(You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)
The chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, Dave Williams, announced an “unprecedented deal” with the Colorado Libertarian Party to keep their candidates out of competitive races.
For as long as can be remembered Libertarians have been accused of playing the spoiler, costing Republicans victory in close contests. The most recent being the 8th Congressional District last year where the Libertarian pulled in nearly 4% of the vote, allowing Democrat Yadira Caraveo to squeak a victory with a less than 1% margin.
This “unprecedented deal” is a bit of a public relations win for Williams and his floundering, underfunded state operation. For the sake of taming Colorado’s socialistic leviathan, it’s a promising start and better than others have done, including myself.
Over the decades I’ve been asked more than a few times to broker some sort of peace between Republicans and Libertarians in tight races. “Peace” always meaning “get the Libertarian to drop out!” And each time I have failed, but not for lack of trying.
A Libertarian has never asked me to convince a Republican to drop out.
I’m a libertarian-leaning conservative. Note I spelled libertarian with a small “l”. This is very different than someone who is a member of the Libertarian Party, with a capital “L.”
You see, the fastest way to guarantee a Libertarian will in fact run as a candidate is to try to convince him not to run.
Like fish swim and birds fly, Libertarians are contrarians and gotta do opposite of what is asked.
Since they are such strong individualists, how to put this politely, they, um, do not work well in groups, and don’t listen to party leadership. You think the Republican Party is dysfunctional? Spend some time with the Libertarian Party.
Colorado’s Republicans, which makes a Manson family Thanksgiving dinner seem well-mannered, will look like a well-oiled cohesive machine by comparison.
The Colorado Libertarian Party Chairman, Hannah Goodman, said they won’t run a candidate if there is a “strong liberty” Republican in a race. That is a terrific promise she can’t keep.
Beside the fact that “strong liberty” is in the eye of the beholder, she has no authority to stop any Libertarian candidate from running.
The Republican Party isn’t the only major party that had losses due to an outlying third party. Remember in the early 2000s Democrats lost elections because Green Party candidates played the spoilers.
Democrats solved that problem completely. The Green Party is now more of a placeholder than a party. The Democratic Party simply swallowed it.
That is, Democrats simply incorporated every whacked-out, economy killing green policy with as much zeal as the most ardent Green Party candidate. The Green Party just evaporated.
The Republican Party did just the opposite. It accentuated the differences between itself and Libertarians on hot-button issues like drug policy, end of life, police powers, gay marriage, culture wars and immigration.
It would be more accurate to say the “loud faction” of the Republican Party emphasized the differences with Libertarians. Whereas a “quiet majority” of Republicans might well have absorbed most of the libertarian point of view on all but those fringe issues.
Other than those extreme issues, 98% of the platforms overlap both parties on core issues like taxes, property rights, fiscal and monetary policy, education choice, cronyism, Second Amendment, free speech and cancel culture. Basically, it’s just social issues where the parties don’t quite mix.
People will say it’s abortion that’s the key difference. People would be wrong. In libertarian circles there are intense and variable degrees of opinion. Even libertarian icon Ron Paul is adamantly pro-life.
The Republican Party used to have a similar “big tent” on abortion. Now the Republican Party is perceived to have a zero-tolerance pro-life-from-conception policy. And they’re paying the electoral price for it.
In this Colorado of one-party Democratic super-majority dominance, Libertarians shouldn’t play in districts where Republicans might have a chance to win.
In exchange Republicans should not play where they have no shot and give the Libertarian a clear field.
At this point, there’s little to lose. Sadly, neither party has any control or influence over their candidates, nor do most of their candidates actually want to win.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
Our unofficial motto at Complete Colorado is “Always free, never fake, ” but annoyingly enough, our reporters, columnists and staff all want to be paid in actual US dollars rather than our preferred currency of pats on the back and a muttered kind word. Fact is that there’s an entire staff working every day to bring you the most timely and relevant political news (updated twice daily) from around the state on Complete’s main page aggregator, as well as top-notch original reporting and commentary on Page Two.
CLICK HERE TO LADLE A LITTLE GRAVY ON THE CREW AT COMPLETE COLORADO. You’ll be giving to the Independence Institute, the not-for-profit publisher of Complete Colorado, which makes your donation tax deductible. But rest assured that your giving will go specifically to the Complete Colorado news operation. Thanks for being a Complete Colorado reader, keep coming back.