Civil Discourse Now

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Dr. T.J. Eckelburg (of "The Great Gatsby" and how the Libertarian Party can attract voters. Part 2.

  This the second part of a series of blogs about how the Libertarian Party can become more relevant.

   I want to clarify why I have chosen to write on this topic.

   I am not a member of the Libertarian Party. I voted for Ed Clark in 1980 because I thought he wanted to legalize drugs and where I lived (Indiana) was going to vote for Reagan anyway. My vote was a statement. I did not know who the Koch brothers were or that one of them was Clark’s running mate.

   My concern is that our system has become a one-party system. Corporations have a lock on the process. Corporations are not people, friend. They are fictional legal entities, the existence of which was minimized, in the days of the Framers of the Constitution, by the laws of the States. A corporation would be chartered for a limited purpose—for example, the construction of a bridge—and a limited time—until the bridge was finished. The colonists had problems with the East India Tea Company, a powerful British corporation. Many of the colonies had been founded and operated by corporations chartered by the Crown.

   Over time, corporations grew in scope of legal abilities, breadth of legal immunity for shareholders, and strength. In the 1950s, Delaware saw the benefits of laws that fostered corporations such that corporations sought to incorporate under that State’s laws. General Motors is a corporation chartered under the laws of the State of Delaware, not Michigan.

   During the 1970s the United States Supreme Court expanded rights, previously reserved for actual human beings, to corporations. In 2010, Citizens United took the process one giant step further. In the 2012 general election, money did not so much pour as hemorrhage into the campaigns. One might say money did not win campaigns, and point to candidates Romney and (in Connecticut) Linda McMahon. Candidates still grovel for money as never before. It has been said that 25% of the time of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is spent in activities for fund-raising.

   Whether the corporations in question are for-profits that advocate for shareholders (who could be citizens of this or any other country) or NFPs that advocate for unions or any other cause, the result is the same. Non-human entities have a voice in the election process. I do not mean to sound "sci fi" here, but we have given political power and sway to entities not recognized by the Framers of the Constitution as equal to people.

   Each of the two "major" political parties has become beholden to the same interests. Big banks gave bundles to President Obama in 2008. I have not seen the numbers for 2012, but doubt very much those institutions put their check books away when it came time to donate. The Republicans raise money from big business—a/k/a large corporations (with some exceptions, like Bechtel, a privately-held but no less onerous company—as a hallmark.

   The idea that another political party could enter the fray and (1) have access to oversee the process as a statutorily-recognized entity and (2) maybe knock the system off this road it has taken appeals to me. So what I write here could apply equally to the Libertarians, the Greens, the Socialists, or any other party that would attempt to enter the process. The Libertarians have the greatest profile right now. Also, the party was quite courteous in that it allowed us to shoot at its headquarters. My suggestions here are not meant, in any way, to detract from the efforts or the strides made by the Libertarian Party, particularly in the last campaign. It is easy for me to write at my laptop in the comfort of my study while people slog door-to-door with campaign literature. I did the door-to-door thing in 1970 and 1972 for Democratic Party candidates. I had doors shut (politely) in my face in Tipton County. (Sure, once I was young and impulsive. That is not n observation about my 1970 and 1972 work. In 1964 I donated 25 cents to Barry Goldwater’s campaign for President.)

   Step Two in the process is to establish a presence in each of our 92 counties. People expect a "major" political party to be nearby. They expect to see yard signs and bumper stickers. People expect to see the presence of a party everywhere, much like the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckelburg that stared down from te billboard in The Great Gatsby. A contact person ideally should be in each ward and precinct. People volunteer for such positions in the R and D parties. The Libs can obtain volunteers. The libs only need to take steps to energize people.

   Tomorrow: how to energize the Libertarian base.

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