or even an AM band. This was before the Internet so traditional, over the air broadcasting was the only way to reach a wide audience. So due to our lack of any substantial tower or antenna, our only audience was on campus. But us disk jockeys played to the audience we wanted, the ones we imagined were out there, if only we could reach them. I know that’s what I did. I had CD giveaways, vinyl giveaways, poster giveaways. I had a partner for one semester and we did a bundle give away for any listener who could give us a good name for our show. That, was the only give away where any one answered. And yet, we continued to broadcast and ask for audience participation anyhow hoping one day, they’d be there. Our official unofficial tagline was “WOUX, Where the FM Dream Lives”. Our manager never let us officially use it even though we said it a lot on the air. He never stopped us. It never stopped us. The Dream kept us spinning the tunes.
Today, I have more important dreams. One of which, I’ve had longer than getting into the FM band in my college years. This particular dream, as of this year, goes back twenty years. And it goes like this:
I would like to see the United States government go back to its Constitutional level.
It’s not the dream of seeing my political party get into the highest office of the land. It’s not a dream of seeing a particular personality get elected. No, it’s all about the ideology. That ideology is currently understood as “libertarianism”.
The only political movement endorsing the libertarian philosophy is the Libertarian Party. There are people in the Republican Party who are quasi-libertarian, like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio but they didn’t make the cut in the presidential election. The GOP has had numerous opportunities to elect liberty minded Republicans but they pass them over. And in 2016, they chose Donald Trump, the least of them deserving the name of “conservative”. But there you have it.
No, if you, like me, want to see smaller government, you won’t find it in the two major parties. Your only choice is the Libertarian Party. And yet, it’s a long shot. I’ve documented the many road blocks to our small party’s road to victory. Most of them have been set in place by the Republicans and Democrats in order to keep their lead. With a regular, predictable one percent vote count after every election, the question remains: Why do we do it?
Because we in the Libertarian Party understand that losing battles in part of every war. It’s winning the war that counts. Winning a war requires a long term commitment with strong, committed soldiers and a message the people can want to fight for. Notice in this 2016 election the two major parties aren’t fighting over a message? They’re fighting over who’s the most scandalous, who’s mistreating the most pussy.
Because of this, the 2016 election has given the Libertarian Party the best chance to win its first major victory in American political warfare. 2016 could be our Saratoga. And it starts with just getting five percent of the vote total.
What does five percent give us?
Five percent gives us access to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund because we’d now be listed as an official “minor” party and five percent would also give us a near guarantee of being on the ballot in all fifty states. Let’s analyze this.
First, about that “near guarantee ballot access”. There is a mistaken belief that five percent is an automatic guarantee the Libertarian Party would be on all fifty state ballots in 2018. But this is not entirely true. It is the states that determine their ballot access. Since states control how candidates get on the ballots, states make up the rules of who gets on and how. Some states do grant access if five percent (or even less) is achieved during a presidential election. But some states grant access based on gubernatorial and/or senate races. So this is where the Presidential Election Campaign Fund comes in.
What we have historically done is chewed up a large portion of our funds just getting onto the ballot. Federal matching funds would near guarantee we would have the resources day one, to make all state requirements for ballot access, thereby freeing up money for advertising and outreach.
And this can propel us into the debates. As Gary Johnson noted this election, the debates are the presidential election’s super bowl. If you don’t get into it, you don’t get the trophy. The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump scored 84 million viewers. Imagine what could have happened with the libertarian message if 84 million could have heard it.
There’s only one problem with this. Federal matching funds come from the same well as all federal funds. They are tax payer dollars. They are your dollars. And you may be reading this as a non-libertarian. This means if Gary Johnson scores five percent of the vote, you, a non-libertarian, would see some of your tax dollars going to a future campaign you won’t support.
Isn’t it hypocritical for a libertarian candidate to take federal funds since we’re the ones trying to stop government from taking your money for programs you may not necessarily want?
I say, it would be except for the fact that the Presidential Election Campaign Fund is voluntary tax dollars. These are voluntary donations. In other words, people putting their tax money in go into it understanding it can go to any candidate who qualifies. So it’s not like other tax dollars that disappear in Washington and show up on projects you weren’t aware or approved of.
Despite this, it still remains a sore spot for libertarians. The party is split on philosophical grounds on whether or not we should participate. But sometimes I wonder if breaking a rule is worth it. Maybe if the greater good comes from it, it is worth doing. But that opens the door for others to do whatever they want in the name of some greater good and that’s how the Libertarian Party could end up like the two major parties. I’m reminded of Thomas Jefferson, who made the Louisiana Purchase despite having no authority to do so. In a letter to John Breckinridge he justified it. He wrote, “It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory; and saying to him when of age, ‘I did this for your good; I pretend to no right to bind you: you may disavow me, and I must get out of the scrape as I can. I thought it my duty to risk myself for you.’”
The Libertarian Party will have to decide, should we get the five percent, if we’re willing to take the matching funds in the same line of thinking as Jefferson took the Louisiana Purchase. But I’m hoping we score that five percent so that instead of a hypothetical, we’ll really have to decide in 2020.
I write and publish this piece the night before the 2016 United States Presidential election. I’m hoping by tomorrow evening, the five percent will be reached. It will be a personal victory and such a payoff for being involved for so long. It’s an unprecedented opportunity that, if squandered, may not crop up again unless an unusual circumstance crops up again.
The Libertarian Party – Where the Five Percent Dream Lives. Let’s vote for it. Let’s win this battle.
My university was Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Almost thirty-years-ago, us disk jockeys at WOUX could only dream of reaching an audience outside the campus commons area. What if after a few years we gave up? Where would today’s students be?
Years ago, my alma mater did score that antenna. So today’s students have an FM station. Today’s students also have an Internet channel which reaches an audience far larger than we, back in the late 80s, early 90s, could imagine. Today’s disk jockeys at Oakland University reach every person on planet Earth. And they get to do that because those of us who started it, despite the odds, believed.