After the controversial 2000 presidential election Gary North, writing for lewrockwell.com, argued that third parties need to stop focusing on national elections, and instead focus on winning state and local elections. In his essay, “The Dogcatcher Strategy” he writes;
Why do libertarians think they have to field a candidate for President when they have not yet put anyone into the office of dogcatcher? Why does anyone believe that he should send money to a political party that has never won anything locally? I think it’s a way for people to tell their friends, “I’m fed up.” Fine; but don’t take politics seriously. “I’m fed up” is not a campaign platform or a way to effect political change. Don’t imagine that it matters who wins a no-win party’s nomination. Don’t give any post-election thought to the question, “How could we have won 2% of the vote instead of less than 1%” It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t.
There are 3,144 counties in this country, and over 100,000 offices a person can get elected to, so why do we focus on elections that, at this point in time, we cannot possibly win?
As I write this former Libertarian Vice Presidential hopeful Larry Sharpe is announcing that he will run for Governor of New York in 2018. Last week Arvin Vohra, Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Committee, announced he will run for Senate in the state of Maryland. Another strong Libertarian candidate, Alicia Dearn, has also announced that she will run for Senate in the state of Missouri. But honestly, why bother?
I don’t believe any Libertarian candidate running for Governor, United States Senate, or the House of Representatives truly believes that they can win public office at that level. Many of these candidates justify their run as a way to raise awareness, and spread the ideas of liberty, to grow the party for the future. That idea is laughable. The party that has championed a less centralized government in favor of valuing local communities since its inception in the December of 1971 has been employing this “lets raise awareness” strategy for its entire existence, to no avail.
Gary North points out why this line of thinking is laughable;
“Why does anyone believe that he should send money to a political party that has never won anything locally? I think it’s a way for people to tell their friends, “I’m fed up.” Fine; but don’t take politics seriously. “I’m fed up” is not a campaign platform or a way to effect political change. “
If the Libertarian Party really cared about empowering local communities, our best candidates would be running for city council, state house, or mayor. The best way to show people the way to liberty is to lead by example, not celebrating receiving 4% of the national vote in a presidential election. We need more people like Steve McCluskey, the Libertarian who just beat out a Republican and a Democrat to become the Mayor of
McLain Mississippi. As Mayor, McCluskey will be able to implement actual change in his community, and if things go well, maybe he can run for Mississippi’s state legislature, where he will actually be able to run not only on Libertarian ideas, but on his record as well.
Libertarian candidates, it seems, are only interested in running for office to say that they ran for office. Maybe if Larry Sharpe showed as much enthusiasm about running for New York State Assembly as he did in his announcing his run for Governor, a talented, smart, charismatic Libertarian could get elected legitimizing the entire party future, larger campaigns.