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Thursday, October 02, 2003

Perceptions

In my observation, a lot of folks in this country don’t have a basic understanding of the political parties beyond the Republican and Democrat parties. Of course, a lot of people probably don’t even understand those parties. But that’s another post for another day. I think there’s a perception that those other parties are bad, or evil, or at the minimum, weird. I have to admit a certain amount of ignorance on my own part as to what the other parties stand for or mean.

One of the blogs I read everyday (sometimes more often) is Random Act of Kindness. The title is a little misleading. The owner of the blog is the executive director of the Illinois Libertarian party. It is an educational and informative read.

Today he has a post about the Free State Project (something I just learned about yesterday). As he says, the project is not part of the Libertarian party, but there are a lot of Libertarians involved. The New Hampshire Democratic chairwoman has referred to the people who are part of the project as, “sort of a very fringe group that can best be described as anarchists.”

That’s what got me thinking about perceptions. After I read that earlier today I asked a fellow I know, “do you know what the Libertarian party is?” He said, “is that something like a communist?” This is coming from a 48 year old college educated self-admitted Republican. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to educate him on the topic so I just told him “no, not at all!” and left it at that.

I have actually had a little first hand experience with something other than the two main parties. It was the summer of 1980 and I was working as a legal secretary at a major law firm in Chicago. Unfortunately, that firm is no longer in existence. It was about 11:00 in the morning when my phone rang:

Me: This is Marie.
Her: The governor would like you to go down to the Clark Street entrance and bring John Anderson upstairs.

The governor was former Governor Richard B. Ogilvie. And John Anderson was running for President on the Conservative party ticket. I did the task. And that's about all there is to that little story.

I have a lot more to say about me and Ogilvie, but it’s too late and I’m getting really tired.

Posted by Marie at October 2, 2003 11:54 PM

Comments

Throughout its history, the US has been a two party system at least at the national level. And while some third party candidates succeed at capturing the pubic's serious attention - Anderson, Eugene McCarthy, Ross Perot in my memory - most seem to be too strident or too narrow for most people's politcal tastes. Greens, communists, Ralph Nader, and so on come across as cartoons or too quixotic to be taken seriously. Lacking media attention and broad-based support, their message has a tough time being heard.

Libertarians are an interesting bunch. Very conservative sounding on fiscal issues but almost liberal on a few social ones. I think most people do think them weird. Rightly or wrongly, I think a lot of people equate Libertarians with Lyndon LaRouche, not exactly a model of probity and straight-forward thinking. In general, I think third parties will have a tough row to hoe in the American political machine.

(Although I will say I always wished Jesse Ventura had been governor of Maryland rather than Minnesota. It would be so cool to be able to tell people that my governor shaves his head and knows how to do a flying drop-kick.)
K-

Posted by: Kem White at October 3, 2003 11:36 AM

You said it best. Good analysis. I agree with you, especially the part about a tough row to hoe. I imagine that's fine with the two main parties. In Illinois the third parties have a tougher set of rules to follow to even get on a ballot. And those rules, of course, were set up by those two main parties.

Posted by: Marie at October 3, 2003 12:49 PM

Thanks for the post Marie. Lyndon LaRouche is a Democrat, or so he says and runs under their banner. LaRouche has never had any affiliation whatsoever with the LP and his supporters have even protested outside of LP meetings in the past. LaRouche's stances actually more closely resemble Democrats than they do Libertarians. There was a Time Magazine article in the 80s that wrongly identified LaRouche as a Libertarian. That is the only relation we have to him. That pitiful piece of reporting is dogging us to this day and the above comment proves that. It's amazing to me that connection has been furthered for almost 20 years. In 1986, LaRouche candidates won two statewide Democrat primaries in Illinois causing Adlai Stevenson to not run as a Democrat. In fact, LaRouche is running for President as a Democrat again and has raised more money than several of the other Democratic candidates like Mosely Braun and Sharpton.

Most people don't vote because the two old parties don't fit their views at all and they don't see any difference between them except a couple issues at most. Like the new Hampshire Democrat, people think Libertarians are weird because people like her purposefully try to convey that opinion. This same tactic was used against those that supported women's right to vote and ending racial discrimination. People that think women should vote or blacks are equal are just weirdo extremists they used to say and they were successful purpetuating those stereotypes for decades. Some Libertarians are weird, just like Republicans and Democrats and anybody else. The libertarian ideology is actually the most straight-forward thinking exhibited by any political party in the US and any informed and respectable Republican or Democrat would agree with that. In a nut shell, libertarians believe in liberty, which is freedom. Live and let live. An individual should be free to live as they wish as long as they are not infringing on the freedom of others.

Posted by: Trigger at October 3, 2003 3:08 PM

Yeah, but did the old ladies know their credit card was being charged by the Larouchies?

(for those unfamiliar with Lyndon's modus operandi he charged donations above what people offered and hence is in prison)

Posted by: ArchPundit at October 7, 2003 5:08 PM