Did the Libertarians Cost the Republicans the Senate?
Libertarians are a generally Republican-leaning constituency, but over the last few years, their discontent has grown plain. It isn’t just the war, which some libertarians supported, but the corruption and insider dealing, and particularly the massive expansion of spending. Mr Bush’s much-vaunted prescription drug benefit for seniors, they fume, has opened up another gaping hole in America’s fiscal situation, while the only issue that really seemed to energise congress was passing special laws to keep a brain-damaged woman on life support.
I’d say that is a fair summary of the problems many libertarian minded people (such as myself) have had with the Republicans.
In two of the seats where control looks likely to switch, Missouri and Montana, the Libertarian party pulled more votes than the Democratic margin of victory. Considerably more, in Montana. If the Libertarian party hadn’t been on the ballot, and the three percent of voters who pulled the “Libertarian” lever had broken only moderately Republican, Mr Burns would now be in office.
Note to the Republicans: stop spending so much money you fools.
Of course, this kind of thing isn’t without its own problems.
Does this mean that the libertarians are becoming a force in national elections, much as Ralph Nader managed to cost Al Gore a victory in 2000? Hope springs eternal among third-party afficionadoes, but the nature of the American electoral system, which directly elects representatives in a first-past-the-post system, makes it nearly impossible for third parties to gain traction. The last time it happened was in the 1850’s, when the Whig party dissolved over internal disputes about slavery, opening the way for the emerging Republican party to put Abraham Lincoln in office. And acting as a spoiler is dubiously effective at achieving one’s goals. In theory, it could pull the Repubicans towards the Libertarians, but in practice, it may just elect Democrats, pushing the nation’s economic policy leftwards.
Hopefully it will have the effect of inducing the Republicans take the libertarian wing of their party more seriously. And with Bush’s policies, I don’t think there would be much difference in terms of the “leftward shift in the nations economic policies”. After all, Bush hasn’t seen a government program he didn’t like and would spend lots of money on.
Update: Here is an amusing story about the Montana Senate race between Burns and Tester.
Libertarian Party candidate Stan Jones garnered about 10,000 votes, making him a likely target for accusations of being a spoiler because Libertarians are generally seen as siphoning votes from Republican candidates.
This is the Stan Jones who turned himself blue by drinking colloidal silver out of fear that Y2K would devestate the country and leave the health care system in shambles. No really.