Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

If I Was A Member Of The Libertarian Party In Alabama

I'd be pretty depressed right now. Not just because they could not surmount the great wall Alabama has erected between third parties and the ballot, either.

I just finished watching For the Record. (There is no video up on the website yet, or I'd link to it). The guests were two Ph.Ds in political science. The host asked them if the Libertarians "deserved" to be on the November ballot in Alabama. One guest said yes, if they met the ballot requirements. Then both of them suggested that Libertarians ought to run as Republicans.

Wrong on both counts.

First, if they meet the ballot requirements, the Libertarians don't "deserve" to get on the ballot, they have a right to be on the ballot. The problem is that the requirements are too restrictive. They keep off the ballot parties, like the Libertarians, who might have some success. This is a viable party, they ought to be on the ballot. That they are not is proof that the ballot laws are flawed.

Second, asking a Libertarian to run as a Republican in this state would be asking the Libertarian to surrender half the party's platform. In theory Republicans are against government regulation of businesses, but they love to regulate private conduct. Libertarians agree with the former proposition, but strongly oppose the latter. No-one in this state could win a Republican primary while taking Libertarian positions on social issues. So to win, the Libertarian would have to adopt Republican views. In other words, sell his soul.

In sum, I saw two Ph.Ds fail to understand the problem facing the party or the doctrines of the party. If the eggheads don't get it, how will Joe Six-Pack ever do so? Hence, If I was a Libertarian, I'd probably be mixing a stiff drink right about now.