25 April 2010

The Libertarian Gubernatorial Nomination: Platform or Stepping Stone?

Warren Redlich is the Libertarian Party candidate for governor of New York, receiving a majority of votes at yesterday's party conference in Albany. It was a small gathering, according to reports and comments, and while it might look more impressive were the candidate chosen in a statewide primary, we've seen that the major parties nominate many of their local candidates in similar fashion, in traditional smoke-filled rooms without the smoke.

Redlich also wants the Republican line this fall, and hopes that the Libertarian nod will increase his credibility in Tea Party circles. He may overestimate the libertarian strength of the New York brew, however, since the TPs look more and more like the rallying ground for old fashioned movement conservatism. I wonder, too, whether it's implicitly demeaning to the party that's just tapped him to head their ticket to so openly aspire to another nomination. It's understandable, however, since there won't be a Libertarian line on the November ballot unless the party meets the usual onerous signature quota.

The Times Union article I cite insinuates that New York Libertarians are small and incoherent, noting the nomination for U. S. Senator of a candidate who claims to be more liberal than Chuck Schumer. That candidate is also a comedian; make of that fact what you will. Questions of consistency aside, this "convention" looks especially unimpressive given the belief that there's more receptivity to libertarian ideas these days. This would have been the time to make every effort to make the Libertarian Party look like a mass movement; they may have actually made it one in the process. But it may be that a movement, mass or not, founded on an inherent distrust of politics is inherently handicapped in any effort to make itself into a major party. If there was a moment for libertarians to exploit widespread dissatisfaction with both government and the political process, this should have been it, but I notice little effort made to exploit it. It could be that a party that has little will to govern lacks the will to win elections. It's now up to Redlich to prove me wrong.

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