Tag Archives: Bernie Sanders

Election 2016: Finally a Real Third Way?

Libertarian Party Logo
Libertarian Party Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this column, the polls haven’t yet opened for “Super Tuesday.” By the time you read it, polling predicts that Donald Trump will have carried at least 12 of the 13 Republican primary and caucus states, the possible exception being Texas (which may go for Ted Cruz), and that Hillary Clinton will have won 10 of 12 Democratic contests (Bernie Sanders is expected to carry Vermont and Colorado).

If the polls are right, Trump and Clinton are, at this point, essentially unstoppable in pursuit of their parties’ presidential nominations.

Over the years I’ve become desensitized to the constant talk about how this or that election is “the most consequential of our lifetimes.” It’s usually just not true, because the “major party” candidates are usually as alike as peas in a pod.

But it may be true this year, precisely because the two candidates are as alike as Juan and Evita Peron.

Over the years I’ve also become desensitized to the constant talk about this being the year a “third party” finally breaks out, because as much as I’d like to believe that (I’m a long-time Libertarian Party activist), it’s also usually just not true.

But it may be true this year, because we seem to have hit bottom in our long slide into banana republicanism — the culmination of, among other things, George W. Bush’s “unitary executive” claims and Barack Obama’s “pen and phone” posturing.

The first step, as Alcoholics Anonymous points out, is admitting you have a problem. There’s certainly no denying that at this point. We seem to be at the point where America has two choices: Up, or out. We can pull ourselves up from our authoritarian funk, or we can finally tip ourselves over into the dustbin of history.

I’m not placing any bets on which way things will go in the here and now, although my money is on the dustbin option for the long term (I always bet with the odds).

It seems to me, however, that if there is ever going to be a libertarian moment in American politics, it has to come soon, and that this year is its best chance.

Since 1972, the Libertarian Party has consistently offered American voters their best shot at national resurgence and a new birth of freedom. We’ve been right on economics. We’ve been right on foreign policy. We’ve been right on immigration. We’ve been right on all the burning social issues.

But being right has never been enough. While hundreds of Libertarians have served and continue to serve in public office, we’ve never worked our way higher up the elective political ladder than state legislative seats. It’s always been easier for voters to just go with the flow, kick the can down the road, etc.

So, how’s that working out for you? The polls say not so well. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? If that’s not the bottom of the barrel, the barrel has no bottom.

Time to vote Libertarian. Or to quit pretending you care about your country.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Election 2016: The Incredible Evitable Hillary Clinton

Frontrunner Hillary Clinton got into a heated ...
Hillary Clinton circa 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I’m a concern troll. I’m no Democrat, nor am I a Republican. But I would really, really, really like to see the Democratic Party nominate a viable candidate for President of the United States this year.

Why? In a word, gridlock — or at least what passes for it in this age of unrestrained “unitary executives.” Checks and balances ain’t  what they used to be, but it gets worse when one party controls both houses of Congress and the White House at the same time. The last time that happened, we got ObamaCare. The time before that, the war in Iraq.

Since it’s unlikely that the Republican Party will lose control of either the Senate or House of Representatives, it’s important to me that the presidency go to a candidate of another party. In a perfect world, that would mean a Libertarian moving in at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Unfortunately, the least bad LIKELY outcome is Democratic victory.

But Democrats don’t seem interested in winning. In fact, they seem to be going out of their way to throw the fight.

The “inevitable” Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, was “inevitable” in 2008, too. Remember how that came out? She placed second in the Iowa caucus and would have placed third if John Edwards had flamed out a little earlier. Barack Obama pretty much ran the table. “Inevitable.” Yeah, right.

This time last year, an NBC News/Marist poll had Clinton at 68% and Bernie Sanders at 7% in Iowa.  By Monday, that lead had evaporated. Clinton eked out a “victory” in the caucus on the basis of six coin tosses for tiebreaker delegates. Some “victory.”

When Bernie Sanders — an “independent social democrat” whose picture appears in the dictionary next to the word “gadfly” — comes back from a 61-point deficit to hand you your head in Iowa and outpolls you nationally versus likely GOP candidates, you are not a strong contender for the presidency and  you SHOULDN’T be treated as a strong contender for the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Two decades of “inevitable” talk aside, Hillary Clinton is a lemon, a  jinx, a Jonah. Everything she touches falls apart. Even if she manages to make it to the convention with a majority while avoiding a criminal indictment, we will almost certainly end up with Republican monopoly government for at least two, and more likely four, years. That won’t be on Hillary Clinton. It will be on Democratic caucus and primary voters.

Tip to Democrats: Stay fractured until convention time, then draft Joe Biden. I’m not just saying that because I have ten bucks riding on him in a prediction market. He’s really your only shot.

Tip to voters: Vote Libertarian. Train wreck and clown car are not your only options.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


The Strange Establishment Backlash Against Bernie Sanders

English: 2009 Black Tie Dinner Distribution - ...
English: 2009 Black Tie Dinner Distribution – Human Rights Campaign Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights [Campaign], in Planned Parenthood,” Democratic presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on January 19.  “But you know what, Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time and some of these groups are part of the establishment.”

The comment in reply to Maddow’s query as to his feelings about those groups endorsing Clinton’s campaign rather than his own, produced an immediate and bizarre backlash from both Clinton and the groups in question. “Really Senator Sanders?” tweeted Clinton. “How can you say that groups like @PPact and @HRC are part of the ‘establishment’ you’re taking on?”

Well, let us count the ways.

Planned Parenthood is a “non-profit” business with a history going back nearly a century, which has for decades kept its lips firmly latched on the US government’s corporate welfare teat to the tune of half a billion dollars a year. It keeps that money flowing with intensive, ongoing lobbying and litigation to ensure that a plurality of American politicians support its goals and guarantee its revenues. It’s as much a part of the American political establishment as any investment bank or old-money K Street lobbying shop.

The Human Rights Campaign is a more interesting case — and more obviously “establishment” than even Planned Parenthood. It’s younger (founded in 1980) and poorer (only about $40 million in annual revenues), but historically, it’s been purely a partisan establishment political project. HRC’s job, for 30-odd years, was to cajole LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) voters into pulling the lever for Democrats instead of for Libertarians, Greens and other political candidates who actually supported LGBT rights. And it did a pretty good job as PR flack. The Democrats nearly monopolized the LGBT vote without ever having to actually earn that vote.

Here’s a good indicator of just how “establishment” the Human Rights Campaign is:  Bernie Sanders publicly supported gay rights at least as early as 1983. Hillary Clinton finally stopped publicly opposing same-sex marriage three years ago, once the end of the fight was clearly in view. HRC isn’t supporting its better ally in its stated cause.  It’s supporting the Democrat it expects to win — the “establishment” Democrat — because only winners get to dispense the favors HRC feels it has earned.

The notion that Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign are anything but “establishment” through and through doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.